I haven't done the Carribean, just SoPac in our W32. From my experience in flying in the Carribean, the winds tend to be fairly strong and consistant in direction. That's perfect conditions for a Westsail. Correct me if I'm wrong but believe the Bahamas
are the primary area where shallow draft
is an issue. Since almost all boats with a fixed keel
draw 5' or more, the 5'6" draft
of the Westsail shouldn't be that much of a problem. To get significantly shallower draft
you'd have to go to a center board boat. Shallow draft isn't all it's cracked up to be. Primarily it means that you get to run aground closer to shore.
We spent two summers in French Polynesia
and the boat was comfortable with plenty of ventilation. We did not have a hatch
over the main cabin
which would be one thing that might have made the ventilation better. All the ports
on a Westsail are opening unlike most every other boat. We had an awning that covered the boat from the mast
aft which was great for keeping the sun off the deck
and the boat cool. Had a pup tent like awning made for the foredeck that acted as a windscoop as well as shade. At anchor
almost always had a cool breeze through the boat. The only time the boat got uncomfortable was in the evening when it would get calm between the change from onshore to offshore
As far as a boat to live on, the Westsail is nearly ideal for a couple. Tankage is very generous. The galley
layout is excellent especially if you have a cabinet over the ice box. Storage
is capacious. We carried a years worth of supplies when we left for the South. The boats have a very easy motion though they do sail with a bit of heel as do all boats with slack bilges.
The Westsail is surprizingly fast when they've got a bit of wind
. We averaged 118nm a day with almost no motor
usage except to charge batteries and get in and out of atolls and harbors. Best days run was 178 nm, the worst 26. One thing the W32 won't due is sail hard on the wind in light air and a chop. You either have to motor sail or crack off 10-15 degrees in those conditons. We sailed mostly with a Yankee, Staysail and reefed main. The only sail change we made was a reacher drifter for light air conditions and reaching in moderate winds.
Westsails are not 'fun' to sail. But then you really aren't looking for fun when you are spending days at sea. The boats are very heavy, slow to accelerate and directionally stable. They do not handle like a dinghy
which is something I was very thankful for. The Aires wind vane
had no problem steering
the boat in all conditions. If the boat would sail, the vane would steer the boat.
My wife sounds like your wife. She is not a great sailor. She never got seasick but usually felt a bit queasy and didn't really get into the sailing part of the journey. She did love being there, I liked getting there.
We lived aboard for 2 years and cruised for 18 months and found the boat the boat to be ideal. You would need to go at least 4' and more like 8' longer in length to get the carrying capacity and living space of a W32.