sailing a C30 is just like a Sunfish, right?
I'll be taking lessons in the Spring hopefully. I can't wait to learn on a bigger boat. My goal is to work my way up to a 25' before I seal the deal on a boat. I'm looking towards 25-30' boats after I get a year or two of experience and training. Any suggestions for boats similar to the c30 would be great. I'm looking for a nice daysailer and weekender.
I hear it all the time, but, IMHO, I don't think that sailing a sunfish or any dingy is much like sailing a large (~30') keelboat. Yes, the concept of sailing and sail trim is the same, but that's about it. The sails are different (just a main vs. main and headsail), how you trim is different (winches vs hauling a line), tacking is different (release one sheet and trim the other vs just turning), steering is different (wheel [usually] vs tiller). And we haven't even started discussing anchoring, docking, etc.
Anyway, I do believe that if you can handle a dingy you can learn to handle a larger boat. But be prepared for a big learning curve.
Regarding your second question about what boats are similar to a Catalina 30, there are many. Popular brands on the east coast include Pearson, Newport, O'day, Hunter, Beneteau, O'day, C&C. Other common boats include Tartan, Sabre, S2, Grampian, Ericcson, Islander, etc.
If you will be mostly daysailing with the occasional over-night stay, then a boat in the 25-28' range would be great for 2-4 people. Some particular models to consider are Catalina 27, Newport 27, 272 and 28, O'day 28, Tartan 28, Sabre 28, etc.
You should be able to get a decent boat for 10K. For 15K you should be able to get a real nice boat. For 20K you should be able to get a real real nice boat. Boats with inboard diesels are worth more than outboards or gas inboard, but those can be OK too.
For overnight comfort, consider boats that have pressure hot and cold water, AC and DC electrical systems.