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Alan, what you want to do certainly can work. And since you are not concerned with losing the entire resale value of the boat (and an "oddball" boat may go unsold for a very long time even at a low price) we can dismiss that issue.
But are you at all concerned with the performance and balance of the boat? It is very easy to ruin the balance of a boat, and a lot of math goes into putting the various centers of effort and rotation and all into "good" positions versus mediocre ones. When you say:
"Step 1) Make a mark 1' 6" down from the top of the mast....
3) Have new rigging made for the boat exactly 1' 6" shorter than the rigging that came off it."
I have to think that you do not have any grasp on how complex the 3-dimensional geometry of a sailboat hull or rig actually is. Remember, the "rigging" includes forestay and backstay and since they run at angles to the mast--they will NOT simply be the same distance shorter that the mast is.
Similarly, depending on the cut of your sails, taking 18" off the bottom may not be the best way to recut them. You'd want to run some numbers--or have a loft run them--to see if recutting the sails or making new ones would be more effective than just pretending there was an 18 reef in the sails.
Many boats are built with optional tall/short rigs/keels and when they make those changes, the builders usually don't just lop off a couple of feet.
If you don't mind taking a good boat and, basically, gambling on turning it into a "Dodge Dart", a vessel that sails but who knows how well or poorly...by all means.
But I'd really urge talking to some riggers, some sailmakers, and the factory and getting some insight into just what troubles you may get into by just lopping 18" off the mast.
Yes, it can be done. But the more you look into the details, the more it MAY seem that it would be cheaper, faster, simpler, to just buy a short mast version of a production boat.
"Measure once, cut twice." Or maybe, not?