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.
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:
- Don’t move until the tropical depression moves.
- Our Catalina 387 can handle 10-20 foot swells and 35 knots of wind quite well.
- The mainsail half-reefed works well in 30-35 knots of wind.
- Running before the storm eases the stress of the storm, but it also prolongs the storm and the passage across the Gulf.
- Cooked meals are great when motoring, but sandwiches are excellent when sailing.
- 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.
Everyone had a chance to catch a fish and some seaweed! :) Olivia had a blast pulling in her first fish too.
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)!
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!