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Old 10-01-2016, 16:05   #1
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Trans-Atlantic Crossing: Leave Bermuda or Antigua?

Hey Guys,

I'm going to cross the pond to the Med this year and am looking for your opinion on both routes.

1. Bermuda to Azores
2. Antigua to Madeira

From what I've read...

Bermuda Route. Pros: better wind strength, low to no calms, good direction. Cons: Larger chance of late fronts, colder, wetter, much longer route.

Antigua Route. Pros: Warmer and much shorter. Cons: larger chance of calms, more likelihood of bad direction, more likelihood of low wind, might catch an early hurricane.

I should note that I'm comfortable flying my spinnaker so only really light winds are a problem. I also have a SSB, so I'm not terribly worried about a hurricane. And I've got a motor range of about 500nm with both fuel tanks full.

It seems to be a coin-toss after weighing pro's and con's. So, what's YOUR opinion on the crossing?

Thanks,

Jason
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Old 10-01-2016, 17:01   #2
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pirate Re: Trans-Atlantic Crossing: Leave Bermuda or Antigua?

I prefer to make my jump off from St Martin.. anchor up in Marigot Bay and wait for the wind to go ESE-SE for a 3day window then go...
I head for the Azores then the Med as more often than not heading for Madeira is going to give you strongish head winds for at least the last 500 miles.
Allowing for the curve that crossing the Stream incurs its around 2400 miles to Horta.. done it in 27 days and 21 days.. both times solo and in -35ft mono's..
And Horta's a grand place to make landfall..
The Bermuda route always seems silly to me.. hurricane alley n all that..
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Old 10-01-2016, 17:33   #3
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Re: Trans-Atlantic Crossing: Leave Bermuda or Antigua?

The Azores are awesome, and I would highly recommend them. You can spend a lot of time enjoying all there is to see here. The islands are beautiful, safe, and very affordable. Don't miss them, and don't sail past Flores without a visit if you can make it at all.

Cheers!

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Old 10-01-2016, 18:35   #4
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Re: Trans-Atlantic Crossing: Leave Bermuda or Antigua?

My plan for this year is similar to Boatman61's bit leave St Martin on the Great Circle Route to Gibralter heading a little north initially, but below (south) of the Azores by a few hundred miles.

Reasons:
Gale pattern covers the Azores.
My boat is light and I can do light weather and upwind.
Time is not important to me so I can go slow.
Time at sea is not important. I don't have to break a passage.
People only go to the Azores because there are there. If they were not there people would navigate a course slightly south to avoid gale band.


General: The north Atlantic passage is not easy. Every year people die. I take the safest route at the safest time. Seeing somewhere reroute is not as important to me as the getting there.


Mark
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Old 10-01-2016, 19:55   #5
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Re: Trans-Atlantic Crossing: Leave Bermuda or Antigua?

Missing from the discussion is when? Not too early and not too late! I went west to east last year too late, won't make that mistake again.
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Old 10-01-2016, 20:02   #6
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Re: Trans-Atlantic Crossing: Leave Bermuda or Antigua?

Azores were amazing and I wouldn't miss them for the world.... but Mediera is even more amazing. Try to stop at either one.

We left from Miami and stopped in to Bermuda only because of a hurricane forming and a chance of it coming up our stern. We then sailed a zigzag course across the Atlantic due to fronts coming off the East coast and us jumping south to avoid them. We may hold the record for slowest crossing, but arrived refreshed with 0 damage in Horta. Next time we're leaving from St Martin.

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Old 11-01-2016, 11:52   #7
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Re: Trans-Atlantic Crossing: Leave Bermuda or Antigua?

If you are already down island or going there anyway then the route via the Azores makes sense.

If you're leaving from the US then doing 1000 mile beat to windward to make a departure to Europe from the Antilles seems to me to be less practical. Bermuda in that case I think the better option.
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Old 11-01-2016, 12:24   #8
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pirate Re: Trans-Atlantic Crossing: Leave Bermuda or Antigua?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
Missing from the discussion is when? Not too early and not too late! I went west to east last year too late, won't make that mistake again.
Done it in April, May and once June 14th... the May departure was when I got clobbered 60nm from Flores..
June was amazing.. seemed like everything in the ocean was in transit..
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Old 11-01-2016, 12:43   #9
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Re: Trans-Atlantic Crossing: Leave Bermuda or Antigua?

I did it april-may 2015. Grand Bahama-Bermudas - was the worse part(upwind 25-35kts).St.Georges-Flores - we've been suffering mostly from lool and weak winds...surprised by gribs. Even taking north 60 mls to get promissed 15kts,got lool...Many monos carry 20-30 jerrycans with diesel on deck. But,don't go over 40N. Met german guy at Horta - he sailed the same time,took a North: two times 50-60kts and overkiel twice. Atletico fish restaurant at Horta is the best.
Punta Delgada marina is way beetter than Horta.
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Old 11-01-2016, 13:01   #10
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Re: Trans-Atlantic Crossing: Leave Bermuda or Antigua?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JStone View Post
Hey Guys,

I'm going to cross the pond to the Med this year and am looking for your opinion on both routes.

1. Bermuda to Azores
2. Antigua to Madeira

From what I've read...

Bermuda Route. Pros: better wind strength, low to no calms, good direction. Cons: Larger chance of late fronts, colder, wetter, much longer route.

Antigua Route. Pros: Warmer and much shorter. Cons: larger chance of calms, more likelihood of bad direction, more likelihood of low wind, might catch an early hurricane.

I should note that I'm comfortable flying my spinnaker so only really light winds are a problem. I also have a SSB, so I'm not terribly worried about a hurricane. And I've got a motor range of about 500nm with both fuel tanks full.

It seems to be a coin-toss after weighing pro's and con's. So, what's YOUR opinion on the crossing?

Thanks,

Jason
Jason,

You are not telling where you take off is so shorter/longer we must trust your word. Normally the routes closer to Equator may be the longer ones due to the false vision many people get when looking up a Mercator chart at large scale. It is very close from New York to Fastnet, it is very far from the Bahamas to Gibraltar. You are getting my drift by now, I think.

And not just the physical distance but then also the winds: most boats are reasonably fast in mid and high winds, few are fast in light winds, none is fast in calm.

Now more into the details, Antigua to Madeira IS normally sailed via the Azores too, unless you are one of those happy masochists in a J-boat or similar. This route may take you thru or very close to (a possible but not always present) High pressure system. We know of such that they are NOT like lows and so the closer to the center, the less wind there is. A very stable cat will go, a racing boat will also go, any other thing is a pig and IF you take heaps of fuel, you only make the pig heavier, you will stop sooner and have to motor more. BIG MAXI CLASS charter boats do this BUT they can motor at above 8 knots for 5 to 7 days. Can you.

The other route (the N route) is exposed to nasty weather all the way into May (on many years) and only from mid May onwards there can be spells of better weather. So timing (different in every year) applies. You go too early you get a storm, you go to late, you may get an off tropical by now remnants of a hurricane. Both situations are manageable in a good boat with wx aware and strong crew but manageable is far from nice.

Or else you may get lucky and sail any of the passages in relative speed and plenty of comfort. As we did in 2013 (but not in 2007) - both times the Antigua/Azores track direct (no Bermuda detours for us, a small boat).

So, to sum up, my advice is to sail a late (very late May / June) passage from Antigua via the Azores (or not) if you are in a sailing boat. a SAILING BOAT = one that will sail well in 5 to 10 knots).

Otherwise, time yourself very, very well, try a somewhat more N'ly tack: you may go via the Bermuda or just close with the group and then shoot off E'wards towards the Azores once you get out on the perimeter of the High.

On any route, you can get pasted, also on the 'easy' S route from Antigua 'to Madeira' - read last year's accounts and act accordingly.

Cheers,
b.
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Old 11-01-2016, 13:55   #11
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Re: Trans-Atlantic Crossing: Leave Bermuda or Antigua?

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Originally Posted by YARGESOL View Post
- he sailed the same time,took a North: two times 50-60kts and overkiel twice.

That's what I try my best to avoid.

As for the 'take 20 gerry cabs of fuel'... what's wrong with SAILING?

If there's no wind its slow. But who cares? I spent 7 days drifting in 9 Degree Channel off India and enjoyed it.

Another week at sea is a week in paradise

But not in 50 to 60 knots!


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Old 11-01-2016, 14:01   #12
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Re: Trans-Atlantic Crossing: Leave Bermuda or Antigua?

Leaving from St. Martin, is it just a straight shot to the Azores, or do you head east and then turn north just before hitting Africa?
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Old 11-01-2016, 14:13   #13
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Re: Trans-Atlantic Crossing: Leave Bermuda or Antigua?

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post

As for the 'take 20 gerry cabs of fuel'... what's wrong with SAILING?
Exactly as Mark says.

If your boat sails, do NOT take extra fuel - why slow the boat down?

If your boat does not, stay away from the 'eye of the High', well away.

b.
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Old 11-01-2016, 14:28   #14
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Re: Trans-Atlantic Crossing: Leave Bermuda or Antigua?

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Leaving from St. Martin, is it just a straight shot to the Azores, or do you head east and then turn north just before hitting Africa?
Yep.

At times the early two or three days out one must keep going N and NNE as the wind can be still a bit to E'ly to punish the boat and the crew with sailing close to the (still strong) wind.

We applied the following mentality twice: sit in Guadeloupe or Antigua and wait for the spring gales to abate (for us this was around May 25 - 30). Watch the High and catch a ride as it is being substituted with anew one - as the old one dies, you will get more and more S slant in the E'lies, with occasional push from lows passing over the top. This gets one to roughly midway towards the Azores (further, in a fast boat). From here you must show some skill and either shoot for the Azores (again with a front or two helping you, then leaving you bobbing happily like a cork) or else bite the bullet and glide below the Azores till you get to the other side of the pressure (often this is a point beyond Sta Maria).

The rest is silence. No hard rules. Just heaps of planning and then hoping for the best while being ready for the worst.

Looking forward to this passage again, though I am not sure exactly why. May be that we remember our latest experience best and forget about the earlier less happy incidences.

b.
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Old 12-01-2016, 01:26   #15
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Re: Trans-Atlantic Crossing: Leave Bermuda or Antigua?

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
That's what I try my best to avoid.

As for the 'take 20 gerry cabs of fuel'... what's wrong with SAILING?

If there's no wind its slow. But who cares? I spent 7 days drifting in 9 Degree Channel off India and enjoyed it.

Another week at sea is a week in paradise

But not in 50 to 60 knots!


Markj,
I didn't advised to take 2-30 jerry cans. I just said:" I saw at St.Georges" 3-4 sailing yachts from Finland, Norway and even one USVI Sailing Academy,who was planning to go to Norfolk and ALL had on the deck a bunch of jerry cans tied to railing. I was very surprised with this "preparation to sailing". Myself I took 160 ltrs plus tanks. But we came to Flores with 1/2 tanks and full of water (I have Spectra). Sailing close to Azores - is a real paradise - whatching whales at 1 mile....1/2 mile...a cable...1/2 cable ))) Most worry for small birds found in the mid ocean - swallowю German brave guy left St.Marteen(solo),came to Bermuda...and then, took too far north. He said:" I have fuel only for mooring and canals. If there is no wind I drifting".
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