After a false start, I closed a deal on an Endeavour 33 (4'6" draft). Boats in good condition with only 500 hrs on the Yanmar 27hp, sails are good, and rigging etc is same, and comes with autopilot. Boat is in Annapolis, I am in South Florida.
I had a similar choice to make bringing my boat home from Europe. I made the choice on economics (cheaper to sail) but I'd do it again in a second even if it cost more.
The route people seem to take in these circumstances is:
Route. Via ICW & Outside (Beaufort/Morehead, NC)
140 nm, Annapolis, MD to Norfolk, VA
ICW 623 nm, Norfolk, VA to Beaufort/Morehead City, NC
497 Beaufort/Morehead City, NC to Stuart, FL
Remember that the ICW is measured in statute miles (5,280 ft). Knots (kts) are nautical miles (6,076 ft) per hour.
Beaufort is mile 202. Stuart is mile 987.
From Norfolk to Stuart should be less than 3 weeks.
4 kts seems pretty slow to me. In flat water on the ICW you should be able to make 5 kts pretty consistently.
50 miles per day is a pretty average pace on the ICW. 70 and even 75 is doable although you really need to be moving 6.5 kts and the days are long.
If you choose the ICW and are time-limited consider the following:
Stopping for fuel is a huge time waste. It appears your boat has a 36 gallon tank. That means between 54 and 60 hours. Every five gallon fuel jug you carry is another day without fueling.
Marina hopping inevitably leads to short days. If you anchor there are huge options along the ICW that will let you go another hour or two each day.
After dinner get everything together for breakfast (including setting up your percolator) AND lunch the next day. Plan to get moving at first light and eat underway. Lather, rinse, repeat. Daylight is for moving - keep going.
Although generally running the ICW at night is discouraged by conventional wisdom there are some stretches where you can go another couple of hours into the evening, or start before dawn. Alligator-Pungo Canal is an example. Remember that even with towing insurance if you run aground you'll lose more time than you might have gained.
I believe by taking the outside route at Beaufort I can trim the trip down but I have seen varying estimates. Some around 13-15 days.
You should be able to go faster than that on the outside if you go straight through. Get the Gulf Stream charts from Tufte and blow them up to find the counter current inshore and keep moving.
The more often you stop the more time you spend heading into and out of inlets. That's wasted time.
1. Is the ICW route from Norfolk to Beaufort, then take outside is this the best option for the boat with a intermediate experienced crew (my sailing is 15 years old from my NZ sailing time). Ill get experience on the boat inside and outside befiore leaving.
Maybe. It will give you a chance to blow the rust off your skills.
Note that motoring from Norfolk to Beaufort NC on the ICW is experience of limited value offshore. You'll get more benefit from the run down the Chesapeake, especially if you get some good sailing in. I suggest you plan for both heading outside from Norfolk (I stage at Vinings Landing Marina in Little Creek) or continuing inside (leave Annapolis at dawn so that if you do go inside you can just keep moving on the ICW and get your first day behind you).
3. I am trying to work the budget. It looks like I would burn around 170 gallons of diesel, so thats about $700 in fuel. I would need to allow for marina stops say 30 stays on ICW trip at $40/night...and I assume less say 10 stays on ICW/Outside Run at same rate. On top of this is the usual food, etc, but ignore that. So need to set aside $1100 to $2000k, plus food.
I would anchor vice planning on marinas (see above). On days you have to stop for fuel push for a long day and spend the night on a fuel dock. When I fill up (tank and jugs) I tell the marina I spent the night on their fuel dock; most don't charge me for the night.
You can generally provision for about $15/person/day and eat pretty well. You can spend more than that on pre-made foods and eat poorly. Depends on your expectations and cooking skills.
4. Biggest issue will be to get another person to crew, but there are some options to recruit. I am assuming I can get a free person, just pay meals.
If you're going to do more than day hops on the outside it would be nice to have three aboard.