How Long Does It Take To Travel One Mile By Boat?

If you’re trying to plan a trip, one of the calculations you are soon going to face is how long it takes you to travel a given distance in your vessel. It’s important to know how long it will take you to travel so that you can plan appropriately. Not knowing how long it takes your boat to get places can put you in a dangerous situation.

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How long does it take to travel 1 mile by boat?

If your boat is moving a mile an hour, it will take an hour for you to travel a mile. On the other hand, if you happen to be in one of those cigarette speed racing boats that can go as much as 60 miles per hour, it would only take you a minute to cover a mile. Just calculate approximately how fast your boat goes and calculate based on the distance you’re going to cover how long it will take.

Keep in mind that a nautical mile (nm) is slightly longer than what we typically consider mile. You’ll need to be traveling at a higher mph to cover a nm in the same amount of time.

If you’ve been wondering just how long it may take your boat to travel a mile, here’s what you need to know to calculate how long it will take, as well as tips to help you enable your boat to go faster.

What Contributes to How Fast a Boat Goes?

There are a lot of important factors that will go into how fast your boat is. A common mistake of new sailors is to develop a sense of how fast their boat is under ideal conditions or the conditions they sail in most often and generalize to assume that that’s how fast they’ll always go.

In fact, there are a lot of factors to consider when you are determining just how fast your boat will be. Of course, if you are on a powerboat, the cruising speed of your boat will be the first determining factor in how fast your boat can go.

Of course, power boats can go faster than a row boat or a sailboat, but paying for enough fuel to reach top speeds can add up quickly. Higher speeds mean a higher fuel use rate, and you’ll quickly find yourself with an empty fuel tank.

Sailboats allow you to reach good cruising speeds without burning gallons of gas. If you’re on a sailboat, how big your sails are and how long your boat is will be the first factors to contribute to its knots per hour. Here are other factors that will contribute to how rapidly your boat can travel a mile:Route

A boat traveling on open water will typically make considerably better travel time than one that has to navigate around obstacles. If you have to go through locks, navigate under bridges, or wait your turn to pass through a narrow channel, your overall time will be slowed considerably. When you are trying to decide how long it will take for you to get to your destination, be sure to plan a route that allows for maximum speed.


It should come as no surprise that weather conditions can have an important effect on the time that you make. You will make much better time if you are going downwind and the waves are with you under good conditions, whether you are under sail or you are motoring.

If either the wind or the waves are against you, you may face more of a challenge. Many sailors expect to be slowed down when the wind is against them, but may not anticipate the effect that tide can have.

A strong tide like the Gulf Stream can significantly affect your cruising speed if you are fighting it. You will make your best time only if the wind and tide are both with you. Naturally, if there are incliment weather conditions, you will be slowed even further.


Regardless of what kind of boat you’re in, your skill level has some effect on how fast you go. Experienced sailors know how to use their sail and rig to their best advantage to capitalize on the conditions as much as possible.

Newer sailors may be afraid to keep up as much sail, which will prevent them from achieving the average speeds of more experienced and bolder sailors. They may also be less able to maintain as tight of a reach to the wind, which means they will sail more slowly.

How Long Does It Take To Travel One Mile By Boat?

Experienced Sailors may also react more quickly and appropriately to changes in the conditions, enabling them to recover faster and achieve better speed

Journey Length

If you sail from the anchorage or marina in start out for your mile long race, you will not achieve as good a speed as if you started timing yourself while you were already underway.

It take some time for your boat to stabilize and achieve a good speed and for you to get settled and figure out the conditions to achieve top speed. If you want to know how fast your boat can go and how rapidly it can cover a mile, wait until you are underway and have achieved a good speed before you start timing.


The more sails you have on your boat and the bigger they are, the faster you can go. If you have sails that are particularly well-suited to the conditions you are sailing in, such as a Spinnaker for sailing downwind, you will be able to make much better time under these specialized conditions.

Racing boats typically have a huge amount of sail for the size of the boat. The more sails you have, the faster you can go with the amount of wind available. However, it’s also important to note that the more rigging you have up, the more challenging it might be for you to control your sailboat effectively.

There is a compromise between amount of sail up and control. You are sacrificing ease of control for speed when you carry more sails, which only more experienced sailors can do safely.

Why Choose a Fast Sailboat?

The right sailboat for you depends on your particular sailing goals. If you enjoy a leisurely ride and your primary goal is to enjoy a simple sailing lifestyle, you may find that the compromises that are necessary to make a boat go fast are not worth the sacrifices you make in comfort.

If, on the other hand, you are looking for a weekend cruiser that can get you where you’re going in style, you may want a faster boat. There are some sailboats that are a pretty good balance between cruising comfort and speed.

Some of best sailing racing trimarans and catamarans can offer a superb balance between comfort and speed. Keep in mind that a very fast sailboat may be more challenging for you to handle, especially when you are operating at high speeds. Such boats are much more easy to capsize.

Why Choose a Slower Sailboat?

If you are just getting started in sailing, you may assume that it is always better if you have a faster boat. After all, you probably want to get to where you’re going in a hurry, and it’s more exciting choosing a faster boat.

However, assuming that you need a very fast boat may be a mistake, depending on your needs. Slower boats are typically easier to handle, particularly for a beginner.

Slower boats often have more conveniences and amenities than a faster boat. They also come at a more affordable price most of the time.

What if You Can’t Get to Your Destination Before Nightfall?

If you’re plotting out how fast your boat can go and realizing that you are not going to be able to reach your destination before nightfall, you may be wondering whether you need to call off the trip.

Sailboats are not known for their speed. Throughout time, sailors have needed to find ways to stay on their boat overnight. If you can’t get to your destination before nighttime, here are some things you can do:

Keep Sailing

There are great tools to enable you to navigate even while you sleep. You can connect your boat to an autopilot or a windvane so it will maintain course without you having to steer.

Autopilots have a motor within them that holds the wheel or tiller on course. Windvanes use the strength of wind and water to help them hold your boat on course. Either can be set by a compass just by holding your boat steady and then setting them or by connecting to a GPS.

Stop for the Night

You can also choose to anchor or go to a marina for the night. Anchoring is convenient because it is free and you can drop an anchor very close to your route so you don’t have to go far out of your way.

However, if you do not have the skill to anchor or if conditions aren’t good for holding the anchor, the marina is also a good option.

Just pay for a slip and you can keep your boat there overnight and get going again in the morning. As an added advantage, staying at the marina gives you the opportunity to get off the boat and stretch your legs on shore for a bit.

Enjoy Traveling Every Mile

If you love sailing, the hours have a way of seeming to vanish as you traverse mile after mile. However long it takes for your boat to travel a mile, make sure that you are having fun doing it.