I get asked all the time if I am taking the intercoastal waterway. The answer is no as I feel it would be too dangerous for a kayaker.
Why do I say that? I deal with commercial boaters and private boaters all the time in open water. I see first hand how they ignore the rules of navigation and how they have a total disrespect for others not just kayakers.
Now there are a number of boaters out there who have taken boater courses and know what they are doing and I show my appreciation to them by thanking them for following the rules and showing respect.
That aside there is the logistics and physics involved with traveling a confined body of water. It will be less of an impact when the IC is wide and depending on the bottom topography the wakes will be manageable if you are a safe distance away. But, where the IC is narrow then your safety becomes a paramount concern. Not only do you have to contend with the wake close up but you have the residual wakes bouncing off the banks for some time after. Depending on your kayak and your abilities will govern how you handle it and how you come away from it.
I have to deal with this problem in Buzzards Bay where I am training. Buzzards Bay is like a bowl, in the early morning it is flat calm but once the boaters start it the wakes have a ripple effect and they bounce from one side to the other all day.So about noon time the Bay looks like a pot of boiling water.
I am out there trying to paddle a course and I have chop coming at me from all directions. You just pick what looks like the path of least resistance while trying to stay on course. When trying to cross the mouth of the harbors I do well until l I reach the channels. While I am being respectful of the larger boats and waiting to cross I have had private yachts steer closer to me at speed to try and swamp me thinking they are funny. So you can see why I wish t avoid the IC at all costs.
Another safety concern I have is that the farther south down the IC you get you have natural hazards such as water snakes and alligators. I will take my chances with the sharks thank you.
So I think that I have a much better chance of making it safely down the coast if I staying the ocean where I have much more experience.