Welcome Aboard Adele,
Anytime is the right time to take an interest in sailing and cruising.
I noticed a few things in your introduction.
* Twice you mentioned "selling up". At first I thought you meant selling your home and land based possessions. Re-reading, I wondered if you meant trading to a larger boat. I am uncertain of your intent. Not very long ago there was a good post discussing "letting go", discussing the pros and cons of selling the house. If you are interested I will find the link.
There are good points on both sides. The decision is a major one and of personal choice. Before that post, we had planned on selling the house around the time we were ready to shove off. Since that post we are re-thinking it would be better keep some real estate someplace, maybe in a smaller town, or rural area, warm climate, rather secure, with good arrangements to take care of it. I know I stated many expectations and criteria, but we think it is reasonable and attainable. We have time to solve that and adequately prepare in our time line.
Shortly after we first became interested in cruising, I read something, advice from some cruiser, on some website, (regretfully I can not quote the source), but his advice was to the effect of:
"From the time you decide to go cruising, start making plans, get rid of the junk first, sell all your land based possessions, sell your home, move into an apartment, a small apartment. Empty your closets, place the contents on you kitchen table, if it is in the way, it is in the way; get rid of it."
Another source stated: Consider living out of a back pack for weeks at a time or a small RV everyday.
Those maybe extreme, but also realistic.
...... but I have waited until my sons grew up and fortunately I have now convinced my husband that selling up and living on board a yacht isnt crazy.
That part, convincing your husband could be of concern, or troublesome, if he is reluctant. You did not go into detail about his "degree" of comittment or attitude on the matter. Ideally he would be enthusiastic; sailing, and cruising would be in his blood. If he is reluctant, dragging his feet, agreeing just to appease you, that could be a concern, and a future problem. My suggestion is to figure that out, before you get into this to deep or to far. Likely you already know, and I do not.
But first I need to learn to sail something bigger than a pacer across a lake. It will be some time yet before we set sail out of a harbor. ( still in the process of finding the right boat)
If your husband does not know how, he probably should learn the same, otherwise you are the skipper, in charge, and responsible. You mentioned time, give yourselves adequate time. Make a list of skills you think you need. I did. The more I study and learn,
the more it seems I have to study and learn.
The right boat; a never ending topic. I can not answer that as I am considering and studying the same topic. There is a current post concerning keels, which only address one aspect of the right boat. It appears to me as a good summary.
So far I have formed two conclusions about boat selection:
* There is no perfect boat that meets all of the best desirable criteria and does everything.
* Considering Criteria of boat selection everything is a trade off; e.g. smooth ride verses speed, space verses cost, stability verses maneuverability.
Some criteria get even more complicated by a factor of four or more comparisons: handy gadgets verses simplicity verses cost and labor and maintenance.
My plan is to ask a lot of questions, and sail a variety of boats, with a variety of keels and rigging, in all kinds of weather, in harbors and out in the deep blue. In other words, research, read, study, ask and get first hand experiance.
Best Wishes and See Ya Dockside,