I would reinforce the idea of looking at a good condition few-years-older Bene - I find the recent ones' layouts too open and the interiors too "Ikea Condo". On the new 40s and 49s though the cockpits are great and sightlines from the helms excellent, we found the side decks rather narrow due to the excessive width of the house. Top that off with the angular joinery, lack of grabrails and wide open cabin space (great at anchor but......) and I think some of the earlier editions of their cruising line may be more appropriate for your plans.
I agree. I like the older benes MUCH more than the new ones. Same for Catalinas - except the ones that have not changed (only ones I know of that have not followed the new trends are the 400, 42, and 470). Like you, Faster, I think the older boats were built better and with better quality.
Regarding the comment about buying a boat that does well on distant passage/following seas, remember the old adage (that is VERY true): You spen 99% of your time on the hook (or marina) and 1% going. Why buy a boat for that 1% unless you have to? (and in some cases, you do have to).
Just some thoughts.
PS I have been in those same conditions and fought the same problems. I think it is due more to the wide & flat stern that skims the top of the water (or runs in it) than spade rudder, etc.
Look a tthe stern of these two boats. One is a heavy bluewater cruiser, one a production boat (mine, a Catalina 400 and my dads Tayana 42). Notice how the stern of the tayana sweeps up (and yes, it is a canoe stern too which would really help in a following sea, but that is not my point). You will find many of the production boats flatten out at the stern and run in the water. I may be wrong, but I think that is why they do not do well in a following sea.