When we made that decision we started looking for something about 45 feet. We had a boy aged 10 and girl aged 12. We looked and looked for something that would be suitable as everyone needs a "door to slam" i.e. som kind of private place. Plus we didn't want to be cramped.
Well 45 feet turned into 48, turned into 54 turned into 60' Sail was the only option for us as we are sailors. (don't mind powerboats - just really like sailing and wanted to travel the world - without the fuel costs)
We have been living aboard
for 8 years now and our travels have taken us from Vancouver Island south through the canal to Belize
(for the time being) Our kids have started their own life now but do still come and spend a few months a year with us.
The one thing I will mention about the fuel.. There were MANY times I wondered why we had a sailboat as our trip down the west coast was (distance wise) 75% motoring. The rest of the time we had sail up and it went well, except when it didn't and the sails
tore and otther thing that went wrong..
EXPECT to spend just as much money on sailing as you do on engines. Best (MHO) is either a motor
sailor or trawler style power. Best efficiency under power and with any type of sailboat, you are now looking after 2 $15,000 engines instead of just one. PLUS you have to maintain all the sailing deck hardware
. Can get expensive is a tropical marine environment
. Stainless steel fittings don't last all that long (if they are used - many boats st at their slips most of the time) (5 - 7 years is their useful life) and when they go, there's no warning.
All that being said.. sailing is a hoot! Super family fun and when everything is working you can have great days for very little funds. I'd say the extra expense is worth it, but that's me.. :-).
Think very carefully about a vessel and having enough room. 34' isn't for 5 people full time aboard. There are many vessels in the 35 - 40' (power) range that actually have 3 cabins and some sailboats that also do. But expect cramped quarters in a sailboat.
Hope you make a successful transition. raising a family on a boat is the BEST THING you can do for them .(again MHO) They get to see more of the world than most folks do and they learn more about life and teamwork than almost anywhere else.
If you are ever down in the Belize
area.. Stop by Sanctuary and look for the Stone Age. we'll be berthed at the new facility due to open there in the next couple months.
Best of luck finding the right boat.
John & Lucy.