Welcome! A Defever 44 ought to be nice for several years afloat.
We did the same on the east coast, with a Grand Banks. We met several cruisers who had made the long trip south, through the Panama Canal, and back up the East coast to cruise on that side.
Often uninformed, seldom undecided.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain