Student Seeks Sailboat
As with many people on here, I'm looking for a boat. Here's my situation, requirements, intentions, and current plans. Tell me I'm an idiot (if you think so), point me in the right direction if you know it. Mostly, recommend a course of action or a model of boat for me to go look at.
I'm a 23 year old male university student in Victoria, BC, with limited funding, and a loan from my parents. I'm looking for a live-aboard for myself, that will let me learn to handle a small boat, get comfortable single-handing, and get closer to the water. I'm not intending my first boat to be my dream boat, nor my final boat. I'm perfectly content to have this one for a few years while I learn the ropes, and decide exactly how I want my dream boat laid out. Then I can spend another few years looking (and of course I won't be able to buy it for a darn long time after that!). Eventually I'll sail the seven seas, but I've got a lot of learning to do before then.
I'm no stranger to boats, but my experience is a little abnormal. Most of my time at sea has been on a 140' gaff schooner by the name of Pacific Grace (google her, and the SALTS organization). I've circumnavigated Vancouver Island, and sailed from PNG to Japan, including sailing up the Huang Po river into Shanghai. That being said, I've never sailed a boat with winches (the Grace was commissioned in 2001, but she looks and feels like 1920, and only uses belaying pins and blocks). I've only very limited experience dinghy sailing. However, I've already explored the local yacht club, and should be out racing on OPBs once a week to get a feel for the vessels around, and am going to explore some other folks live-aboards over the weekend.
I'm very handy, have worked as a finishing carpenter extensively, and am perfectly willing to work on my boat. I will not, however, buy a complete project, because I simply don't have time (as a full-time student I have enough time for maintenance and learning, but not for large refits). I would rather buy a smaller, better appointed boat than a larger, injured one. I do get catastrophically seasick for the first day or so of a passage, but I'm not sure if it would make a difference to get a boat that rides smoother. After all, I got seasick on a 140 footer that drafts 11'6" and has a beam of 22'. I can't imagine a 'little' boat being any gentler.
I'll be spending most of my time onboard just living. I'm a student, I work part-time, and I'll be sitting at the dock a fair bit. Therefore, I need a galley, AC shore power, a (small) table, and a heater. I don't need a fridge, I don't need AC, I don't need the latest and greatest shiny whats-it. If I have space to work in (set up my computer, lay out my textbooks) that's a bonus, but I'm assuming that will only happen on a boat with a nav station, which is likely outside my price range.
I'm anticipating needing one double berth and one single berth: I live alone, but I want my steady girlfriend to feel welcome when she stays with me (hopefully enticing her to stay with me more often, and come with me when I go out exploring). I will be hosting my parents for at least weekend sails, hopefully week-long trips. We have all spent a lot of time in the alpine (storm-bound in tiny tents) so we know how to live small, but if I can I'd like to be able to leave the berths made up during the day and still have space to live. There will almost certainly never be a couple living onboard full-time (If I move in with my SO I'll likely move to her apartment, and the boat will become either a summer cabin, a refuge for me, or be sold on. She hasn't expressed the desire to live aboard and I haven't asked). Stowage will be reasonably important (I have my own tools, etc), but I don't need oodles of space for my shiny toys and prized possessions. There's nothing I can't fit on a boat that I wouldn't be willing to part with.
Of course, while I'm busy living onboard, I will also be putting to sea as often as possible. I'll be staying local for the first long time, but I want the boat to be seaworthy. I will not be crossing oceans on my first boat, but I would like it to be tough enough to circumnavigate Vancouver Island (so that I can join it once I gain enough skill. It's a convenient goal to work towards). I must be able to single hand the boat, and I'd welcome opinions on whether or not roller-furling headsails and self-steering are particularly necessary. Shiny gizmos like those are things that I would be comfortable adding after the fact. I'm not overly fussed if the boat doesn't fly through light air, but I would like to be able to point nicely. There are many narrow channels in my area with noticeable currents to fight or avoid.
My decision will mostly be influenced by what's available. Realistically I can shop anywhere around Puget Sound and BC, but importing a boat is another thousand dollars or so in fees. I'm budgeting 14-18k, obviously the less I spend on the boat the more I have to live off and upgrade with. If anyone knows of anything in the area I should have a look at, please do tell.
Also, I rather prefer wheels to tillers, just out of personal preference. I recognize that that's probably unlikely based on my more important needs.
Thanks very much, hopefully that's more than enough information to go on.