How long will it take me to sail from Panama City, FL to Miami?
Mark Matthews responds:
You're question is a bit open-ended. Regardless of the kind of boat you have, the best policy when travelling in sailboats is not to be in a hurry, but rather to wait for favorable weather conditions and then enjoy the scenery along the way.
How long such a trip will take depends on a number of factors. The most important factor is whether you opt to go offshore and sail around the Floriday Keys to get to Miami, or opt to take the ditch (the Intracoastal Waterway). If you take the ICW, there are a number of issue you'll have to deal with. Becoming stuck in the mud and having to wait for the tide to come in is a plausible scenario when negotiating the ICW and its obstacles.
The ICW also brings with it some other restrictive conditions. One can only travel on the ICW during daylight hours due to a lack of lighted navigational aids. You'll also want to factor into your travel plans that for at least half the time, the currents are likely to be against you. Then too, there are bridge schedules to incorporate into the plan, and whether or not your boat can clear the infamous low bridge on the Okachobee Waterway.
Finally, be aware that few boats ever really sail on the ICW; traveling this waterway means lots of motoring, which means more stops for fuel, ice, etc. Though I don't know the size of your vessel nor its average speeds, if I had to venture a guess I'd say your trip from Panama City to Miami would require anywhere between a week and two weeks of time en route, depending on how hard you want to push it, and whether or not there are any mechanical snafus along the way. If you'd like a more accurate estimation, I recommend that you take a look at the charts for the entire route, figure out the distance and the speed you'll average, and then do the math.
Have a good trip.