We get a lot of questions from people who are thinking about making the trip down the Intracoastal Waterway to the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, or a similar one. Probably the most frequent is "How long does it take to get to ____?" The answer is, "It depends . . . ." We have the capability of travelling at 12 knots, but not the budget. So we spend most of the time going 7 knots. Do you mean, "How many days of actual travel?" We left Connecticut in mid-September and got to West End, Bahamas on New Years Eve, but we had stopped to smell the roses and sip the coffee (and rum!) along the way. We were actually underway for less than half the time on the way to the Bahamas. The rest of the time we were either waiting out some bad weather or just simply doing little or nothing.
How about, "What does it cost?" "It depends. . . ." The sky's the limit if you stop at a marina or resort every night, go out for most or all of your meals, and fly home for all the holidays. If you spend most of your nights at anchor (free) and cook most of your meals aboard, your living expenses might even be less than they are at home.
We left Old Saybrook, Connecticut on September 15, 2007, cruised down the ICW to Miami, went across to the Abacos in the Bahamas, and went as far south as Little Harbour. We returned home on June 7, 2008, having spent 265 days aboard. We were underway (moving) for 108 days, covering a total of 3873 nautical miles (NM) which is 4454 statute miles, averaging 35.8 NM per day. Our shortest trip was only a few miles, taking friends and relatives on "3-hour tours" or less. The longest was 78 NM from North Miami to West End. It took 46 days (underway) to get to West End, Bahamas and only 39 to get home from there once The Admiral began to smell home.
We spent 149 nights at anchor, 6 on free docks, 42 on rental moorings, and 58 at marinas - paying as little as $20/night on a dock with electricity and water. (Some math whiz out there will figure out that I'm missing 10 days somehow, if all the other numbers are right. I have no idea what happened during the missing days, but rum was cheaper in the Bahamas than milk so I don't really care!)
We put 920 hours on the engine, including time underway and time charging the batteries (about 2 hours a day when we stayed at anchor or on a mooring). We used 1808 gallons of diesel fuel which cost a low of $2.70 per gallon (New Jersey at the end of September) to a high of $5.12. The most expensive fuel was in the Abacos, but it was around $4.90 in Connecticut when we got home in June, thanks to George W. and his henchmen. Our total fuel bill was $7,393.03.
We had the bottom cleaned by professional divers twice and hauled the boat for a complete bottom job in the Chesapeake on the way home. The 4-year-old chart plotter went belly up just before we planned to leave for the Bahamas and we replaced it. (We have since had the old one factory rebuilt for $150 so we'll have two - one for the bridge and one for the main station.) Other than that, we had no major "boat expenses" on this trip.
Sesame will be "on the hard" in Connecticut for the winter while we give her a rest, clean her up, do a few boat projects, cuddle up to our new gas stove and think about (maybe) heading south again in 2009-2010.