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Old 10-06-2009, 05:37   #1
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Transatlantic Crossing

How long does is normally take to sail from the USVI to the closest point in Europe?

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Old 10-06-2009, 07:06   #2
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This one is going to have some interesting replies. For instance: it took the Queen Elizabeth II about six days…… I would say the only definitive answer would be: from the time you set out, to the time you get there.
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Old 10-06-2009, 07:55   #3
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Well, hard to say.

As the crow flies (great circle route) the closest point (coast of Portugal) is a bit over 3000 nm. But that route would be directly against the trade winds and current all the way from the USVI. If you are in a power boat with ocean crossing range this might work.

A more practical route for sail would be north to Bermuda then east to the Azores then to your desired port in Europe. This route would avoid the easterly trades, skirting the north edge of the Horse Latitudes and, depending on the time of year and weather patterns, benefit from the prevailing westerlies. That one is a bit under 4000 miles.

So depending on how far north you swing and your luck on catching the westerlies vs the edge of the calms in the horse lattitudes plus stopping or not on the way, figure a month of sailing time more or less.

Read "Airborne" by William F Buckley for an informative and humorous account of his crossing on the Bermuda-Azores route.
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Old 10-06-2009, 08:00   #4
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To avoid the stupid replies, work out the distance. You can then take a standard distance achieved per day by your vessel and work out the optimum time. Then look at the weather for the time you wish to do the trip, and see how much you have to reduce the average daily distance.

How do you sail - to the optimum capability of your boat, or do you slow down to comfortable speeds during the day , and reef at night.

Some people are willing to use the engine when the average speed falls beow x knots - how much fuel do you carry?

etc etc etc

You could get a closer answer using something like Virtual Vassage Planner, but it would still be an averaged solution. I would always add on at least 2 weeks plus whatever safety margin you feel comfortable with.
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Old 10-06-2009, 08:06   #5
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we just did bermuda to azores in a little under 14 days and the azores to ushant (ile d'ouessant, france) in a little under 9 days. used a mix of sail, motor-sail and motor
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Old 10-06-2009, 09:27   #6
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we just did bermuda to azores in a little under 14 days and the azores to ushant (ile d'ouessant, france) in a little under 9 days. used a mix of sail, motor-sail and motor
So if you add about 1000 nm leg from USVI to Bermuda that would give a total sailing time for the crossing of roughly 30 days.

Has anyone tried the northerly route? I am day dreaming about cruising to Nova Scotia, cross to Greenland to Iceland to Scotland. Looking at the pilot charts for mid summer the weather doesn't look too bad (at least on paper) but love to hear from someone that has done it.
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Old 10-06-2009, 13:06   #7
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This is such a frivolous open question, I could not help but post my initial reply. If Tom and Maje are serious, they should at least tell us what boat they have, how many crew, and when they might consider to make the passage. I can think of a ton more questions, but if they are not able to even offer that, I suggest the posting is spurious.
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Old 11-06-2009, 00:10   #8
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We will be on a Leopard 46 with a crew of 4-5 including us. We plan to make the passage in May. Does that change any of the answers.

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Old 11-06-2009, 03:49   #9
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The ARC Europe fleet, traveling May & June, estimates about 23 -to- 32 days; thus:
Tortola, USVI to Bermuda 5 - 8 Days (850 nm), thence Bermuda to Horta 13 - 16 days (1800nm), thence Horta to Lagos, Portugal another 5 - 8 days (850 nm).
Crossing times obviously vary, depending on the weather encountered and the boat.
Respectfully, if you have to ask, you may not be ready to make that passage.
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Old 12-06-2009, 15:47   #10
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Going in that direction so much depends on the weather! As always, obviously, but on this trip even more than usual. You can spend a lot of time beating. In my opinion this direction is a completely different trip to the other way. And I guess that wouldn't be a barrel of laughs in a cat. I have done the other direction in a cat but this is a whole different affair. Has anyone out there done west - east in a cat? Give the guys some help. They have almost a year to work it out and asking a question on a friendly forum isn't such a bad place to start.
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Old 12-06-2009, 21:06   #11
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Niccol,

I think Gord's point (Gord if I may be so presumptuous as to explain what I think you meant) is that looking at a nav chart to calculate a distance, a pilot chart to check prevailing winds, and then calculating the approximate time to make a voyage in one's own boat is the most basic of sailing skills. To go onto a forum to ask that question about a fairly ambitious voyage might lead one to think that perhaps the asker is not at all ready to undertake such a voyage.

Looking at the replies it seems to me that quite a lot of helpful information has been offered, but also some concerns raised. Perhaps we all misunderstand the intent of or reason for the question and Tom and Maje could be better prepared for the trip than any of us, but the nature of the question does make one wonder. No offense intended to Tom and Maje and perhaps they would offer some additional information.
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Old 13-06-2009, 03:06   #12
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We have more than a year to plan. I am a long range planner and this trip will not happen for about three years. Even when I cook for a large group I have a schedule and begin buying supplies a couple of months in advance. To me, it only makes sense to do the same thing to begin cruising and especially for what will be our first long trip and I don't like the panic that occurs from lack of planing. Tom and I will spend the next few years learning everything we can before we set out.
Since we were dating (27 years ago) we decided that we'd buy a boat when we retired. We are now within 5 years of retirement. Last year we decided on the boat and how we will buy it. This year is our re-learn to sail year. We both sailed when we were young but have not done it since the early '70's. I also lived on a boat when I was a kid. We'll be taking lessons from Off-shore in Tortola this Summer where we'll learn to sail the same boat we plan to buy. We've also put the house on the market and paid off bills so that we can afford the boat. Obviously, there are things over which I have no control. Such as I am just hoping and praying that the technology which will allow me to work in the middle of the ocean becomes less expensive by the time we take off.

We joined this forum in the hopes that we would learn the questions that we don't even know to ask and I thought I could receive some practical advice from the forum and I have. I thank those of you who have been helpful.

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Old 13-06-2009, 03:51   #13
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. I thank those of you who have been helpful.
It can sometimes be a harsh crowd here But most of them mean well
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Old 13-06-2009, 04:26   #14
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Well, good luck to you.

Personally, I think your doing a great thing. A crossing is a huge challenge but, as lots of people have proven, is completely achievable.

Yes, take your time. If you are confident then you'll enjoy it so much more. A few bits of advice that it sounds like you are already on:

1. Do some official training. Both the ASA and RYA run great appropriate courses. Get as much out of your instructor as you can. They probably will relish the chance to expand their normal repertoire if you push them a bit but may take it easy if you don't.

2. Spend as much time as you can spare learning as much as you can, and getting as much experience as you can, in boat maintenance in general and engine maintenance in particular. Again there are courses out there but there is no substitute for experience. A good percentage of awful stories involve some kind of equipment failure. Not many boat owners object to people lending a hand in maintenance tasks in exchange for a bit more experience. So get stuck in.

3. Get as much experience as you can in heavy weather. When I was teaching it was amazing how much we could extend peoples 'comfort zone' in just one week. Petrified on day one to begging to take reefs out on day five. Take it slow and easy and you'll soon find that you are sailing happily in conditions that might have frightened you before.

4. Don't think that 'style' or 'rules' have anything to do with being safe. If a technique works for you on your boat and is safe then it is good. I say this after having to persuade many cruising couples that it was 'OK' to run downwind with only a genoa up. Apparently the rules say it isn't. It's easy and safe and you don't actually loose a huge amount of boat speed on a modern sail plan. And you have the time and confidence to make and eat a meal!

5. Learn to make good decisions early and not be macho about them. This might be about reefing, turning the engine on, or even staying in port. Some days are just made for sitting in a bar talking about sailing. Obviously, not an option mid-atlantic!

6. There's no substitute for experience but the next best thing is to talk to people with more experience. Read books. Chat to other sailors. Find someone who has done the trip in a similar boat. Forums are great places for this. But always take individual opinions, including mine, with a pinch of salt. They're just that individual opinions.

7. Learn as much as you can about weather. It's something you can work on even when you aren't sailing.

Oh, I could go on and on but will stop now.

Nick
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Old 13-06-2009, 11:11   #15
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It can sometimes be a harsh crowd here But most of them mean well
I think "mean well" is the critical phrase here. I prefer to think that any perceived harshness in responses to an inquiry on the forum is due to concern and empathy for a fellow sailor and a desire to keep someone who might be less experienced from an endeavor that might be overly ambitious and potentially risky.

Of course there are some old salty dogs whose manner of communication is as crusty as their nature but they are actually nice guys under that salty exterior.
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