Hi mermaidseeker and welcoome. This is the place on the internet
to find the answers to the questions you pose. Tons and tons of experience here. The topics you covered are well answered here in history
and by doing some research
you will generate tons of your own questions.
Near the top of the screen
is a search button. The "google" powered search, searches only this site and will return useful reading.
I agree with John - you have boat skills and you need sailing skills. Take a keelboat course, get involved. See if sailing is for you. Find a club, get involved with the groups. Do some weekday racing
to learn from experienceed skippers.
After that the question of which boat becomes, "How long is a piece of string." Everyone has different needs and priorities. That's why there are so many different boats.
Look at your timeline. My plan involved buying a very small cruising boat which I have done. The max time we have spent on board is 4 days. We learn about boat systems and maintenance
. We learn what works and what we miss. We learn about how this boat handles and what might be better. At then end we sell it and have invested only the cost of maintenance
. I know what cruising I want to do, I know how fast I was to go, I know what sea states I will see most of the time. I am pretty sure I know what "big" boat I want.
I also like to race
so recently bought into a race
is its own reward and I can say that it is making me a better sailor. I cruise
and I race, both teach skills.
Good luck and happy reading!