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First my biases: I''ve owned a 1989 Pearson 27 since she was new, and I also am an officer in the Pearson Sailing Association of the Chesapeake Bay. So I like Pearsons. Having said that, I also admit that they are not Hinckley''s. They were production boats aimed at the mid-market, and I think the company did a terrific job of filling that niche. I think it''s hard to find an equivalent builder these days, but that''s just me.
Some general comments: Pearson built good, honest boats that have held up well. The company went belly up in early 1991, so even the youngest ones are now 12 years old. You rarely hear of structural problems of any sort. Bill Shaw was a big plus for the company, too, designing solid boats with very few bad sailing habits.
The P-34-2 (made from 1989-1991) is a very nice boat, ideal for the coastal cruising you may decide to do. Looking at the numbers, it probably was not a direct knock-off of the first P-34, which was made from 1983-86. The latter model has more beam, longer LOA, and slightly more ballast than the first one. But all dimensions are certainly close, and Bill Shaw was noted for updating and getting the most out of a prior design. For example, he used the hull of the P-36-2 for the later P-37 (added a bowsprit) and the P-38 (added a sugar scoop stern.)
Oh.....some investors tried to resurrect the Pearson name in the mid-90''s in a company called Cal-Pearson. they made some (one, two???) P-35''s that in fact are the 34-2 with a sugar scoop stern. The 34-2 has a walk-thru transom, but not a scoop stern.
You will be giving up some stowage space in the P-34-2 with it''s separate shower stall and the island berth forward. That probably won''t be a big deal for you with the kind of sailing you have in mind.
The only negative I know of applies to the P-34-1. The rudder was the subject of a factory recall due to corrosion, etc. I think Shaw redesigned the rudder on the 34-2 because I have not heard of any problems with that rudder. Both have a reputation for being fast boats, too, but that sort of thing often is subjective for a boat designed primarily for cruising. PHRF ratings are 144-150, which is not exactly indicative of a 34-ft speedster.
I encourage you to ask this same question on the Sailnet Pearson email list. In fact, there is a separate list for the P-34 -- just be careful that comments are about the 34-2. Current owners are a great resource for info on problem areas, improvements, etc.
Lastly, not that many P-34-2''s were made. Some do pop up on the various online yacht listings, so monitor them closely. From my experience these boats move quickly once listed. They do seem in demand.
Good luck and hope this helps.