Yes I think your boat is a perfect cruiser for a family. It has the large amount of room in the cabin areas, and cockpit which are necessary for a group of people to be comfortable. It reflects in how you chooose a vessel when you are looking to carry 5 people comdortably then if there are only 2 most of the time.
Thats probably where most of the difference is in what you and I view when we are looking at cruising boats. Multiple berthing areas as well as heads are something which is not necessary to start. Storage is much more important.
When you look at the Moodys, Masons, HRs thats one of the appartent difference IMHO. Ample tankage. Large areas to work on the engine etc.
Like you I love the Hylas, Taswell, Moodys and some of them are as affordable yet a little older than a Newer Catalina, Hunter, or Bene
Thats where you ave to decide whether the tradeoff is worth it. The Cat/ Hunter/ Benne designs are not what I look for as volume is not important to me. Nice rich teak and mahongany wood and joinery work, replace laminate.
The modern C&C and J122 is a great boat for 2, but probaly doesnt envison your crew of 5. They are more racers also as are some of the boats Paulo often mentioned. You Cat is more in the middle, a comfortable, quick cruiser which is built to accomadate a family. We havent even looked at boats like the Pacific Seacrafy and others similar which are bulletprooof for real long range cruising, but not built for straight line speed.
If I had a family and wanted to cruise comfortably and safely I probably would choose as you did. I admire you teaching them and taking them. They are getting quite and education. You are not the normal profile of a cruuiser though. Most are parties of two I think.
We are different and my kids are grown and not comming. I may represent more of what the majority of the cruisers look like. Thats why you may see such a disparity of vessels cruising and the same disparity in what people want in their vessel. It seems as though seakindness is the priooity as opposed to speed. Storage and tankage is important, Well made accessable systems are important. Weight seems to be important due to the areas you sail in. Sail configuations seems to be important as you need to be able to sail in the trades for long periods. Open space gives way to safe space both above and below deck. Safe gunwhales are a factor.
My question is if it was just you and your wife at 55 getting you final boat which you expected to last 25 years and you were going cruising, but not selling your land based home to live aboard, how would that affect what you buy and you had $250,000 total to spend. ( Maybe I should start a new thread)
Now hang on Dave... don't you dare mention family of 5! Family of 4! That's it. THat's all, period!!! You ever seen a grown man cry??
Some of the Benes have great joinery work. Ever been on a 2002 Bene 473? Fast boat and beautiful lines.
BTW, just so you know, the only lamainate on the MK II C400 is 4 doors on the owners cabin beside the berth, and the three opening hatches in the galley. Every other door is solid teak, including the large hanging locker doors and and salon doors. THe galley cabinets are wrapped in sold teak, just have a plywood (2sided teak) center. I was told that for some time, the C400 was the most expensive boat Catalina made untilo the 470 came out. The c400 came out of the Morgan plant from the beginning, not transfered there from CA. Have you been on a Mark II C400, Dave? Ever sailed one? You might like it.
Now, to your question:
250k? Cruising? Is cruising crossing the pond(s) or this hemisphere? If I were going to cross either pond, with 250k, I would probably look into a heavier boat that was sea kindly. Maybe a Caliber LRC, maybe a Valiant 42, maybe a PSC, maybe a Tayana 42, Cabo Rico. SOmthing like that I suspect. Of all of them, the Tayana 42 is probably the best match between comfort and long distance cruising. You would like it: lots of solid teak and vast storage amounts. You can crawl under the sink in the aft cockipt Vancouver model (that is what mom and dad have and I obviously know it quite well).
We started discussing this in a different thread, and I stand by what I said, but when talking about speed, it is only good for weather forecasts up to about a week. Right? After that, it gets pretty iffy. SO when talking about taking a boat like the C400 across the pond, while it would make it, and would likely make it faster, the boat will end up being a lot more uncomfortable I suspect. You will simply have to deal with storms or seas that otherwise you might avoid (and would be right to avoid) when under a 7 day window. My issue with these long distance cruisers is that they are horrendously slow, in general. THey are overbuilt and made to take a beating and have good motion at sea, but they suck when you get there. aNd the PSC and V42, for example, are much smaller than my boat inside. I would put them at the C36 level or smaller.
Now, for this hemisphere, assuming you are going to go cruising and you are going to keep your house, I would get a boat with zero outside maintenance (teak). For the most part, that is a production boat. And for staying around here, that boat will not only be fine, it will be ideal. WHere the V42 and PsC often discourage large hatches or a multitude of them, many of the production boats are loaded with them. THey have lots of portlights to let in light, making the boat bright and airy feeling, while a Tayana 42 has none and uses deck prisms instead which don't come close to the same amount of light or bright feeling. Many of the things that make the Tayana a great long distance cruiser are the very same thing that make it a bad cruiser for what we do here.
So unless I was 100% sure I was taking off across the pond, I would personally opt away from those types of boats. And another option is to get the comfortable boat or production boat (sabre, Catalina, Beneteau, etc) and just ship it across on DOckwise. Save yourself the trip and heartache.
I am not saying production boats cannot cross the ponds. THey have, do, and can. They just simply would not be my first choice to do it in. I think the boats built for that type of long distance are better. But those same boats are why they are not the right boat for many if island hopping or staying in or around this hemisphere.
I would not own a j122 or first for any of what i consider cruising. I would be horribly uncofortable on those boats, even just the two of us, for cruising. THere is also a big tankage issue and storage issue. I would own one of those boats for club racing or the peroidical taking off for a week or two.
Just my opinions.