The run through Mobile Bay isn't protected at all. You can hug the side the wind
is coming from to avoid the worst of the waves, but if it's out of the north or south it can get rough in a hurry. The entire bay is pretty shallow, so waves stack up quick. Most of the time however it is a pretty easy trip down the bay. Stay out of the channel though, the big ships have limited maneuverability, and the depth
across most of the bay is around 10-14'. Just don't come to close into shore.
You can run the intercostal from Mobile Bay to Carrabelle Florida. But that is one of the most boring trips I have ever made. The ICW is relatively narrow through most of it, so you have to have a very alert bridge watch at all times, and constantly monitor
. Because a lot of the barges will hold to the middle of the channel (it's only ~150 foot wide) unless they know there is a boat there. It's not that they are rude, they just don't want to hit the shore either. The whole area is a no wake zone, so slow speeds reduce your trip time significantly.
As a practical matter this also means no running at night, and there are limited places to put in, so you tend to move from harbor to harbor every day. And at most of the harbors there is litterly nothing to do. Like no bar, no restaurant (maybe a greasy spoon open until 7). That's it. And this whole area is a mosquito pit...
God I make it sound miserable
. It really isn't as bad as all of that, but there just isn't much of note either. I have done this trip a few times via the ditch, and will always choose to go outside if the boat can handle it.
Generally my trip would look like mobile - Pensacola
(40ish miles) - fort Walton (40ish miles)- panama
city (40ish miles)- Apalachacola (60 miles) - Steinhatchie (80 miles) and this leg is pure open water.
Of course if I am on a schedule, or just don't feel like stopping somewhere I may skip one of these, or two. But I always prefer to go outside when the weather allows. Even if that means waiting a day or so. I figure the open water is worth not having to slog the ditch.
And like I said, my powerboat is not the most offshore
capable boat out there. But waiting on a weather window is still nicer (to me) than the ditch.