Re: how much experience do I need
I would say that the budget is good for an Antlantic coastal cruiser. Start learning to sail now so when you get the boat you will be closer to being ready. Once you get a boat you can learn on it where you buy it and take longer and longer trips until you feel you can make Florida.
I guess it all depends on you, how much of a natural you are and how quickly you learn. But deinitely start learning now. Also start looking at boats for sale even if you aren't going to buy it so you have an idea of what they should cost.