You say you have never sailed before and plan to buy a boat in CA to sail to Vancouver. I am guessing that you are not familiar with the winds and weather
on the west coast
. The trip north from San Diego would be called an advanced sail, not something recommended for most beginners. First, the winds, waves and current
blow steadily and often very strongly from the north to the south. So, going north to Vancouver you will be fighting against this all the way. It is sometimes called sailing up hilll.
I know you say you will plan to stay close to shore but in this situation that does not equate to safety
or calm weather
. In fact it can be the exact opposite.
Another factor to consider, parts
of the west coast
it is a long way between harbors and you may not have a place to stop if you are tired or hit stormy weather. Also, some of the harbors are actually where rivers flow out to the ocean and these harbors can be very dangerous in rough weather. They will have a shallow area at the mouth of the river called a bar where the deep ocean waves pile up and break when they hit the shallow area. When this happens you are trapped off shore and cannot enter the harbor at all.
As you see, the trip you propose is not an easy one and you should look into the details carefully before setting out.
As far as what boat to make the trip, I personally would not go less than 30' and would prefer 35' or better. Regarding instruments, more important are the abilities of the captain
and crew, but basic GPS
and a backup, charts
, binoculars, VHF radio
. There is a good chance of fog
so you might want a radar