For someone who wants to travel from Pensacola to Tampa by boat the length of time that this journey will take is going to depend on a number of factors.
The waters around Florida are some of the best in the world for boating, and anyone who has experienced them will tell you that they are not to be missed. But boating from Tampa to Pensacola can be challenging if you don’t take certain measures to make sure you do it correctly.
A boat trip from Pensacola to Tampa will take you anywhere from overnight to a week, depending on what type of boat you plan to take on the journey, what type of weather you will encounter, and what time of year it is when you decide to travel.
Anyone who has had the opportunity to set sail around the great state of Florida knows firsthand what a grand adventure it can prove to be. It also can be fraught with problems if you haven’t thought through the needs of your vessel, your crew, the time of year, and any inclement weather you could potentially encounter. Luckily, I’ve taken all the guesswork out of this situation so that your boat ride from Pensacola to Tampa can be an effortless and enjoyable one.
I am an avid boater and have spent much of my life navigating the waters around the state of Florida. I love sharing my findings with others and look forward to knowing that my suggestions can make your journey just as enjoyable as mine always are.
How Long Does it Take From Pensacola to Tampa by Boat?
Pensacola is a city on the west side of Florida, sitting at the top of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a bustling port city that sees plenty of boat traffic, tourists, and recreational fun.
Tampa is also on the far west side of Florida, but sits farther down the coast, also on the Gulf of Mexico. Tampa is substantially larger than Pensacola and houses a national football team, miles of tourist beaches, and a large port that sees plenty of activity from cargo ships to cruise ships.
Getting from Pensacola to Tampa by boat will require sailing down the Florida coast through the Gulf of Mexico. The distance between these two port cities is over 300 miles by sea, but this will vary significantly depending on whether or not you can stay on the charted course or need to veer off of it because of ocean traffic or weather issues.
Many people have taken the challenge of boating this course and say it is breathtaking and fun. And though you may run into some challenges, that is what makes boat enthusiasts ready to take the helm again and again.
That said, it’s still nice to avoid unnecessary issues or stay away from trouble if you can. Let’s look at how long it should normally take you to boat from Pensacola to Tampa, based on various factors that may be at play. That way, you can decide for yourself if this is an ideal course for you and your boat and what – if anything – you may need to modify to make the experience a pleasant, and safe, one.
1. What Type of Boat Do You Plan to Take on the Journey?
One of the biggest variables that will affect how long it may take you to travel from Pensacola to Tampa is what type of craft you are planning to captain in order to make the journey between these two cities.
We all know that boats can vary greatly, from small speed boats to large deep-sea fishing crafts. What type of boat you have has a lot to do with your interests, your family's hobbies, your budget, and where you live.
Certain boats that would be great for lake fishing may not do well in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. On the other hand, a large houseboat may not be ideal for the river that flows alongside your hometown.
The boat you choose for your voyage from Pensacola to Tampa will need to not only be adequately sized, but it must also be adequately prepared.
For example, a 35-foot to 45-foot sailboat would be ideal for sailing in waters like the Gulf of Mexico. A sailing ship smaller than that might have some difficulties on high seas. So, too, should a fishing vessel or motorized boat be upwards of 35 feet in order to be able to handle the unpredictability of the currents, weather, and waves.
Plan to spend at least 24 hours reaching Tampa from Pensacola if you take a boat that is over 35 feet. Anything smaller could significantly lengthen your trip or perhaps make it impossible to go altogether.
2. What Type of Weather Will You Encounter?
When it comes to the length of time to travel from Pensacola to Tampa by boat, the weather patterns are just as crucial as the type of boat you will be traveling in or what time of year you will be setting off on your journey.
We all know that weather can wreak havoc on even the best-laid plans, but this is never more true than when you are setting out on a sea voyage.
What could be a mild tropical storm on land could be something else entirely out in the middle of the ocean. Many tropical storms never even make it to the actual coast, but they sure cause problems for anyone out in the middle of the ocean!
Many boat enthusiasts can navigate through the worst eyes of storms and come out to the other side to tell about it. Plenty of boats can cruise right through tropical storm winds and get their crew and passengers to the other side safely.
That said, it is always a good idea to prepare in advance for inclement weather and have alternative courses charted out if needed. You will also want to plan to add more time to your journey, sometimes significantly if a storm catches you by surprise.
3. What Time of Year Are You Going to Travel?
Finally, the time of year you are going to travel plays a big role in how long it will take you to travel from Pensacola to Tampa by boat, and not just because of seasonal weather.
Timing is often everything, right? In addition to the time of year making a difference when it comes to weather patterns, it’s also a significant factor when you consider daylight hours, the moon and high tides, and how the various seasons affect ocean life and tourist seasons.
The more daylight hours you have, the longer you’ll be able to navigate your vessel more easily. During full moon periods, the tides are affected by the moon’s gravitational pull, and will be higher and more challenging to navigate. And – during certain seasons, sea creatures are more actively hunting and mating and can affect your course and possibly interfere with it.
And let’s not forget cruise ships. Though many cruise lines operate all year long, there are certain times of the year that they are traveling the waterways more frequently and this could result in your trip being delayed as you wait for a cruise ship to pass through your charted path.
The time of year you decide to boat from Pensacola to Tampa will definitely affect how long your trip is going to take, and it’s worth considering this when you are planning your journey.
About THE AUTHOR
I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.Read More About Brian Samson