Re: How to go for 1 or 2 year cruise?
Welcome to the wonderful world of tough decisions. I think at the start of it, you perhaps need to make decisions about what you are planning. There is a huge difference between crossing the Atlantic from Halifax to Azores and then sailing down to the Caribbean vs. simply working your way down the U.S coast, crossing from Florida to the Bahamas and then down to the Caribbean.
If you are taking the first route, you are out of land for longer periods and more exposed to seriously bad weather. If you are going that route, then you want to pick a boat which is really designed for offshore use. And if you are doing this on a tight budget, i.e. the money that is left from $75K after you have set aside enough money to cruise for a couple years, you are probably looking for an older 30 to 32 foot cruiser and not a recycled racer-cruiser or value oriented coastal cruiser. In other words, probably almost none of the boats recommended above.
The high production volume, value oriented, coastal cruisers mentioned above that are within your price range are more than likely going to be tired and worn out. For a very few dollars more, you can typically buy an equal size boat that started out as a better design with better construction techniques. (The hull to deck joint on the Catalina 30 should take it off your list if nothing else about the boat does.)
The high production volume, value oriented, coastal cruisers may be okay for the coastal routes, but it would greatly raise the risks and maintenance cost to try to use them for the offshore routes. The small offshore cruisers are neat boats for that kind of thing, but I would expect them to be well outside your price range or well past their 'use by' date if they were in your price range. The one exception is the Nebe, which may work, but I would be cautious about a thirty year old steel boat that someone is only asking $15K for.
But if you are doing the US Coast to Bahamas to Caribbean route, then you might get by with a high volume, coastal cruisers since the hops are short and you are usually close enough to a safe harbor to pick a decent weather window and to repair facilities should you need them.
I am also skeptical of the advice to buy a boat in Florida. Florida typically has had slightly less expensive prices than other areas of the continent, but the Florida climate is very hard on a boat. So when I have looked at some of these so-called bargain boats in Florida, they have rarely been worth their asking price.
The reality is that boats from Canada, Great Lakes, and New England have generally been sailed less due to the shorter sailing season, have not had the harsh UV exposure, and have longer maintenance sesons. As a result they are generally in better condition, and their prices are not all that different than the prices in Florida, especially when you are comparing boats of equal condition.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay