Most of my 40-years of sailing has been offshore (Marion to Hamilton, Galveston to Vera Cruz, etc.) I've been caught in two Force 10 storms, in parts of the Gulf of Mexico that I would never have expected them, one storm we were only about 30 miles offshore, but no place to pass through the barrier islands to reach safe harbor, so we were stuck in the storm for 36 hours. So, if you eventually plan to sail outside of the big bays - long voyages, buy whatever want now - become good sailors, then later spend what it takes to get a boat that if you do get caught in a gale (and if you sail offshore long enough, you will), you'll make it through. Stronger bluewater boats don't have to be big, 40-footers, they just need to be built for extended offshore sailing, strong enough to carry you safely through really bad weather. The couple of boats you are looking at now, won't do that.
s/v Paloma, Bristol 29.9, #141
Slipped in Bahia Marina, easy access to Corpus Christi Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.