We'll call her Womboat 1, even though I'd had a couple of other boats before her but she was the first, let's say serious cruising boat in my life. She was a 28' glass sloop basically a copy of a Herreschoff (sp ?) H28. Inexpensive but sound, simple systems, easily handled and maintenance was relatively simple and not a killer financially. The longest periods I spent on her continuously were measured in weeks not months or years and for me their were some insurmountable problems principally in the areas of stowage space and tankage. If all I had wanted her for was to cruise the waters of tropical Oceania she would have been fine for a young bloke by himself but as I yearned to travel to colder climates where one spends more time down below than up top she was simply to tight, particularly when it became two of us. I had to sell her eventualy, mainly because of work commitments and was a non owner for a few years.
Womboat 2, (Silver Raven), the current hole in the water, is a 34' steel sloop. She was bought as a toe back in the water which thankfully has worked out rather well. Stowage space in still a tad limited but the tankage issue is overcome. Systems still pretty simple, more expensive to maintain but certainly not outrageous. Again we've been using her for weeks at a time and in general are quite comfortable but I'm not as young as I once was and find some issues such as getting in and out of a V-berth, when someone else is asleep in same, to be mildly irksome. Again these are problems that are more of a nuisance in cold weather than hot.
Val has summed it up quite well when he speaks of being part of the 'go it alone, anchor out brigade' a club of which we are also aspiring members. While I love being able to pull into waterfront settlements for the odd night of eating out and drinking at the local we want to be able to spend a lot of time out of reach of civilisation, as far as that is possible in this overcrowed world. I do make the point that for us being away from the madding crowds is as much, if not more about 'vanting to be alone' as it to reduce costs.
So we are now looking for Womboat 3 and here I think we need to be damn careful. Our sights are set on 40' and we are very much trying to keep that as a maximum size knowing just how expensive the gear becomes for every extra foot. In fact, not just the cost of the gear but also the handling thereof noting as well that the bigger the boat the more difficult she is to berth, or indeed to find a berth. (by that I mean temporary berth in ports away from home.) I dare say that W3s systems will also be fairly simple compared to what we have seen on new boats as we browse around the odd boatshow. On the other hand she will have a galley that will suffice, an in port bunk that I can get in and out of without the Houdini contortions and a head that is roomy enough for hot showers on a cold day.
Yes I know that for some this is more than is required and for others is still not enough but it does seem to be a good fit for us. What she will cost is still unknown but it will be most certainly a damn sight less than it is possible to spend. I also know that we could find something a bit cheaper than we will probably end up spending and that the cheaper boat would do the job but we have a budget amount set aside that leaves us adequate funds for living expenses and maintenance.
Both of us are big readers and books take up a lot of space, we both like cooking so wish for better galley and pantry so that we can keep enough stores on board to last far longer away than Raven is capable of. If we find ourselves holed up somewhere cold and wet a generous degree of self sufficiency is going to be important.
So that's it. I'm not one to go knocking others whose concepts are different to mine. The folk who bought W1 cruised her far more extensively than I did and where more than happy with her although they have since moved on to something bigger. They made some changes to her living arrangements that suited them and gave them more stowage space than I had on her but in so doing they created a cabin that I would feel hopelessy cramped in. On Raven we have essentially reduced a double quarter cabin into stowage space and a single berth. That takes away the potential for stay aboard guests but that is an extremely low priority for us so no problem. Other people would find 40' too small though I don't neccessarily agree with their conclusions.
ps - I like the thing about the Pardey's bumming tows. So much for engineless cruising .
“Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.” Terry Pratchett