I know your area well, went to school
in Nelson and grew up in the Sounds. I have just finished my boat here in Sydney
. Here is my, admittedly totally biased view of what is a good cat.
My take is a cat has to be a good sailing boat--I grew up sailing Tornado cats and they ruined me for anything that wasn't a great sailing boat. Therefore you need daggar boards and a boat that is not too heavy. Basically that rules out pretty much all the production boats except for a few like Catana
(which are bloody good boats).
My boat is a Pescott 11.7 cat that I had professionally built in Noosa by Ross Blair--it is an amazing boat. It has the headroom
you need, two queen berths and a double--I've cruised for a week with 4 adults and 4 teenagers and we had a blast--the boat absorbed everyone really well and we're still doing 15-17 knot offshore
(till the teenagers told us to slow down as they were getting thrown around..)
My boat is built out of western red cedar and foam which is a great combination, extremely strong and light. There are a lot of Schionning cats around made of balsa and so far I've not heard any problems with them, however all foam is my preference.
I guess the question to ask yourself is what type of sailing do you want? If you want lots of space with all the toys, airconditioning, 3 heads and lots of wood interior
and, you're not fussed about sailing performance, there are lots of choices. If you want a boat that sails
well while still giving you room minus the aircon, multiple heads, and not quite so many toys, you need to watch weight and need dagger boards
Also, my boat has 20hp honda
outboards and I love them. More than enough power and so easy to use, power tilt them up and no worry about shafts, anodes, folding props etc etc and you get three sets for the price
of one set of diesels.
Re rig, I go simple, slab reefed main with roller furler
headsail, works well and is reliable
Re power, solar panels
are around a $1 per watt these days--I have two 200watt panels
and it provides all our power for autopilot
, fridge, music
, lights and instruments and it's simple
Re the Seawind
1000, they are 'brick outhouses', they just suck at sailing...(apologies to all Seawind owners...) I spend a week on one in the Whitsundays...also the beds are small...