I have not had a chance to read all of the posts in this thread yet but I will make some time later to catch up.
In response to CD's original post I would just say that I think that a lot of the difference between long distance full time cruisers is in their need for creature comfort, and that makes a big difference in what boat you end up with.
Some people come at cruising from living in a house and my opinion is that they tend to think of a boat as a really small version of a modern suburban home. They've always had air conditioning, refrigeration, hot water, etc, and so the perfect boat that they imagine for themselves has all of these things in miniature. That means they are going to end up with a complex boat that has to be pretty big to hold everything.
Other people come at cruising from different directions, camping, for example, or from living in an RV, or they grew up on boats, and many of those people have completely different expectations about what creature comforts are necessary for long term cruising. You don't miss air conditioning if you've never had it, and many people don't mind carrying water jugs around instead of using a water maker, so their boats can be a lot less complex and they don't have to compromise as much on speed, for example.
Our species lived for 200 thousand years in the tropics without air conditioning.