I like the statement, "I must get a Hobie cat this season.". That sounds like me last year in June. A couple of web searches later I located a '81 H18 that had only been posted a half hour earlier, and less than two hours drive away. Seemed like it was meant to be mine, so 1500 dollars, plus a couple hundred to get it squared away and I was set. Came with two Hobie harnesses that I have yet to use, looking forward to that.
Now, if it seems like that's not the best way to decide which boat to buy, it's probably not. I didn't realize what a hotrod the boat was, but, I'm very, very happy I lucked into the 18. I don't even know any other sailors personally, and didn't find the forum here until after the purchase. But I feel like I have a cross between a Corvette and a Cadillac. The boat get's a lot of attention at the lake, because people around here never seen such a pretty sight on the water. It's all bass boats and watercraft at the lake and not one of them have a clue about right of way for sailboats. I sail during the week to avoid the insanity.
I'm 52, 205lb., solo, trailer sail, inland lake, no beach.
I say the H18 is a lot of boat, but not too much boat for determined solo sailor. Plus you have more experience sailing than I. It will be a challenge, which I bet you're up to. And I think you would have a boat that would not need replacing in the future. I'll probably never get the best out of mine, but it's fun learning and trying to figure it out.
Took it out 8 or 10 times last year between June and Sept. It was a wild ride while I figured out how to slow the damn thing down. It was like I was dumping the clutch on a hotrod at every light at first. But I got it down pat now, and just had the first outing of the year on Apr. 6.
It was 14 knots plus gentle gusts, beautiful day. I sailed with main only for quite a while, then added the jib when the wind settled to 9 or 10 knots. Covered more than 15 miles on a finger lake. The wind was going to last til sunset, so I milked it for all it was worth. Headed back to the ramp with the sun setting behind me as a formation of geese flew right over my masthead. ...........ha, just remembered it took me three tries to approach the dock successfully.
Can you tell I'm trying to steer you toward the 18? Is it working?
Y'all have a Hobie day.