We are in parallel circumstances (ages, plans, etc) and after two comprehensive years of due diligence we are a month or two away from the purchase
of a Catalina
As I can't speak to your budget
issue, I am obviously not able to assist with your question. However I have spent a considerable amount time researching an equally important issue that directly relates to the success of your cruising adventure and have an observation to share about your proposed itinerary.
We initially had thoughts of heading south to the Caribbbean then on to the Med in a counter-clockwise route
. As a former military air navigator, I have extensively researched routes and routing. Based on a multitude of information, we have drastically altered our plans to travel with the prevailing currents and winds. For reasons that have become obvious, we have decided on a clockwise routing (Halifax-Azores-Gibralter) into the Med (for 5-6 years) returning via the ARC
Preferring wide open water
, I am not a fan of the ICW
. Having raced for 40 years (including 3700 miles of ocean racing), I have adapted well to the cruising life and can tell you I have little interest in bucking upwind and upcurrent heading south to ST Maarten. I also have no interest in the upwind trip against the trades from the Caribbean to the Canary Islands.
Nor the upwind trip from Gibraltar
back to N America when the time comes.
We have selected the clockwise (predominantly downwind) route
favoured by sail travelers for hundreds of years for the not insignificant issues of ease of passage
and crew comfort (meal prep, sleep comfort, reduced stress on hull
and standing rigging
, the safety
of following weather).
I hope my comments provide food
for thought as you dream, plan and consider all the necessary actions to 'get out there'.