We went through much of the same decisions. We don't have kids but looked at various boats from 30 to 42 in mono and multi hulls. If money
was not a object, we would go for a larger catamaran
(Antares 44 would be the dream boat). But everything costs more (i.e. purchase
We ended up with a Catalina
(C310). Its hard to beat them for the value. Our C310 is a smaller version of the C350. It has many of the same features but only one cabin
. It sounds like you are OK with your two boys sharing a cabin
. If that's the case, I think the C350, C380 and C400 would make a good choice. By the way, the C380 and C400 are not coastal cruisers; they are blue water
As to your question about the cockpits, as a live aboard you spend alot of time in the cockpit
. And if you set yourself up right, that would be year round even in cold climates. The first key addition would be a cockpit
enclosure built off of the bimini
. That will allow you to use the cockpit in the heat of the sun, the rain and when the bugs are out. For the winter the key would be the clear shrink wrap. That will act like a greenhouse and it will be comfortable in the cockpit on a cold, sunny winter day. We have had as many as 10 people hanging out in our cockpit. I wouldn't go sailing like that but on the hook or in a marina it's fine.
To the timing, I would say do it now. We mortgage
our boat like a house and the interest is tax deductible. We have a less than 4% interest rate. That brings the payment pretty low. Even when you combine that with the marina cost, it will likely be cheaper than your apartment. It will certainly be cheaper than an apartment plus a boat payment.
Good luck and fair winds,