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Advanced beginner
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675 Posts
Given your criteria and the manic state of the used boat market right now, I'd keep saving the boat kitty. Your options get a lot better in the $12,000-$20,000 price range, especially in the 28-30 ft range which is where I think you need to be. A couple of things I'd add to your list.

On a mooring ball, you've got to get two toddlers safely into and out of the boat from a dinghy every time you get them on the boat. I'd defer to some parents on this (I just have to get a big dog on board) but with two very small kids I'd seriously think about splurging for a slip.

Again with two toddlers you are probably single-handing this thing until they are older. That's tough on a small boat with four in the cockpit: a wheel gives you more room for passengers, but harder to single-hand.
 

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Advanced beginner
Joined
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675 Posts
I thought of recommending a walk-through transom instead of a slip, but this feature isn't available on boats until the 1990s and I didn't think that would be anywhere close to his price range. But if I had it to do over again, I would have saved another year so I could afford one of these myself, I really didn't appreciate how handy these were until I was hauling a 50 lb boxer out of a dingy and onto the sidedecks.
 
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