Martin, Don't let them squash your love of adventure or your dreams.
A couple things will go on here, One, "they get to flex a bit" every-time a newbie hops on the site, it gives a sense of power to have knowledge and experiance when they respond. They dont mean any harm and will teach you a great deal if you listen, in fact 5 or 6 years ago when I started much the same way you and many start out, As we reach out for help and comment we make the "cardinal sin" mistake, of offer them what we hope to do. We tell them our dream, our "PLAN"
Here is what they taught me is short order, "And I'm still using it now"
1) Do not leave the dock yet.
learn your boat and its systems. Not just how to use the systems, but what makes them tick. Learn how to repair them. You need to know every thru-Hull's condition. If you can stop encroachment of water. You need to inspect every valve on your boat, Water Fuel, gas, propane, water separator and make sure that the all wok smoothly if not replace or rebuild it.
2) They are somethings that we are not qualified to inspect. ie, Rigging instruments. engine and the like. Don,t be fooled. it could cost you your life.
3) Now how to sail by your self. Like the mention of the autopilot, you can not endure 2 or 3 days with something other than you driving the boat. What 4) what if's. This is the most important question that a sailor ask of him self. What if I lose my mast? What if I lose my engine? What if I start taking on water in a water intake to the engine? What if the Head over flows a floods the cabin? What if I have a lighten strike and loose all GPS, ST4000, auto pilot, VHF, and all you are left with is the cockpit compass? What if my sailing partner falls out of the boat and I never can find him?
5) how do you call for help? Distress, Safety and Urgency Calls.
Now, I, like you and many others have spent a long time reading and researching all this information, however knowledge is not wisdom, Wisdom comes from practical application. That comes from doing.
that's what they taught me here. So here is what my plan turned after they spent time answering my questions and helping me figure out my new 34 year boat.
1 year plan: Move to the coast Buy a boat big enough to cruise in but small enough to single-hand
5 Year Plan: Learn all the systems on the boat and learn to sail "This boat" single-handed. Do some chartering in other boats and start doing over night trips.
10 year plan: find a way to bug out of corporate America and still have enough income to cruise with me and my wife. This for us will work out to $1,600 to $2,000 a month for us. That number will be different to everybody.
Keep it up and untie the lines. Take the na-sayer's with a grain of salt. Most of them don't sail anymore but do spend a great amount of time stopping leaks and getting the bird poop off the decks of their dreams.