Propane stove. Kind of a silly requirement, but I really detest alcohol stoves. It doesn't matter, since the only time we'd really use it is when we anchor
out, and I can use my portable propane camp stove for that. Again, not a requirement, but a nice to have.
I think that a built-in, gimballed stove is probably a good investment. I've heard too many horror stories about injuries and fires caused by non-gimbaled, unsecured camping type stoves used aboard sailboats. Even in a quiet anchorage, all it takes is one idiot in a powerboat to topple the pot off the top of the stove or land the stove itself on the floor.
Wheel steering. Salingdog really surprised me when he challenged this one. He's absolutely right. There are advantages to tiller steering, particularly on a smaller boat! More room in the cockpit when at anchor (with the tiller raised), easier to move about under sail, one fewer thing to go wrong and require fixing, and better control of the boat (or so they say). Some beautiful extremely seaworthy boats have tiller steering: Westsail 32 and Southern Cross 31, for example. It just makes sense.
I think the sense of feedback you get with tiller steering is far better than you do, even on a good wheel setup. Wheel steering is also generally harder to put a windvane on, and the autopilots tend to be more expensive. You don't really need the massive leverage of a wheel-based steering system if the boat is properly designed and balanced. On my boat, the most effort I have to steer the boat is when it is under power, as the tiller then steers both the boat and the outboard motor. Under sail, I can generally steer with two fingers almost all the time. If you are having to fight the tiller and have a death grip on it to do so... it usually means that either you've got too much sail up, the sails aren't balanced or the sails are overpowered.... all of which can easily be fixed.. especially if you have a roller-furling headsail.
BTW, as much as I love the Triton, I think that you'd probably be better off in a slightly bigger boat. A 28' boat is awfully tight for four people. An Alberg 30 or Southern Cross 31 would give you a good deal more room, as well as a good turn of additional speed, while not being all that much more difficult to handle or much more expensive to own/maintain.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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