I haven't been a member here for very long, but I have learned a lot so far. Like a lot of people, I have a dream of owning a trawler in retirement, doing some coastal cruising, maybe some island hopping, etc. The problem is that I don't have any experience on a boat like that, or any experience in waters like that, or any idea if either my wife or I will really like that as much as I envision. I joined the forum mostly to find out what kind of boat I should buy. What I found is that none of you can tell me that - I need to discover it myself. So based on what I've learned, here's what I'm going to do.
1) We are registered for some initial training at Anacortes Yacht Charters. We are taking the three day Power Cruising course in June.
2) We will be chartering. We are starting with a boat the same size and engine configuration as our current boat, but with more livable accommodations and more seaworthy (a 29' Ranger Tug). That charter immediately follows our training.
3) Repeat the process. We plan to continue to get more training on bigger boats, twin engines, more advanced topics, and in a variety of styles. We plan on doing this in a number of areas to become familiar with cruising in a variety of settings over a number of years. We can do this quite a few times for what it would cost me to buy the wrong boat, or learn the hard way that she or I don't really love it.
When I signed up on this site I never posted on the welcome mat forum, which I realize now was a faux paux. So I figure better late than never. Thanks to all of you for your insight and experience and advice. I'm glad to be able to participate in this group!