Regarding boat size: I've owned from 20' up to 41',' and skippered 44' 48' and 55' boats. Bigger is certainly better but not without compromises.
The forces in the sheets
of a bigger vessel go up by magnitudes - you can use machines to help, but small mistakes
in a big boat are serious problems when compared to the forces present in the sheets
of a small boat. Big boat is like single
handing - it all can be done - but you must plan ahead and earn your skill through experience. There's also a lot more to clean, paint
, rig. I was surprised by the massive increase in maintenance
work from my 34' to 41' - only 7' more, but the deck
has a lot more area, the hull
has more beam, etc etc.
a "cheap" 50' versus a "quality" 40' boat: for me a quality boat means you can continue to maintain and modernize systems onboard over the decades. a cheap
boat usually has an interior
Pan that is cast in a mold
then glued in to the hull
before the deck
is glued on top. fast and efficient, but once the systems (wiring, pumps, tanks
, sumps, plumbing
bolts) start to get old you are faced with cutting through fiberglass
pan to even try to diagnose a problem. A quality boat is built without a plastic pan, the interior
bulkheads are tabbed to the hull, the furniture and sole is built not injection molded, and access is well planned. that's why certain boats can be 50 years old and still valuable, while a cheaper molded-pan boat is going to be a huge problem even if only 15 years old, and the cheap-material tank leaks
, or the hydraulic lines running the furling
motors leak, etc.
If you have a SawzAll and like fiberglass
dust you can do anything, I guess.
But cruising is probably more about maintenance
than it is about sailing through 50' seas and lee shores with pirates pursuing.
there is an aphorism, I think by Pardy: buy the smallest boat you can be comfortable in rather than the most expensive boat you can afford.
Be happy whatever you choose