Let me first start by saying, I read this book called 'Voyaging on a Small Income', by Annie Hill.
I estimate I could afford to spend up to £10,000 - which isn't a lot, but as I'll more than likely be singlehanding, a small boat ought to be a better choice. Someone mentioned the Hunter Cherubini 33' elsewhere
The last question is, does anyone have any recommendations for sailing courses? I'm based in Essex.
My brother just got done reading Annie Hill's book and enjoyed it. As a follow up, you might like Cruising in Serrafyn
by Lin and Larry Pardey which is also about the "go small, go now" approach.
To start with your last question, we've taken quite a few sailing courses in the UK. Our favorite ones so far have been with British Offshore Sailing School (BOSS) at BOSS Sailing Schools - British Offshore Sailing School UK
. What we really like about them is that you learn practical sailing (and RYA certifications, if you want them) on a well-maintained but simple Westerly Fulmar 32 or Sigma 38. In essence, you learn on a boat that you might be able to afford someday, instead of a 44 foot race boat. Additionally, you can get nice reductions on their courses if you go last minute and help them complete a crew. You will always sail with a yachtmaster instructor, and then students who might be aiming for yachtmaster, dayskipper, competent crew, etc.
We did most of our RYA practical courses with them, a boat handling weekend, and some weekends just for fun, as well as two week-long trips that crossed the Channel to the Channel Islands and Normandy.
Another great place for RYA theory courses (and first aid, sea survival, radar, diesel, etc.) is the Cruising Association (Cruising Association Home Page
). I'm just half-way through my yachtmaster theory course that has been one night a week for months. In addition, the CA has a remarkable nautical library, with just about every cruising and sailing book that you'll see mentioned on Sailnet, as well as charts and pilot guides for the world. We're members of the CA, and we have five books checked out now (ranging from RCC pilotage guide to the Atlantic Islands to Just Cruising
by Liza Copeland).
You're lucky to be in the UK-- I think there are more yachts here per capita than anywhere else in the world. The downside is that they are a bit more expensive. My favorite in the 10k range is the Albin Vega 27 (Albin Vega 27 - A true classic | VAGB - The Vega Association of Great Britain
). Contessa 26s are prettier, but maybe not as practical. Contessa 32s are well over that range.
Good luck with your planning! The London Boatshow starts this weekend, but it can be a bit off-putting because it is more of a slick, vendor's show. I prefer the Southampton Boatshop, but it's in September.