I’ve just bought a used Hobie 17 (August 2011), so I can give you my first hand experience.
Fist of all, I totally disagree with JJ. H17 is a perfect cat you and your young daughter! I‘ve sailed with my wife and my 7-year old on my H17 with no problem. All 3 of us are at about 360lb, I say, it is as far I would push it. Unless you are a big guy, you and your daughter would be just fine on H17. If you go with H16 and especially Wave, you will regret it. Best feature of H17 are wings. Then is simplicity of one sail and uncompromised symmetrical hull design for speed. If you boat is H17 Sport, then even better. Saying this, Wave may be easier to rig. H16 is perhaps the most popular cat, so parts are more available and a bit chapter, but has no wings, and asymmetrical hulls are not as efficient. Then, if you planning on sailing with 3 or more people in the future, you may be better of with H18 (3) or Gataway (3+).
The check list at viewtopic.php?t=2817
is very complete. There is not much I can add to it other than follow it to the letter. Allow yourself 2-3h for boat inspection and rigging. Get you previous owner to show you how to rig and take pictures. There is a H17 manual pdf available on Hobie support page but pictures are terrible. Pay attention to the rigging around mast and boom. Rising mast is another critical skill to learn. There is a safety issue involved if you planning to do this on your own on regular basis. You will need a help of 2 more able adults, first and second time you do it. Another tricky skill is hooking up the sail. There is a hook at the top of your mast to hookup the sail. Use this opportunity for someone to show you how to do it. I’ve managed to figure it out, but it was not trivial.
In my case, the boat was ready to sail when I go it, but I’ve soon discovered a number of small issues,
1. Two out of 4 wings pockets were leaking. One was easy to fix because there was a near access port. To fix the second I had to buy and install a new port. Total cost: $50 fiberglass and resin, $40 port (got a set of 2). A quick way to test wing pockets is to fill them up with water. Then wait for a several minutes to see if the water level is not going down.
2. There is still one more leak I need to locate. I suspect a spot where centerboard spring pushes against the hull. I also suspect I may need to replace one of the springs.
3. Main trampoline replacement. At first glance the tramp looked old but still ok. Then, the second time I was raising mast, it started to crack under my feet. This while stabilizing the mast got me almost to drop the mast. Total cost with shipping -- about $500. The one I got is red vinyl, which cost a bit more but looks great and prevents splashing when water gets choppy. While inspecting your tramp, pay attention to vinyl edges, where tramp is attached to the cross beams and hulls. If that vinyl is hard and brittle, then this is a good indication of excessive UV exposure. It is the UV exposure that makes the thread to fall apart.
4. Number of worn out spots, easily fixable with gelcoat. Cost about $30, and still lots of gelcoat left.
5. Sail delaminating. This one I’ve missed. I knew about it, but I think I just looked at one side of the sail. You will need to inspect both sides of the sail. I still use the sail. I am sure it would not be good enough for racing. I am not sure what is a big deal with sailing with some delams. Perhaps someone with more experience can give us more details. Total cost, including battens and shipping would be somewhere between $1000-$2000. Frankly, I can’t wait to give myself an excuse to buy a Whirlwind Pentex squere-top. This one is $1200, but supposed to be very durable and faster than the standard.
6. Wing tramps. I got lucky and got a brand new set with the boat. Total cost would be $300.
7. All main wires – I have not replaced any quite just yet, but may just order full set this winter. The existing wires look ok, but there have sings of corrosion. There is a good illustration of corroded lines somewhere on Hobie website. Corroded lines would have green discoloration on the ends. Total cost with shipping $150.
8. I had to replace trailer lights. My trailer had lights but they were not water proof. Total cost $50.
9. Trailer cradles were worn out. Trailer had 4 rubber cradles adopted from motor boat trailer bow pads. There are cheap and almost fit into H17 hulls. With some carving I got them to fit nicely. Total cost $60 (all 4)
I’ve also build a simple setup to raise mast safely and relatively quickly, and single handed for about $100. Let me know if you interested in details.
I’ve also added a mast float (Mama Bob) for safety. If you are going to sail with your daughter, it may be a good idea to get one too. Total cost $250. It is funny – people I meet at the lake beach are often asking me what it is this thing on the top of the mast. I tell it is just my spy satellite receiver
Good news about fixing a used Hobie, is that almost all can be fixed, and parts are easily available. Almost, because big items such as mast, entire hulls, cross bars, wings, are available, but very expensive to buy and to ship.
The last advice is to ask yourself -- how handy are you? Do you have spare time for this project? Are you going to enjoy working on the boat? Chances are you will need to invest a considerable amount of time fixing the boat. In my case, I enjoyed fixing the project, picked up a few skills, lost 10lb – all good. If I could get a newer boat with fewer issue, I would have more time to sail, but would cost more. It is all about balance.