need boat advise
Dave, a couple of thoughts...
First, you''re lucky someone with Jeff H''s knowledge chose to reply to your email. People write entire books to answer a question like yours and you need to do some serious homework of your own. (This is not scolding; just saying it like it is...). Dig into some basic references and begin to form your own impressions of hull form, systems necessary (few, in your case) and unneeded, which hull material you want to live with (I think you''re best choice is fiberglass given the upkeep of cheaper metal boats), etc. Also, I''d aruge against Jeff''s displacement guideline of 2.5 tons if single-handing; I think it''s too light and too misleading given how differently one boat can be built from the next. Stick with 5-6 tons as a target. (If it surprises you that we''re talking displacement more and length less, that''s a good indication of why you need to start digging into some serious research).
I think Jeff was running late when composing his list (e.g. the Pearson 303 is hardly a smaller 323, despite the #ing similarity) but his first observation - boats are more affordable in NZ - is right on target, so most of his list won''t fit with a NZ ''for sale'' inventory. (To get a sense for the regional variety of boats, visit http://www.yachtnet.com.au/). Moreover, outfitting a boat for offshore cruising AND going offshore that distance are EACH huge challenges. Challenges aren''t bad but let''s start with what''s more reasonably achieveable, which is to find a few boats in NZ that fit your needs, fly down on standby to check them out, select a surveyor to help you assess their material condition, and end up a boat owner.
But I digress...lists of boat manufacturers and boat brokers isn''t where you need to be spending your initial time; it''s with basic design & construction choices. Here are a few suggestions:
1. The Cruising Handbook by Nigel Calder. The book talks about a LOT of boat systems but also covers the basics (design, materials, etc.) and would be very educational. Nigel has written THE reference book on boat systems (The Boat Owners Mechanical & Electrical Guide) and it should be perhaps the 2nd reference you buy for the boat, right after a good navigation text.
2. The Voyagers'' Handbook by Beth Leonard. You say you want to ''take off''; she & her partner did, knowing very little. Pay attention to all the fundamental topics, including how you''ll finance this gig.
3. The Cruising Life by Ross Norgrove. Probably out of print, so dig for it - it will enthuse you, cover the same basics (every author gives a somewhat different slant on these same basics, so don''t discount reading 2 or 3 different primers) and clue you in on what a joy this adventure can be, provided you adjust your head and are prepared to work hard for success. This was written when systems were much less a part of boating which, in your case, fits nicely.
Finally, network with active cruisers at your intended ''launch pad'' (aka: New Zealand) to find out where the boats are, and with whom to take next steps. I''ll give you one lead: ''speak'' (email, of course) with Ken & Cath on FELICITY (Ken: firstname.lastname@example.org; Cathy: email@example.com) who have stopped for a year to work in and enjoy watching the America''s Cup races in NZ. Good folks, they''ll perhaps be able to give you some pointers on who to being linking up with down there.
Oh, and you won''t be "going home" very often from the South Pacific on your new boat. Not with a smaller boat, anyway; it''s possible but a tough road to hoe. Take a close look at the Pilot Charts. You''ll use a jet, like most folks. <g>
Aboard WHOOSH, lying St. Pete, FL