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That sound as a very good idea, I wish our retirement schemes gave such opportunities.

Some thoughts:
Many of those I have spoken with regarding long term sailing advocates catamarans, in the size of 40-43 ft which will give easy handling, easy going and plenty of room should relatives, kids, friends visit (bet they would!). There are certainly pro and cons about every boat, none is perfect - for my own holiday sailing a monohull works best, due to where I live and sail (guess you have no interest to spend some of your time here :) ).

If you buy a boat in the US, where do you register it? Is it possible for you as UK citizens to register it in the US? (OK, Panama is always an option). Guess further that you have to have it registered in order to insure it, and maybe to enter all the numerous countries you intend to visit.
It may be an advatange if at least one of you have some sea master degree to show harbour authorities that you know how to handle your boat.

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