I have sailed the Gulf quite a lot - particularly from Pensacola
to Florida's west coast
. I have also done a delivery from south Louisiana to Galveston and got into the worst storm I have ever sailed in (sustained 50 kt winds gusting to 70). Fortunately we were on a heavy boat
(Bristol 52). I agree with Snore's comment that offshore
waves are generally not too much better than inshore in the Gulf. When the Gulf gets churned up, its typically a washing
machine rather than long rolling waves.
I have been through the area of oil platforms off the Louisianna and Texas
coast. If you look at the charts there are safety
fairways marked. I have seen unmarked structures, and understand there are smaller pipes and structures that may not be marked. So we tried to stay in the fairways.
Personally, I always try to be conservative when route
planning and have "bail out" options. This is particularly important if you don't know the boat well. So I would probably tend to head
NW rather than straight across so as to have some coastal bail-out options in case of problems or weather
. But that's just my preference as I am a firm believer that the most dangerous thing on a boat is a calendar.