As per the Cal mystique, their inherent quality speaks for the boat's quality of workmanship & sturdiness. They cross oceans regularly (properly equipped, of course); Seasters, the 1979 31' I have (31'6" LOA) recently performed quite well in 20+ knots while we dodged thunderstorms (some in San Diego and others towards L.A.) with only a light sprinkling along the latter part of a 7 hours sail on the way back from Catalina. When the wind started exceeding 15 knots, simply reduce the main (and I completely furled the 100% jib
) for about the last 1 hour for a much more relaxing sail on a run back to Dana Point harbor in great control. Sure, a lighter boat with almost 500 sq. ft. of sail will be both tender and more responsive, leans more but slices through the waves as compared to more of a pounding feel with a stiffer/flatter sailboat. Tried a boom preventer using the boom vang for the first time leaving Avalon on the port side. Set it back in the middle later (carefully not dropping any parts I didn't have in certainty the back up part for). Had a bit of drama resulting from the boom vang line
not being cleated resulting in an auto gybe (luckily in light weather, and a lesson Well Learned). These boats can handle like a champ and are easily pointed (meaning a well-balanced sailboat I've been told by my neighbor, a top racer) within a small degree without the use of auto pilot or locking/hold down screw.
A good surveyor, of course find one of the best, reputable person you can find, and he or she can tell you if the boat you are looking at is good or not. It is pretty straightforward, and try to get one that never had (or will get, I'm told) hull blistering from the osmotic scientific stuff. My neighbor's hull looks like a golf ball and mine has 1 (from the mfg/mold process at the keel separation).
I'm just another person who now (just this year got one) knows, so the rest is just what you like, really; other brands out there, both old & new, I'm sure I'd like to score next, like Shannon or Pac Seacraft. Benneteau's are less pricey but I've read somewhat are heavier duty than some other modern boats I've heard. Have fun!