If it will be just the 2 of you then something around 30' - 34' would be a good size. Much smaller and it gets a bit cramped. Too much larger and the costs go up a lot, boat is more to handle, docking
As mentioned, the market is flush with boats in this range at the moment so you should have a lot of options and your budget should get you a good boat for the job. Pearson 30
, Catalina 30
32 or 36, C&C
(nice Canadian boat), Tartan are a few good brand names that would be a good choice.
If you want a lot of room and private cabins for you and your daughter a Morgan
Outisland 36 is the roomiest 36' I have ever seen with a center cockpit
, private aft and forward cabins. Not the best sailing boat in the world but well built and very shallow draft
One option for the trip, buy a boat in the NE US. Connecticut, RI, Mass have lots of used boats on the market. Move on the boat in July and spend a couple of months getting the boat ready and cruise
around Long Island Sound
. Lots of really fun places to go that are not too far away, protected waters so not terribly rough. This will let you practice your skills, learn the boat and get ready to go south. Then in the fall start south down the ICW
. Take your time and enjoy the trip. By the time it starts getting cold you will be in Florida
and have a good bit of experience with your boat. Wait in south FL for a good weather
day and cross over to the Bahamas
and spend the winter in the islands. Spring head
back to FL and back north, to the Great Lakes
if you like.
In the meantime keep sailing. Read every book you can about sailing, boat maintenance
and repair, navigation
. In between read books
by cruisers to keep your interest up. Oh yes, come back to the forum and ask more questions.
Good luck on the plan.