We sail a 2001 Saga 43, designed by the famous offshore yacht designer, Robert Perry. In choosing a boat, we had a few very specific qualities which were absolutely required, and a few things we desired, but weren't necessary. Free Spirit embodied all of the things we were wanting in a sailboat: a modern sailboat designed for offshore use, a long water line, a pullman berth (the forward berth is moved back, out of the bow, and a head is in the "V" because I'm not shaped like a triangle and I refuse to sleep in one any longer), a separate aft cabin for the kid, a sail area to displacement ratio of greater than 15 (technical stuff), a walk through, sugar-scoop transom (for when grandmas visit...who am I kidding, we ALL wanted this), a bathroom that included a separate shower stall, and an all around bright, well ventilated boat. We joke that, when looking for boats, all I have to do is open the companionway door and judge if the boat is worth looking at any further depending on the scent of the air escaping. If it stinks (and many, many boats do), it's not the boat. Thankfully this boat smelled great. (If you feel you have the right boat and it smells awful, don't follow my advice necessarily, just investigate what the smell is coming from. Hint: dry bilges make good smelling boats.)
We were also lucky to find Free Spirit had recently gone through a refit and had lots of new bells and whistles, along with important things like newer standing rigging (the wires that hold up the mast. Read: IMPORTANT), a reinforced hull, a new mast step (where the mast sits on the keel), and an extra 900 lbs added onto the keel for extra stability. (Read: What Emily wants).
The rig is a Solent Rig, which means the Genoa and Jib are on separate roller furlings next to each other on the bow. The forward roller houses the Genoa which is deployed in light winds or going downwind. The aft roller houses the Jib which is self-tending and is used when going up wind. Having both sails at the ready is of great benefit during offshore passages where winds may be changing from day to day. Additionally, the rig is tall and the boat is relatively lightweight for a 43 foot boat, which makes it fast in light winds.
All in all, we had a short list of boat designs that would embody the things we wanted in a boat, with a Saga 43 at the top. She's a wonderfully strong and skinny boat which makes sailing enjoyable.