Join Date: Oct 2006
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I'm quite fond of my Columbia 26. She's built pretty well. As with any boat of that vintage, you'll have work to do. Interior layout isn't bad. The head comes standard with overboard discharge, so you may need to look for one with a holding tank added already. The cockpit is a bit small for more than 2, but it's workable. I've overnighted with 4, and it's cramped, but doable. I'm 6 feet and the V-berth is quite comfortable.
I don't like the engine well on the Bristol. I also don't care for centerboarders. I'd stay away from the Bristol, just for those reasons.
The Pearson and Columbias look quite comparable, though I've never been in the Pearson. The Columbia has a slightly deeper draft, if that's an issue.
The S2 that 7T7 mentioned isn't bad, but watch for delamination or water in the cored hull.
I'd also recommend you look at the Cape Dorys and Contessas, though they're in a slightly different price category. ;-)