thanks for all the responses.
that dirty old catalina 27 on ebay still seems promising just because i am a cheap skate and was looking into paying around 2000 dollars for a van to live it. the guy says the hull,mast,deck are all solid and that he would fix the motor get keys/battery for it for <500 dollars including labor supplies etc. solid hull, mast, deck, engine for 1500 sounds like a good starting point. i could "camp out" on it through the summer and even if i dumped 4000 or 5000 into it, i would say that it was worth it as a learning experience.