I did the ICW from Atlantic City, NJ to Northwest of Tampa, FL, 1700 miles exactly on my GPS
odometer including some small retracing and side trips.
Nothing special about that except I did it in a 40 foot houseboat. I have to say all houseboats are not created equal and the Catamaran
Cruisers boat I have did pretty darn good especially with its 20 inches of draft
and economical 115 hp Yamaha outboard
We made almost a hundred miles a day while people I would meet along the way were waiting for tides or some other nonsense and maybe making 40 miles a day.
Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay
, Abemarle Sound, Pamlico sound are all large bodies of water
subject to pretty good blow ups. You have to watch the weather there unless your boat can take it.
The right houseboat can do it, but I'd rather have something more seaworthy
Look for a boat with the following attributes:
1. Shallow draft
. The ICW is a mess, it is not 12 feet deep. In some places it is a couple of feet deep at low tide. Your chart plotter will be wrong in many places. Temporary markers may not have been put in place to keep ya out of hazards. Shallow draft
allows ya to anchor
more places and worry a lot less on the way, and make more miles.
2. Low Air-draft. Bridges are everywhere. Some only operate at certain times. The lower your air-draft the less ya have to mess around with planning for the next bridge.
3. Ability to pick up the speed. You will be 6-8 knots much of the time for various no wake zones and just to save fuel. If you are trying to make the next marina before dark or a certain bridge opening it is nice to be able to dash a few miles and thus save yourself a ton of hassles. I did not have this option and often ended up traveling in the dark in unfamiliar waters, no biggie but if you don't have your act together you can more easily screw up in the dark.
Other than those pick the boat you are comfortable on.