Firstly, I think it's a huge mistake to spend $200+ on a boat if you still have a question like power or sail. That needs to be resolved much more cheaply.
I'm going to take a lot of heat on this forum for this recommendation, but I suggest you get a Power-sailor. They're both sail boats and power boats, large enough to camp in for a weekend (which sounds like its your next few years) or to do a week or two.
These boats are 26 feet long, Good condition used in the $20,000 range, and they are a hybrid between a sailboat and a cruising powerboat (think 26' bayliner, but generally more cheaply made). Best part is they'll resale for about the same as you paid for it used if it remains in good condition. Because they trailer, they don't lose their value nearly as quickly as a boat that must be slipped. Of course with bottom paint
you can slip them which I recommend because constant trailering is a real hassle and not the experience you're looking to acquire.
You can use these boats either way, as a pure trawler
, a planing powerboat, or a sailboat. They're not nearly as good in any mode as a "pure" example of the type, but they switch back and forth between modes easily. Under power they'll go up to about 20mph depending on what kind of motor
Anyone can raise, lower, unstep, and remove the mast
in an hour. Anyone. They use a winch
system that makes it pretty easy. The mast
comes off completely by removing a few clevis pins and lowering it over the site to the ground with the dock-lines. And when unstepped they don't look like a sailboat missing it's mast. I personally don't like the 80's euro-style look to them, but many people do. You often see them being used without their rigging, and many owners who used to sail them remove the rigging in their later years and keep using the same boat.
They're bad enough at sailing that you'll really learn how to sail. You have to trim constantly to maintain speed, and you really learn the dynamics involved in sailing, unlike the bigger keelboats where you can just set your sails
, put the autopilot
on, and take a nap. They aren't speed deamons with a hull speed
of 6.5 knots and a reasonable expectation of 5 knots if you really know what you're doing.
They use water-ballast in order to be lighter for power mode, so you MUST ensure the tanks
are filled when you sail or these boats can knock down. It's easy to do but its also easy to forget, so be mindful of it if you get one.
Anyway, after three years with a power-sailor, you will know FOR CERTAIN whether you want to sail or you want to power. You'll get most of your money
back in resale, and you'll have wasted FAR less money than buying
the wrong big boat. For that matter, the difference in price
and sail will cost less than a single
option on a big new boat.
It's what I did, and I wound up going the sailing route
. Many others go power, but amongst the group of powersailor owners I know, most wind
up graduating to larger sailboats, with some going to trawlers, and nobody really going to cabin
cruisers. Those boats are just too expensive in fuel costs for most long-distance cruisers.
My humble opinion. Let the flaming begin!