ASA and PSIA Instructor
Join Date: Apr 2000
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On the balsa core deck question, don''t worry about the Columbia on this point as the vast majority, if not all, production fiberglass boats have cored decks, starting with the first Pearson Triton. Deck coring is just another one of the dozen or so issues that can make a boat a financial nightmare...
If you are not well experienced but are intent on the type of crusing you describe I advise that you take the time to find a small boat that has been used in the manner that you want to use it - one whose owner has repaired/upgraded/equipped to distance cruise safely. To try to bring along a typical fix-me-upper while learning and doing, is likely to be more expensive in the end, plus your life is on the line. You should pay what it takes to start right, or plan to take some number of years building the expereience and boat you might need to cruise safely.