Is the boat truly too "light"? It displaces 10500 pounds and has a 4,200 pound keel.
I have a fin keel, it draws 5'3", is this too much for certain areas of the Caribbean?
Given that I will probably make this cruise by myself, what, if any equipment would you highly recommend for single handing this cruise?
We did see Catalinas in the Bahamas, but I don't remember seeing any further south. Maybe they were there and I just didn't recognize them.
A 5'3" should be no problem. Although our Endeavour 40 was rated at a 5' draft, we actually drew more like 5'6" fully loaded. The fin keel is not the usual one of choice for cruising boats. Most have full or modified full keels.
If you are going to be sailing by yourself I would think you would want a good auto pilot, a furling jib and at least lazy jacks on the main.
Personally, I would choose a boat more for its "livability" than
You spend more time living than sailing.
I would look for an older boat with no much equipment. That way you can add what you want and not pay for someone's inflated idea of the value of what they had added. A small problem here is that some insurance companies don't like boats over 10 years old.
I just turned 51, burned out and decided to take a year or so off work. I live in Dallas and have done quite a bit of lake sailing, and kept a 30' Catalina in Corpus for a couple of years. I am torn between buying a sailboat or a trawler. The sailboat is a lot cheaper to operate and I think safer and more comfortable offshore, but the trawler is a lot more comfortable to live on and perhaps a little easier to operate. Fuel on a trawler could be a substantial expendure, and I think repairs are higher. I plane to keep what ever I buy in South Florida for 6 months to get use to it. I found that the daily marina rate in South Florida is between .75 and .95 per ft. per day, and can run higher in the high traffic areas.
Did you meet any/many trawler people, and were their expenses substantially higher than yours, I assume you were on a sailboat?
Do you know of any place where the "have-done-it" and "want-a-do- it" get together and share information? It such a big jump that hand holding helps, lets the people who are thinking about doing it feel a little more comfortable, and lets people who have done it enjoy sharing their experiences.
Personally, I don't think I would take a small trawler south of the Bahamas. If you did you would need to be very careful about picking your weather windows.
There are many marinas in Florida cheaper than the rates you quoted particularly if you rent on a monthly basis. Also look for out of the way places that don't have all the fancy services.
As to your question about a place to share information. rec.boats.cruising and the liveaboard listserv are the only electronic places I know. If you are actually in south Florida, SSCA has a breakfast every Sunday in Ft. Lauderdale. Of course SSCA also has an annual meeting in November and there is the week long kickoff for the Caribbean 1500 each year.
The north entrance into Georgetown should be OK, but I don't think you can make it out the south one.
I don't remember about Crooked Island or Mayaguana, but the Bahamas guide covers these. I don't think you can get into Atwood Harbor.
Provo should be no problem with anchoring. You will have trouble getting fuel since the yacht fuels docks don't catty enough water. You can have fuel trucked to the commercial dock.
I don't know about Cockburn Harbor.
Where are you going after the Turks & Caicos? You are too deep to cross the Caicos Bank. If you are headed for the Dominican Republic I would go west around the bank from Provo and head south to the coast of the DR. I would then run along the coast. You can get into Puerto Plata and Samana.