Hello to everyone. I am new to this forum and am considering purchasing a sailboat to not only sail, but live aboard. While I used to sail small Catamaran's and dinghy's as a youth, I have not sailed period as an adult, so I consider myself a complete rookie.
Since this boat would be "home" as well as a hobby, I want something on the larger side. I know some people recommend starting small, then moving up, but I'd rather get what I want long term now, most importantly because I'll be living in it. Also, with the economy so poor, and little turnaround in sight, I don't want to be in the unenviable position of having to sell a boat in order to move up to another.
So, getting more to the point, I'm trying to decide where to focus my attention as I start looking around. I was hoping for suggestions as to which boats might suit my particular needs. While I'll mostly be sailing around the Puget Sound for the first few years, my goal is to sail to Hawaii and beyond. Obviously, I'd need an offshore worthy boat, but it seems there are many which would fit the bill and aren't on the huge side. I'm kind of overwhelmed by all the different brands, rigging, equipment, etc.
If I had to pick one quality that is most important to me, it would be well-built and durable, and the Westsail 32' seems like maybe it might be a good fit. Some people prefer speed, agility, etc., but I'll happily sacrifice all that for something that can take a beating in a storm. I have no plans to ever race, and I want to get there in one piece. I will also sleep much easier by myself on the sea when I know that the boat can withstand the coming gale. I don't want to have to try to run away and hide from storms, etc.
The biggest limiting factor, for me, is going to be money. I am NOT interested in financing a boat, so it has to be within my budget of cash. I have to keep it below $40k. Some of you may laugh at this, but that's the maximum. One thing I have going for me is I am very handy and have a lot of tools. So, I may be willing to take on a "fixer." I say "may", because it would all depend on the price. I am well aware that oftentimes these projects end up costing WAAAAY more than a completed one would have initially. With this in mind, I'd only grab the one that needs work if it was a screaming deal.
I will be living in the boat by myself, but I have a large dog which I like to consider as another person space-wise. I'd also like to factor in the chance that I meet a woman who would like to join me. So, I'd like a boat which was comfortable for two people and a dog. Other than that, I'm pretty much open to suggestions. I have read quite a bit here, will continue to, but I wanted to just get a post out there, and see what people thought might work for me given these criteria. I am happy to answer further questions. Thanks a lot for reading!!