Learning the HARD way...
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Boston / Ft Myers Area
Thanked 137 Times in 134 Posts
Rep Power: 10
I'll second the no exterior wood nomination. Every boat that I have looked at has had exterior wood that looks like poop!
In addition, I would add Stainless Steel framed port lights (i.e. New Found Metals). The old plastic Beckson ports leak and suffer from UV degradation.
Minimal maintenance for steering means a tiller. Wheel steering has more stuff to monitor. For some people, a tiller is the only way to sail. For me it isn't. This is a compromise that you have to make for yourself.
RE: Watermakers, if you are spending a lot of time in clear salt water the watermaker can be invaluable. However for most coastal cruisers, even if you make an occasional offshore run, the membrane will get clogged, and you'll wonder why you bought the damn thing. If I lived aboard in the Bahamas, I'd want one. Because I live in a house in New England I don't.
Refrigeration - frequently needs service, and IMHO not worth the effort for your intended use - "daysailing, coastal cruising, and fun racing." If you want cold beer, or "dark and stormy," buy ice.
Galvanic corrosion - I have yet to look at a boat with a galvanic isolation transformer. Frankly, I would not plug my boat into a dockbox without one. I think that all the other solutions to this issue fall short. Without one aboard, I would keep the boat on a mooring.
Wood cabin sole - do you have wood floors where you live? I may be wrong, but I don't see this as a major issue. Take your shoes off when you go below.
I think that davidpm has the right idea about your Accord analogy. Ther are many more systems on a boat. These different systems are operating in a far more harsh environment than any Accord. The result is that the systems will need maintenance (heck, even the Accord needs Oil, Filters, Brakes, Tires, Fluids, eventually a new Battery, and an annual vacuum, wash and wax.) Keep the number of systems on the boat to a minimum of those that you: NEED, those that you understand, and those that you can maintain, and you will find it far less expensive in time and money.