Wine thief is just fine. turkey baster is cheaper is all. and not that much if you compare SS baster with three piece plastic wine thief. I pull the airlock out of my bucket and sample through that hole but I do not know if that would work for you.
Yeah I have a small grommeted airlock hole, so I would definitely need to make another hole (and a good plug) to make a sampling port. I'm sure I can figure out the necessary hardware to do this without much issue. I would just re-sanitize the plug after sampling before putting it back in, of course.
The wine thief fits into a carboy just fine, of course. My first batch was brewed away from where I live and had to be transported right after brewing (long story, read my blog if you want the whole story), which is why I am using the bucket on this batch. Although I'm kind of up in the air as to whether it really matters if I use the carboy or bucket. I think the carboy is only 5 gallons and the bucket is 6.5, and this batch of wort was 5.5 gallons, so there would be zero possibility of using the carboy here anyway.
Also, the high kreusen actually overflowed a little into the airlock of the bucket. I don't have an overflow hose for the carboy (will probably get one soon though). The interesting part will be bottling. I may wind up getting either another bucket or another carboy soon (also, I can have secondary space or space to do two batches at a time if I get another container, lol, so expect that to happen).
My first batch is not going to be secondarily fermented (it's an all grain IPA).
Anyway, I've successfully derailed this thread here, so enough about that!