Dreams of Sunsets, Rum & Island Life
I just spent the seven months cruising down through the Great Lakes, Erie Canal/Hudson River, down the East Coast to SW Florida with my wife and two year old daughter. It was the best seven months of my life (so far).
We, too, had a bunch of nay-sayers telling us what a big mistake we were making. In the end, it turned out they we all just envious of us having the chutzpah to make the discision and go. If it feels right to you, then it is probably the right thing.
Keep in mind, of course, that is far from ideal. I think my greatest reward is the fact the we did it successfully - we set our goal and achieved it. We would have loved to have kept going, but we couldn''t afford more than we''d planned for. No regrets.
As per your dog idea, we have black lab and decided to make other arrangements with family for her. We love her and she is part of our family, but the open sea is no place for a large dog, even one who loves the water as much as she does. We are now reunited with her, but surely realize that the trip would have been too much for us all to handle. It was a tough decision, one that you''ll have to decide for yourself.
Per your gear choices, well, they are a matter of personal taste. However, I can add that I used my radar all of 3 times during the trip, but wished ever week that I had a watermaker.
Good luck in what ever you decide. It is a great way to live.