How Long Does it Take to Sail Across the Atlantic? (With Maps)

I'm checking my map here, and I'm just curious: how long does it take to cross the Atlantic? In this article, I'll answer the question for the most common sailing boats and routes.

So there's a short and a long answer. If you want the short answer, here it is:

How long does it take to sail across the Atlantic? The Atlantic takes about 3-4 weeks to cross. If you're fast, take shortcuts, and get lucky, it can be done in about 2 weeks. If you're out of luck and are without wind for a week or more, or use a slow ship, it can easily take up to one month.

It really depends on how you plan to travel, what type of ship you're sailing, its size, and -of course- your skills and speed. So there you have it. It takes three weeks. But why ? If you're in the least like me, you're not at all satisfied with this answer. You'd want the long and detailed answer. If so, read on.

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

How Long Does it Take to Sail Across the Pacific?

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

On this page:

Why does it take three weeks, how to cross the atlantic, how hard is it to sail across the atlantic, what are trade winds and how do they work, related questions.

Of course, there are multiple possible routes. For sailing, however, it is advised to make use of the tradewinds (read on for details). The easiest route from East to West follows Portugal - The Canary Island - Cape Verde - Windward Islands. The total distance of this journey on a map is about 6,800km.

A boat rarely sails in a straight line. It most likely will cover more distance due to a curved or S-shaped journey. A good rule of thumb is to add 15-20% on top of the theoretical distance. In real life, you'll travel about 8,000km. This comes down to about 20 days of sailing in good weather .

Please note that sailers prefer to speak of distance (nautical miles), rather than time. You never know what the weather brings. A Nautical Mile is exactly 1.1508mi or 1,852m.

Want to know how far a sailboat can sail in a day ? Check out my other article on the average sailing distance in different conditions (new tab).

Well, I don't suggest you go and cross the Atlantic after reading this article. Sailing open seas is for experienced skippers. I'm including this part to give you a detailed idea of how to do it, and what the journey consists of.

There are two main routes , from east to west and from west to east.

  • The Southern passage (which is east to west)
  • The Northern passage (which is west to east)

You'll see that both of these routes seem like enormous detours (which they are), but they are the most forgiving sailing route and have worked for over centuries. The routes are dictated by the trade winds. I'll explain them further on.

The Southern passage (east to west)

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

You first need to reach the port of departure. If you travel from Europe to the Americas, you want to sail South-East. Your port of departure will most likely be the Canary Islands, offshore from Western Sahara. Then you will set sail to Cape Verde, offshore from Dakar. Or you'll sail directly to the Windward Island in the Carribean.

The distances of this route are:

  • Portugal to the Canary Islands - 750NM (5-7 days)
  • Canary Islands to Cape Verde - 850NM (5-8 days)
  • Canary Islands to Windward Islands - 2700NM (16-21 days)

This brings your total travel distance around 4000NM and travel time between three and four weeks.

Quickly learn how to use a boat compass with my short beginner's guide here (new tab)

The Northern passage (west to east)

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

First, you need to reach Bermuda, serving as your port of departure, since it has the best westward winds. Mostly you'd be sailing from somewhere in the Carribean to Bermuda. Then you will set sail to the Portuguese Azores, and from there you'll set sail to the Portuguese coast, and then your final destination.

  • Carribean to Bermuda - 850NM (5-8 days)
  • Bermuda to Azores - 1900NM (14-17 days)
  • Azores to Portugal - 700NM (4-8 days)
  • An additional 3-10 days to reach your destination

Your total sailing time will again be between three and four weeks, though this journey will take a bit longer that the westward journey.

Avoiding the hurricane season

Timing also plays an important role in the planning of your journey. Your main concern is to avoid the hurricane season, which lasts from June to November. Most boats leave in November, arriving just in time for Christmas. But the trading winds are stronger in January, making for a faster crossing.

Want to see a handy map with the best sailing season across the globe? Check out my article on sailing seasons here (opens in new tab).

Some info on the Atlantic Ocean

The crossing of the Atlantic is quite a journey. It's the seconds largest ocean in the world, after the Pacific. It covers about 41 million square miles, which is 20% of the Earth's surface. Conclusion: it's big, and you want to be smart about it.

In short: it's as hard you allow it to be.

Sailing across an ocean can seem pretty daunting. I haven't done the crossing myself (yet), but from what I understand, it's actually pretty dull. Bluewater sailing is mostly long stretches of blue, in light airs, cruising at 5 knots. So, in general, it's not super hard.

However, it can get pretty lonely at times. Being alone for 20+ days, with nothing but water and air, can take a toll on you mentally. Most sailors agree that this is the most difficult part of crossing the Atlantic.

It does take some nerve to cross an ocean. Open sea can get quite rough, and when it does, the waves are higher and the winds blow harder than anything you're used to inland.

You should be prepared for these kinds of changes. The most important thing is that you're able to quickly take down a reef. So you should have a simple rig, that allows you to adjust to sudden changes in weather.

If you don't have the experience necessary to deal with heavy weather, you could make (fatal) mistakes. You need to have the confidence that you are in control of your sailboat.

If you want to get into sailing, I recommend you read my article 9 Ways to Learn to Sail for (Practically) Free here .

Also, make sure to bring enough fuel.

How much fuel should you actually carry? It's easy to calculate . Find out how in my article on fuel usage here (opens in new tab).

But what about storms? - A solid boat with a good, capable crew can deal with almost any kind of weather.

I think that if you have the knowledge, experience, and proper gear, it's not difficult. However, if you're unprepared, inexperienced, and unsure about your own capabilities, the great blue could get the better of you.

Luckily our ancestors from the sixteenth century and up were plenty smart. They found the Atlantic had very reliable 'wind roads', which they could use to relatively safely sail to the Americas. These are called trade winds , and they're so useful precisely because they're very predictable. Each new season we can be sure the trade winds bring us to the land of the free. And so they have been used by merchants for many centuries.

In the North Atlantic, only the east-to-west blowing winds are trade winds.

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

The reason they are called trade winds isn't at all obvious

You might think that, since we've used them for trading so much, so we'd call them after the trade. But it's actually the other way around. The word derives from the Late Middle English trade , which means path or track. The winds were first called trade winds, and then we've named our commerce after them . In the eighteenth century, the word trade comes to mean 'commerce'.

So how do these trade winds work?

In the dead center of the Atlantic basin, there's a large area of high atmospheric pressure. We know it as the Azores High, and it stretches all the way to Bermuda. Hot air rises in tropical regions below, after which it cools at higher altitudes, and comes down near the poles. This indefinite transaction creates wind.

Because of that, there's a dead zone in the center of the Atlantic, where there's or no wind at all, or hurricanes. The reason the winds are so predictable, and nearly always blow in the same direction, is due to the rotation of the earth (this is called the Coriolis effect). The current also moves in this direction, creating a comfortable ride.

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

If we line up our routes with our trade winds, you'll notice they line up perfectly.

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

You can learn more about the prevailing winds and their origins in this excellent article at Yachting.com.

My Favorite Beginner Cruising Gear

For passages like these, you need sound navigation gear. It doesn't have to be expensive. Here are my top 3 items:

  • Chartplotter: Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 74cv (check current price at Amazon )
  • Compass: Ritchie Navigation Explorer (check current price on Amazon )
  • Backup GPS: Garmin Strike 4 (check current price on Amazon )

For more details on each one, head over to my recommended gear section .

How long did the Atlantic crossing use to take? In 1492 it took Columbus two months to cross the Atlantic. In the 18th and 19th century, it still took on average six weeks. If weather conditions were bad, it could take up to three months.

So why are we faster now? The wind hasn't increased (or maybe it did, how can I possibly know?).

Why does crossing the Atlantic take less time nowadays? It's mostly due to improved sailing technologies; the shape of the hull, the overall efficiency of boats, and, of course, improved navigation techniques. And sailing boats nowadays use an engine to keep going once the wind lays down. Which, you can imagine, will make quite the difference.

Pinterest image for How Long Does it Take to Sail Across the Atlantic? (With Maps)

I really enjoyed reading this article and learned a few things. Maybe one day I will embark on such a journey. :)

Great Easy text! Thank you so much! I am thinking and reading about this journey a long time.. I might do it.. nice article!!

James Hospedales

Enjoyed your article, which I read because I need to cross the Atlantic but don’t want to pay the carbon cost to the planet. The future of sustainable tourism and travel will have to return to using these ancient “tracks”. This will be among the messages of EarthMedic.

Roy cumming

Good information and written so a novice can understand it.

I have never sailed in my life but I am planing to learn and go from Florda to Batumi, 🇬🇪 Georgia. Great article btw!

John Bowman

Great article really put in terms a beginner sailor can understand, especially the Trade winds. You have a great site and I enjoy reading everything

Cool Breeze

Thanks for sharing. My Pake and I enjoyed sailing and spent never enough time on the water. My family is originally from Marrum and Holwerd. I look forward to one day sailing across the Atlantic.

I really like your blog posts and wondered if there is any chance to get in touch either via e-mail or https://yachting.com/en-gb/ to cover/share some of the content and cooperate?

Many thanks for considering my request. :)

Martin Richardson

I’m a healthy/fit retired person that has dreamed of taking on a challenge of a trans Atlantic sail East to West. What a great tale it would be to buy a sailboat in France and sail it back to the States. My sailing experience has been mostly in the BVI’s.

My question is: Since I don’t possess the necessary skills, how would one go about hiring a experienced skipper to make the trip with me.

Michael Hearns

Thanks so much, very informative, I will be reading again…

Great article.

Very enjoyable read! I would like to cross myself but my other half wants to go the other way!

“The most important thing is that you’re able to quickly take down a reef.” Usually we say, “to reef” or “put in a reef”. This made it sound like you’re actually taking OUT a reef. Or shaking out a reef. Which is what you do when the wind lightens a bit. :)

Wooo! [email protected] this massage keep it up.

it is so inspirational

Hugh Tetley

There is some good information in your article, but also some heavy errors. I have done multiple Atlantic crossings since the 1950’s. The worst error is that you don’t have you own crossing experience, which means you are only relaying second hand information. Reliance on electronics is only for fools. You mention GPS and back up GPS. The only back up is charts and a compass .. if you keep sailing west, then eventually you are going to reach land. I sail with a fifty year old Shipman 28 and all I ever use are charts and compass. Not even a sextant .. and I’m still alive. It is essential to have knowledge, tools and materials to do repairs. Ocean crossings create a lot of wear and tear, particularly with sails. Now, there are far too many spoilt idiots in supermarket level boats, especially catamarans of dubious quality and suitability who give up (and cry about it on social media) or need to be rescued.

Romin de Globein

I totally agree with Hugh Telley. All second hand info and assumptions from a writer with no experience. Too much pretty this and pretty that. Living in Nederland i’ve never seen the “great lakes” of Friesland.

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how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

How To Cross the Atlantic, Routes and Timelines

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

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Before the time of ocean liners and airplanes, crossing the Atlantic used to be a great adventure that took a long time to complete. Nowadays, it’s very different; it’s still a great adventure, but the time it takes to complete has changed.

Here’s how long it takes to cross the Atlantic on various types of boats.



Catamaran2700The Canaries to the Caribbean2-3 Weeks9-10 Knots10.5 – 11.5 MPH
Trimaran2700 The Canaries to the Caribbean 2-3 Weeks9-11 Knots10.5 – 12.7 MPH
Monohull2700 The Canaries to the Caribbean 3-4 Weeks6-8 Knots7-9 MPH
Ocean liner (Queen Mary II)3150New York and Southampton, England 6-8 Days30 Knots35 MPH
(For reference)
Ocean Liner1830New York and Southampton, England (3150 NM)17 Days
Ocean Liner1880New York and Southampton, England (3150 NM)9 Days22 Knots25 MPH
Airplane2010London – New York8 Hours478 Knots550 MPH

Looking at this table we can clearly see that the time it takes to cross the Atlantic has decreased exponentially. Some big developments were of course the steam engine that allowed for bigger and much faster ships to travel the Atlantic while also bringing a lot more cargo.

If we look at the Sailboats in this list, we can see that the more hulls you have the faster it goes (if you want to know more about how that works, check out this article)

There is not a significant difference in time to complete between the catamarans and the trimarans in the short run, but in a circumnavigation of the world, the difference can be huge.

A monohull on the other hand is slower, this is mainly due to the amount of drag this type of hull has.

This table compares different types of boats under the same conditions and adds an airplane as a point of reference.

Transatlantic Crossing in Record Time

Here are the records for the fastest crossings of the Atlantic in a Sailboat.

5d 14h 21min 25s Comanche Monohull201621.44 knots (39.71 km/h)
3d 15h 25min 48sBanque Populaire V Trimaran200932.94 knots (61.00 km/h)
4d 11h 10m 23sSodebo UltimTrimaran201728.35 knots (52.50 km/h)

The 2880 Nautical miles(5330 Km) long route starts at Ambrose Light in New York and finishes on an imaginary line between Lizard Point and Ushant of the coast of England

As you might have noticed, there aren’t any numbers for catamarans since the  classes are divided between monohulls and multihulls.  Since trimarans (three hulls) are faster than catamarans (two hulls), there is no real point in racing a cat.

What you also may have noticed are the ridiculously high speeds these boats are doing. Bear in mind that these are racing boats optimized for speed and made to smash world records.

There’s a big difference between the 28 knots a racing trimaran will make and the 9 knots a cruising catamaran will.

What Type of Sailboat Do You Need To Cross The Atlantic?

Crossing the Atlantic can be done in almost any sailboat or ship. As a matter of fact, it has already been done in small rowboats and open catamarans, so everything is possible.

If your question is what boat should I use to get a somewhat comfortable and safe trip, well, then we have something to talk about.

Choosing between a monohull or a multihull has more to do with personal preferences. Some people really like the stable platform of a catamaran, and others dont think it’s a real way of sailing and wants to be heeling over to its side to fully get that true sailing experience.

For me? Catamaran every day, speed, and comfort, but I’m also not a purist sailor in any way. I’m an adventurist, and the boat is merely a way to experience adventures.

The size I would say matters, bigger usually means it’s safer and can handle bigger waves, although it might be harder to handle on your own I something happens to you or your crew mid-sea.

Most people seem to cross the Atlantic with a boat in the 35 -45 ft spectrum, which fulfills both requirements!

If you are interested in digging deeper into what sized boat you should get, check out my article on Best Sized Catamaran for Ocean Sailin g

Other aspects you might consider are the  size in terms of space onboard , how many people are you doing the passage with, the more people, the easier operating the boat will be. This assumes you have a well-trained crew that you know well.

And what are you going to do once you get there, is it the end of your trip or is the beginning. If you’re doing everything just to cross the ocean and then get someone else to bring it back, that’s one thing. But if its the start of a long adventure, the requirements are different. You are going to want more space for scuba gear, and other toys.

I do think the most important aspect is that you have a seaworthy boat that it’s capable of withstanding weeks on end with sailing in many times rough conditions.

This means that your equipment spent has to be the most expensive and handy, but it needs to be in good condition, and you need to be able to handle your great in every weather.

What Gear Do You Need to Cross the Atlantic?

Not including your average stuff when sailing, such as life vests, etc. There are some great that you might not be on your everyday say m still that could be of high importance during such a formidable sail as this.

  • Emergency food
  • Satellite coms
  • Storm drogue (want to know what it is and how it works,  read  this)
  • Spare parts(tiller, sails, etc.)
  • Entertainment

Different Routes to Cross the Atlantic

Westward route: europe to the caribbean.

According to Jimmy Cornell, a well-known sailor and circumnavigator that has made his own research on the subject, Las Palmas is one of the biggest ports of departure for sailboats crossing the Atlantic.

Around 75’% of the sailboats that arrive in Las Palmas on the Canary Islands will depart for an Ocean crossing.

Getting to The Canary Islands, you should not be in a hurry; there are many very beautiful places en route. No matter where you are coming from this is a good stop well worth a visit.

Coming from the north of Europe, you have France, Spain, and Portugal. Entering from the Mediterranean, you have Italy, Croatia, Greece, and so many other interesting places that you shouldn’t miss unless you’re on a very tight schedule.

Once you reach Las Palmas, you can either go straight towards the Caribbean island of Barbados, or you can do a stop along the way at Cap Verde.

Planing a Stop on Cape Verde

A stop at cap Verde makes sense in many ways; for one, it makes the transatlantic trip more manageable by dividing it into two sections.

The second reason is that it gives you the possibility to stock up on fuel and water that you might have used more than you thought. Since Cap Verde is well developed when it comes to receiving boats doing this type of passage, there is no technical expertise on the island.

From Cap Verde, you can also take a direct flight to Portugal and onwards if the need arises.

Even though you might not plan to stop here, the recommendation is to at least  plan your sailing, so you pass close to the islands,  so if something happens, you can head to Mindelo port and fix it.

Another good reason why you would go close is that the further south you go, the  better chance you will have of catching those sweet tradewinds  that will take you safely and enjoyably to the warm waters of the Caribbean.

Westbound Route On a Catamaran

Sailing west is the preferred option for any sailor and especially if you are on a boat that doesn’t sail perfectly upwind, such as a catamaran.

Sailin g west and using the tradewinds is perfect on a catamaran, the sail will be faster and more comfortable than a monohull of the same size.

Looking at the 2019 ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers), a 55ft french catamaran outclassed the 65 ft professionally sailed monohull with a 10-hour lead. All this while doing yoga on board, something that I can promise was not happening on the monohull.

The stable platform of a catamaran with the wind on your stern makes sailing west on a transatlantic passage perfect for Catamaran.

Eastbound Route: The Caribbean to Europe

Coming back to Europe, I would argue that the same principles are still valid: to stop at or pass by islands close enough to have the option of going into port if need, and using the tradewinds to your advantage.

Considering this, most people leave the Caribbean from Tortola, Britsh virgin islands, or St Marteen. These make great starting points for the eastward journey since they are the last point where there is plenty of fuel, spare parts, and food for the long and sometimes arduous trip back to Europe.

Though it is not necessary, many sailors make a halt at Bermuda; this is a good start to fix anything broken or wait for the right weather before your head on to the next part of your trip.

The Azores, the same goes here, you can skip it, but staying close to it adds safety and comfort if needed, and I would also stop by just to enjoy the islands. It’s a beautiful place and good for a few days of low-intensity cruising.

If you still have some energy left after the trip from Bermuda, one option is to head for a place called Horta. The place is well remembered for its hospitality towards sailors heading towards Europe.

Once you have refueled on diesel and energy, it is time to head for northern Europe. This is usually done by sailing north until the 45th latitude and then heading east.

When is The Best Time to Cross The Atlantic

Choosing a route has a lot to do with your intended purpose of the trip, are you going for a speed record, then going more north might be an option, and accepting the risk might be ok for you and your crew.

If you are going west but more interested in doing it safely and are able to spend a little more time out at sea, then the southern routes mentioned above with a departure date around November and December.

Going west on your way to the Caribbean, you’ll notice the days are getting warmer and longer; this is because going west, you also travel south towards the equator where the days and nights are equally as long be it summer or winter.

This weather window is to avoid the hurricane season in the Caribbean that ends in late November, these are the main risk and must be considered in your plan.

What Is The Best Route For an Atlantic Crossing

Taking into consideration the information above with trade winds, the possibility of breakdowns, and the collective knowledge of the area.

The best route for a westbound Atlantic crossing is from Las Palmas (on the Island of Gran Canarias) to Barbados Via Cap Verde. The best route going east is from St Marteen to the Azores Via Bermuda.

This is, of course, based on the assumptions we have discussed above, and it might not apply to your skillset or aim of the crossing.

Can You Cross the Atlantic Single Handed?

You can definitely cross the Atlantic on your own (short-handed). As a matter of fact, many do every year. Of course, this demands more of the sailor since there is nobody to ask for advice or to help while underway.

Neither is there anyone that will help you with handling sails or maintenance while underway; because of this, it is more dangerous and more difficult to solo sailor sail short-handed as it is also called.

The usual way is to either bring a crew of your own, recruit a crew from the port of exit, or find one online via crewseeker.net.

Is Transatlantic Passages Dangerous?

Sailing in big oceans is never a hundred percent safe. This is why it is an adventure if it was absolutely safe, where would the attractiveness and the excitement lie?

Looking at the data, there aren’t many accidents happening, and of those, there are even fewer that are deadly or leave the crew injured for life.

There are also ways to make it safer; we have discussed boat size and crew skills; other route selection factors are vital. It might not be the quickest to cross the Atlantic, but the southern route seems to be a safer bet.

Prepare yourself, your crew, and the boat, and the chances for accidents will still be there, but they will be small and manageable.

How Lonely Is Crossing The Atlantic?

Spending two to three weeks in the middle of the ocean can definitely be lonely, but it can also be the absolute opposite. If you’re sailing with a crew, you will share the same small space with everyone else, always bumping your elbow. If the weather is rough, you may all be a little tired, which also adds to the group dynamics.

But even if you would get sick and tired of your crew, there are ways to call back home. You might have a Satellite phone, which is expensive by the minute but a lovely way to hear the voice of a loved one back at land. Much better than a text message through Email.

Sending emails has been a pretty straightforward process since the SSB radio started to be utilized.  This type of radio is very simplistic and has good reception up to thousands of miles .

The nice thing with this radio is that it allows for data traffic, which means not only are you able to receive weather updates, but you can also contact your family through Email.

Can You Get Rescued If Something Goes Wrong?

Yes, there might not be a coast guard or anything nearby, and you might be way out to sea, but there is help to get. Since every ship is listening to some set of frequencies, usually, the first step is to call for a Mayday on that channel.

If you’re not getting anyone’s attention, then they might still see you on the AIS, Automatic Identification System, which makes anyone around you know where you are.

Many times the crossing is done together with a lot of other vessels; this gives comfort as they might also be able to help in case of emergency.

If all this fails, you probably also will have your EPIRB,  Emergency  Position Indicating Radio  Beacon , which is a gadget that can be activated through certain triggers such as water, tilt angle, or manually activated.

Once activated, it sends an emergency signal at different frequencies and relays the information back to shore for someone to come help you.

Owner of CatamaranFreedom.com. A minimalist that has lived in a caravan in Sweden, 35ft Monohull in the Bahamas, and right now in his self-built Van. He just started the next adventure, to circumnavigate the world on a Catamaran!

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How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic?

How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

You've probably been dreaming of sailing across the Atlantic your entire life and now you're at a point where you've started planning for it. Well, this will be one of the greatest if not the greatest expedition on your sailboat. This is undeniably a sail of epic dimension and so you should be well prepared. Here are a few points to help you make this once-in-a-lifetime voyage.

Whether in the trade winds or back to Europe, sailing across the Atlantic is, without a doubt, is one of the biggest adventures and feats in sailing. Generally, it requires years of planning and preparation but one of the many questions that might be lingering in your mind is; how long does it take to sail across the Atlantic ? Believe it or not, crossing the Atlantic isn't as difficult as many people always imagine. For many sailors, the imagination of the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean is the most intimidating factor. But with a degree of sailing experience and with a proper sailboat that can make the voyage, sailing across the Atlantic shouldn't be so demanding.

Sailing across the Atlantic takes about 3-4 weeks but you can cut it down to two weeks if you get lucky, take shortcuts, and your sailboat is fast. If you're without proper wind for a week or more, it can take you up to a month. It's important to know the shortcuts, maximize speed, and have the experience of sailing across the Atlantic.

You obviously need to be well-informed about the voyage before setting sail. This article will, therefore, tell you everything you need to know about sailing across the Atlantic. It will tell you how to plan the voyage, the best time to sail , how to use trade winds to your benefit, the appropriate boat size for this voyage, and the level of difficulty to expect.

Table of contents

The Best Time to Cross the Atlantic on a Sailboat

While it can take about three weeks to sail across the Atlantic Ocean, it would only be wise if you anticipate that you'll spend at least a month out there on your sailboat. In most cases, you'll be exposed to changing weather for the entire period, so it's very important to know when to sail.

You should also take into consideration the trade winds. Keep in mind that trade winds can change direction depending on the season so it can either hinder your voyage or help you sail along smoothly.

That being said, the best time to sail across the Atlantic is between November and February. You may be wondering why it's appropriate to sail during the coldest months of the year. Believe it or not, the Atlantic is warmer during this period with water temperatures reaching 82.9 degrees Fahrenheit during winter, so you won't be shaking and shivering.

Another reason why you should sail between November and February is that hurricanes are less prone so it's a lot safer to set sail during this period than other periods of the year. Needless to say, sailing during hurricane season can be deadly and it isn't the right way to test your sailing skills or faith.

Again, the trade winds are most likely to be in your favor if you sail between November and February. The Easterly winds and Mid-Atlantic trade winds will let you sail with more ease during this period.

How to Cross the Atlantic

It wouldn't be a great idea to start planning for your sail after reading this article unless you're an experienced sailor. The truth of the matter is, you may not even know that there are routes that you need to take. There are two main routes: sailing from east to west and from west to east.

These routes may seem enormous but they're the most forgiving and sailors have used them for centuries since the days of Christopher Columbus. Let's get into the details.

The Northern Passage (West to East)

Like any other route, this route is dictated by the trade winds and you, of course, want the trade winds to work in your favor. The first thing that you have to do is to reach your port of departure. If you're sailing from the Americas to Europe, you'll have to reach Bermuda, which generally serves as the point of departure for sailors sailing from the Americas to Europe.

The idea of departing from Bermuda is based on the fact that it offers the best windward winds. In essence, you can sail south to the Caribbean and then to Bermuda. You should then set sail to the Portuguese Azores, after which you can sail to the Portuguese coast and then to your final destination.

Here are the expected distances.

  • The Caribbean to Bermuda - 850NM (5-8 days)
  • Bermuda to the Azores - 1900NM (14-17 days)
  • The Azores to Portugal - 700NM (4-8 days)
  • It may take you an additional 3 days to reach your destination.

Keep in mind that this voyage will take a little bit longer than the westward voyage.

The Southern Passage (East to West)

Just like when sailing eastward, you'll first have to reach your port of departure. The best way to make this voyage is by sailing South-East, so the best port of departure should be the Canary Islands just offshore from Western Sahara. You should set sail to Cape Verde just offshore from Dakar, Senegal before sailing windward to the Caribbean.

Here are the distances that you'll cover.

  • Portugal to the Canary Islands - 750NM (5-7 days)
  • The Canary Islands to Cape Verde - 850NM (5-8 days)
  • The Canary Islands to the Caribbean - 2700NM (16-21 days)

So Why Does it Take about Three to Four Weeks?

In addition to the fact that the total distance of this journey is about 6,800km, a sailboat never sails in a straight line. The voyage is general S-shaped or curved so you'll cover more distance than the normal 6,800 km. In other words, you'll most likely cover 8,000 km, which may take you up to three weeks in good weather and an additional one week if the weather and the winds are working against you.

And because you never know what the ocean and the weather might bring, it only makes sense to talk about distance in nautical miles and not based on time. There are, however, several factors that come into play when crossing the Atlantic on a sailboat.

For example, the type of boat you are using will influence your traveling speed. Generally, sailboats may reach 10 knots which is just about 11.51 MPH. Besides the speed, your location may also be a huge factor. For instance, you may have to cover a greater distance if you're traveling from California than if you're traveling from California.

How to Use Trade Winds to Your Advantage

Trade winds typically come from the southeasterly direction if you're sailing in the southern hemisphere and may tend to push you towards the equator. On the other hand, it may come from the northeasterly direction and can push you along the equator if you're sailing in the northern hemisphere.

Keeping in mind that voyaging through the Atlantic Ocean will hugely depend on how you effectively use reliable road winds. These trade winds are very predictable, which can make them quite useful for your voyage. At the center of the Atlantic basin, there's an enormous area of high atmospheric pressure. This area is known as Azores High and goes all the way to Bermuda.

The trade winds are predictable since they blow in the same direction due to the earth's rotation or what some may refer to as the Coriolis Effect. The currents also move in the same direction with the winds, thereby offering comfortable sailing.

What's the Ideal Sailboat for Crossing the Atlantic

The world's record for the smallest sailboat to ever cross the Atlantic was set in 1993 by a sailor named Hugo Vihlen. The boat named Father's Day measured only five feet and four inches. But if you're sailing for the first time, it wouldn't a really good idea to try replicating Father's Day. In essence, your sailboat shouldn't be less than six feet at it may be too dangerous out there. With that in mind, the best sailboat to cross the Atlantic should measure at least 30 or 40 feet long to be able to withstand the stormy weather and the rough waves and winds. Here's a list of the best cruising sailboats , all of which would do just fine crossing the Atlantic.

In addition to the size of the sailboat, there are other important factors that you should take into consideration. For instance, the design, stability, condition, build quality, the number of crew and the size of holding tanks are other important factors to consider. The sails should be durable and you should be able to control them without any difficulty, especially when there's an emergency.

When it comes to choosing a boat, go for a sailboat with a fixed keel as it works much better than sailboats with suspended rudders. Instead of going for a sailboat with more than one hull, you can go for a mono-hulled sailboat. The idea here is that a sailboat with several hulls can be very difficult to control when the weather becomes bad. The fact that you want to put more focus on your route should mean than you avoid anything that can distract you, so a mono-hulled sailboat might be the best way to go.

Some of the models that can be perfect for this voyage include Albin 27, Vancouver 28, Dufour 29, Westsail 28, and Cape Dory 28. These are exceptional sailboats that have huge reputations when it comes to sailing across the Atlantic.

What You Need

Let's be very honest here, crossing the Atlantic on a sailboat isn't about pointing your sailboat east or west and start sailing. You have to be a skillful sailor, gain experience, and prepare for the voyage. The most important thing is to get informed, plan, and attain some experience.

Here are some of the things that you should do.

  • Have a budget
  • Create a timescale for the voyage
  • Pick on the most appropriate route
  • Choose your crew
  • Make sure that the crew is skilled, self-sufficient, and experienced

If you're planning to sail solo, you have to keep in mind that the risks are higher because you'll be all alone out there on the ocean and have to keep watch at all times. You'll also have to be self-sufficient and have the ability to self-rescue. We, however, believe that this is not the type of voyage that you should go solo. Find a crew and let them be by your side on this journey.

The Right Clothing for the Voyage

When it comes to crossing the Atlantic, it's a good idea to always pack light without compromising your safety. This voyage will take you through a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions so you have to pack accordingly.

Here are some of the things that you must have for this voyage.

  • Boots and trainers
  • Two sets of foul weather gear
  • Running shorts
  • 1 full mid-layer and 1 fleece
  • 2 long sleeve t-shirts
  • 2 full sets of thermals
  • 1 short sleeve t-shirt
  • 4 sets of gloves
  • 3 pairs of warm socks
  • 3 pairs of light socks
  • Travel towel
  • 2 sets of sunglasses

So How Hard is it to Sail across the Atlantic Ocean?

You're probably still wondering whether or not it is hard to sail across the Atlantic . The truth is; sailing across the Atlantic won't be the same for everyone so it's tough to say whether or not it's going to be tough for you. For experienced sailors, they may find it a lot easier to sail across the Atlantic even if they've done it, thanks to their level of experience. On the contrary, a beginner may find it quite challenging and may have to gain some experience by sailing in their neck of the woods before even thinking of trying crossing the Atlantic.

Additionally, you should have a sturdy boat with durable and easy-to-use sails and have a GPS, as well as all the accessories such as a Watermaker . More importantly, have an experienced boat and make sure that everybody is self-sufficient and contributes to making the voyage.

Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean is, without a doubt no mean feat. While it's very challenging, it's an attainable one and perhaps a dream for every sailor out there. The key is to get informed, preparing, planning your route, choosing the right crew, gearing up for the voyage, and learning how to use the winds to your advantage. You should also make sure that the time is right and the sailboat is of appropriate size and well-fitted for the voyage.

Bon voyage!

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

How Long to Sail Across the Atlantic?

Learn how long it takes to sail across the Atlantic, optimal routes, and essential tips for potential travelers eyeing this thrilling ocean adventure.

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

Do you dream of hopping aboard your sailboat, sailing across the ocean, and getting away from it all? It might sound like something out of a movie, but many people share this goal. But it’s a big endeavor that takes lots of planning, especially knowing how long it will take you to sail across the Atlantic.

It takes an average of 21 to 28 days to sail across the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat. If conditions are favorable, you could do it in two weeks. However, it could take one month or a month and a half if the wind isn’t on your side. A cruise ship could cross the Atlantic in 6 to 8 days.

Many factors influence how long a transatlantic adventure will take you, including weather, your boat, and your sailing skills. If you’re curious, you can start learning more about this ocean adventure right here.

How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic On A Sailboat?

How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic On A Sailboat

On average, you can expect to spend three to four weeks sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat.  However, if everything goes right and the wind is favorable for the duration of your journey, you could do it in two weeks.

But this is assuming you are an expert sailor. It also assumes you have a  fast and reliable boat  (the average sailboat has top speeds of 10 miles per hour or 8.69 knots). Also, you likely would know some shortcuts and only plan to make a few stops.

You also need preexisting knowledge of the Atlantic and what it takes to sail across it. This feat is certainly not one you jump into and try. It takes lots of preparation, information, and skill.

Expect The Unexpected When Sailing Across The Atlantic

On the flip side, even if you’re experienced, various situations can add time to your journey.  If the wind isn’t going your way for several days, it could extend your trip a week or more. In some cases, you might spend closer to 40 days sailing across the Atlantic.

You also must always figure out what to expect, as anything can happen on the open sea. Therefore, you can plan around an average of 21 to 28 days, but expect it to take longer. In other words, plan and pack supplies as if it were going to take you at least one month.

How Long Does It Take To Cross The Atlantic At 20 Knots?

How Long Does It Take To Cross The Atlantic At 20 Knots

If you’re traveling at 20 knots, roughly 23 miles per hour, you could cross the Atlantic in 12.5 days under favorable conditions.  One knot  is equivalent to moving one nautical mile or 1.151 miles per hour.

The Atlantic Ocean is approximately 3,500 nautical miles at its widest point (roughly 6,800 kilometers). However, you will not travel in a precise straight line when sailing. Instead, you will travel from one point to the next, making more of an S or zig-zag pattern.

Therefore, you will likely travel slightly farther than 3,500 nautical miles. Depending on your route, you’re more likely to travel between 4,300 and 4,700 nautical miles. Furthermore, you need to add time for breaks and stops.

How Long Did It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic in 1942?

Christopher Columbus sailed westward across the Atlantic, from Spain to the Bahamas, in 91 days starting on August 3, 1942.  He was trying to find a direct route from Europe to Asia, but he was unsuccessful.

He would later make three more attempts over the next ten years, none of which would lead to Asia. Instead, he visited places like Hispaniola, the Americas, and he reached Panama on his last voyage in 1502.

Where To Cross The Atlantic

Where To Cross The Atlantic

Two primary routes for crossing the Atlantic are the Northern Passage (west to east) and the Southern Passage (east to west).  To cross the Atlantic, you must first plan out your route. Sailors have used the Northern and Southern Passages for centuries, and many believe them to be the most manageable routes.

The Northern Passage

The Northern Passage takes you west to east and takes slightly longer than the Southern Passage.  Precisely how long it takes you depends on the weather, your boat, and the tradewinds.

Typically, you would first need to reach the Caribbean, then sail to Bermuda. Bermuda is a popular port of departure for those sailing from the Americas to Europe.

From Bermuda to the Caribbean is 850 nm, which would take about 5 to 8 days. Next, from Bermuda, sail to the Azores, which is 1,900 nm and could take up to 17 days.

Then travel another 700 nm to Portugal in roughly 4 to 8 days, and head to your final destination.  This route is approximately 3450 nm, not including your route to get to Bermuda and then to reach your final destination. Overall, the trip would likely take between 27 and 38 days.

The Southern Passage

The Southern Passage goes east to west and lasts an average of 26 days.  Once again, you first need to sail to your port of departure, the most popular of which is the Canary Islands. People usually travel from Portugal to the Canary Islands, which is 750 nm and takes 5 to 7 days.

Next, sail to Cape Verde, which is 850nm and takes 5 to 8 days. From Cape Verde, you can continue to the Caribbean. This is the longest leg of the journey, at 2,700 nautical miles, and can take 21 days.

Once you add the distance from the Caribbean to your final port, you will travel over 4,300 nautical miles.

Keep in mind these are common routes, but you need to consider where you are going and plan. There are specific routes to take when crossing the Atlantic, and heading out without a plan will doom you before you leave port.

What Size Boat Would You Need To Sail Across The Atlantic?

Size Boat Would You Need To Sail Across The Atlantic

Most sailors recommend a boat that is at least 30 feet long to cross the Atlantic, but 40 feet is ideal.  The smallest boat to cross the Atlantic was only 5 feet, 4 inches long. Hugo Vihlen sailed it across the ocean in 1993, taking 115 days.

The boat was named  Father’s Day . It was his third attempt in 1993 (he had also tried in 1968). The boat was 5 feet, 6 inches on the first two attempts. Hugo cut two inches off the boat before setting out for the third time.

Every year, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers is a favorite event for many sailors, with over 200 boats participating. The event involves going 2,700 nautical miles across the Atlantic. Boaters travel from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia.

The  boat requirements  to participate state that boats must be at least 27 feet long and have a minimum two-person crew. However, most boats that enter are closer to 38 feet long. Depending on the weather, the ARC suggests 18 to 21 days for this voyage if you’re on a 40-foot-long boat.

Can A Yacht Cross The Ocean?

A large superyacht could cross the ocean if it has the proper range, but smaller yachts likely cannot.  It all depends on how many nautical miles the vessel can handle before needing more fuel.

Many superyachts could handle the voyage easily, following specific routes and with the proper preparations. For example,  the Azzam , the largest yacht in the world, is over 550 feet long. It can also reach top speeds of 33+ knots.

If the yacht can’t handle the necessary fuel load for the journey, it won’t be able to make it. Therefore, some people end up shipping their vessels across the ocean via specially-designed freighters.

How Long Does It Take To Cross The Atlantic On A Cruise Ship?

A cruise ship could sail across the Atlantic in 6 to 8 days in good conditions without any stops.  A standard cruise ship travels at 20 to 25 knots; the average cruise ship is roughly 1,000 feet long.

However, a transatlantic cruise actually lasts much longer, typically about two weeks. This longer duration is because of the itineraries, which include stopping at different ports along the way.

When Is the Best Time To Sail Across The Atlantic Ocean?

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The best time to sail the Atlantic is between November and February when the water is warmer, and there's less chance of hurricanes.  The trade winds are strong, between 15 and 25 knots, from late November through December.

This is the timeframe the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers recommends sailing (they use the southern route). When January approaches, the trade winds will grow stronger, up to 30 knots, when the high over the Azores moves further south.

These winds can make it difficult for recreational sailing. Therefore, keep this in mind when you plan your route. Sailing south of the Azores could be preferable instead of going across during this time.

What Do You Need To Sail Across The Atlantic Ocean?

What Do You Need To Sail Across The Atlantic Ocean

You need sailing experience, knowledge of the ocean and routes, a reliable boat, expert skills, and proper supplies for a transatlantic trip.  It takes a lot more than a dream and an adventurous spirit to make the trip successfully. In fact, setting out with little to no experience or planning could even be a fatal mistake.

You also want a knowledgeable and reliable crew to come with you. You’ll need enough food and supplies (think medical, basic toiletries, etc.) for everyone. If you plan to fish to supplement your food, you’ll need fishing gear, and so on.

You also need a budget.

How Much Does It Cost To Sail Across The Atlantic?

Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean is expensive, quickly adding up to over $50,000 or more if you rent the boat.  Putting one price tag on this adventure is hard since so many factors go into the total.

Even with your own boat, you could spend $50 to $500 daily on fuel, depending on your boat’s size and motors. There are also costs for food, supplies, boat insurance, docking fees, and more. Docking fees can range from as little as $60 to over $1,000.

For your food, estimate between $20 and $50 per day per person. Once you start factoring in your insurance and other supplies, you can see how it adds up fast.

What If You Rent A Boat?

Of course, if you don't consider yourself a sailor but want to have the experience, you could hire an expert to handle the sailing. Whether it's on a sailboat or you  charter a yacht , this will add significantly to your bottom line. Leasing a yacht capable of crossing the Atlantic could easily cost you almost a quarter of a million dollars per week.

If you don’t have your own sailboat and choose to rent one, it could cost you about $1,000 to $1,200 a day. This price range would be for a boat around 30 feet long. You're looking at even more if you need to hire a captain.

Another option, if you’re willing and able, is to look for larger vessels about to make the trip. If the crew is shorthanded, you might be able to join for only a small fee to cover your food costs. If you attempt this, make sure the captain and crew you choose are experienced.

Sailing across the Atlantic could be the adventure of a lifetime if you prepare for it and know what you are doing. The voyage can take anywhere from two weeks to two months, depending on your experience, the weather, water conditions, and your boat. Typically, the larger the vessel, the easier your crossing will be.

The going recommendation is to use a sailboat at least 30 feet long, but 40 feet long is better. Cruise ships that average 1,000 feet long and go 20 to 25 knots can make the pass in 6 to 8 days. Superyachts could also easily cross the Atlantic if they can handle enough fuel for the trip.

No matter in what vessel you attempt to cross the Atlantic, you’ll need to follow specific routes. Sailing across requires careful planning, expert skill, and enough supplies to cover you for at least one month.

Tobi Miles is a University of Florida graduate turned globe-trotting culinary explorer and digital nomad expert. As the founder of "Bytes & Bites," he combines his passion for international cuisine with practical advice on remote work, inspiring others to experience the world through food and cultural immersion. With 32 countries under his belt and a knack for uncovering hidden culinary gems, Tobi is redefining the intersection of work, travel, and gastronomy for a new generation of adventurers.

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Sail Across the Atlantic – Everything You Need to Know

Whether you’re a serious sailor, sailing enthusiast or even a family with a shared love of the ocean, sailing across the Atlantic Ocean is an unforgettable offshore adventure.

Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean is a dream that has captivated the hearts and minds of adventurers, explorers, and sailors for centuries. The vast expanse of water stretching between the continents of Europe and the Americas offers a unique and exhilarating challenge that beckons those with a spirit of adventure.

How Long Does It Take To Sail Across the Atlantic

Embarking on a transatlantic voyage is a dance with time itself. The duration of the journey hinges on several factors, especially the route you choose to take.

The northern passage typically takes between 15 to 30 days, depending on the specific route taken and prevailing conditions, while the southern passage route usually takes around 20 to 40 days to complete, depending on factors such as wind strength and sailing speed.

Transatlantic Routes

The Atlantic Ocean offers several routes, each with its own unique character and challenges. 

Sailing West to East with the North Atlantic Route

The North Atlantic route is known for its challenging conditions, including strong winds, rough seas, and rapidly changing weather. Sailors must be prepared to handle adverse conditions and make strategic decisions to ensure the safety of the crew and the vessel.

The voyage typically begins on the east coast of the United States or Canada and follows a northeasterly course toward Europe from Bermuda. 

One of the most popular routes is from Bermuda to Portugal and covers just over 2,706 nautical miles and takes 20 to 25 days to complete. Another popular route is Bermuda to the United Kingdom via the Azores covering 3,129 nautical miles and taking 25 to 31 days to complete. 

The best time to complete this route is from 1 July to 30 September. 

Sailing East to West with the Southern Passage

The southern passage route from Europe to the Caribbean is guided by steady trade winds and a gentler rhythm of the ocean. It offers a more predictable and comfortable sailing experience, as sailors can harness the consistent trade winds that blow from east to west across the Atlantic. This route is popular among sailors seeking a smoother and more leisurely crossing. 

The voyage typically begins in Europe , often from ports in Portugal or Spain, and heads southwest toward the Caribbean. While the southern passage is generally more favourable in terms of weather and sea conditions, sailors must still remain vigilant and prepared for changes in wind strength and direction.

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

The most popular routes east to west are from Portugal to Barbados which covers 4,100 nautical miles and takes 21 to 31 days to complete, and from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia which covers 2,700 nautical miles and takes 20 to 25 days to complete. 

The best time to complete this route is from 30 November to 28 February. 

Weather on an Atlantic Crossing

The weather during a sailing trip across the Atlantic is influenced by a complex interplay of factors. Prevailing wind patterns, such as the Trade Winds and the Westerlies, shape the direction and speed of the vessel’s journey. 

Ocean currents, like the Gulf Stream, can accelerate or impede progress, affecting navigation decisions. Atmospheric pressure systems, such as high atmospheric pressure and low-pressure areas, dictate wind strength and weather conditions. 

Seasonal variations and geographical features, like the Azores High and the Intertropical Convergence Zone, introduce variability in wind and rain patterns. Additionally, the Atlantic’s vast size and varied geography contribute to regional differences in climate, with the potential for sudden weather changes and the formation of storms.

Weather information and forecasts play a critical role in helping skippers make informed decisions to navigate challenging conditions and avoid potential dangers.

The Right Sailboat to Sail Across the Atlantic

Selecting the appropriate vessel for a transatlantic voyage is a decision that shapes the entire experience. 

Monohulls: Monohull sailboats are known for their stability in rough seas and their ability to handle a variety of weather conditions. However, it’s essential to choose a well-built, ocean-worthy vessel designed for long-distance cruising. The right one can provide a level of comfort and convenience that can be especially appealing for those seeking a more leisurely transatlantic crossing.

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

Multihulls: Crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a multihull sailboat, which includes catamarans and trimarans, is becoming increasingly popular due to their unique advantages and capabilities. Multihulls have multiple hulls, which offer benefits in terms of stability, speed, and comfort, as well as much mroe deck space. 

Tall Ship: Steeped in history and romance, tall ships evoke the nostalgia of a bygone era. Their majestic masts and billowing sails harken back to the golden age of exploration and offer a unique and authentic seafaring experience. However, despite their size, crossing the ocean with a tall ship has its challenges and demands a skilled crew familiar with traditional sailing techniques.

Unconventional Boats: Many unconventional boats have crossed the Atlantic. British adventurer Roz Savage completed two solo Atlantic Ocean crossings in a rowboat. While others have tried but not yet succeeded in unconventional vessels like Andrew Bedwell who tried to cross in a 3.5 metre vessel. 

Technology Onboard

When undertaking an Atlantic crossing, a boat should be equipped with essential technology for safety and navigation. This includes GPS, electronic charts, radar, AIS, communication tools like VHF radio and satellite phone, emergency equipment such as EPIRB and life rafts, navigation and weather software, power generation sources like solar panels and wind generators, and backup systems for redundancy. 

Having backup tools, spare parts, and navigational charts ensures preparedness for emergency repairs. Proper familiarity with and maintenance of these technologies are crucial for a successful and secure voyage.

Is Bigger Better?

Ultimately, the “right” boat size for crossing the Atlantic depends on your personal preferences, the type of vessel you’re comfortable with, your sailing experience, and your intended voyage. Smaller boats, including monohulls and multihulls, have successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean, often with solo sailors or small crews. 

It’s essential to match the boat’s size with your skill level, comfort, and the goals you have for your voyage. Proper planning, preparation, and understanding your boat’s capabilities are key to a safe and enjoyable transatlantic crossing.

Who Can Sail Across the Atlantic

The allure of transatlantic sailing transcends skill levels, beckoning both seasoned sailors and those new to the world of seafaring.

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

Skill Level

Novices can sail in guided group expeditions. Many sailing schools and organisations offer transatlantic training programs designed to prepare novice sailors for the challenges of open-ocean voyages. These programs cover topics such as navigation, seamanship, weather forecasting, and emergency procedures, ensuring that participants are well-equipped to handle the demands of a transatlantic crossing.

To start gaining more knowledge consider a course like your RYA Day Skipper. 

Solo and Groups

Experienced sailors can opt for solo endeavours, navigating the challenges of the open water alone. Solo transatlantic crossings require a high level of skill, self-sufficiency, and mental resilience. Solo sailors must be prepared to handle all aspects of the voyage, from navigation and sail trim to maintenance and emergency repairs. It is not an easy task but a rewarding one. 

Group transatlantic voyages offer the opportunity to share the challenges and triumphs of the journey with like-minded individuals. Crew members can provide support, share knowledge, and contribute their unique skills to the overall success of the voyage.

When Is The Best Time To Sail Across The Atlantic?

Navigating the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean demands strategic timing to ensure a safe and rewarding transatlantic crossing. Sailors must carefully consider multiple factors when determining the best time to embark on this epic journey. 

Avoid Hurricane Season

To mitigate risks, it’s crucial to avoid the peak of the hurricane season, which spans from early June to late November, by planning departures before or after this period. 

Trade Winds

The trade wind seasons play a pivotal role. Departing between November and January is ideal for east-to-west crossings (Europe to the Americas), taking advantage of strong easterly winds, while west-to-east voyages (Americas to Europe) are best undertaken from April to June. 

Transitional Seasons

The transitional seasons of spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) offer milder conditions, reducing the likelihood of encountering severe weather. Additionally, the Northern Hemisphere summer (June to August) may provide calmer conditions near specific regions like the Azores and Bermuda due to seasonal temperature gradients. 

Monitoring and Flexibility

Even with careful planning, weather conditions can vary. Modern technology, including advanced weather forecasting and satellite communication, allows sailors to monitor changing weather patterns closely. This flexibility enables them to adjust departure dates to align with the most favourable conditions.

What To Expect When You Sail Across The Atlantic

Embarking on a transatlantic voyage is a transformative experience that unveils a variety of emotions and encounters.

guests sailing across the atlantic

Isolation and Self-Discovery

The vastness of the open ocean fosters introspection, offering moments of solitude and self-contemplation. Sailing farther from land, the ocean becomes a place for self-discovery. Away from distractions, sailors connect with their thoughts, gaining profound insights and a deeper understanding of themselves.

Adapting to Dynamic Conditions

Navigating the Atlantic demands adaptability, as calm waters can swiftly turn tempestuous. Sailors encounter a range of weather patterns, from tranquillity to storms. Success hinges on quick decision-making, adjusting sails, altering course, and ensuring safety in rapidly changing wind and wave conditions.

Marine Life and Celestial Wonders

The Atlantic unveils captivating marine life and celestial spectacles. Sailors witness dolphins, whales, and seabirds in their natural habitat. Nights offer starry skies and bioluminescent wonders, like meteor showers, illuminating the transatlantic journey with awe-inspiring beauty.

Camaraderie

The challenges and triumphs of crossing an ocean create a deep bond among crew members. Everyone is on the same journey, facing the same conditions, and working together towards a common goal.

Preparing for Sailing Across The Atlantic

Preparing for a transatlantic crossing demands meticulous planning and a comprehensive understanding of the necessities.

Route and Preparation

Craft a detailed route plan, communication strategies, and contingency plans for a successful transatlantic journey. Thorough preparation is key, covering route selection, departure dates, emergency procedures, and communication protocols. 

Consider wind patterns, currents, and potential hazards during route planning. Prepare provisions like food, water, and supplies. Develop contingency plans for adverse weather, medical emergencies, and navigation challenges.

Apparel for All Conditions

Pack layered clothing, foul-weather gear, and safety equipment to adapt to changing weather. Proper clothing ensures comfort and safety. Layering helps regulate temperature, and specialised gear like waterproof jackets, pants, and boots protects against the elements. Safety items like life jackets and harnesses are crucial on deck. Include hats, gloves, and sunglasses for sun protection.

Essential Gear and Tools

Equip with navigation tools, communication devices, safety gear, and spare parts. Success relies on proper gear. Navigation tools (GPS, charts, compasses) aid in plotting courses. Communication devices (satellite phones, radios) keep sailors connected. Safety gear like life rafts, EPIRBs, and flares are vital in emergencies. Carrying spare parts and tools prevents breakdowns.

Stock up on non-perishable food, fresh water, and cooking facilities. Consider food diversity and nutritional balance. Fresh water should be rationed, and watermakers or desalination systems help generate freshwater. Cooking facilities enable meal preparation, accounting for dietary preferences and nutritional needs.

Navigating Legally

Secure necessary permits and documentation for international waters. Crossing boundaries requires permits, visas, and paperwork for foreign ports. Research entry requirements and apply for permits early. Maintain organised vessel documentation for customs and immigration inspections.

Risks of Sailing Across the Atlantic

While Atlantic crossings offer an unparalleled sense of accomplishment, ocean sailing carries some inherent risks.

Weather Challenges

The Atlantic’s unpredictable weather presents dangers from storms to hurricane-force winds. Vigilant weather monitoring and advanced prediction tools help sailors adapt routes and sail plans. A defined storm plan, including course adjustments and reducing sail, is vital for safety in the face of approaching storms.

Health Considerations

Seasickness, fatigue, and medical emergencies require self-sufficiency at sea. Coping with seasickness involves staying hydrated and using medications. Combatting fatigue demands a well-structured watch schedule for adequate rest. Basic first-aid training and well-equipped medical kits are crucial for addressing health issues in remote settings.

Equipment Reliability

Vessel malfunctions demand resourcefulness and preparation. Mechanical, electronic, and communication systems can fail due to the ocean’s rigours. Pre-departure checks and onboard tools aid in identifying and addressing potential issues. Crew members should possess repair skills and improvisational abilities to tackle unexpected breakdowns and ensure vessel safety.

The ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers)

Participating in organized events like the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) is one way to cross the ocean. The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) is a renowned annual sailing event organised by the World Cruising Club and a favourite in the yachting world. It brings together sailors worldwide and provides an opportunity for sailors to cross the Atlantic Ocean in the company of a group, enhancing safety and camaraderie. 

ARC yachts sailing

There are three different ARC events, which present three different ways to cross the Atlantic. 

The original and most well-known event is the ARC. It typically takes place in November and involves a west-to-east crossing of the Atlantic Ocean from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands to Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia, in the Caribbean. 

The ARC covers a distance of approximately 2,700 nautical miles and is open to a wide range of sailing vessels, from small cruisers to larger yachts. It offers a combination of bluewater sailing, challenges, and social activities, making it a popular choice for sailors seeking both adventure and community.

ARC Europe is a variation of the ARC that offers a more flexible route for sailors who prefer a northern European departure. It typically starts from a European port (such as Portsmouth, UK) and finishes in the same location as the main ARC event, Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia. ARC Europe provides participants with the opportunity to experience a mix of coastal and offshore sailing as they make their way south to the Caribbean.

The ARC+ is designed for sailors who want to extend their voyage and explore more destinations before reaching the Caribbean. The ARC+ event offers two routes: one starting from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, as in the main ARC event, and another starting from Mindelo in Cape Verde. Both routes converge in Saint Lucia, giving participants a chance to experience different cultures and sailing challenges along the way.

Each of these ARC events emphasises safety, camaraderie, and adventure. The World Cruising Club provides extensive support, including safety seminars, social events, weather routing, and radio nets to ensure participants have a smooth and enjoyable crossing. 

Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean is a remarkable journey that demands a blend of skill, preparation, and a spirit of adventure. While it may seem like a daunting experience, it’s not just for seasoned sailors. With the right boat, people, equipment and preparation it is an accessible, life-changing adventure that almost anyone can enjoy. 

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Yachting World

  • Digital Edition

Yachting World cover

15 things you should know when planning an Atlantic crossing

  • Elaine Bunting
  • June 19, 2017

Our ultimate guide on things to consider if you're planning to sail across the Atlantic

Tor Johnson sailing

Photo: Tor Johnson

The Atlantic crossing season occurs every winter. In the months leading up to Christmas, some 4-5,000 sailors will cross from Europe to the Caribbean on one of the biggest sailing adventures of their lives.

In most cases, the crossing is the culmination of years of planning and preparation. But if it’s your first time, are you missing something? You might be.

Here is a list of my top 15 tips for an Atlantic crossing, which I’ve drawn up both from my own ocean passages in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, and from talking to hundreds of transatlantic sailors over the years. So what do you really need to consider when planning your Atlantic crossing…

1. You don’t need a special boat

Time was when a proper offshore cruising yacht had chines, a ketch rig and self-steering gear at the stern. That was a perception, and perceptions change. Numerically, the most common transatlantic yachts these days are ordinary production cruisers with standard kit.

Bavaria 39 Cruiser

As for a watermaker, generator, SSB radio, etc: they’re all useful, but every additional item adds complication and service cost/time. Apart from a sound boat, all you really need is water, food, fuel and a (paper) copy of ‘North Atlantic, Southern Part’.

2. Keep it simple

A smart crossing is all about consistent speed, 24 hours a day. The key is not to have downtime.

There’s no need to fiddle around with twin headsails, Twistlerig or expensive new asymmetric spinnaker; a main and poled-out genoa ‘barn doors’ set-up will do fine. In fact, me and my other half won the ARC rally overall one year after sailing wing-and-wing almost the entire way.

Just keep an eye out for chafe, and be sure to set up a preventer on the boom and a foreguy topping lift and downhaul when poling out the headsail so you can furl in quickly when that night-time squall hits (which it will).

3. Revise your energy equation

Whatever power you think you’ll use on an ocean crossing, add on another third. Nav lights, radar, radio scheds, autopilot, watermaker, fridge, freezer, computer, fans – you name it, they all add up.

Increase the means of generating electricity with a diesel generator, larger alternator, solar panels and/or a towed turbine and look at means of making savings, such as fitting LED lights.

  • 1. 1. You don't need a special boat
  • 2. 4. Get some extra training
  • 3. 7. Go the long way round
  • 4. 10. Costs
  • 5. 13. Be smart with your provisioning

Yachting Monthly

  • Digital edition

Yachting Monthly cover

How to sail across the Atlantic and back

Elaine Bunting

  • Elaine Bunting
  • March 8, 2021

Confined to quarters during the pandemic, many sailors are itching to slip their lines and sail for the sun. Elaine Bunting explains exactly how to break free and sail across the Atlantic and back

A yacht sailing over the horizon

If your dream is sailing off into the sunset, making it a reality could be easier than you think

Just as the island of Hiddensee drew across the wake of the boat, Malin Andersson took up her camera and shot a video, writes Elaine Bunting .

When she looks at it now, a late summer scene from the Baltic coast of Germany, she remembers it as the instant she knew for certain she was right to think of leaving work to go cruising.

Malin and her partner Kaj Maass, both from Sweden and aged in their late twenties, met as students and formed a plan to take a year off before starting a family.

After years of scrimping, they bought a Bavaria 38 and renamed her Cross Ocean .

With the last tiny island of a summer cruise behind them, they began to prepare to sail across the Atlantic and back, and a year of adventure.

‘From then, we have never had a moment of regret about setting off,’ she says.

Each year, hundreds of yachtsmen of all ages sail across the Atlantic.

Some have only a few months of freedom, others plan to cruise indefinitely.

Their ambitions shape diverse choices in terms of boat design and preparations.

Here, we look at some of the biggest considerations if that is your goal, too.

What’s the right boat to sail across the Atlantic?

A good place to start might be with the question: can I sail across the Atlantic and back in the yacht I have now?

In most cases, the answer is yes.

Almost any well-prepared yacht of 30ft and upwards can tackle the downwind crossing, and indeed there is no reason why an even smaller boat can’t do it successfully.

People have crossed in Folkboats; the legendary American sailor Webb Chiles sailed across the Pacific in a converted 24ft dayboat, and some masochistic adventurers have crossed oceans in micro yachts not even long enough for them to stretch out in.

Two sailors I have repeatedly met over the years are Swedes Pekka and Barbro Karlsson.

They first crossed the Atlantic in 1986 in their 32ft Arvid Lauren-designed double-ender, Corona AQ .

A woman and two men sitting on the deck of their yacht

Pekka and Barbo Karisson have sailed their 32ft double ender across the Atlantic multiple times over 30 years. Credit: World Cruising Club

Over the last 30 years, they have made multiple crossings back and forth, observing boats getting ever larger, even of the same LOA as theirs.

By comparison, theirs is dwarfed in every dimension, including beam and freeboard, yet it has everything this experienced couple need for living on board for six or more months every year.

So, really, it is a matter of cost, preference and expectation.

The big question is whether your current yacht is the best tool for the job given your budget.

Is it large enough for the crew you intend for longer passages, for the provisions, fuel and water?

A 35-footer might take 25-28 days to sail across the Atlantic from the Canaries to the West Indies.

Obviously, the longer and faster your boat is, the more stowage and water tankage you will have for less time at sea.

You might also ask yourself which parts of the adventure are the most valuable to you.

You will need a solid yacht to sail across the Atlantic

A solid yacht set up for bluewater cruising is a good option and can be sold once you return home. Credit: Tor Johnson

If you don’t intend to do the more arduous return home to Europe, maybe you don’t need a bigger, more expensive, more complex long-legged bluewater cruiser; you could consider shipping back – more on that option later.

If you intend to live on board for longer, then perhaps you will want more space, including for guests, greater comforts and faster passage times.

In that case, one solution might be to buy for the duration of the project a second-hand bluewater cruiser already well kitted out with the right gear, then sell her right afterwards.

‘I think that makes total sense,’ says Sue Grant, managing director of Berthon International, the well-known brokers specialising in bluewater cruisers.

‘The best thing you can do for a North Atlantic circuit is to buy from the guy who had the dream, had the money and didn’t go. A refit will always cost you more than you think.’

For a two- to three-season transocean cruise, Grant advocates stretching up to your next level, especially to a yacht that doesn’t need a big refit and brands with a strong residual value.

‘If you buy a high-quality Hallberg-Rassy or an Oyster then sell it you’d lose 10% of value but have three years for it.’

Buy a boat you will enjoy

While in the Azores in 2012 I met Stuart and Anne Letton, who were sailing their Island Packet 45, Time Bandit , back to the UK.

Their boat was brimming with sensible ideas for living aboard and I have kept in touch with them over the years as they are a wonderful source of thoughtful advice.

Since then they have sold the Island Packet , bought an Outremer 51 catamaran, sailed across the Atlantic again, and are presently in Indonesia having sailed across the Pacific.

In total, they have now logged a very impressive 60,000 miles.

A couple on the trampoline of their catamaran

Catamarans are increasingly popular thanks to their speed and space. Credit: Stuart & Anne Letton

‘Before we went cruising, I spent a lot of time looking at what would be the best, safest mode of transport. I wanted a proven, tough, sturdy, bombproof ocean cruiser, hence Time Bandit [the Island Packet], the “Beige Battleship”,’ says Stuart.

‘Having spent my sailing career racing performance dinghies and keel boats, this was something of a departure for me. It was safe. And a bit boring. However, the reality is you all end up in the same place, give or take a few days. With reflection, though, I’d say, buy a boat that will make you happy, one that reflects your sailing style and capabilities. We opted for slow but safe and used the safe features a handful of days in 10 years. Those were years we could have been enjoying more rewarding sailing.

‘Buy what you will enjoy, can afford and are able to keep running. Do the maths on running costs, rig, insurance and repairs, and work that into the budget.’

Asked about their ideas of the ideal size for a couple, the Lettons comment: ‘Generally I’d say bigger is better, but the costs are exponential. Personally, for two up, I think around 40-45ft feet is a good size: big enough to be safe and comfortable, small enough to manage.’

Tips on how to sail across the Atlantic from Stuart & Anne Letton

The couple own the Outremer 51, Time Bandit and have completed four Atlantic crossings and sailed 60,000 miles

Stuart and Anne Letton

Stuart and Anne Letton.

‘Being very well set up for dead downwind sailing is important, especially well thought-out preventers, fore and aft on the spinnaker pole and main boom.

‘An asymmetric or spinnaker will keep you moving in lighter air.

‘Save on gas with a Thermal Cookpot and get as much free power from water and sun as you can.

‘Trade in your trusty CQR or Bruce anchor for a spade or similar “new technology” anchor .

Is a bigger boat better for crossing the Atlantic?

Like the Lettons, I think 40-45ft is something of a sweet spot, offering the volume and tankage required for longer cruising, yet still manageable by a small crew.

Bigger has its advantages, even up to 55ft (above that the loads become too large to handle manually and maintenance is a massive chore for a family crew, requiring significant time and budget).

The waterline length and extra speed will be your friend, most of the time.

Speed is your ally in evading bad weather, and if you are sailing to a schedule.

A yacht anchored in a bay with a palm tree

The Witt family sailed around the world as part of the World Cruising Club World ARC

Karsten Witt and his wife, Sheila, circumnavigated in the World ARC in their X-55 Gunvør XL , and he says: ‘It was hardest work for the smaller or slower boats. They are at sea longer, therefore experience more and sometimes harder weather, arrive later in port, get more tired and have less time to make repairs and bank downtime.

‘I would always go for a modern boat that’s faster,’ he adds.

‘If you had a heavy 40ft cruiser you would miss weather windows. Other boats spend days battling headwinds because they were doing 6-7 knots upwind and they couldn’t point. We averaged 200 miles a day every day, so in five days were a long way away and in completely different weather.’

But you certainly don’t need a large or expensive yacht, just a well-prepared one.

Starting with the basics: safety gear, fire and gas installations, good sails with deep reefs, in date and inspected rig, winches and all machinery serviced, and power and battery systems upgraded if necessary, plus full inspection of keel fastenings and rudder, skeg and bearings.

After that, you really need to know how everything on board works, how you’d repair or service it and, if you can’t, how you would manage without.

A crew on a yacht about to sail across the Atlantic on the ARC

Karsten and Sheila Witt and family enjoyed the extra pace and comfort of their X-55. Credit: World Cruising Club

Only after considering that is it worth adding complexity.

Multiple power generation systems, including hydro-generator and solar panels, watermakers, diesel generators and WiFi networks.

Mark Matthews is marine surveyor who ran Professional Yacht Deliveries for 12 years, a company that moves around 200 yachts and averages 350,000 miles a year.

When he made his own Atlantic crossing, it was in a 42ft production yacht.

‘We kept the original sail plan and sails and did not have a generator or other means of charging the batteries apart from the engine. We took bottled water to supplement the on-board tankage. We only invested in a secondhand satellite phone, jerrycans for additional fuel, fishing tackle, wind scoops for the West Indies and provisions for the crossing. We crossed from the Canaries to the West Indies in 17 days,’ he explains.

But if you are looking at a boat for the way back to Europe or outside the downwind routes of the tropics, maybe you should look at more conservative, heavier displacement types, he suggests.

A yacht for a one-way voyage?

The downwind Tradewinds crossing can really be tackled in any well-prepared boat large enough for your crew, so one way to look at an Atlantic circuit is to weigh up first how you feel about the way back home, and factor that into the cost equation.

A growing number of sailors spend the winter season in the sun, or several consecutive seasons between periods of work, then ship their boat back.

This on-off cruising lifestyle could be compatible with some remote working, so while extremely expensive in itself, shipping represents a trade-off that could be worth considering.

A yacht being craned onto a transporter ship

You may find a smaller boat adequate, especially if you are shipping it home. Credit: Neville Hockley

Minus requirements dictated by the longer, more windward crossing back home, perhaps you could go in a ‘one-way/downwind-only/island-hopping’ boat option.

That could be a much smaller boat, a lighter, simpler or more performance-orientated yacht.

A one-way voyage involves relatively short times at sea, possibly three weeks at most, and you might be able to manage without spending a fortune on equipment.

This year, Peters & May will be loading from Antigua, St Lucia and Martinique and have ships going into the Med, Southampton and other North Sea or Baltic ports.

Michael Wood, general manager of Peters & May, quotes typical prices of US$10,200 for a 32-footer and US$21,600 for a 41-footer.

Unlike a delivery service, shipping saves on the wear and tear from an Atlantic crossing, so is also something to weigh up.

Ready to go?

Typically, getting ready to go off for an Atlantic circuit or more needs a two- to three-year runway.

I have met people who have done it much quicker – I recently met an American family who only decided to go cruising last June and were in the Canary Islands with a brand new catamaran in November – but it is stressful, and you risk sailing away with a long list of warranty work needed, and jobs lists incomplete.

It might take most of a year to choose, trial and select the right boat, then you could spend the next year sailing from your home port, preparing, fitting new gear, testing and sea trialling everything and upping your knowledge level.

Kaj Maass and Malin Andersson, an engineer and a pre-school teacher respectively, bought their Bavaria 38 Cross Ocean in 2016 for €80,000 and lived on board for a summer and winter to increase their savings.

Provision on yacht ahead of the crew left to cross the Atlantic

You’ll need space to store enough food for the crew – though choice in foreign ports may be limited. Credit: Kaj Maass & Malin Andersson

‘You don’t have to set off for several years right away, you could make the adventure in smaller parts,’ says Kaj.

‘We met several sailors who sailed for a couple of months, left the boat, flew back home, and continued later on. We adjusted upgrades, the time frame for the adventure, and saved during our day-to-day lives before setting off.’

Do make sure everything you fit for your cruise is well-tested and problems ironed out before you set out to sail across the Atlantic.

If you buy a new boat, expect lots of snagging.

Sorry to say it, but yards tend to put switches, filters and so on in silly places, and because yachts have relatively low volume sales, information about fitting or installation problems can take a while to circle back and be corrected.

Some cruisers decide to replace their engine for peace of mind before leaving to cross the Atlantic

Kaj and Malin replaced their engine for peace of mind. Credit: Kaj Maass & Malin Andersson

If you leave before inevitable glitches are corrected, you could spend days arguing with the boatbuilder or manufacturer about who is responsible and how they are going to get spare parts to you.

This quickly rubs the nap off a dream cruising life.

A year of home-range cruising will also allow you to gain all the knowledge and training you need, which should include essential maintenance know-how and medical and sea survival training (people tend to rave about the latter, interestingly).

It will also allow you time to prepare a manual about your boat, with info and serial numbers and specs of everything on board, which will pay you back handsomely if you need advice or spares.

Tips on how to sail across the Atlantic from Kaj Maass & Malin Andersson

The couple own the Bavaria 38, Cross Ocean and have sailed from Sweden to the Caribbean and back via the Azores

A woman raised a flag on a yacht at the end of crossing the Atlantic

Malin hoists a courtesy flag as their Bavaria 38 makes landfall in St Lucia. Credit: Kaj Maass & Malin Andersson

‘You do not need that much. Less equipment equals fewer breakages.

‘We would never go without a windvane and we are definitely pleased with having a centre cockpit boat, which keeps you safe and dry in the centre of the boat, though the master cabin is worthless at sea.’

Go with the kids

There has been a big upswing in families taking a year or 18 months out from normal lives, to return later.

This seems to coincide with that point in an established, stable career where a sabbatical is possible, there is enough money to buy a boat for a special project, parents are healthy and the kids are not yet in the run up to major exams.

Most often, the sailing families I meet have children aged between five and 12.

A family on the deck of their yacht before they left to cross the Atlantic

Crossing an ocean with a family is entirely feasible. The Paterson family took part in the 2018 ARC on their Moody 471. Credit: World Cruising Club/James Mitchell

The obvious rewards for children spending every day with their mum and dad have to be weighed against the considerable extra work and commitment, though I have yet to meet a parent who regretted it.

In 2019, Russell and Kate Hall sailed across the Atlantic in their Hallberg-Rassy 46 with their boys, Hugo, 8, and Felix, 6.

‘Somebody said to us that living with kids on a boat for a year is like living on land with them for four years,’ Kate laughs.

‘It can be quite draining but it’s also part of the reason why we are doing this, so it’s the yin and yang.

School lessons kept the children from getting too bored during the crossing

Additional crew can help with sailing and school when you sail across the Atlantic. Credit: Erin Carey

‘There are jobs that require both of us and you have to rely on the children to keep themselves safe at times. They sleep really well on board and they go to bed at sunset and wake at sunrise, then they’re full of beans. You might not have had much sleep. It takes a while to adjust.’

The Halls concentrated on the basics of English and maths, and then tailored history or geography or science projects around places they were visiting.

This seems to work for most families.

Schools will usually provide a curriculum plan for time out, and there are a lot of distance learning and ‘school in a box’ courses for homeschooling children, such as Calvert and Oak Meadow.

‘My advice would be to be easy on yourself,’ advises Kate Hall.

Two children with a half way sign to mark the half way point of an ocean crossing

Celebrating milestones can help bolster a young crew’s morale when you sail across the Atlantic. Credit: Erin Carey

‘We started with five hours’ schooling a day and then reduced that to two-and-a-half. Chill and relax; it all works out. There are always things to learn.’

If you are planning to sail across the Atlantic with kids, look at taking on extra hands to help with the sailing.

Also consider joining the ARC rally where in port you share a pontoon with all the other family boats so there are lots of other kids of different ages for yours to socialise with, as well as an organised daily kids club.

The friendships made between adults and children also often shape later cruising plans.

Seasons and routes to sail across the Atlantic

If you are planning on sailing across the Atlantic, don’t leave it too late to set off across Biscay – late August or September is pushing your luck from a weather point of view.

Ideally, make the most of the summer cruising opportunities travelling south through France, Spain and Portugal – these could be among the best parts of the trip.

Annually, the ARC rally leaves the Canary Islands in November, the ARC+ heading for Mindelo in Cape Verde first, and the ARC direct to St Lucia.

This is so that crews can be in the Caribbean for Christmas.

A yacht set up with a preventer on the sail

White sails can make a solid downwind sail plan if well set up with preventers and guys

It is early in the season for Tradewinds, though, and you may have to be prepared for a trough, a front, or calms – or all three – on the way across unless you wait until January.

Whether you cross early or not, my own personal preference would be to go via Cape Verde.

It’s a fascinating archipelago and culture, a place to re-provision or make repairs, and it breaks up the crossing.

It lengthens the time away and overall distance, as Mindelo is 800 miles south- west of the Canaries, but the leg south into ‘butter melting’ latitudes will then put you into almost guaranteed Trades, even in November.

From the Caribbean, you can then sail up to Florida via the Bahamas, or the US East Coast, or return to Europe via the Azores.

Routes for sailing across the Atlantic

The routes to sail across the Atlantic and back. Credit: Maxine Heath

For the return to Europe, most cruisers generally strike out from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands or St Maarten, both good for provisioning, spares, chandlery and repairs, or head up to Bermuda and wait for a springboard forecast for Horta.

From here, crews will again wait to pick their timing to head across to Spain or Portugal or up to the UK.

According to Jimmy Cornell, author of World Cruising Routes , as early as March and as late as mid-May there are reasonable chances of favourable south-easterly and south-westerly winds on leaving the Eastern Caribbean.

The advice he offers is to track north-easterly towards the Azores and stay south of 30°N until 40°W.

For cruisers a southerly route is generally the preferable passage to choose, staying south of the Gulf Stream in lighter winds and taking on extra fuel and motoring if conditions deem necessary.

How much will it cost to sail across the Atlantic and back?

Cruising costs will depend on how you wish to live while cruising.

If you want to spend time in marinas, eat out regularly, hire cars, take tours and fly home occasionally, obviously that will be different to a more self-contained life on board at anchor.

As a guide, we asked Swedish couple Kaj and Malin to add up their costs to prepare for their trip and during the 14-month sabbatical.

A yacht at anchor in an anchorage

Costs will be much lower where you can stay at anchor rather than berth in a marine. Credit: Kaj Maass/Malin Andersson

‘The budget for our trip was €80,000 to buy the boat, and €30,000 of upgrades,’ Kaj says.

The upgrades included a new engine, new standing rigging, a Hydrovane and satellite communications.

They dropped the rudder and the keel and reinforced the area around it.

Of the total budget, around €10,000 was spent on safety equipment.

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Their cruising costs were around €2,500 a month for the two of them, averaging out the most expensive parts of the journey from Sweden to the Canary Islands, when harbour fees were costing around €40 a night.

This would cover some eating out ashore and car rental for tours.

Over the longer term, a good rule of thumb is to allow 20% of the cost of your boat for running repairs to cover antifouling, sail replacement, servicing and, if you are leaving your boat to return home, you’ll need to factor in haul-out, storage and hurricane tie-downs.

If you plan to buy a boat, sail it back and sell it right after your trip, however, you may be able sidestep some ongoing costs.

Cutting the cord

Maybe you don’t have to wait until retirement to go cruising.

There is a strong argument for taking a career break (or breaks) and working for longer if necessary as it spreads the cost and reduces the risk of the big adventure never happening.

Two yachts with white sails sailing

Additional offwind sails, like a furling Code 0, can keep the boat moving in light airs for more enjoyable sailing and to save fuel. Credit World Cruising Club

Around half of the people I meet on transatlantic rallies are taking sabbaticals and intending to return to the same post, or have quit a job.

Both options have become quite acceptable, and in some professions and countries sabbaticals are actively encouraged as a retention incentive.

‘Tell the world you are leaving,’ advises Kaj Maass.

‘Make sure you create some pressure on yourself to realise your dream. Involve your employer early on in the planning process. A modern employer will understand and respect your decision to explore the world and live out your dreams, maybe they even see a long-term benefit from the knowledge and experience you will gain from it and you can [negotiate] a leave of absence.’

A satellite phone on the deck of yacht

Satellite comms add a level of safety and keeping in touch but can be costly. Credit: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Those running a business may bring in a trusted general manager or step up a family member while they are away.

Keeping tabs on business while away is possible (though it can be expensive in satellite data) but it’s not something that generally works well on a day-to-day basis.

You do need to be able to cut the ties to enjoy cruising, not least because the cruising life comes with its own workload, from maintenance to laundry.

A man carrying out maintenance on his yacht

Long-distance cruising comes with its own workload and maintenance. Credit: Kaj Maass/Malin Andersson

‘Trying to mix work and pleasure compromises both,’ says Stuart Letton.

Before setting out, the Lettons brought their son in to run their web-based business supplying global brands with customisable marketing material.

‘While our business was under new management, it was still a struggle for me to let go. I can remember sitting in WiFi cafés from Spain to the Galapagos trying to blend cruising with work and, while it helped my conscience, I doubt the effort did much for work or cruising.

‘That’s not to say it isn’t possible. With good WiFi and satellite connections you really can work pretty much anywhere . But if you don’t need to, I’d cut the ties, burn the bridges and go. If you need to work, fine, just get your management team in place, communication systems properly set up and resourced, and go.’

Two yachts anchored in St Lucia

It helps to set a deadline so you can realise your dream and sail across the Atlantic. Credit: Kaj Maass/Malin Andersson

However you plan to break free, what really helps is a deadline: a date that you are going set off, with a scene you can visualise to keep you motivated as you work through the preparations and demands of shore life.

Most preparations are really just logistics, and you’re probably already pretty good at that.

The bigger obstacle is often mustering the courage to leave.

I often hear cruisers describe hassles – one described cruising as the act of sailing from one place where you couldn’t get something fixed to another where you hoped you would – yet when I ask for their best advice it usually boils down to a simple prescription: just go.

Kaj Maass said exactly that when I asked him that question.

‘Just do it. Life is too short not to live out your dreams.’

To rally or not?

This is entirely a personal choice.

Advantages of the ARC , which is the best organised and biggest, are great seminars, preparation information and tools.

It’s also an ideal way to meet lots of fascinating, like-minded people, and is agreed to be good value despite costs.

It also gives you a departure date to hold yourself too.

The ARC fleet leaving the Canary Islands

For a first taste of ocean sailing, it can be reassuring and fun to join a rally to sail across the Atlantic, like the ARC. Credit: James Mitchell/World Cruising Club

Plus is has good parties and entertainment on tap to keep crew happy.

The cons would be its early crossing date for the Tradewinds season, large fleet size (though check out ARC+, which is smaller) or if you just want to be low-key and go it alone.

The Viking Explorers rally is one alternative, but not many others still run.

If you do your own thing, you will still find a wonderful cruising community anywhere cruisers other, and there is fantastic support across the world for independent voyaging through the Ocean Cruising Club.

Preparations for sailing across the Atlantic  – the basics

While in no way a comprehensive list of preparations, here are some jumping off points to think about when planning your voyage:

  • Learn how to service and maintain your engine and key machinery, have a good set of tools on board. Video repair tips and techniques when you have technicians on board to refer to later.
  • Have your yacht lifted, antifouled , stern gear serviced, and anodes replaced. Consider fitting a rope cutter . Also check steering systems and replace rudder bearings.
  • Create a boat manual with all your procedures, equipment and the location of safety and medical equipment for crew to access.
  • Fit an autopilot capable of handling your yacht in an ocean swell, fully laden downwind in 30 knots of breeze. Have a back-up if shorthanded, or two separate systems for redundancy.
  • Have power systems checked and replace or upgrade batteries if necessary . If you upgrade batteries, consider if additional charging is necessary .
  • Get first-class safety equipment for all crew on board.
  • Have all sails serviced by a sail loft and consider double stitching all panels. With slab reefing mainsails, get a deep third reef.
  • Set up a good boom preventer for downwind sailing on both tacks. That can be just lines and blocks but set up so you can gybe and switch preventers without leaving the cockpit.
  • Check all running rigging and ensure you have adequate spare halyards set up before you depart. Think about chafe prevention.
  • Choose your crew carefully. Make sure you are all comfortable sailing together and that roles are established well before you leave.

Enjoyed reading How to sail across the Atlantic and back?

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Crossing the Atlantic in a sailboat: the most famous crossings

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

Sailing the Atlantic in a sailboat is a feat that few dare to undertake. From meticulous planning to dealing with unpredictable sea conditions, we will discover what it takes to cross the Atlantic by sailboat and what are the best routes. Meteorology and weather is fundamental when planning a transatlantic voyage, it is also important to know what time of the year to go and what route to follow. If you would like to live the adventure of this oceanic navigation, but you have doubts about how this kind of voyages are, in this article we will try to solve all the questions as much as possible. To cross the Atlantic by sailboat, there are basically two routes available.

Route from East to West. Crossing Europe-America

This is the simplest route, as it is the usual route chosen by sailors to cross the Atlantic. It is easier to make this crossing, due to the distance among other things. This Europe-America crossing has a shorter distance so you will reach your destination sooner. Also, depending on the time of year you travel, it is much safer and you will enjoy a smooth and pleasant journey. The journey generally starts from Western Europe, being the most common departure from Spain or France , usually in the first days, most of the sailors make a stop in the Canary Islands, so you could also decide to leave from there. The destination when crossing the Atlantic by sailboat following this route is to end up in the Caribbean or in Central or South America . Another of the stops that is usually made would be in Cape Verde, African islands.

Th e weather conditions you encounter on this crossing are usually a bit more favorable than on the west-east route. However, you have to take into account the times of the year since there can be times of the year when hurricanes are quite common. That is why most expert sailors who make this trip do so in the winter months, between November and January. Despite being in December, the temperatures are very pleasant as we are in the Atlantic on our way to the other continent where at those times it would be "summer". Normally, the weather is usually exceptional , with an average of 26-27 degrees with constant sunshine and breeze, provided by the trade winds that blow strongly especially the first days of this voyage.

Route from West to East. America-Europe Crossing

This route is a priori, a little more complicated than the previous one. In principle the distance is a little longer and it can be a more difficult crossing due to the weather conditions that you can find. Normally, on this route the winds are usually quite strong. On the one hand, this can be beneficial since it has winds that favor navigation , but, on the other hand, in some seasons they can be detrimental due to the formation of anticyclones . This voyage can be longer, as there may be days with little wind, and they slow down the trip. It is therefore advisable to have sufficient supplies of food, water and gasoline in case the crossing takes longer than expected.

Due to the weather conditions that you can find when crossing the Atlantic by sailboat on this route, the most advisable to undertake your trip would be in the months of May to June. At that time the weather is quite pleasant and it is usually quite cool . The itinerary for this trip is usually as follows. Generally, the departure is usually from North America, New York or Newport would be good destinations. The route to follow would be to go to Bermuda , and then to the Azores , islands of Portugal. This route is usually taken because the conditions are usually more favorable than if you cross the Atlantic a little lower, closer to the equator, being cautious in case of hurricanes or tropical storms. In addition, you can stop to visit these spectacular destinations such as Bermuda and the Azores.

How long does it take to cross the Atlantic?

The duration of the voyage may vary according to different factors. First of all, as we have already mentioned several times, the weather , in particular the wind and sea conditions. A bad or good swell can slow down your trip, as can a lack of wind. On the other hand, a good wind (also favorable for sailing), plus a good swell can make the boat and your trip go more smoothly. Another factor that influences the duration of the voyage is the type of boat and its length. If the boat is larger, you will be able to sail faster. If you know the shortcuts, you could maximize the speed and if you also have the experience of sailing across the Atlantic, you could cross the Atlantic in less time. We are looking at a distance of between 3,500 and just over 4,000 nautical miles , depending on the route, departure and destination you choose to embark on such an adventure. In spite of these factors that we have just mentioned, generally sailing trips to cross the Atlantic can last between 15 and 30 days. It must be taken into account when planning the route and, above all, planning the weather, as the weather forecast is not usually so reliable with 1 or 2 weeks of difference.

It is necessary to be flexible in terms of dates and to have enough supplies to have sufficient safety margin. Also, remember to comply with all maritime safety regulations and requirements before embarking on a transatlantic crossing. Crossing the Atlantic by sailboat is a feat of courage, determination and passion for sailing. Whether you choose the majesty of the Azores Islands on the America-Europe Route or the lush tropical beauty on the other route.

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Journey Across the Atlantic: How long Does it Take by Sailboat

Published by sail on january 14, 2023 january 14, 2023.

The Atlantic Ocean is a vast expanse of water that has fascinated sailors for centuries. Crossing the Atlantic on a sailboat is a challenging and rewarding experience that can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on various factors. In this article, we’ll explore the best time to cross the Atlantic on a sailboat, how to cross the Atlantic, why it typically takes about three to four weeks, and what the ideal sailboat for crossing the Atlantic is.

The Best Time to Cross the Atlantic on a Sailboat

To Europe: The best time to cross the Atlantic on a sailboat is a complex topic and depends on a variety of factors. One of the most important considerations is your destination. If you’re planning to sail to Europe, the best time to cross the Atlantic is during the summer months, from May to September. During this time, the weather is typically more favorable, with calmer seas and more consistent winds. This makes it an ideal time for sailors of all skill levels to make the journey.

To Caribbean or South America: However, if you’re planning to sail to the Caribbean or South America, the best time to cross the Atlantic is during the winter months, from November to April. This is because the trade winds are stronger during this time, making for a faster and more efficient sail. Additionally, during the winter months, the Atlantic is typically less crowded and the risk of tropical storms is lower. For experienced sailors, this can be an ideal time to make the journey.

Another important factor to consider is the type of sailboat you will be using. Larger sailing yachts and catamarans may be better suited for the journey during the summer months, due to their stability and comfort. While smaller sailboats and monohulls may be more suitable for the journey during the winter months, due to their agility and ability to handle stronger winds.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the Atlantic Ocean can be unpredictable and weather patterns can change quickly. Sailors should always monitor weather forecasts and be prepared for any eventuality. Additionally, it’s important to have a well-equipped boat, a detailed plan, and a good understanding of navigation and safety procedures.

To put it short, the best time to cross the Atlantic on a sailboat depends on a variety of factors such as your destination, sailing experience, and the type of sailboat you will be using. It’s important to consider these factors when planning your journey and to always be prepared for any eventuality. With the right preparation, knowledge and mindset, crossing the Atlantic on a sailboat can be a truly exhilarating and rewarding experience. It’s important to research and understand the weather patterns and seasonal changes, as well as the trade winds, so you can plan your journey accordingly. It’s also essential to have a well-maintained and equipped sailboat, as well as a detailed plan and a good understanding of navigation and safety procedures. With the right preparation and mindset, you can make your dream of sailing across the Atlantic a reality, no matter what time of the year you choose to embark on this adventure.

How to Cross the Atlantic: Tips and Strategies

Crossing the Atlantic on a sailboat requires careful planning and preparation. Before setting sail, you’ll need to consider various factors such as your destination, the weather, and your sailing experience. You’ll also need to make sure your sailboat is in good condition and properly equipped for the journey. Some of the key things to consider when crossing the Atlantic include:

  • Weather: It is essential to check the forecast for the entire journey before setting sail across the Atlantic. This includes monitoring weather patterns, wind direction and speed, and any potential storms or inclement weather that may arise. By planning your route accordingly, you can avoid any dangerous weather conditions and ensure a safer and more comfortable journey. It is also important to have a plan B in case of any unexpected weather changes.
  • Navigation: Proper navigation is crucial when crossing the Atlantic on a sailboat. Make sure to have all necessary navigation equipment such as a GPS, charts, and compass on board. It’s also important to have a good understanding of navigation techniques and to stay updated on any potential hazards or changes in the sea conditions. Navigation is the key to a safe and successful journey across the Atlantic.
  • Safety: Safety should be a top priority when crossing the Atlantic on a sailboat. Make sure to have all necessary safety equipment on board, such as life jackets, flares, and a properly equipped first aid kit. It’s also important to know how to use all the safety equipment and to have emergency procedures in place in case of any unexpected events. It’s also important to have a reliable means of communication in case of emergency.
  • Food and water: Crossing the Atlantic can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, so it’s essential to stock up on enough food and water to last the entire journey. This includes non-perishable food items, fresh fruits, and vegetables, as well as a water filtration system or water maker on board. It’s also important to have a plan for food and water in case of any emergency.
  • Communication: Communication is a vital part of any sailing journey, and this is especially true when crossing the Atlantic. Make sure to have a reliable means of communication on board, such as a VHF radio or satellite phone, in case of emergency. It’s also important to have a plan in place for communication with friends and family on land, as well as staying updated on any potential hazards or changes in the sea conditions.

Why it takes Three to Four Weeks?

Crossing the Atlantic on a sailboat typically takes about three to four weeks. This is because the distance between Europe and North America is roughly 3,000 miles, and the average sailing speed for a sailboat is around 5-7 knots. However, the actual time it takes to cross the Atlantic can vary depending on various factors such as weather conditions, the route taken, and the type of sailboat used.

Another reason for the time frame is the safety factor, sailors need to be prepared for any kind of weather and sea conditions, and also need to have a plan B in case of any emergency. Hence it’s always better to take more time and be safe than to rush and put oneself in danger.

Importance of Boat Selection for a Transatlantic Journey

The ideal sailboat for crossing the Atlantic will depend on your sailing experience, budget, and preferences. Some sailors prefer a traditional sailboat, while others prefer a sailing yacht or catamaran. A catamaran is an ideal choice for crossing the Atlantic as it offers more stability and space compared to traditional sailboats. Catamarans also have a shallower draft which allows them to access anchorages that are not available to monohulls.

Sailing Yachts are also a great option, they offer more luxury and comfort and are better suited for long-distance sailing. They are also equipped with more advanced navigation and safety equipment which makes them a safer option. Learn more about suitable sailboats here!

Traditional sailboats are also a good option, they are generally more affordable and are better suited for experienced sailors who enjoy the challenge of sailing a more basic vessel.

In conclusion, crossing the Atlantic on a sailboat is a challenging and rewarding experience that can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. The best time to cross the Atlantic depends on your destination and your sailing experience. To cross the Atlantic safely and efficiently, it’s important to carefully plan and prepare, choose the right sailboat for the journey, and be prepared for any unexpected events that may arise. With the right preparation and mindset, you can make your dream of sailing across the Atlantic a reality.

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Better Sailing

Best Time to Cross the Atlantic by Sailboat

Best Time to Cross the Atlantic by Sailboat

Are you dreaming of sailing across the Atlantic, and you’re now planning your sailing voyage? Well, go on and read this article so as to set sail for a lifetime expedition. There are a few things you should pay attention to before setting sail in order to get well prepared and organized. Whether in the trade winds or westerlies, sailing across the Atlantic is definitely one of the greatest adventures in sailing. Keep in mind that it takes a year for most sailors to plan and prepare for this long passage voyage. But an important question, among others, what the best time to sail across the Atlantic is? Below, you’ll find the answer to this question and to much more. And remember that with adequate sailing experience and a robust sailboat, crossing the Atlantic isn’t that difficult as many people think! Keep reading!

Plan and Organize Your Crossing

Weather is the most important factor when planning an Atlantic crossing. Furthermore, the route you’re going to follow, the time to set sail, and of course, which sails to carry; all these factors are crucial when it comes to planning the passage. Firstly, it’s essential to avoid the hurricane season that starts from June to November. Most sailors plan their voyage in late November with the aim of arriving nearly at Christmas. However, there’s a risk to this because, in January, tradewinds tend to be stronger, so it’s recommended to leave earlier. But, it’s more important to staying east before attempting a westerly route.

Late hurricanes tend to appear to the west, so a passage through the Cape Verde islands is a good option. This route shortens the time in possible hurricane areas and offers the advantage of going south. Hurricanes are not likely to appear south of 10°N. A typical crossing will probably have Force 4 tradewinds, some lighter periods, and a few windy days with 25-plus knots. So, you should opt for a flexible sail plan and adjust to the changing wind strengths. A functional sailplan is goosewinged in which most sailors carry a downwind sail for when the wind is lighter.

>>Also Read: How Much Does it Cost to Sail Around the World?

Main Sailing Routes for Atlantic Crossing

The Northern Passage , i.e. from west to the east, is characterized by the trade winds which you want to work in your favor. So, if you’re sailing from the US to Europe, you’ll have to reach Bermuda. Bermuda forms the main departure point for most sailors that travel from the Americas to Europe. In general, Bermuda offers the best windward winds, and you could also sail south to the Caribbean and then to Bermuda. After that, most sailors tend to head towards the Portuguese Azores and eventually to the Portuguese coast. Some basic distances are: from the Caribbean to Bermuda (850NM), which takes from 5 to 8 days, from Bermuda to the Azores (1900NM), which takes from 14 to 17 days, and from the Azores to Portugal (700NM), which can take from 4 to 8 days.

The Southern Passage , i.e., from east to the west, begins from the Canary Islands. From the Canary Islands to Cape Verde (750NM), it will take you from 5 to 8 days. From the Canary Islands to the Caribbean (2700NM), it will take you from 16 to 21 days. Keep in mind that the hurricane season runs from June to November. Hurricanes are likely to develop on the western side of the Atlantic. They can also develop between the mainland of Central America and the Windward/Leeward Islands. So, departing from the Canary Islands in early November is a good choice. But, remember that the earlier you leave, the better it is to go south, i.e., from the Cape Verde Islands, before turning west. This way, if something goes wrong, you’ll have an escape route towards the equator.

Moreover, when sailing south to the Canary Islands, the earlier you leave Europe and get across Biscay, the better. The Portuguese winds offer a fast passage south to Lisbon and onwards to the Canary Islands. So if you choose this route, you shouldn’t leave in late summer. This is because southwesterly winds are likely to give you a hard time to the Canaries. Lastly, the worst weather observed in the Atlantic circuit was between Spain and the Canary Islands for boats that departed late in order to head south.

Information on Trade Winds

If you’re sailing in the southern hemisphere, then trade winds tend to blow from the southeasterly direction. This can be risky as they might lead you towards the equator. But, if you’re sailing in the northern hemisphere, then trade winds will blow from the northeasterly direction, thus leading you along the equator. The trade winds are the main force for the Atlantic crossing and are generally predictable due to the Coriolis effect.  This means that the Earth’s rotation causes air to blow towards the equator in a southwesterly direction in the northern hemisphere and in a northwesterly direction in the southern hemisphere. Also, the currents blow towards the same direction as the winds, thus offering comfortable sailing. Nowadays, the weather forecasts and communication systems have shown remarkable progress, but sometimes the weather can differentiate from the climatological averages.

Furthermore, keep in mind that where the strongest winds are detected will determine low pressure over Africa and how far south or north the Azores High is established. The Azores High is situated at the center of the Atlantic basin, goes all the way to Bermuda, and it’s also an area where high atmospheric pressure is found. In any case, when you begin your crossing, it would be great if you can stick with a direct route, but most of the time, you’ll have to head south to stay in the trade winds. For example, if you leave before the hurricane season but do not get too far north because winter and spring depressions are stronger in the north Atlantic. On the other hand, leaving early risks heavy weather conditions when you get north.

>>Also Read: How Long Does it Take to Sail Around the World?

How Long Does it Take to Sail Cross the Atlantic by Sailboat?

When it comes to crossing the Atlantic, you should know that a sailboat doesn’t sail in a straight line. The distance of this voyage is about 6,800km, and it’s characterized by an S-shape or a curve. That being said, the distance you’ll cover will be about 8,000 km, which will probably take you up to 45 days in good weather conditions or 55 days in case the wind and weather are not favorable. A rule of thumb is to add about 15 to 20% on top of the distance.

As you see, it’s much better to refer to distance with nautical miles instead of time. For example, the most common route starting from the Canary Islands is about 2,700NM. Another important factor for the Atlantic crossing is the type of boat you have. This will influence your traveling speed as well as the weather control. Lastly, nowadays, the improved sailing technologies, navigation techniques, and high-performance sailboats favor the Atlantic crossing significantly.

>>Also Read: Top Sailing Destinations In The World

The Bottom Line

Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean will take you about 3 weeks, but you should always add 10 days more. This is because weather conditions and trade winds vary, influence your planning, and depend on the season you’re traveling. So, what’s the best time to cross the Atlantic ocean? The most appropriate time is between November and February because the Atlantic is warmer at this time of the year. Moreover, hurricanes and squalls are less prone to happen, and the water temperature can reach 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Wave and swell forecasts also determine how far south to go to avoid the North Atlantic depression. Then again, everything depends on the route you’re taking, the type of your sailboat, and the weather. So, consider everything before setting sail as the Atlantic crossing needs thorough planning and preparation, but it will also be the best experience of your life!

Peter

Peter is the editor of Better Sailing. He has sailed for countless hours and has maintained his own boats and sailboats for years. After years of trial and error, he decided to start this website to share the knowledge.

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Atlantic crossing by boat

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Canary-Caribbean Atlantic crossing by catamaran 6
Atlantic crossing 2024 1
Trip to the New World 6
North Atlantic crossing in a single cabin 0
Stage 1: Crossing Gran Canarias to Cape Verde in a single cabin 1
North Atlantic crossing in a single cabin 0
Trip to the New World 4
North Atlantic crossing in a single cabin 0
Trip to the New World 3
Trip to the New World 5
Trip to the New World 1
Trip to the New World 5
Transatlantic Eastbound Sail Antigua – UK 8
NYYC Transatlantic Race from Newport, Rhode Island 10
  • ⭐ Is it necessary to plan the route to Cross the Atlantic? Sailing across the Atlantic is a high-seas sailing activity and, therefore, it is essential to plan the route to minimize setbacks and navigate with favorable winds and currents.
  • ✅ What is the best time to cross the Atlantic? The best time to cross the Atlantic by sailboat from Europe or Africa to the American continent is between the months of October and January, coinciding with the arrival of the Trade Winds and the low season of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • ⌚ How long does it take to cross the Atlantic by sailboat? The transatlantic crossing can last between 15 and 30 days, depending on the capabilities of the ship and the route they intend to take.
  • ⚡ Is it dangerous to cross the Atlantic by sailboat? The main danger involved in crossing the Atlantic by sailboat are tropical storms and hurricanes. For this reason, the crossing is always carried out once the hurricane season ends, to avoid the risk of encountering these meteorological phenomena.
  • ✍ Do I need experience to cross the Atlantic by boat? It is not necessary that you have specific nautical skills to embark on an Atlantic crossing, although it is advisable to have some experience in navigation.
  • ➡️ How much does it cost to cross the Atlantic by sailboat? As you can see in Sailwiz, the price of the Atlantic Crossing varies depending on the type of ship and what is included in the package, although in general, the tickets usually start at 1,000 euros.
  • If you have always dreamed of crossing the Atlantic but have never dared, this is the time to make it happen. You just need to enjoy the adventure and some time (around a month) to cross the Atlantic by sailboat.

Crossing the Atlantic by boat: start of the season

On what dates do the crossings depart to cross the atlantic by sail from europe, from which ports do you leave to cross the atlantic, what itinerary do the atlantic crossings that leave europe follow, what are the main dangers in the crossing of the atlantic, how is tall navigation across the atlantic, what dates do the atlantic crossings depart from the caribbean to europe, what itinerary do the atlantic crossings that leave the caribbean follow, how much fuel is needed to cross the atlantic.

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How Long Does It Take to Sail Across the Atlantic? – Answered

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

how long does it take to sail across the atlantic

There is an adventurer in all of us. How we choose to indulge that feisty part of us is what makes us unique. For the consummate sailor, it probably involves sailing across an ocean.

Traversing the entire expanse of the Atlantic is no mean feat. Often, that desire manifests itself in a question, “How long does it take to sail across the Atlantic?”

Well, the short answer is don’t expect it to be the same for everyone. On average, it should take a month, depending on the route, vessel’s speed, and weather. More experienced sailors can cut that back to a little more than 20 days.

Table of Contents

Different Voyage Lengths in the Atlantic Based on Vessel Type

1. the size of the boat, 2. wind speed, 3. sailing skill, 4. weather and ocean conditions, 5. departure location, 6. port stops, 1. bermuda (western starting point or northern route), 2. canary islands (eastern starting point or southern route), here’s a glimpse of an actual voyage, 1. prepare yourself and bring only skilled hands with you, 2. provision for at least 4 weeks, 3. check the record of disasters, 4. don’t delay completing your journey.

How long to sail across the Atlantic? Consider the ship or boat you’ll be using first.

  • For average monohulls that span 30 to 40 feet, the Atlantic can be crossed within 3 to 4 weeks. This time can be cut shorter depending on the route taken, weather conditions, and sailing skills.
  • A longer, more modern yacht may be able to complete a transatlantic voyage in 2 to 3 weeks. Those who take frequent trips between the Canary Islands and the Caribbean can say as much.
  • The time to cross the Atlantic by ship will normally be 7 days for a single trip. This figure is based on the cruising time of ships that make transatlantic voyages like the Queen Mary 2.
  • Considering the engines powering such vessels, they may even be able to cut that voyage time by half.
  • Some individuals also consider crossing the Atlantic alone logistics. That’s definitely plausible and what’s even better is that the level of luxury you can enjoy on freighters can rival those of cruise ships.
  • If you’re considering this option, it may take you anywhere between 10 to 22 days.
  • Naval ships like aircraft carriers and warships like corvettes will undoubtedly be able to cut transatlantic sailing time to just 3 to 4 days. As far as sailing goes, those are undoubtedly the fastest.
  • Did you know that sailboats as small as 5 feet can also cross the Atlantic? Obviously, it will take a significantly longer time, but it’s possible!

Based on historical data, the person who managed to do that had to sail for more than 100 days. 

Factors That Affect Voyage Time

yachting-across-the-atlantic

The fact that there’s no static duration for any journey across the Atlantic is because a lot of factors come into play. I’ve listed down everything that affects voyage time as follows.

It’s common knowledge that boat length is directly proportional to its speed. That being said, expect a 50-foot catamaran to sail across the Atlantic faster than a 30-foot monohull or anything smaller.

If the monohull can cover 100 miles a day, the larger catamaran or a trimaran may be able to achieve twice that coverage.

When sailing the world’s oceans, you will need to take advantage of trade winds. These winds blow 15 knots on average, but their directions and strength change every season.

Just because I was able to pinpoint an exact figure doesn’t mean that you’ll enjoy that exact wind speed all throughout your journey.

I’ve talked with old salts that can attest to having only an average of 5 knots to 8 knots when doing a solo transatlantic expedition. Expect the same variance to apply to most voyagers.

When crossing the Atlantic, it’s best to be highly experienced in sailing first. This rings true for the people you take with you, as long voyages can have a profound effect on anyone, and most certainly on novices.

Incidentally, you may want to know the solid proof that sailing skill matters the most when sailing across the ocean. You don’t need to look further than the magnificent achievement of Hugo Viglen who was able to cross the Atlantic by boat in 115 days. The best part is he did it on a 5-footer!

how-many-days-to-sail-across-the-atlantic

How long to sail across the Atlantic if the weather’s on the calm side? You can complete the trip within the usual time frames I’ve mentioned above.

Typically, sailors choose to set sail between November to February when the routes are warmer. Others will say the perfect time is between April and May.

Anything beyond that may raise the chances of facing storms and hurricanes, which are natural forces you clearly don’t want to mess with.

The wind speeds and waves may get tricky – if not outright dangerous – to get the hang of if you’re dealing with inclement weather. This is why I recommend you sail only during the ideal seasons.

Where you choose to set sail will significantly affect sailing across the Atlantic time because there are locations where windward winds are noticeably better. Based on historical data, if you’re departing from the west, it’s best to choose Bermuda as a point of departure.

While some sailors can manage yachting across the Atlantic without stopping in various ports, plenty of people can’t. Any kind of stop you do, regardless of how long it takes, will lengthen the total passage time.

Sample Transatlantic Passages

To give you an overview of how long it will take a transatlantic crossing, I’ve outlined the time it takes from point A to point B and so forth in the popular Bermuda and Canary Island routes.

cross-atlantic-by-boat

  • Sail the Caribbean to Bermuda (takes around 5 to 8 days).
  • Then, head to Azores from Bermuda (takes roughly 14 to 17 days). This is the longest stretch of the crossing.
  • Finally, from the Azores you can dock in Portugal (takes around 4 to 8 days).
  • Start from Portugal then sail to the Canary Islands (takes 5 to 7 days).
  • Afterward, from the islands, turn your vessel in the direction of Cape Verde (travel time is between 5 to 8 days).
  • From there, you can now make the transatlantic crossing to the Caribbean or any available port in Brazil (takes around 16 to 21 days). The southern Cape Verde crossing is generally considered as the shortest route.

Add the number of days up, and you’ll likely arrive at a more accurate estimation of how many days to sail across the Atlantic. Take note that these timeframes don’t factor in any port stops you do.

Which of these routes is the safest? Well, based on most of the sailors I’ve asked, the Cape Verde passage is less risky than the Bermuda one.

Incidentally, do you know the total distance that these trips will take? Roughly, it’s around 6,800 nautical miles in a single voyage, which is undoubtedly a monumental achievement for any sailor!

If you want to get a glimpse of a transatlantic crossing, there are videos on Youtube that I can heartily recommend. The following two-part series was done by a solo sailor:

It took him 23 days in total to complete the trip on his 28-foot sailboat. This proves that if you know how to play your cards right, this trip will be a cinch every time.

I personally know skippers and sailors who have done this trip more than 30 times! To me, departing within the safest weather windows is the key.

It’s well worth the watch since the video serves as a visual journal of what the entire experience is all about, what conditions to expect, and a clear testament that nothing is ever certain in ocean voyages.

Essentials to Take Note When Sailing Across the Atlantic

how-long-to-sail-across-atlantic

Whether you’re planning on completing this ocean excursion yourself or are simply curious about the entire scope of the voyage, it won’t hurt to know what sailors keep in mind when crossing vast oceans like the Atlantic.

What’s sure is that if you’re attempting to do it, plan ahead for months. I recommend you gain solid sailing experience as well. Learn to condition yourself in taking longer sailing expeditions, for instance.

Long ocean voyages are reserved for those who are used to the challenges of unpredictable marine environments. These endeavors require discipline, willpower, and patience, so it’s always best to team up only with a professional crew, assuming you won’t be sailing solo.

For instance, be prepared to have less-than-optimal sleep on a daily basis. I’m talking about facing the possibility of getting only three hours of restful sleep some nights because you have no choice but to be tossed here and there by strong waves.

Be open to the advice of others, including the ones I gave here, but, ultimately, you should use your own judgment.

Keep a stock of necessary food, drinks, clothing, and medicine that will sustain you for the entire estimated length of the trip. If you have a larger vessel, you can obviously go beyond that.

The point is, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If worse comes to worst, don’t hesitate to call for help and rescue.

(Which, mind you, is not exactly uncommon if you check the entire record of disasters in transatlantic passages alone). That being said, we come to the next point.

This is not to strike fear in you but to give you a sobering idea that what you’re trying to undertake is not at the least a minor endeavor.

Checking the records should also tell you the months that you should avoid, assuming you can’t sail during the safest window I mentioned above.

I can say the same for when you’re trying to sail across the Mediterranean or the Pacific because you’re far less likely to encounter stormy or generally bad weather this way.

Keep in mind that delays will also take a toll on your boat. This rings true when it comes to the maintenance and repairs you may need to do upon completing your passage.

To summarize all the points above, it will take you at most 4 weeks to sail across the Atlantic Ocean on a traditional sailboat. Other vessels may shorten or lengthen that duration, depending on their size.

Numerous factors affect sailing time. Equally myriad considerations need to be done in order to safely complete it.

Now that you know the answer to your question, “How long does it take to sail across the Atlantic?” Do you still have the guts to earn this once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment?

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

“My intention from the first day establishing Boating Basics Online is to provide as much help as possible for boaters who want to experience a first safe and convenient trip. So feel free to join us and share your beautiful journeys to the sea!”

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How Long Did It Take to Get Across the Atlantic in the 1700s?

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

Since ships in the 1700s relied on sails to propel them, the length of the voyage greatly depended on the wind. An immigrant who made the journey in 1750 reported that it could take between eight and 12 weeks, while another who arrived in 1724 reported that the journey took six weeks and three days. The average journey was about seven weeks.

These journeys do not include periods during which ships remained anchored in a harbor in either England or the American colonies while they were filled with cargo. According to the firsthand accounts of immigrants, ships sometimes remained anchored at a port for as many as three weeks at a time.

Immigrants were also forced to spend longer amounts of time on ships once they got to the American colonies if they could not afford to pay the required passage fee. Those who could not pay were required to remain on board the ship until they were sold into indentured servitude and forced to work to pay for their voyage.

The journey across the Atlantic Ocean was very difficult. Firsthand accounts speak of illness, cramped quarters, food and water rations, and death. Because the journey was so long, when passengers died, their bodies were thrown overboard because there was no way to store them on the ship.

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How Long Does It Take to Sail Across the Atlantic? Tips & Insights

Alex Morgan

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

Sailing across the Atlantic is a challenging and thrilling adventure that captivates the imagination of many sailors and adventurers. The duration of a transatlantic voyage can vary depending on several factors.

Factors Affecting the Duration of Sailing Across the Atlantic:

  • Route and Distance: The chosen route and total distance to be covered greatly impact the duration of the voyage.
  • Type of Vessel: The speed and capabilities of the vessel, including its size, design, and propulsion system, influence how long the journey will take.
  • Weather Conditions: Wind patterns, currents, and weather systems encountered during the voyage can either speed up or slow down the progress.
  • Experience and Skill of the Crew: The competence and experience of the crew in handling the vessel and navigating across the open ocean play a crucial role in determining the duration.
  • Planned Stops and Rest Periods: The inclusion of planned stops for rest, refueling, or repairs can extend the overall duration of the voyage.

Average Duration of Sailing Across the Atlantic:

The duration of a transatlantic crossing can vary depending on the chosen route and the factors mentioned above. Shortest routes, standard routes, and longest routes are three common categories, each with differing average durations.

Record-Breaking Atlantic Crossings:

Several remarkable records have been set for the fastest solo and crewed Atlantic crossings. These record-breaking achievements showcase the extraordinary capabilities of both sailors and vessels.

Tips for Planning a Transatlantic Voyage:

To plan a successful transatlantic voyage, it is crucial to consider various factors. Choosing the right time of the year with favorable weather conditions, ensuring an adequate supply of provisions and supplies, equipping the vessel with necessary safety measures and equipment, and preparing for potential challenges are all crucial elements of a well-prepared and safe transatlantic journey.

By understanding these factors and considering the tips provided, individuals can plan and embark on an unforgettable transatlantic voyage with confidence and preparedness.

  • Factors such as route, distance, type of vessel, weather conditions, and crew experience affect the duration of sailing across the Atlantic.
  • The average duration of sailing across the Atlantic varies based on the chosen route, with shortest, standard, and longest routes available.
  • Record-breaking Atlantic crossings include the fastest solo sailing record and the fastest crewed sailing record.
  • When planning a transatlantic voyage, it is important to choose the right time of year, plan for provisions and supplies, consider safety measures and equipment, and prepare for potential challenges.

Factors Affecting the Duration of Sailing Across the Atlantic

Embarking on a journey across the vast Atlantic brings with it a multitude of factors that influence the duration of the voyage. From the chosen route and distance, to the type of vessel and prevailing weather conditions, each variable holds its sway. The experience and skill of the crew, as well as the planned stops and rest periods, further contribute to the overall timeline. With these diverse elements at play, let’s navigate through the intricacies that determine how long it takes to sail across the Atlantic .

Route and Distance

The duration of sailing across the Atlantic is heavily influenced by the route and distance. The journey time can vary depending on the different routes and their respective distances.

There are three main routes with varying distances for sailing across the Atlantic. The shortest route, known as the Great Circle , covers approximately 2,800 to 3,000 nautical miles. This route follows a direct path, resulting in the shortest distance traveled. The standard route, also called the Trade Winds route, is around 3,800 to 4,200 nautical miles. It takes advantage of winds and currents to facilitate the sail across the Atlantic. The longest route, known as the Oceanic Route, spans 4,800 to 5,500 nautical miles. This route may involve detours or stops, leading to an increased distance.

When planning a transatlantic voyage, sailors must carefully consider the route and distance in order to estimate the duration of the journey. The chosen route can have a significant impact on the time it takes to sail across the Atlantic. Therefore, thorough planning and consideration of both route and distance are essential for a successful voyage.

Type of Vessel

The type of vessel used for sailing across the Atlantic is crucial for determining the duration of the journey. Different types of vessels have varying speeds and capabilities, which significantly impact the time it takes to cross the Atlantic.

Comparison Table –

Type of Vessel Average Speed (Knots) Approximate Crossing Time
5-10 knots 14-28 days
12-20 knots 7-10 days
20-30 knots 5-7 days

As shown in the table, sailboats are slower and rely on wind power, resulting in a crossing time of around 14 to 28 days . Motor yachts , with engines, offer faster speeds of 12 to 20 knots , reducing the crossing time to approximately 7 to 10 days . Ocean liners , designed for long-distance travel, can reach speeds of 20 to 30 knots , allowing for a crossing time of 5 to 7 days .

Understanding the type of vessel is essential for planning an effective transatlantic voyage. Each vessel offers different advantages and disadvantages, such as cost, comfort, and overall experience. Therefore, considering the type of vessel is crucial for determining the duration and suitability of the journey based on preferences and requirements.

In history, vessels like the RMS Queen Mary , a legendary ocean liner, set record-breaking transatlantic crossing times and provided a luxurious experience for passengers. The type of vessel used has evolved over the years, and modern advancements have made transatlantic travel more accessible and efficient for personal and commercial purposes.

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions play a crucial role in determining the duration and safety of a transatlantic voyage. Various factors, including wind speed and direction, wave height, storm systems, and temperature and climate, can greatly impact the sailing experience.

When the winds are favorable , they expedite the journey, while adverse winds tend to slow it down. Sailing becomes more challenging and uncomfortable in the presence of large waves, so it is essential to select a route that minimizes exposure to rough seas. Storms, such as hurricanes , pose significant risks and should be avoided at all costs. Extreme temperatures and climates have an effect on both the crew and the vessel, necessitating the use of proper insulation, protective clothing, ventilation, and hydration measures.

In order to ensure a successful transatlantic voyage, sailors must regularly monitor weather forecasts, stay updated on potential weather system developments, seek advice from experienced sailors or maritime authorities, and equip the vessel with appropriate safety equipment, including emergency beacons, life jackets, and storm sails.

By considering and adapting to the prevailing weather conditions, sailors can enhance safety and optimize their sailing experience across the Atlantic.

Experience and Skill of the Crew

The experience and skill of the crew are crucial for a successful transatlantic voyage. A skilled and experienced crew can effectively navigate challenges , ensure the safety of the vessel, and optimize the duration of the journey.

Skilled crew members excel in techniques like celestial navigation and electronic navigation systems , showcasing their expertise in navigation. Furthermore, experienced crew members possess strong skills in sail handling , knot tying , and boat handling , demonstrating their proficiency in seamanship.

In addition to their navigational and seamanship abilities, a capable crew can efficiently respond to medical emergencies , equipment failures , and adverse weather conditions , exemplifying their expertise in emergency response.

Good communication among the crew is crucial for coordination and understanding roles and responsibilities. Effective communication enables smooth teamwork and ensures everyone is on the same page.

Moreover, expert crew members can analyze weather patterns and forecasts, facilitating informed decision-making on route planning and timing . Their weather analysis abilities contribute to the overall efficiency and safety of the voyage.

The experience and skill of the crew significantly impact the efficiency and safety of a transatlantic voyage. With expert navigation, strong seamanship, effective emergency response, good communication, and weather analysis abilities, a skilled crew enhances the overall experience and increases the chances of a successful journey across the Atlantic.

Planned Stops and Rest Periods

When planning a transatlantic voyage, it is important to incorporate planned stops and rest periods in order to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. It is necessary to factor in the voyage length and determine the number of planned stops needed for rest and resupply, taking into account the route distance and vessel type . It is crucial to plan crew rest periods to prevent fatigue and ensure their well-being. Adequate rest is essential for maintaining alertness and proficiency during the voyage.

Incorporating planned stops means considering the availability of ports or safe anchorages along the route. It is recommended to research the facilities and services offered at these stops in order to ensure they meet your needs. Furthermore, weather conditions should also be taken into account when planning stops. It is important to avoid storm-prone areas or adverse weather conditions that could make continuing the journey unsafe.

By carefully considering planned stops and rest periods, you can ensure a well-paced and enjoyable transatlantic voyage. Always prioritize crew safety and well-being, and be prepared to face potential challenges that may arise along the way.

Average Duration of Sailing Across the Atlantic

Embark on an incredible journey as we uncover the secrets of sailing across the mighty Atlantic. In this section, we will delve into the average duration of these epic voyages. From the shortest routes to the standard routes and even the longest routes, we’ll explore the thrilling challenges and rewards that await sailors on this iconic waterway. So grab your compass and brace yourself for an adventure filled with fascinating facts and captivating tales of bravery on the vast Atlantic expanse.

Shortest Routes

The shortest routes , or the most efficient paths , for sailing across the Atlantic can differ based on various factors such as the starting and ending points, weather conditions, and currents. In the table provided below, you can find examples of the shortest routes, measured in nautical miles, for different starting and ending points:

Starting Point Ending Point Shortest Route (in nautical miles)

It is important to note that these distances are approximate and may vary depending on the chosen route. Therefore, sailors should carefully plan their journey, taking into account factors such as prevailing winds and currents, in order to find the most efficient route.

Although these routes may be shorter in distance, the duration of the voyage can still vary due to variables like weather conditions and vessel speed. As a result, sailors must always be prepared for potential challenges and ensure that they have sufficient provisions, supplies, and safety measures for their transatlantic journey.

Standard Routes

The standard routes for sailing across the Atlantic can vary depending on the starting and ending points of the journey.

The most commonly used standard routes are as follows:

Approximately 2,800 nm Average of 21-28 days
Approximately 3,400 nm Average of 25-35 days
Approximately 3,000 nm Average of 21-30 days

The Standard Routes are commonly used for sailing across the Atlantic. The North Atlantic Route is commonly used for sailing from Europe to North America. It takes advantage of prevailing westerly winds and follows a path from Europe to Bermuda, and then to the East Coast of the United States or Canada.

The Southern Atlantic Route is often chosen by sailors traveling from South America to Africa or Europe. This route takes advantage of the Roaring Forties , strong westerly winds found in the Southern Hemisphere, and typically follows a path from South America to South Africa or Europe.

The Transatlantic Trade Winds Route is commonly used for sailing from the Caribbean or the East Coast of the United States to Europe. It follows the trade winds, which are easterly winds that blow across the Atlantic, and generally goes from the Caribbean to the Azores, and then to Europe.

When planning a transatlantic voyage, it is important to consider these standard routes as they offer predictable wind patterns and are commonly used by experienced sailors. It is also important to take into account weather conditions and other factors that may impact the journey and always prioritize safety while at sea.

Longest Routes

The Atlantic Ocean offers various longest routes for sailing, which can differ based on the starting and ending points. In the table provided below, you can find some of the longest routes:

These longest routes necessitate thorough planning and navigation due to their considerable distances. Sailors must take into account factors like wind patterns, currents, and weather conditions that can impact their voyage. It is crucial to possess a well-equipped vessel capable of enduring the challenges associated with prolonged periods at sea.

Throughout history, sailors have embarked on these extensive routes in order to explore new territories, engage in trade, and establish connections between continents. Renowned explorers and navigators have traversed some of the longest routes, leaving an enduring impact on maritime history.

Sailing across the Atlantic on one of these longest routes requires skill, experience, and meticulous preparation. It is a remarkable achievement that captivates the imagination of adventurers and sailors worldwide.

Record-Breaking Atlantic Crossings

Embark on an exhilarating journey as we dive into the world of record-breaking Atlantic crossings . Discover the feats accomplished by courageous sailors who have pushed the limits of speed and endurance. From the fastest solo sailing record to the fastest crewed sailing record, brace yourself for stories of remarkable achievements on the vast Atlantic expanse . Get ready to be amazed by the daring individuals who have left their mark in maritime history .

Fastest Solo Sailing Record

The fastest solo sailing record

The fastest solo sailing record across the Atlantic is held by François Gabart , who completed the journey in just 6 days, 22 hours, 15 minutes, and 32 seconds. This record was set in November 2017 during the Route du Rhum race. Gabart sailed on his trimaran, Macif , and covered a distance of approximately 3,542 nautical miles from Saint-Malo, France , to Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe .

To break the record, meticulous planning , exceptional navigational skills , and favorable weather conditions are crucial. Gabart achieved success through strategic route selection , optimizing wind patterns and currents. The speed and efficiency of his vessel, along with his years of experience and expertise , also contributed to his achievement.

Setting the fastest solo sailing record requires dedication and preparation . Sailors must train rigorously and possess advanced sailing techniques to handle the challenges of the open ocean. Safety measures, including proper equipment and protocols, are of utmost importance due to the physical and mental demands of the journey.

The record-breaking Atlantic crossings by solo sailors showcase the incredible capabilities of modern sailing technology and human achievement. These feats inspire and push the boundaries of what is possible in oceanic adventures, leaving a lasting impact on the history of sailing.

Fastest Crewed Sailing Record

The fastest crewed sailing record across the Atlantic is achieved by skilled sailors and a high-performance vessel. Several factors contribute to accomplishing this remarkable achievement.

1. Determining the right route: Crews plan their route to take advantage of favorable winds and currents, minimizing the distance traveled.

2. Utilizing a high-performance vessel: The choice of boat plays a significant role in achieving the fastest crewed sailing record. Vessels designed for speed, such as trimarans or catamarans, with advanced technologies and lightweight materials, enhance the chances of breaking records.

3. Harnessing optimal weather conditions: Timing is crucial as crews wait for consistent and strong winds to propel their vessel forward and maintain high speeds.

4. Assembling a skilled and experienced crew: The crew’s expertise, teamwork, and ability to adapt to changing conditions are essential for achieving the fastest crewed sailing record.

5. Efficient rest periods and planned stops: Crew safety and well-being are prioritized with adequate rest periods and planned stops for repairs or resupplying.

By considering these factors and pushing the limits of human achievement, crews continuously break records in the fastest crewed sailing category across the Atlantic.

Tips for Planning a Transatlantic Voyage

Planning a transatlantic voyage? Let’s dive into some helpful tips to ensure smooth sailing across the Atlantic. Discover the importance of choosing the right time of year, ensuring you have adequate provisions and supplies, considering safety measures and equipment, and preparing for potential challenges. With these insights, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on a successful journey across the vast, unpredictable Atlantic Ocean. Bon voyage !

Choose the Right Time of Year

When planning a transatlantic voyage, it is crucial to choose the right time of year for a successful and safe journey. Factors to consider include weather conditions, wind patterns, temperature, daylight hours, and the risk of storms.

Weather conditions greatly impact the voyage, so it is important to avoid hurricane seasons and extreme weather patterns. It is essential to understand the prevailing wind patterns in the Atlantic, as this can help plan for smoother and faster crossings.

The time of year also determines the average ocean temperature, which affects comfort and the need for precautions. Considering daylight hours is essential for navigation and ensuring rest breaks.

It is recommended to research historical storm patterns and tracking systems to identify the months with the lowest risk of severe storms or hurricanes. By choosing a time of year with a lower risk of storms, the journey’s safety is enhanced.

Plan for Adequate Provisions and Supplies

When planning a transatlantic voyage, it is important to adequately plan for provisions and supplies to ensure a safe and successful journey. Here are the steps you should follow:

1. Calculate the duration of the voyage: Take into consideration factors such as the chosen route, weather conditions, and the type of vessel to estimate how long it will take to sail across the Atlantic.

2. Determine the number of crew members: Consider the people who will be on board and their daily food and water requirements. Take into account any dietary restrictions they may have.

3. Create a detailed meal plan: Plan balanced and varied meals for each day of the voyage. Include non-perishable food items that will last for the entire journey.

4. Stock up on non-perishable food items: Purchase canned goods, dried fruits, nuts, grains, and other long-lasting items to serve as emergency supplies.

5. Consider fresh food options: Choose between fresh fruits and vegetables or freeze-dried/dehydrated alternatives based on the length of the voyage.

6. Ensure an ample water supply: Calculate the daily water needs for everyone on board and include extra water for cooking and hygiene purposes. Explore options for water filtration or storage.

7. Include medical supplies: Pack a comprehensive first aid kit that includes medications, bandages, and any other necessary medical supplies. It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for guidance.

8. Prepare for emergencies: Plan for the possibility of equipment failure or delays. Carry backup navigation tools, communication devices, and emergency flares.

By following these steps and taking your specific needs into consideration, you will be able to effectively plan for adequate provisions and supplies for your transatlantic voyage. Remember to review and reassess your plan periodically for any changes or new information. Bon voyage!

Consider Safety Measures and Equipment

When planning a transatlantic voyage, it is crucial to consider safety measures and equipment for a safe and successful journey across the Atlantic ocean.

– Life Jackets: Have enough life jackets for every crew member on board. Ensure they are in good condition and properly fitted.

– Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB): Activate an EPIRB in case of an emergency. It helps rescuers locate your vessel quickly.

– Flares: Essential for signaling distress and attracting attention in emergencies. Have both handheld and aerial flares on board.

– Fire Extinguishers: Have sufficient fire extinguishers on board. Regularly inspect and maintain them.

– First Aid Kit: A well-stocked kit for treating minor injuries and illnesses during the voyage.

– Communication Equipment: Have reliable VHF radios, satellite phones, or EPIRB with GPS capabilities to stay connected and call for help if needed.

– Navigational Aids: Ensure up-to-date charts, compasses, and navigation instruments for safe and accurate navigation.

– Storm Sails: Have storm sails on board to handle severe weather conditions and heavy winds.

– Backup Systems: Consider backup systems for crucial equipment like GPS, autopilot, and power supply in case of failure.

– Training and Knowledge: Equip yourself and the crew with adequate training and knowledge in safety procedures, navigation, and emergency protocols.

In 1912, the RMS Titanic set sail across the Atlantic with safety measures and equipment that were considered state-of-the-art at the time. Tragedy struck when the ship hit an iceberg, highlighting the importance of having sufficient safety measures and equipment. This event led to significant advancements in maritime safety regulations and practices, prioritizing the safety of crew and passengers on modern transatlantic voyages.

Prepare for Potential Challenges

Preparing for potential challenges when sailing across the Atlantic requires taking certain steps to ensure a safe and successful voyage.

1. Check weather forecasts: Stay updated on the weather conditions before and during the voyage. Monitor potential storms or adverse weather patterns.

2. Create a detailed itinerary: Plan the route, including stops and rest periods. Having a clear plan and schedule is important.

3. Check navigation equipment: Ensure all navigation equipment, such as GPS, charts, and compasses, are in working condition. Accurate navigation is crucial.

4. Pack necessary safety equipment: Stock up on safety equipment, including life jackets, flares, and a first aid kit. Ensure easy access and good condition.

5. Prepare for emergencies: Develop an emergency plan and ensure all crew members are aware. Include procedures for handling medical emergencies, equipment failure, or accidents.

6. Stay well-rested: Adequate rest is essential for a safe voyage. Ensure all crew members get enough sleep and take turns managing the vessel. Fatigue increases the risk of accidents.

7. Stock up on provisions: Plan and pack enough food, water, and supplies for the journey. Consider crew members’ dietary restrictions or preferences.

8. Communicate with others: Keep in touch with other sailors or authorities who can provide guidance or assistance. Maintain reliable communication equipment onboard.

By following these steps and adequately preparing, sailors can navigate potential challenges and have a safer and more enjoyable transatlantic voyage.

Some Facts About How Long It Takes to Sail Across the Atlantic:

  • ✅ An Atlantic crossing on a sailboat takes an average of 20 to 25 days, but can be completed in two weeks if lucky, take shortcuts, and have a fast sailboat. (Source: Our Team)
  • ✅ The total distance of the crossing can be as much as 4,000 nautical miles and can take up to three weeks in good weather. (Source: Our Team)
  • ✅ The best time to sail across the Atlantic is between November and February, as the Atlantic is warmer during this time and there is less chance of hurricanes. (Source: Our Team)
  • ✅ There are two main routes for crossing the Atlantic: east to west and west to east. (Source: Our Team)
  • ✅ Factors such as travel plans, type and size of the ship, and the skills and speed of the sailor determine the time it takes to cross the Atlantic. (Source: Our Team)

###Reference Data (Source: Our Team): Source: https://sdmarina.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-sail-across-the-atlantic/ – An Atlantic crossing on a sailboat takes an average of 20 to 25 days, but can be completed in two weeks if lucky, take shortcuts, and have a fast sailboat. – It is important to know shortcuts, maximize speed, and have experience to cross the Atlantic. – Sailing across the Atlantic can be difficult, especially for beginners who may need to gain experience before attempting the crossing. – A sturdy boat with durable and easy-to-use sails, a GPS, and necessary accessories such as a watermaker are essential for the trip. – The best time to sail across the Atlantic is between November and February, as the Atlantic is warmer during this time and there is less chance of hurricanes. – The trade winds can change direction depending on the time of year, so it is important to pay attention to them when planning the trip. – There are two main routes for crossing the Atlantic: east to west and west to east. – The Northern Passage route starts from either New York or Bermuda and goes to England or the Portuguese coast. – The South Passage route starts from Southern Spain or the Canary Islands and goes to Cape Verde and then the Caribbean. – The total distance of the crossing can be as much as 4,000 nautical miles and can take up to three weeks in good weather. – The type of boat used affects the speed of travel, and taking advantage of the trade winds is important for a comfortable journey. – Planning, gathering information, and gaining sailing experience are crucial for a successful Atlantic crossing. – The crew should be qualified and experienced, and it is recommended to sail with a crew rather than alone. – Proper clothing and equipment, including dry clothing for all weather conditions and warm waterproof boots, are necessary for the trip. – The best sailboat for an Atlantic crossing should be at least 30 feet long, have a fixed keel, and be stable and durable. – Choosing a monohull sailboat is recommended over a sailboat with multiple hulls. – Sailing across the Atlantic requires preparation, planning, and using the winds to your advantage. Source: https://www.lifeofsailing.com/post/how-long-does-it-take-to-sail-across-the-atlantic – The best time to sail across the Atlantic is between November and February, as the water is warmer and there are fewer hurricanes. – There are two main routes for crossing the Atlantic: from east to west and from west to east. – The northern passage starts from Bermuda and goes to the Portuguese Azores, then to Portugal. – The southern passage starts from the Canary Islands and goes to Cape Verde, then to the Caribbean. – The total distance of the journey is about 6,800km, but the actual distance covered may be around 8,000km due to the curved route. – The ideal sailboat for crossing the Atlantic should be at least 30 or 40 feet long and have a fixed keel. – Factors to consider when choosing a sailboat include design, stability, condition, build quality, and the size of holding tanks. – It is important to have a budget, create a timescale, choose the appropriate route, and select a skilled and experienced crew. – The right clothing for the voyage includes boots, foul weather gear, shorts, thermals, hats, gloves, socks, sunglasses, and a travel towel. – Sailing across the Atlantic can be challenging, and experience and a sturdy boat are important for a successful voyage. – Proper preparation, planning, and using the trade winds to your advantage are key to a successful journey. Source: https://improvesailing.com/questions/sail-atlantic – Crossing the Atlantic takes about 3-4 weeks, but can be done in 2 weeks if conditions are favorable or take up to one month if conditions are not ideal. – The time it takes depends on factors such as travel plans, type and size of the ship, and the skills and speed of the sailor. – The most common route from East to West follows Portugal – The Canary Islands – Cape Verde – Windward Islands, covering a distance of about 6,800km. – Due to the curved or S-shaped journey, the actual distance traveled is about 8,000km. – Sailors prefer to measure distance in nautical miles rather than time. – There are two main routes for crossing the Atlantic: the Southern passage (east to west) and the Northern passage (west to east). – The Southern passage starts from Europe and goes through the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, or directly to the Windward Islands in the Caribbean. – The Northern passage starts from the Caribbean and goes through Bermuda, the Azores, Portugal, and then the final destination. – Timing is important to avoid the hurricane season, which lasts from June to November. – The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering about 41 million square miles. – Sailing across the Atlantic can be challenging mentally and physically, but with the right knowledge, experience, and equipment, it is manageable. – Trade winds, which are predictable winds blowing in the same direction, are used for sailing across the Atlantic. – Improved sailing technologies and navigation techniques have made the crossing faster than in the past. – It is recommended to have sound navigation gear, such as a chartplotter, compass, and backup GPS, for the journey. – Columbus took two months to cross the Atlantic in 1492, but with improved technology, it now takes about 3-4 weeks. – Hiring an experienced skipper is an option for those without the necessary skills to make the journey. – It is important to be prepared for repairs and have the necessary tools and materials on board. – Some sailors rely on charts and compass rather than solely relying on electronics like GPS. – There are risks involved in crossing the Atlantic, but with proper preparation and knowledge, it can be a rewarding experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to sail across the atlantic.

The average time for an Atlantic crossing on a sailboat is 20 to 25 days, but it can be completed in as little as two weeks if favorable conditions, shortcuts, and a fast sailboat are present.

What are the best winds for sailing across the Atlantic?

The trade winds, which blow in the same direction, are important for sailing across the Atlantic. Paying attention to them when planning the trip can make a significant difference in travel time.

What are the main routes for crossing the Atlantic?

There are two main routes for crossing the Atlantic: the Southern passage (east to west) and the Northern passage (west to east). The Southern passage starts from Europe, goes through the Canary Islands or Cape Verde, and then to the Windward Islands in the Caribbean. The Northern passage starts from the Caribbean, goes through Bermuda, the Portuguese Azores, Portugal, and then to the final destination.

What type of sailboat is recommended for an Atlantic crossing?

A sturdy, mono-hulled sailboat with a fixed keel is recommended for sailing across the Atlantic. Sailboats such as the Albin 27, Westsail 28, Dufour 29, and Cape Dory 28 are popular choices due to their stability and durability.

What is the best time to sail across the Atlantic?

The best time to sail across the Atlantic is between November and February, as the water is warmer and there are fewer hurricanes during this period. Timing is important to avoid the hurricane season, which lasts from June to November.

What are the essential preparations needed for a successful Atlantic crossing?

Proper preparation, planning, and using the trade winds to your advantage are crucial for a successful Atlantic crossing. It is important to have a sturdy boat with durable sails, gather information about the routes and weather, and gain sailing experience. Having a qualified and experienced crew, appropriate clothing and equipment, and necessary navigation gear, such as a chartplotter and compass, are vital for a safe journey.

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How Big of a Sailboat Do You Need To Cross the Atlantic? (Detailed Guidelines)

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

Crossing the Atlantic in a sailboat is a dream for many.

But how do you know what size sailboat is best for you? In this article, we’ll cover the considerations you need to take into account when selecting a sailboat for your Atlantic crossing, including the size of your crew, the duration of your voyage, and the level of comfort you desire.

We’ll also discuss the advantages of larger sailboats and provide our recommended size for crossing the Atlantic.

Read on to get the detailed guidelines you need to make an informed decision about the size of your sailboat.

Table of Contents

Short Answer

The size of sailboat you need to cross the Atlantic depends on the individual’s experience level as a sailor and the type of voyage they plan to take.

Generally, for a safe and comfortable voyage, a sailboat of at least 35 feet in length would be recommended.

Additionally, the boat should have a solid and reliable design, as well as enough storage for enough food and water for the crew.

Finally, it is important to have a reliable source of propulsion in case of any emergencies.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Size Sailboat

When deciding on the right size of sailboat to cross the Atlantic, there are a few key factors to consider.

First, the size of the crew and the duration of the voyage should be considered.

A larger crew may require a larger boat for more living space and storage, while a shorter voyage may require a smaller boat.

The level of comfort desired should also be taken into account.

A larger boat will provide a more comfortable ride in the oceans waves, and will also provide more storage space for provisions and supplies.

On the other hand, a smaller boat may be more maneuverable and easier to handle in rougher seas.

In addition, the size of the boat should be considered in relation to the type of voyage.

A longer voyage may require a larger boat, while a shorter voyage may be well suited to a smaller boat.

It is important to note that a larger boat may also require more time to prepare for the voyage, as the boat must be properly maintained and outfitted with the necessary items for a safe and comfortable journey.

Overall, when considering how big of a sailboat is necessary for crossing the Atlantic, a sailboat of at least 35-50 feet is recommended.

This size of boat will provide ample living space, storage, and a comfortable ride in the oceans waves.

With careful consideration of the size of the crew, the desired duration of the voyage, and the level of comfort desired, the right size of sailboat can be chosen for a safe and enjoyable journey across the Atlantic.

Size of the Crew

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

When considering how big of a sailboat is necessary for crossing the Atlantic, the size of the boat depends on many factors, one of the most important being the size of the crew.

The number of people on board will be a major factor in deciding the size of the boat.

A larger boat may be needed for a larger crew, as more living space and storage will be required.

A sailboat should have enough space for everyone to move around freely and to store all the necessary supplies and equipment for the voyage.

Additionally, the crew should have adequate sleeping quarters and room to relax and socialize during the journey.

If the crew is large enough, a boat of at least 45-50 feet should be considered, as this size of boat will provide ample living space and storage.

Duration of the Voyage

The duration of your voyage across the Atlantic is a major factor in determining the size of the sailboat youll need.

If youre planning a short trip, around a few weeks, a smaller sailboat of 35-50 feet should suffice.

This size of boat provides plenty of space for comfortable living and storage, and is suitable for a smaller crew.

However, if youre planning a longer voyage, such as a month or more, then youll need a larger boat.

The bigger the boat, the more space youll have for living and storage.

Boats of 50-60 feet are suitable for these longer voyages.

These boats are large enough to provide plenty of living and storage space, while still being able to handle the waves of the ocean.

Its important to remember that the duration of your voyage will determine how large of a sailboat youll need.

If youre planning a short trip, then a sailboat of 35-50 feet should suffice.

However, if youre planning a longer voyage, then youll need a larger boat of 50-60 feet.

This size of boat will provide you with ample living and storage space, and will be able to handle the waves of the ocean.

Level of Comfort Desired

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

When considering how big of a sailboat is necessary for crossing the Atlantic, the level of comfort desired is an important factor.

While some people may be comfortable sailing in a smaller boat, others may require a larger boat to ensure a more pleasant experience.

A larger boat will provide more living space, storage, and a comfortable ride in the oceans waves.

For a comfortable and safe voyage across the Atlantic, a sailboat of at least 35-50 feet is recommended.

This size of boat will provide ample living space, storage, and a comfortable ride in the ocean’s waves.

It also allows for more supplies to be stored on board, such as additional food, drinks, and other items.

Additionally, larger sailboats tend to offer more stability and can be better equipped to handle heavy winds and waves, which can sometimes be encountered when crossing the Atlantic.

For those who prefer a more luxurious experience, a larger boat may be necessary.

Boats of 50 feet or more can provide spacious cabins, comfortable seating areas, and even amenities such as a galley, showers and toilets.

Such amenities can make for a more comfortable experience, especially when spending days or weeks at sea.

Ultimately, the size of the boat chosen for a transatlantic voyage depends on the individuals needs and preferences.

A small boat could be adequate for a shorter voyage, while a larger boat may be more suitable for a longer journey.

By considering the level of comfort desired, one can determine the size of sailboat needed for a safe and comfortable crossing of the Atlantic.

Advantages of Larger Sailboats

When it comes to sailing across the Atlantic, bigger is often better. Larger sailboats provide a variety of advantages over smaller boats, making them ideal for longer voyages. Here are some of the benefits of a larger boat:

1. Increased Stability A larger boat has a greater ability to stay upright in rough seas, providing greater comfort and safety for the crew. The wider beam of a larger boat also helps keep it from rocking too much, reducing seasickness.

2. More Room for Gear and Passengers Larger sailboats have more room for passengers and gear. This is especially important when crossing the Atlantic, as a longer journey requires more supplies and potentially more crew members.

3. More Room to Relax Larger boats provide more space for the crew to relax during the voyage. There is plenty of room for comfortable seating, cooking and food preparation, and entertainment.

4. More Room for Storage A larger boat allows for more storage space, which is essential when crossing the Atlantic. Not only will you need to store extra supplies, but youll also need room for sails and other equipment.

5. Greater Range Since larger boats have more space for fuel and supplies, they can travel for greater distances than smaller boats. This is important when crossing the Atlantic, as youll need to have enough fuel and food to last the entire trip.

All in all, a larger sailboat is the best choice when crossing the Atlantic.

It provides greater stability, more space for passengers and gear, and greater range.

Furthermore, it provides a comfortable and safe environment for the crew, allowing them to enjoy their voyage.

Recommended Size of Sailboat for Crossing the Atlantic

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

When it comes to crossing the Atlantic, the size of the sailboat you need depends on multiple factors.

Generally, a boat of at least 35-50 feet is necessary for a comfortable and safe voyage.

This size will provide you with ample living space, storage, and a comfortable ride when you encounter the ocean’s waves.

The size of your boat should depend on the size of your crew and the duration of your voyage.

If you are planning a long-term journey, then a bigger boat may be necessary to provide enough room for the crew.

Likewise, if you are planning a shorter voyage with a larger crew, then you may need a larger boat to accommodate everyone.

In addition to the size of the boat, you should also consider the features of the boat that are necessary for a comfortable voyage.

For example, you may want to look for a boat with plenty of storage space, comfortable living quarters, and a sturdy hull to handle the waves.

You may also want to consider features such as a galley, navigation equipment, and a generator to provide power while at sea.

When choosing the right sailboat for crossing the Atlantic, it’s important to do your research and find a boat that meets your needs.

Do some comparison shopping, read reviews, and speak to experienced sailors to get an idea of what is necessary for a safe and comfortable voyage.

With the right boat, you can have a memorable and enjoyable voyage across the Atlantic.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Size Sailboat

When it comes to deciding on the size of the sailboat that is necessary to cross the Atlantic, there are several factors to consider.

Chief among them is the size of the crew, the duration of the journey, and the level of comfort desired.

A larger boat will be needed for a longer journey or a larger crew, and a smaller boat will be more suitable for a shorter journey with fewer people aboard.

The size of the boat should also be in line with the level of comfort desired.

A larger boat will provide more living space, storage, and a smoother ride in the ocean’s waves.

In general, a sailboat of at least 35-50 feet is recommended for a comfortable and safe voyage across the Atlantic.

This size of boat provides enough room for a crew of two or three, as well as ample storage and living space for a comfortable journey.

The larger size also provides stability in the waves, allowing for a smoother ride.

For those who are looking for a more luxurious journey, larger boats in the 50-70 feet range are recommended.

These boats provide more living space and storage, as well as a higher level of comfort.

They also have more amenities such as a larger galley, larger cabins, and a spacious cockpit.

Ultimately, the size of the sailboat necessary to cross the Atlantic depends on the size of the crew, the duration of the journey, and the level of comfort desired.

A sailboat of at least 35-50 feet is recommended for a comfortable and safe voyage, and larger boats in the 50-70 feet range are recommended for more luxurious journeys.

Final Thoughts

Crossing the Atlantic is a thrilling and rewarding adventure, but its important to select a sailboat of the appropriate size.

Consider the size of the crew, the duration of the voyage, and the level of comfort desired for a safe and comfortable journey.

A sailboat of at least 35-50 feet is recommended for crossing the Atlantic.

With the right size sailboat, youll have ample living space, storage, and a comfortable ride in the oceans waves.

Now that youre equipped with the knowledge of how big of a sailboat you need to cross the Atlantic, what are you waiting for? Start planning your dream voyage today!

James Frami

At the age of 15, he and four other friends from his neighborhood constructed their first boat. He has been sailing for almost 30 years and has a wealth of knowledge that he wants to share with others.

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World’s last real ‘ocean liner:’ what to expect on a transatlantic cruise.

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Queen Mary 2 sails away from New York on a transoceanic crossing.

All sea days? Weak Wi-Fi? Nothing to do? These are all common misconceptions of what it’s like to take a transoceanic cruise, says Jason Leppert, cruise editor for TravelAge West and the producer of the Popular Cruising YouTube channel . But, according to Leppert and many other cruise experts, these concerns are unfounded. In fact, today’s modern cruise ships are so entertaining that some people like to stay on board, even when they dock in various ports.

Crossing the ocean by ship was once the only way to travel between continents. With the advent of jet travel, it became faster and easier to get around the world by air. But, there are many people that still find allure and nostalgia in a transoceanic cruise. Most cruise lines offer these, but they are typically for their own logistical needs when repositioning a ship between regions. For example, cruise lines often put big ships in the Caribbean during the winter season and in the Mediterranean for the summer.

Sydney, Australia - March 12, 2015: Ferries pass the Queen Mary 2 cruise liner, docked at the ... [+] Overseas Passenger Terminal before the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

When these ships cross oceans to change destinations, they continue to operate their full roster of amenities from theatrical revue shows and water parks to specialty restaurants and even occasional port calls at various islands along the way.

Cunard Cruise Line, however, fills a niche offering back-to-back transoceanic cruises many months of the year. Its Queen Mary 2 is the last “ocean liner” in service, a ship that was purpose-built for long crossings, and is the only ocean liner that makes regular passages back and forth across the Atlantic. Cunard has an almost two-century maritime history and specializes in maintaining that nostalgia on each trip.

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Retired ocean liner RMS Queen Mary permanently moored and serving as a tourist attraction in Long ... [+] Beach Harbor.

And one important point: these trips are referred to as “crossings,” not cruises.

Most cruise lines often discount their repositioning cruises across the oceans since they have fewer ports of call, but Cunard specializes in these trips. Leppert says Cunard offers more seasonal transoceanic crossings than any other cruise line and guests cherish the experience, despite there not being any stops along the way. Travelers may often wonder what to expect on these sailings. Here are a few of the most common questions they ask.

What are the passengers like?

Passengers travel via ocean liner for a variety of reasons for self-reflection, fear of flying or ... [+] simply the appreciation of maritime history.

Transoceanic crossings are an iconic trip that frequent cruisers want to tick off their bucket list . It is common to find well-traveled, older passengers that have been on most other cruises, but simply want to cross the ocean. Others travel for specific reasons that airline flights cannot accommodate. This includes passengers traveling with pets, people who are afraid of flying, passengers of size that prefer not to squeeze into an economy seat (a transoceanic cruise can be cheaper than business class) and nautical fans.

Solo travelers are quite common on cruises with people looking to work remotely, meet other passengers or simply take a break from daily life at home. Others are making roundtrip journeys going from New York to Southampton and back just for the experience. Transoceanic crossings have many repeat cruisers, and Cunard has one of the largest number given its history and the only line to preserve that experience today.

Mother and kids standing in Piazza del Duomo and admiring the facade of the famous Siena Cathedral.

Some families even find value in cruising to Europe rather than buying multiple airline tickets because the journey becomes part of the vacation. Multi-generational trips with grandparents traveling with their children and grandchildren is another important sector for transoceanic crossings. Many of them have been sailing since they were young, says Jackie Chase, Cunard’s director of public relations, and that the grandparents enjoy sharing the experience with the next generation.

The kennels aboard Cunard crossings sell out almost immediately.

Queen Mary 2 has a dedicated area for pets with 24 kennels that sell out quickly far in advance, according to Cunard. Pets cannot stay in the cabin with their owners, but people can visit their pets and walk them on a deck reserved for animals. On the last day of a crossing, pet owners bring their four-legged friends (usually dogs and cats although Cunard has provisions to carry ferrets, which it says has only happened once) on a special parade on the main deck much to the delight of other passengers. Traveling with pets is big business and more comfortable for animals than being put in the cargo hold of an airplane.

Pets have their own area where guests can walk them during the sailing.

Another major reason people like crossing by sea is that it minimizes jet lag. Eastbound crossings from New York to England typically move the clock ahead one hour each day at Noon. On Westbound crossings, the clock is moved back one hour each day at 2am. According to Cunard, the reason for changing at night on the journey to New York is that it provides an extra hour of sleep for everyone.

It is common for people to take a cruise in one direction and then fly back or even take a cruise in both directions to minimize jet lag.

Onboard and educational entertainment

The Planetarium aboard Cunard Queen Mary 2

If you think crossing the ocean by sea will be boring, that’s not the case. Unlike other cruises where the ports are the primary attraction, a transoceanic crossing is about relaxation, entertainment and even education. Cunard has daily talks about everything from true crime and astronomy to history and art.

It also hosts themed cruises that attract people interested in particular topics like gastronomy, wine and art. A partnership with two Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux showcased his iconic tasting menus drawing foodies on particular sailings.

Guests can watch rehearsals and performances of the English National Ballet aboard a specialty ... [+] sailing.

Once a year, it partners with The Greatest Generation to bring veterans aboard to lead talks and co-mingle with travelers. These are timed with the anniversary of the D-Day attacks and bring veterans, their families and history buffs to France.

A full-service spa and beauty salon provide pampering, and an impressive library with a large collection of books is a popular spot. During the evening hours, live music, theater shows, comedians and other performances draw people into the large theater. Cunard has partnered with big names like The Juilliard School and the Royal Astronomical Society to provide entertainment and lectures aboard its ships. It has also featured West End performances, including most recently “Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of),” based on the novel by Jane Austen and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

Trivia, dance classes, board games, activities like archery and pickleball, workout sessions and swimming pools fill the day with gala dinners an evening favorite.

Dress codes evolving

Business casual attire is the norm most evenings.

Aboard Cunard, dressing for dinner is a tradition with tuxedos and ball gowns the norm many nights (although not required). “More and more passengers prefer casual over formal,” says Leppert. “But, for those who still enjoy dressing up, Cunard definitely has the market cornered as the only brand still dedicated to a traditional dress code.”

“It’s the romance of it all for me,” adds Leppert. “The history of traveling the same route as so many immigrants and ancestors past is really something special, particularly doing so in such class and style.”

People on ship in formal attire

Dressing for dinner and for sailing in general is a highlight aboard Cunard. Even the staff wear impressively formal uniforms. For Queen Anne 2, Savile Row master tailor Kathryn Sargent designed outfits for the crew (from wait staff to the captain).

What is it like onboard?

The main dining room aboard Cunard Queen Mary 2.

While Queen Mary 2 is designed like a vintage ocean liner with Art Deco accents, its interiors blend modern touches to appeal to a new generation of travelers. The ship makes the seven-day crossing about 20 times a year.

Aboard Queen Mary 2, the most premium cabins are dubbed Princess Grill and Queens Grill cabins. They are inspired by the Verandah Grill restaurant on the original Queen Mary. The names refer to its upscale dining room that specialized in grilled meats and charged an extra fee for dining there. It was the exclusive dining and dancing room for first class guests of the day before being evolved to the elevated concept the line uses today.

Queen Mary 2 has a variety of dining options, including special restaurants for certain cabin ... [+] categories.

Cunard’s new SpaceX Starlink satellite-based Wi-Fi system is a vast improvement over what many other cruise lines offer. It is not free, but it offers robust speed that puts it on par with what travelers experience on land and is available across the fleet.

The recent launch of Queen Anne, Cunard’s newest ship, carries many of the same regal design features inside, but is not an ocean liner and will not make the same number of crossings as Queen Mary 2. It is the fourth ship in the current fleet, but is actually the 249 th ship to bear the Cunard name. Queen Anne will make more traditional cruise sailings with daily ports of call in different regions from Alaska to the Mediterranean.

Not much to see, but a lot to do

Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom - June 3 2024: Liverpool celebrations at Pier Head as Cunard ... [+] names City of Liverpool the Godparent of new Queen Anne ship

Not much, and that’s the beauty of it. Travelers like the seclusion and disconnect from the modern world. A highlight for many is the daily briefings from the captain about notable features of the route like seamounts and even a mention of the Titanic wreckage. Cunard’s Carpathia was the ship that rescued passengers from Titanic, which belonged to its biggest marine competitor White Star Line.

In the North Atlantic, there is not much marine traffic with only the occasional cargo ship. Most cruise ships prefer to take the southerly route for a crossing because of rough seas although Queen Mary 2 is built for the North Atlantic, which means passengers do not feel much of it.

Other cruise lines add a few ports to their crossings typically stopping in the Canary Islands, the Azores Islands or Bermuda. Since these cruises only take place twice a year when the ship repositions, they are usually more affordable since they have fewer ports. Cunard’s transoceanic sailings, however, sell out quickly because they appeal to a well-traveled audience that is aboard for the ship itself and the glamor of a yesteryear experience.

Will there ever be another ocean liner built?

Cunard cruise liner Queen Mary 2 is pictured docked in Brooklyn, New York. The liner is the ... [+] flagship of the Cunard fleet.

The architecture and design of an ocean liner is different than a traditional cruise ship. The cost of an ocean liner is not necessarily efficient for a cruise line. They tend to be smaller and built for speed and maritime efficiency whereas cruise ships are built for size and often to maximize capacity. Since design trumps maximizing profits for an ocean liner, many experts believe that another one may not be built any time soon.

“The Queen Mary 2 definitely has many more years left in her, but I’m not certain if we will ever see a ship built like her, as a true ocean liner with a proper draft, ever again,” adds Leppert. “I would love to see a Queen Mary 3, but I don’t know if one would be profitable enough in a decade or so.”

What is the future for transoceanic crossings?

A rendering of the pool area on Cunard's new Queen Anne ship

“There is a strong emphasis on North America in the coming years,” says Chase. “Starting in 2025, Queen Elizabeth will base itself in Seattle for her Alaska summer season, and will then transition to home port in Miami for her winter, Caribbean season. This is an addition to Queen Mary 2 being in NYC between April and December each year with her Transatlantic Crossing itineraries.”

Moving ships between different regions of the world for seasonal sailings is standard practice, but only Cunard makes it a hallmark of the brand. Its transoceanic crossings have become a bucket-list trip for many travelers.

Guests play shuffleboard on the ship's deck.

Cunard also offers transoceanic crossings from New York that continue to Le Havre, France and Hamburg, Germany. The cruise line has its own loyalty program, which rewards guests in extra amenities each sailing based on the number of cruises they take. There are no complimentary voyages, however.

This segment of the industry is not a growing one, says Leppert. “But, there are still plenty of people who prefer this form of travel over air, provided you have the week it takes to cross in either direction. I think the future remains with Cunard for now.”

Ramsey Qubein

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One Thousand Days Transformed - The Campaign for Cedarville

Crossing the Big Ocean in a Little Boat

by Rich Stratton, Assistant Director of Public Relations

How long would it take to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands near Africa to Antigua in the Caribbean Sea? “Team Foar Brothers,” including Cedarville alumni Thomas '05, Trent '02, and Tim Hamilton along with their nephew, Ben Clark, did it in 37 days, 10 hours, and 55 minutes.   

Discover more about their incredible journey of completing The World’s Toughest Row as Thomas returns for his second appearance on the Cedarville Stories Podcast . Then watch their exhilarating finish line video to get a glimpse of what it was like to row a little boat across the big ocean.  

During their expedition on the open sea, the team faced numerous challenges , including towering waves, relentless rains, the endless expanse of salt water, continuous physical exertion, and being constantly tossed around. It truly tested their endurance, yet they persevered through their unity, the unwavering prayers of their loved ones , and their faith in the Lord. Despite the daunting obstacles, they managed to cross the finish line successfully.  

  Their journey was not only a personal accomplishment but also a fundraising initiative , raising nearly $57,000 for Send Relief, a Baptist mission supporting Afghan refugees.   

While they found fulfillment in making a positive impact on others, they also reaped personal rewards. They were able to witness the beauty of God’s creation , the vastness of His universe, and the constant presence of His embrace. Even in the isolation of the ocean, without seeing any signs of human life for weeks, they found solace in the knowledge that they were never truly alone.  

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‘Absolutely incredible’: Man rowing solo across Atlantic is surrounded by whales

Bill Chappell

Tom Waddington, who is rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, filmed an hours-long encounter with what he believes were long-finned pilot whales. He enjoyed their visit — until one smacked into his small boat.

Tom Waddington, who is rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, filmed an hours-long encounter with what he believes were long-finned pilot whales. He enjoyed their visit — until one smacked into his small boat. @tomwaddington_skier hide caption

Tom Waddington is on a quest to row across the Atlantic Ocean all by himself — but on Sunday, he found plenty of company at sea, when a pod of pilot whales thronged around him. They followed him for hours, growing from a few playful animals to hundreds of large creatures. At least one smacked into his small boat.

The whales popped their heads above the surface and seemed to play together — a gam of whales , gadding about — as Waddington, who is rowing some 2,000 nautical miles from the Newfoundland coast to Penzance, in the United Kingdom, watched in amazement.

“This is so cool,” Waddington said as he took a video of the whales’ antics. With a laugh, he added, “I love it, but I'm scared they're gonna hit my rudder.”

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Tom Waddington (@tomwaddington_skier)

Waddington emerged unscathed — but a little shaken by the risks mammals weighing thousands of pounds can pose to his boat and equipment on an unsupported solo trip.

“They were just playing and going under the boat and I was taking videos,” he said on Facebook and Instagram, describing hundreds of whales around him. Then one of the whales slammed into the side of his light boat.

“And I was like, Oh my God. And suddenly it turned from David Attenborough into Moby Dick. And I was really scared.”

Waddington’s team on land believes the playful mammals are long-finned pilot whales, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says are known to live in the North Atlantic and “are very social, living in large schools of hundreds of animals separated into close-knit pods of 10 to 20 individuals.”

The whales appeared at a moment when Waddington was feeling a bit low, he said, after a morning full of rain.

“What a special treat,” he said on the video. “I've seen loads of whales, but they've just come to say hello.”

When it came time to take leave of his visitors, Waddington says he wasn’t sure how to do that. He tried shouting a bit, and splashed his oars. He veered north — but the whales followed, and for more than two hours, it seemed more whales kept showing up.

Waddington, who works as a ski instructor, is rowing across the ocean for a fundraiser benefiting Mind , the British mental health charity led by the actor Stephen Fry. Waddington estimates that more than 1,000 whales swam with him. For advice, he called his coach, Charlie Pitcher (who has himself rowed across the Atlantic).

“He was like, the best thing to do is, be quiet and still — which is exactly the opposite of what I did" earlier, he said.

A map shows Tom Waddington's progress as he rows his boat across the Atlantic Ocean.

A map shows Tom Waddington's progress as he rows his boat across the Atlantic Ocean. Mind Oar Matter hide caption

Eventually, the whales left the boat and its sole occupant with a rare story about crossing the Grand Banks , the large fishery at the edge of the North American continental shelf.

“It was absolutely incredible,” Waddington said.

The encounter didn’t harm the boat, or its progress across open water.

Between favorable winds and waves, and what Waddington called “whale-fueled adrenaline,” his boat is making good progress, he added. You can track its voyage online .

Saharan dust has arrived in Florida. What is it and how does it affect our weather?

Portrait of Samantha Neely

Noticing a hazy look to the usually blue Florida skies? That could be dust carried from  Africa's Sahara Desert , making the journey all the way to the states.

The huge plume of  Saharan dust , also called the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has arrived and has the potential to influence our air quality and weather conditions. Here's what to know.

What is the Saharan Air Layer?

According to NOAA, the Saharan Air Layer is a mass of very dry, dusty air that forms over the Sahara Desert. It typically forms during the late spring, summer, and early fall, moving over the tropical North Atlantic Ocean every three to five days.

It carries upwards of 66 million tons of dust annually over the ocean and the Americas.

Can you actually see the dust in the air?

Sort of.  Given how high in the atmosphere the dust sits, it can create vibrant sunsets and sunrises due to the way it scatters sunlight. During the day, at most, the sky could have a hazy white appearance if there are large enough quantities.

What causes the Sahara Air Layer?

The outbreaks of Saharan dust can form when ripples in the lower-to-middle atmosphere, called tropical waves, track along the southern edge of the Sahara Desert and loft vast amounts of dust into the atmosphere.

As the SAL crosses the Atlantic, it usually occupies an over 2-mile-thick layer of the atmosphere with its base starting about 1 mile above the surface, the NOAA explains. The warmth, dryness, and strong winds associated with the layer have been shown to suppress tropical cyclone formation and intensification.

Is it common for the Saharan dust to cross the Atlantic on a regular basis?

Its activity usually ramps up in mid-June and peaks from late June to mid-August, with new outbreaks occurring every three to five days.

During the peak period, it is common for certain outbreaks to reach farther to the west — as far west as Florida, Central America, and even Texas — and cover extensive areas of the Atlantic (sometimes as large as the lower 48 United States).

How long will Saharan dust last in Florida?

 The plumes typically begin in mid-June and run through mid-August; however, WUFT shares the dry air can have lasting effects on hurricane season, which can run through November.

Does Saharan dust make it hotter? Here's how the Saharan Air Layer influences weather and climate

According to the  National Weather Service , there are three characteristics of these "SAL" outbreaks that can affect tropical cyclones, tropical disturbances, and the general climatology of the Atlantic tropical atmosphere:

  • Extremely Dry Air:  The Saharan Air Layer’s dry, dusty air has about 50% less moisture than the typical tropical atmosphere. This extremely dry air can weaken a tropical cyclone or tropical disturbance by promoting downdrafts around the storm.
  • African Easterly Jet:  Strong winds in the Saharan Air Layer (25-55 mph or 10-25 meters per second) can substantially increase the vertical wind shear in and around the storm environment. This “mid-level jet” of enhanced winds, typically found at a height of 6,500-14,500 feet (2000-4500 meters), can cause tilting of the tropical cyclone vortex with height and can disrupt the storm’s internal heat engine.
  • Warm Temperatures:  The Saharan Air Layer’s warmth acts to stabilize the atmosphere, which can suppress the formation of clouds. This stabilizing effect is produced when the Saharan Air Layer’s warm, buoyant air rides above relatively cooler, denser air. The Saharan Air Layer’s suspended mineral dust also absorbs sunlight, which helps maintain its warmth as it crosses the Atlantic Ocean.

What does Saharan dust mean for hurricane season?

It can be seen as good news since we are projected to see a “ very active ” hurricane season.

Tropical development requires warm water and wind. Tropical disturbances tend to form in waters around the equator where ocean temperatures can reach the 80-degree minimum required to begin developing. When wind moves over these warm bodies of water, it causes water to evaporate from the surface of the ocean.

That vapor then rises, cools and condenses into large water droplets, which create cumulonimbus clouds. When the warm vapor cools, the heat energy is dispersed at the top of the clouds, making the air pressure higher, which in turn pushes the lower air pressure down to the ocean’s surface to repeat the pattern.

The dust helps weaken and suppress tropical cyclone formation and intensification, according to the National Weather Service and NOAA.

Is the dust harmful to our air quality?

Saharan dust can be harmful to health. The  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  says the Saharan dust worsens air quality and increases the levels of particulate matter in the air.

The air has about 50% less moisture than the typical atmosphere, which means the presence of the layer can be detrimental to cloud formation and thunderstorm activity.

What are the symptoms of Saharan dust?

The dust particles can be breathed in and enter your lungs and bloodstream, potentially triggering asthma attacks in people who have asthma and aggravating other respiratory conditions. Individuals with seasonal allergies can also be affected by the dust, encountering the typical symptoms of runny noses, sore throats, and itchy eyes.

Saharan dust has been linked to increased emergency department visits for:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Respiratory infections

How do I cope with the dust while it's here?

Dr. David Corry , professor of medicine in the section of  immunology, allergy, and rheumatology  at Baylor, offers the  following tips  to be safe while the dust is present:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible while the dust is in the air or wear a mask while outside
  • Run a HEPA filter indoors to purify the air, especially in the bedroom
  • Patients who use rescue or controlling medications for pulmonary conditions should have them on hand at all times and use them as prescribed
  • Seek professional medical advice at the first sign of difficulty breathing
  • For less severe symptoms, standard allergy medications such as antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays might be helpful
  • If you are experiencing a sore throat and runny nose and are unsure whether it is COVID, get tested

How can I check the air quality in my region?

Air Quality Index - Current Conditions

Contributing: Brandon Girod , Pensacola News Journal

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Clipper sailors hail ‘warm welcome’ in Oban after Atlantic crossing

The Clipper Round the World yacht race began on September 3 in Portsmouth, where it is due to finish on July 27.

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

Sailors competing in this year’s Clipper Round the World yacht race have praised the “warm welcome” they received when the event came to Scotland for the first time in its 27-year history.

The penultimate seventh leg of this year’s race, which started in Portsmouth last September, saw the boats racing 3,500 miles from Washington DC in the USA to Oban in Argyll and Bute.

For skipper Ineke Van Der Weijden, whose boat Perseverance won the leg in a time of 15 days and seven hours, crossing the finishing line late on Friday was a “magical” experience.

“For the last two hours, we were already sailing inside the islands. As we got there the sky lifted almost, because it was very foggy beforehand, and the sun started shining through and it was seven, eight o’clock in the evening.

“It was peaceful. It was beautiful. Then slowly, some small boats started coming out to see us in, which is absolutely wonderful. We all loved it. We just enjoyed it.

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

“We have a former crew member that has a seaplane so he came out to fly over us. It was absolutely one of the best runs I’ve ever had. Magical is exactly what it was.”

It was not the first visit to Oban for the professional sailor, who used to work as an international consultant before her first Clipper race in 2017-18 inspired her to change career.

“I have been to Oban before, I’ve done sailing out here before. I love it. Scotland is some of my most favourite sailing,” she explained.

“It’s beautiful. First of all, have you seen the landscape? But what I really like is it isn’t as overrun and overdeveloped as a sailing community. I like that it’s really sailors that want to be sailing.”

Paddy Moran from Galway, sailing on the Ha Long Bay Vietnam, said the approach to Oban was “spectacular”.

He added: “Even though we came in in the middle of the night, it was one of the most spectacular approaches that we had.

“We’ve had some pretty spectacular approaches to cities like Cape Town, Seattle, Washington up the Chesapeake Bay, but coming into Oban through the islands and up the channels was absolutely gorgeous, even at night.

“The warm welcome was as good as any we’ve got anywhere around the world. It was obvious that everybody was happy to see us, loads of people stayed up till two and three in the morning to welcome us in, so that was lovely.”

Sailing in specially designed 70ft racing yachts, the 11 crew are competing over an eight-leg course that sees them circumnavigate the world across six oceans and travel some 40,000 nautical miles.

The Clipper 70s, which can reach speeds of around 35 knots, are built for stability as well as speed, with Ms Van Der Weijden explaining that “when you’re out at sea in heavy weather you’ll feel that the boat is not the problem, the boat will do fine”.

Each crew, which can be up to 22-strong, do four to six-hour shifts on deck, which slopes steeply when under sail.

Below deck the sailors take turns to cook in a cramped kitchen using a gimbal-mounted oven, and they sleep using a “hot bunk” system, which sees them take it in turns with another crew member to use the compact beds.

It is difficult to miss the fact the race has come to Oban, where the fleet will remain until the final leg begins on Sunday.

The town’s curving harbour is lined with race-branded banners and bunting, and the colourful yachts are moored at pontoons next to the fanzone on the North Pier.

Oban is hosting a number of tie-in events, with the fleet’s arrival coinciding with the town’s Festival of the Sea.

Mr Moran said Oban is “buzzing right now” with the presence of the crews plus their families, friends and supporters.

He added of the race’s impact on the town: “I think it’s just put it on the map. I think that for myself it’s made a point of saying, you know, the west coast of Scotland is absolutely beautiful.

“I think it’s put it on a lot of people’s radar.”

Argyll and Bute Council leader Jim Lynch said: “It has been a great honour for Oban to host this fantastic sporting event.

“Our communities and businesses have given international Clipper race crews such a warm welcome.

“Tourism is a key industry for Argyll and Bute and the race has provided a welcome boost to the local economy, with many businesses reporting increased footfall.

“We thank everyone involved for showcasing the best Argyll and the isles has to offer, including marine tourism opportunities, wonderful local produce and a rich Gaelic culture.

“We wish all the Clipper race adventurers the best of luck with their grand finale.”

The end of the race in Portsmouth on July 26 is a bittersweet prospect for many sailors, some of whom will have been away from home for nearly a year.

Jade Golder, a 24-year-old student from Surrey who took two years out of university to take part in the race, said: “I’m trying not to think about it. It hasn’t really hit me yet that we’re almost here.

“You start counting your last. So I’ve done my last galley [cooking shift], and this is our last stopover and things like that, but it doesn’t really hit home that it’s almost over.”

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

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Melting ice no guarantee of smooth sailing in fabled Arctic crossing: study

Melting sea ice in the fast-warming Arctic Ocean is not making it easier for sailors to navigate a legendary shortcut between Europe and Asia despite popular belief, scientists say.

To the contrary, climate change was causing thicker, more hazardous ice to choke the fabled "northwest passage" long-sought by navigators seeking a faster route from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans.

Considered virtually impassable a century ago, a growing number of ships have been sailing this remote seaway north of Canada as the thawing of the polar ice promised new opportunities for trade and exploration.

Cargo ships, fishing boats, racing craft and even a large, 1,000-passenger cruise liner were among the vessels to make the once-unthinkable voyage in recent years.

But a new study challenges "the increasingly common belief" that the northwest passage could become a viable alternative shipping route as warming temperatures cause an overall decline in Arctic sea ice.

"We found almost the opposite of what people were assuming," the study's lead author Alison Cook, an expert on polar shipping at the Scottish Association for Marine Science, told AFP.

Far from opening up, Cook and colleagues found that the shipping season in the northwest passage -- the number of weeks per year that a vessel can safely navigate -- actually shortened between 2007 and 2021.

This was the result of an increase in older, thicker ice from the melting polar cap drifting southward into the passage, where it reinforced choke points and impeded navigation.

This ice posed a greater risk to ships than the younger, thinner ice more common in the Canadian archipelago, said the study published in the journal Communications Earth and Environment.

Explorers dreamt for centuries of discovering a northwest passage through the Arctic.

In one of the Arctic's great mysteries, British explorer Sir John Franklin led a storied expedition to chart the course in 1845 that cost two ships and the lives of all aboard.

In 1906, Roald Amundsen became the first European to sail its icy distance.

The journey saves ships approximately 7,000 kilometres (4,300 miles) of distance between Europe and Asia.

As sea ice has considerably declined in the Arctic, the prospect of reshaping global trade flows has renewed geopolitical and economic interest in the storied route.

But the lack of infrastructure, its remoteness, and maze-like shoals and straits make navigation perilous.

The study said that as sea ice has declined, the number of voyages across the entire Canadian Arctic had quadrupled since 1990.

Journeys through the northwest passage have grown too, but remain very low.

Ships entering its straits increased from 112 in 2013 to 160 in 2019, according to the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental organisation for the region.

This could change as the planet further warms.

A 2021 peer-reviewed study forecast that the northwest passage would be navigable for at least part of the year if global temperatures rose 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

This latest study did not offer future projections but Cook said the older, thicker ice accumulating in the passage would be there "for quite some time, many years into the future".

"It's more like giving a warning," she said of their findings, "or making people aware (to be) careful still, because it's not opening up anytime soon."

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

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how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

1glenn Today 10:23 am JST

So, the total amount of multi-year ice is decreasing, but the Arctic ice cap is shifting toward northern Canada, at least for awhile.

Sounds like it is good idea to check with satellite pictures and weather experts before attempting to traverse the Northwest Passage.

Not discussed was the passage above Russia. Theoretically that route will also be passable at some point in the future, if sea ice continues to diminish, and if the Arctic ice cap shifts away from Eurasia.

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

Desert Tortoise Today 02:22 pm JST

It is being used now, especially for LNG shipments from Russia to China.

how long to cross atlantic by sailboat

NB Today 03:46 pm JST

The oceans and the entire planet are warming up very rapidly.

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Melting ice no guarantee of smooth sailing in fabled Arctic crossing: Study

by Nick Perry

Researchers say that climate change is causing thicker, more hazardous ice to choke the fabled "northwest passage" long-sought by navigators seeking a faster route from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans.

Melting sea ice in the fast-warming Arctic Ocean is not making it easier for sailors to navigate a legendary shortcut between Europe and Asia despite popular belief, scientists said Thursday.

To the contrary, climate change was causing thicker, more hazardous ice to choke the fabled " northwest passage " long-sought by navigators seeking a faster route from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans.

Considered virtually impassable a century ago, a growing number of ships have been sailing this remote seaway north of Canada as the thawing of the polar ice promised new opportunities for trade and exploration.

Cargo ships, fishing boats , racing craft and even a large, 1,000-passenger cruise liner were among the vessels to make the once-unthinkable voyage in recent years.

But a new study challenges "the increasingly common belief" that the northwest passage could become a viable alternative shipping route as warming temperatures cause an overall decline in Arctic sea ice.

"We found almost the opposite of what people were assuming," the study's lead author Alison Cook, an expert on polar shipping at the Scottish Association for Marine Science, told AFP.

Far from opening up, Cook and colleagues found that the shipping season in the northwest passage—the number of weeks per year that a vessel can safely navigate—actually shortened between 2007 and 2021.

This was the result of an increase in older, thicker ice from the melting polar cap drifting southward into the passage, where it reinforced choke points and impeded navigation.

This ice posed a greater risk to ships than the younger, thinner ice more common in the Canadian archipelago, said the study published in the journal Communications Earth and Environment .

Storied route

Explorers dreamed for centuries of discovering a northwest passage through the Arctic.

In one of the Arctic's great mysteries, British explorer Sir John Franklin led a storied expedition to chart the course in 1845 that cost two ships and the lives of all aboard.

In 1906, Roald Amundsen became the first European to sail its icy distance.

The journey saves ships approximately 7,000 kilometers (4,300 miles) of distance between Europe and Asia.

As sea ice has considerably declined in the Arctic, the prospect of reshaping global trade flows has renewed geopolitical and economic interest in the storied route.

But the lack of infrastructure, its remoteness, and maze-like shoals and straits make navigation perilous.

The study said that as sea ice has declined, the number of voyages across the entire Canadian Arctic had quadrupled since 1990.

Journeys through the northwest passage have grown too, but remain very low.

Ships entering its straits increased from 112 in 2013 to 160 in 2019, according to the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental organization for the region.

This could change as the planet further warms.

A 2021 peer-reviewed study forecast that the northwest passage would be navigable for at least part of the year if global temperatures rose 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

This latest study did not offer future projections but Cook said the older, thicker ice accumulating in the passage would be there "for quite some time, many years into the future".

"It's more like giving a warning," she said of their findings, "or making people aware (to be) careful still, because it's not opening up anytime soon."

Journal information: Communications Earth & Environment

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COMMENTS

  1. Time to Cross the Atlantic by Sailboat: A Comprehensive Guide

    An Atlantic crossing on a sailboat takes an average of 20 to 25 days. It is important to know the shortcuts, maximize speed, and have experience to cross the Atlantic. The best time to cross the Atlantic is between November and February. The total distance of the trip can be as much as 4,000 nautical miles.

  2. How Long Does it Take to Sail Across the Atlantic? (With Maps)

    The total distance of this journey on a map is about 6,800km. A boat rarely sails in a straight line. It most likely will cover more distance due to a curved or S-shaped journey. A good rule of thumb is to add 15-20% on top of the theoretical distance. In real life, you'll travel about 8,000km.

  3. Time Estimation: How Long Does It Take a Sailboat to Cross the Atlantic?

    The traditional route for crossing the Atlantic by sailboat typically takes 14-21 days. Follow these steps to complete this journey: Prepare your sailboat: Ensure it is in good condition with necessary equipment and supplies. Check weather conditions: Monitor the forecast and look for stable winds and calm seas.

  4. How To Cross the Atlantic, Routes and Timelines

    Here's how long it takes to cross the Atlantic on various types of boats. Type of boat: Distance NM: Route: Time: Average speed Knots: Average speed MPH: Catamaran: 2700: ... Most people seem to cross the Atlantic with a boat in the 35 -45 ft spectrum, which fulfills both requirements!

  5. How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic?

    Sailing across the Atlantic takes about 3-4 weeks but you can cut it down to two weeks if you get lucky, take shortcuts, and your sailboat is fast. If you're without proper wind for a week or more, it can take you up to a month. It's important to know the shortcuts, maximize speed, and have the experience of sailing across the Atlantic.

  6. How Long Does It Take to Sail Across the Atlantic? Expert Insight & Tips

    While the average duration of an Atlantic crossing is 20 to 25 days, it is possible to complete the journey in as little as two weeks if you are lucky, take shortcuts, and have a fast sailboat. Utilizing the reliable trade winds in the North Atlantic can also help maximize speed and make the journey easier.

  7. How Long to Sail Across the Atlantic?

    Most sailors recommend a boat that is at least 30 feet long to cross the Atlantic, but 40 feet is ideal. The smallest boat to cross the Atlantic was only 5 feet, 4 inches long. Hugo Vihlen sailed it across the ocean in 1993, taking 115 days. The boat was named Father's Day. It was his third attempt in 1993 (he had also tried in 1968).

  8. Guide to Atlantic crossing by sailboat or catamaran

    The classic route to cross the Atlantic by sailboat begins in Europe and ends in the Caribbean or more rarely somewhere else in Central America. A common example of a transatlantic crossing departing from the Canary Islands with a possible stop in Cape Verde and landing in the Antilles. The distance of the crossing from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean is about 2800-3000 nautical miles ...

  9. Sail Across the Atlantic

    The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) is a renowned annual sailing event organised by the World Cruising Club and a favourite in the yachting world. It brings together sailors worldwide and provides an opportunity for sailors to cross the Atlantic Ocean in the company of a group, enhancing safety and camaraderie.

  10. Atlantic crossing: When's the best time to go?

    An Atlantic crossing or Atlantic circuit has often been seen as a year-long adventure, crossing the ocean in late November or December to the Caribbean, ... Sailing across the Atlantic; 5 tips ...

  11. 15 Top tips for an Atlantic Crossing

    The Atlantic crossing season occurs every winter. In the months leading up to Christmas, some 4-5,000 sailors will cross from Europe to the Caribbean on one of the biggest sailing adventures of ...

  12. How to sail across the Atlantic and back

    A 35-footer might take 25-28 days to sail across the Atlantic from the Canaries to the West Indies. Obviously, the longer and faster your boat is, the more stowage and water tankage you will have for less time at sea. You might also ask yourself which parts of the adventure are the most valuable to you.

  13. Crossing the Atlantic in a sailboat: the most famous crossings

    To cross the Atlantic by sailboat, there are basically two routes available. Route from East to West. Crossing Europe-America. This is the simplest route, as it is the usual route chosen by sailors to cross the Atlantic. It is easier to make this crossing, due to the distance among other things. This Europe-America crossing has a shorter ...

  14. Journey Across the Atlantic: How long Does it Take by Sailboat

    This is because the distance between Europe and North America is roughly 3,000 miles, and the average sailing speed for a sailboat is around 5-7 knots. However, the actual time it takes to cross the Atlantic can vary depending on various factors such as weather conditions, the route taken, and the type of sailboat used.

  15. How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic? Everything You Need

    An Atlantic crossing on a sailboat takes an average of 20 to 25 days, but it can be completed in two weeks: if you are lucky, take shortcuts, and have a fast sailboat. ... How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic? Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean is a big adventure! It's not like jumping in the car for a quick trip. This ocean is ...

  16. Best Time to Cross the Atlantic by Sailboat

    How Long Does it Take to Sail Cross the Atlantic by Sailboat? When it comes to crossing the Atlantic, you should know that a sailboat doesn't sail in a straight line. The distance of this voyage is about 6,800km, and it's characterized by an S-shape or a curve. That being said, the distance you'll cover will be about 8,000 km, which will ...

  17. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean by sailboat: pure adventure

    4 September, 2019. The best time to cross the Atlantic by sailboat from Europe or Africa to the American continent is between the months of October to January. On those dates, hundreds of boats are preparing to carry out an adventure that will take them between 15 and 30 days, depending on the capabilities of the ship and the route they intend ...

  18. Atlantic crossing by boat, a voyage to remember

    Canary-Caribbean Atlantic crossing + Advanced sextant course. Port of departure: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain. Next departure: 3 november. 3,790€. per spot. Crossing the Atlantic on a super Catamaran. Canary Islands - Cape Verde - Caribbean. Port of departure: Canarias, Spain. Next departure: 15 november.

  19. How Long Does It Take to Sail Across the Atlantic?

    For average monohulls that span 30 to 40 feet, the Atlantic can be crossed within 3 to 4 weeks. This time can be cut shorter depending on the route taken, weather conditions, and sailing skills. A longer, more modern yacht may be able to complete a transatlantic voyage in 2 to 3 weeks.

  20. How Long to Cross the Atlantic by Boat? Sailboat, Cruise Ship

    The time it takes for different boats to cross the Atlantic are as follows: Sailboat: 3 to 6 weeks. Cruise Ship: 7 or 8 days. Cargo Ship or Oil Tanker: 10 to 20 days. Aircraft Carrier: 6 days. There are people who have sailed across the Atlantic to achieve different kinds of world records.

  21. How Long Did It Take to Get Across the Atlantic in the 1700s?

    Since ships in the 1700s relied on sails to propel them, the length of the voyage greatly depended on the wind. An immigrant who made the journey in 1750 reported that it could take between eight and 12 weeks, while another who arrived in 1724 reported that the journey took six weeks and three days. The average journey was about seven weeks ...

  22. How Long Does It Take to Sail Across the Atlantic? Tips & Insights

    An Atlantic crossing on a sailboat takes an average of 20 to 25 days, but can be completed in two weeks if lucky, take shortcuts, and have a fast sailboat. (Source: Our Team) The total distance of the crossing can be as much as 4,000 nautical miles and can take up to three weeks in good weather.

  23. How Big of a Sailboat Do You Need To Cross the Atlantic? (Detailed

    Short Answer. The size of sailboat you need to cross the Atlantic depends on the individual's experience level as a sailor and the type of voyage they plan to take. Generally, for a safe and comfortable voyage, a sailboat of at least 35 feet in length would be recommended. Additionally, the boat should have a solid and reliable design, as ...

  24. World's Last Real 'Ocean Liner:' What To Expect On A ...

    Its Queen Mary 2 is the last "ocean liner" in service, a ship that was purpose-built for long crossings, and is the only ocean liner that makes regular passages back and forth across the Atlantic.

  25. Crossing the Big Ocean in a Little Boat

    How long would it take to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands near Africa to Antigua in the Caribbean Sea? "Team Foar Brothers," including Cedarville alumni Thomas '05, Trent '02, and Tim Hamilton along with their nephew, Ben Clark, did it in 37 days, 10 hours, and 55 minutes.

  26. 'Absolutely incredible': Man rowing solo across Atlantic is ...

    Eventually, the whales left the boat and its sole occupant with a rare story about crossing the Grand Banks, the large fishery at the edge of the North American continental shelf. "It was ...

  27. Saharan dust 2024: How does it affect Florida weather and air quality?

    As the SAL crosses the Atlantic, it usually occupies an over 2-mile-thick layer of the atmosphere with its base starting about 1 mile above the surface, the NOAA explains.

  28. Clipper sailors hail 'warm welcome' in Oban after Atlantic crossing

    Sailing in specially designed 70ft racing yachts, the 11 crew are competing over an eight-leg course that sees them circumnavigate the world across six oceans and travel some 40,000 nautical miles.

  29. Melting ice no guarantee of smooth sailing in fabled Arctic crossing

    Researchers say that climate change is causing thicker, more hazardous ice to choke the fabled "northwest passage" long-sought by navigators seeking a faster route from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans. Image: AFP environment Melting ice no guarantee of smooth sailing in fabled Arctic crossing: study

  30. Melting ice no guarantee of smooth sailing in fabled Arctic crossing: Study

    In 1906, Roald Amundsen became the first European to sail its icy distance. The journey saves ships approximately 7,000 kilometers (4,300 miles) of distance between Europe and Asia.