Crossing the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida

Cadence, Sailboat Crossing the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida, Sunrise on Day 1

The plan was simple – we’d leave Galveston, TX, and follow the rhumb line to Clearwater, FL. After all, there was little to no wind in the forecast, so we’d basically motor across.

This is how chapter 2 of our Journey would begin.

The problem is, Cadence is an ocean-designed coastal cruiser, so she only has 36 gallons of diesel – they intended her to be able to jump into port, refuel and get back on the ocean.

They also intended her to sail, not motor.

Calm Seas are Flatter Than a Lake

But here we are, in June (hurricane season), with very little wind. So I packed an additional 12 jerry cans of diesel (60 gallons) on the deck, and we were set to motor across the Gulf of Mexico.

We could make it if we only had one good day of sailing.

We quickly learned things don’t go as planned in the Gulf of Mexico, and even predicted problems don’t even resemble the actual problems we’d face.

Lessons We Learned Crossing the Gulf of Mexico

As always, we learn new lessons. There are always mistakes to make and new viewpoints to gain. On days 1-3 of the Gulf crossing, we learned 6 lessons:

  1. Don’t move until the tropical depression moves.
  2. Our Catalina 387 can handle 10-20 foot swells and 35 knots of wind quite well.
  3. The mainsail half-reefed works well in 30-35 knots of wind.
  4. Running before the storm eases the stress of the storm, but it also prolongs the storm and the passage across the Gulf.
  5. Cooked meals are great when motoring, but sandwiches are excellent when sailing.
  6. Prep for the cold, even in summer.

BONUS: The new sails from Precision Sails were amazing! And any large trip would do good to replace old sails with new ones.

Oil Rigs South of Louisiana

It’s super nice east of Louisiana with nothing but blue water ahead of you. Catching rest is simple. But south of Louisiana from the coast to 200 feet of depth there are oil rigs.

Lots of them.

But they’re not as bad as you might think.

You must keep an alert watch at night, and you must know what’s in front of you for the next 6 nautical miles. That’s about one hour in front of you, so you have plenty of time to maneuver.

95% of them are on the charts, and a good radar tells you everything you need to know.

Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico

There are oil rigs south of Louisiana, but there’s also fish! And the fishing is great!

We trolled a silver spoon and two plastic squids. Mahi Mahi (Dorado) hit the squid. And Little Tunny hit the spoon.

Our First Fish on SV Cadence, A Little Tunny, Catching Fish in the Gulf of Mexico
Our First Fish on SV Cadence, A Little Tunny
Trolling at 5-6 knots behind the sailboat was great! Plastic Squid (Blue/Pink combo) were on fire with the Mahi-Mahi!
Plastic Squid (Blue/Pink combo) were on fire with the Mahi-Mahi!

Everyone had a chance to catch a fish and some seaweed! :) Olivia had a blast pulling in her first fish too.

Olivia Loved Catching Fish aboard SV Cadence. Location: South of Louisiana in 150 feet of water.
Olivia Loved Catching Fish. Location: South of Louisiana in 150 feet of water.

Galveston to Florida by Boat

We are often asked, “How far is it from Galveston to Florida by boat?” If you measure the Galveston jetties to Clearwater Pass jetties, you will get about 630NM. That’s about 725 miles from Galveston to Florida by boat.

In a sailboat, that would equal about 6 days if you move at an average of 5 knots. Increase your sailing speed to 6 knots, and the trip from Galveston to Florida would only take 4.5 days (105 hours)!

Texas to Florida Distance

Of course, the trip across the Gulf of Mexico is different depending on your destination. Some common ports are Mobile, AL, Pensacola, FL, Isla Mujeres, MX, Tampa, FL, and Key West.

Distances by Boat

  • How many miles from Galveston to Cozumel by boat? 820 (statute miles)
  • How many miles from Galveston to Key West by boat? 874
  • How many miles from Galveston to Pensacola by boat? 540
  • How many miles from Florida to Mexico by boat? 335

Thanks for reading the blog today, here are a few of the resources we used on this leg of the Gulf of Mexico Crossing. They are all Amazon affiliate links, which simply means Amazon gives us a few cents for any purchases made after clicking the link, even if you buy something else!



Oh yeah, leave me a comment down below. Can’t wait to share the next leg of our Passage Across the Gulf of Mexico from Galveston to Florida!





19 responses to “Crossing the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida”

  1. Cindy Felio

    You and the family are better than I …..I’m a chicken with the “unknown” safe travels!❤️

    1. LOL ❤️ We’re pretty chicken too!

  2. Scott Mallard

    We are really happy for you guys! We enjoyed your latest episode Crossing…… Awesome!

    1. Thanks, Scott! I’m glad you enjoyed the episode, and I can’t wait to share the rest of the crossing with you.

  3. GIDGET Belinoski – Bailey

    Enjoying your journey with y’all! Be safe!

    1. Hey Gidget…thanks for joining the journey! Hope all is well for you!

  4. Calah Smith

    Safe travels! I love keeping up with y’all’s adventures! ⛵️

    1. Thanks, Calah…I didn’t know you saw our adventures, that’s too cool!

  5. Marie Rocheleau

    Hmmmm- were the fish catch and release or suppers? Looks like so much fun!

    1. We kept one Little Tunny and released those beautiful Mahi-Mahis. It was a blast!

  6. Marie Rocheleau

    Beautiful pictures!!

  7. Rick M

    How many nautical miles was it across the golf Texas to Flordia

  8. Phil

    Completely new sailor trying to sails mostly unknown boat from Texas to Destin, Florida. Should I take ICW, or go outside?

  9. Captain Holly B

    Is there a “better” time of year to do this? What if you were going via power instead of sail? Thoughts?

    1. Yes. Late fall before the fronts get intense, early spring after the fronts start dying but the SE is weak, and earlier in the summer than we did it (May).

  10. Ed Jones

    Nice blog post. However you failed to explain any problems yall had. Lol. All good. Yall still sailing?

    1. Yep, still sailing! Check out our latest adventure at https://www.youtube.com/@thefosterjourney

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Traveling from Galveston to Florida By Boat