My wife and I, and our 3 dogs, are considering a long cruise starting in Minneapolis, MN. We may attempt the whole Great Loop, or we may just end up somewhere in FL. We've even discussed going all the way out to Key West.

The main challenge is finding a suitable boat in which to make this trip. The dogs play heavily into the decision... we have a nice sailboat (Nor'Sea 27) which would handle the trip just fine, but the dogs simply can't get in and out of the boat well enough to make it a possibility. Even looking at trawlers, a lot of them wouldn't be suitable. But when I start looking at houseboats (we currently live on a 48' Lazy-Days btw) I'm not confident about their ability to handle the conditions in the gulf.

BTW- I have limited experience in open water, and the experience I do have is sailing.

Anyhow, I'm hoping to hear from someone that does have experience with the Gulf and the Keys area with a houseboat. I have a chance to buy a 35' Kingscraft at a fair price, and I like a lot of aspects of the design. Can it handle this kind of trip though with a decent margin of safety? Obviously I'll pick my weather window as conservatively as I can, but as I understand it there's still at least 140 miles of unprotected Gulf cruising necessary... and that's a fair amount of time for unexpected weather to come up.