Much depends on what you will discover for yourself these coming 2 or 3 years that you will be sailing, studying and getting ready for the offshore
issues aside, it is a good thing when one can go in a boat that is comfortable enough. No comfort = no fun. RTW is a LONG LASTING adventure - living in a tent is OK overnight, but not all year long.
One of the many things that promote comfort onboard is the size of the boat as expressed by length (mostly waterline length) and perhaps just as importantly by displacement
. I will say go in a boat that is big enough to provide you with the amount of comfort you require. Small and light will not be comfortable. But big (enough) and light may work, if that's what one likes.
The other good thing is perhaps not going in a boat that is too big. The too big thing again will be expressed indirectly by your boat's size, and probably more directly by her displacement
and the size of the canvas
(esp. the biggest one that you will have to manhandle).
Now some of the factors will work together while others will act against each other. I mean: the bigger boat may give more comfort but being bigger it will call for more sail which in turn may at a time call for more brute force to handle the sail. If the brute force is there you are fine but if not you end up busted and bruised.
Another unclear example: a bigger and heavier boat will call for more sail area to be driven in light airs (of which there is quite a good portion if sailing RTW) while a boat of the same size but of lighter built will be more easily driven in light airs, alas, it may also be less comfortable in heavy going ... I guess you are getting my drift by now. So on and so forth ad infinitum - the choices are many and the ones you make at the beginning WILL bear on your chances of having fun while being out there.
One even more unclear example: the complexity of boat systems. Are you handy? If not, buy a new boat and get the service
repair everything that breaks with the insurance
paying for the fun (also - try to sail your RTW within the boat's guarantee period). If such a way impossible, then look for a VERY VERY simple boat, or else a system will break and you will have to go without and pay loads when you finally get to a point where a lame "technician" will temporarily fix it for permanent price
. The repair will soon break or it will turn out that the technician left a screw driver that flopped and shorted some very difficult to fix circuits ... But if you ARE handy, then you are fine - you can fix your boat in no time, and again - the simpler the systems, the faster and more viable the fix (esp. if you are say in Tuamotous).
But no boat sails
by her own virtue and your skills and preferences will be another huge contributor to what boat you will pick up for the trip. If you are of the racing
pedigree you may not really appreciate a boat that is a typical cruising design - built to sail comfortably and safely, with speed still on the list, but not at the top of it. And if you have zero racing
experience and your skills are of purely weekend cruising nature, a racy boat may be a bit too much to handle once condition call for active and attentive driving.
This much in the way of general blah blah blah.
In practical terms, I have seen solo cruisers to go in anything from 20+ footers to 60 footers and doing it. Alas, the big boats were all of light or UL displacement while the little shooters were pretty heavy boats. With the most common configuration of the "cruising couple" - I have seen boats ranging from 23 to say 54 feet with single
offshots in each direction. However, with couples I think most people went for boats between 30+ and 40+ feet, with those in the smaller boats (below say 34) seriously limited by how much junk they could carry along. Limited, but somehow not unhappy, actually far from it.
My own boat is 26' and she was very small (not the smallest though) among the RTW boats we met (also - she was very easy to handle - we started or circumnavigation
with ZERO cruising experience ...). Recently, I have sailed my colleague's 36' Jeanneau
(80'ties model) and she was way too big for me to handle, I would NOT swap boats ... I have also sailed a Pearson 365 ketch
(same size as the Jeanneau
just completely different design) and she was very EASY, I have also delivered a 54 ft catamaran
across some pretty silly winter weather
(and with some help from my friends) and big bang - she was very easy to manage. Safe and comfortable and ... noisy.
I have sailed many other boats too - some good, some bad, some half way between. The newer lighter boats all very good if racy, not quite so good if designed for the weekend / inshore / charter
No hard rules, just too many clues that add together, or not!
Okiday. That's +/- 0.01% of a rough introduction
to choosing the right boat for a RTW. Mind you that probably half of it wrong while the other half biased.