As far as I can tell, the boat is well equipped and capable of this trip. I am having the survey done next week and will likely purchase her. The surveyor has done a pre-view of the boat and is impressed with her condition.
She is equipped with a below deck autopilot as well as a windvane with a spare kit. The diesel is new with less than 100 hours. All the latest navigational equipment, solar panels and new battery banks. I'll have to get a certified lifeboat.
I'm not worried about the boat at all.
How is the rigging? How is the electrical system? How are the through-hulls and hoses? If she passes survey, then she may well be ready for the trip.
My experience on the other hand is limited to day sailing when I was in university 35 years ago, and an Ocean Sailing and Navigation course I'm taking in April this year in the USVI.
That's why I need someone who has done this trip before to help me. It's just 30'. Any more than two people on this boat, who don't really know each other that well, will be a bit crowded - no quarter berth - only a vee-berth and convertible salon. I think two people should be able to handle this boat. Am I wrong?
Basically, you're a complete novice and need an experienced captain by the sounds of it. By limiting it to yourself and another sailor, or more likely a delivery captain with you as crew, you do realize that most of the journey is going to be two people single-handing the same boat, and that you're going to be on a really steep learning curve unless you luck out with your weather window.
If I have to pay someone, I will - but I have a budget. I would prefer finding someone who needs to get to the VI and is willing to crew for little or no pay. Am I dreaming in Technicolor?
Paying someone might be a much wiser choice in the long run. Your chances of getting someone qualified to both do the trip and to help bring you up to speed is much higher then. Most people who are qualified to do this already have a boat.
The trip is going to be at least 2200 nm and will take at least three weeks. If you go the coastal route along the northern Gulf of Mexico, you're going to increase the distance quite a bit. Also, the northern edge of the Gulf of Mexico is fairly shallow and has a lot of traffic as well as oil platforms and such to dodge, not all of which are marked or lit clearly.
The two problems you'll run are:
First, the prevailing winds are typically E-SE
. This means you'll probably end up motoring most of the way, as you'll be going almost dead upwind for much of it. One way to avoid this is to sail south from Galveston and then turn east, however, this greatly increases the distance you'll have to travel.
The second is the loop current that sometimes sets up in the Gulf of Mexico.
This current is a clockwise rotating eddy that splits off from the southerly current that normally comes into the eastern end of the Gulf of Mexico. If the loop current is in the wrong place, it can work against you quite a bit, especially if you end up with a westerly current into an easterly wind....
A good thread for you to read is this one
, which discusses crossing the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida.
If you do decide to do this trip, one thing you could do is break it down into two sections. This would allow you to take a break and also might allow you more flexibility in arranging for crew, since each leg would be shorter. The first leg would be to get the boat from Galveston to Florida. The second would be to go from Florida to the Virgin Islands.
Anyway - I'm not in any hurry. I just didn't want to be in prime Hurricane territory at the end of this coming summer.
Tell me I'm crazy!
You're not crazy, but you really do have to take the time to properly plan this, or you could seriously be putting yourself and whomever crews with you at risk. Going earlier is probably a bit better than later... since hurricane season starts in JUNE.