2 blade or 3 blade propeller
John, I''d definitely recommend the 3-blade prop. Given your near-term but also long-term cruising plans, I suspect you''ll be happier with it despite its add''l drag.
Have you worked Campbell''s pitch & diameter recs against either of Dave Gerr''s books? (Prop Book and also the Nature of Boats). I think a lot of the latter and have heard the former recommended by savvy folks (Calder is one), and while neither book will produce an iron-clad conclusion for you, it might prove useful to have an ''independent, theoretical but expert'' view to compare against everything else you hear. (The Nature of Boats will also keep you out of the bars at night; it''s a very thoughtful, helpful read, if you haven''t already consumed it).
Understand completely about the ''better choice'' being the one you can afford. After struggling with the Euro and the Pound for the last two years, we understand. At least your near-term cruising will be done in the U.S. Dollar''s neighborhood.