Re: New to boating
One challenge particular to your area is that Corpus Christi puts you in among large ships. My brother-in-law is a ship pilot at Aransas pass, and I've seen this conflict from a ship's bridge. You will want confidence in your boat and your pilotage before you mess with those big ones.
I do not mean to discourage you from your goal. I think it's a really attractive idea, and would want to do it myself if in your shoes. Just approach it as your envelope, to be expanded gradually in a safe manner. You're going to learn a lot and have safe fun in the process.
Never let anything mechanical know that you are in a hurry.