Everyone knows the saying, "be careful what you wish for..." right?
When I was the only adult in the family with sailing experience, my wife said, "I'd consider living aboard."
Then I got my wife sailing lessons, and she said, "this is fantastic!"
Then I bought a little boat to play around on, and when we sail she says, "this is the most relaxing, peaceful, fun thing I've ever done." (She says this at least once per trip.)
Then the family spent the night on the boat (4 people, 26' boat - doable, but I wouldn't want to live that way). She said, "you should look at some bigger boats."
Today she said, "if you get the money squared away, you can buy whatever boat you think we need." The caveat is that we don't move aboard for a couple of years.
Out of the blue.
The family consists of me, my dear wife, and three teenagers. Son, who is 17, is out of the picture, currently enjoying boot camp at Parris Island. Eldest daughter, who is 16, will be off to college in two years. Youngest daughter, who is 14, would move onto a boat tomorrow, and sleep in the cockpit, if need be. She's not a problem.
Budget: 100K or less. I might be able to eek out another 40 to bring it to 140 or so, but that's going to strain the finances considerably.
Sail plan: cruise the Chesapeake for the next year or two, increasing time on the boat, and making mods as needed. Move aboard in two years. Live aboard and sail whenever possible for another year or so. Then cruise the East coast and Carribean for two or three years, running North during hurricane season to DC, Baltimore, NY, Newport, or Boston, then back South for the winter. Finally, hop over to Europe for a few years, and see where it takes us.
The real question for me is, "how much boat do I need?" Before I heard we wouldn't move aboard until my oldest daughter graduates from HS, I knew we needed two cabins and a salon. I'll be working from the boat most of the time, so it shouldn't be too terribly cramped. But, knowing that we'll probably have only three of us (and only for a few years at that) when we move aboard, the second cabin isn't so much of a requirement. Teenage daughters, though, like their privacy.
My priorities are strength/safety, kindly motion, good galley, interior space, aesthetics, and speed (in decreasing order).
I'm thinking of the following as a starting point:
Pearson 424 - Roomy, nice cockpit, I like ketches, interesting layout below, proven circumnavigators, decent motion, known weaknesses to fix up. Kinda big, though (more money for slips, maintenance, etc.)
Valiant 40 - Proven strength and safety. Very nice lines IMO of course. This is one of those boats I've always lusted for.
Whitby 42' ketch - Don't know much about them, but they look acceptable.
Baba 40 - Sweet lines! Makes my heart go pitter patter. The problem here, and with the Choy Lees, is the teak deck. I'm nervous about the maintenance.
38' Endeavour - I don't know about strength, but I like her looks and layout.
38' Shannon - Great reputation, but I'm not thrilled with the layout below.
37' Pacific Seacraft - A proven, lustworthy boat, like the Valiant. Great seakeeping, good layout. Not sure about storage space - I've never been aboard one.
37' Tayana - Again, a double-ender. How does the build quality hold up?
37' Valiant Esprit - Don't know much about this one.
Cape Dory 36 - I like the boat but seems a bit cramped below.
Pearson 365 ketch - what can I say, it's the ketch again.
Thoughts? Anything you'd drop from the list? Anything I'm not including but should?