Welcome aboard TF
You are in good company and no shortage here of opinions and assistance.
A good place to start is http://www.trawlerforum.com/forums/s...1-a-14905.html
Figuring out what your style of boating will be and then the Musts, Wants and Don't Wants is the challenge. Many have said here it challenge is to buy your second boat First!
Many of us (myself included) learn from the first and end up wanting something different. Its a natural progression but if approached with diligence I do think it's possible to increase your odds of getting it right the first time.
I recommend the following as a way to start - and write it down -
- How do you envision your boating style?
- What amenities are musts, wants?
- What are you pretty sure you don't need / want
You mentioned your wife - have her do the same - at least partially independent
Then compare notes & combine / compromise (when in doubt - do it her way!)
Now you have a basis to compare different styles, makes, models
Look at as many as you can - walk docks, talk to owners, boat shows, etc
Refine your lists as you learn more and hopefully narrow the field.
Don't forget to inquire and consider what others like about their choices and how they use it. The "best" boat for one purpose may be a "poor" choice for another purpose.
Lastly - make the search fun for you & the wife. Boat shows can become mini vacations of weekend get-a-ways. Walking docks and talking to owners live can result in lots of good info and many / most are happy to share info and usually welcome showing off their boats. Especially helpful to visit marinas where you intend to boat.
You are certainly in a great area for enjoying the trawler lifestyle.
The other great advantage you have where you are is the abundance of charters - It can be a very good learning experience and a way to confirm you preferences before committing the Big $
Good luck with getting up the learning curve and the search.