Thank you for the input, tomperanteau.
As I don't have any predefined home port, just a region, I suppose I'll have plenty of boats to consider. West Coast/Gulf Coast covers a lot of territory.
On another general approach topic - If you were a novice like me, wanting to spend a year or two learning to sail your boat before visiting a different continent, which coast would you prefer to be based on? The Gulf Coast obviously appeals due to access to the Caribbean (not to suggest it's a short jaunt from TX to San Blas), but it would be nice to have to avoid hurricane season. I know this is a ridiculously vague question, but where should a novice learn?
Other than Alaska, I've spent most my life in Colorado, hence my ignorance.
Actually... I am a novice, or at least I consider myself to be. Only been sailing for three years (1800 NM). However in those three years and three boats I have learned how to do in-depth inspections, and have looked at more boats than I can remember while looking for our next.
As far as which coast, I was born and raised in Houston so we frequented trips to the coast and rented a beach house every summer. I am very familiar with the entire Texas coast. To me it's almost a toss up. In the Gulf you have a lot of coast to explore and of course the Bahamas and other islands. That is VERY attractive. The Gulf can be a bit meaner than the open ocean in that the wave intervals can be shorter and pound you more because of the shallower water there, but the open ocean has its anomalies too.
The west coast has several islands, San Francisco Bay, and then Baja to the south to explore, then Canada and north too. Then you have the Pacific islands to the west. Some of the atols are so beautiful and we have mapped out our plans to see them. And you have a straight shot (well, kinda) to Hawaii and New Zealand/Australia. Those two are must-sees for us, too.
It's all about personal preference when you get right down to it. One thing I really miss about the Gulf is that it is much warmer (hotter) than southern California. It can stay fairly cool here for a long time. Example is that down at the coast it is in the upper 60's right now, and the high will be around 68. Combine that with a fresh breeze and some sea spray coming over the bow and you have to wear a sweater all the time. It isn't warm enough to dawn shorts until around mid to late July. That's why when the wife and I break out of here for good, we'll head south. We want warmer weather and she is a total fisherman. She loves to fish, so we will have to be in warmer waters to satisfy her.
Keep us posted on what your plans are.