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Old 28-03-2010, 18:52   #1
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Atlantic Circle Advice

First Post. Thanks for looking.
Planning a year-long Atlantic circle in 2012-2013. 2 aboard an Alberg 29. Considering Mid-May from NYC area, south-east toward lat 40, east to the Azores (June) then Portugal. Returning via Canary Islands (January 2013) through the Caribbean (March-April) and back to NYC for May.
Would appreciate advice from anyone with experience about (1) our timing/schedule (2) Safe and reasonably-priced mooring in Portugal or nearby (my buddy will fly back while I stay with the boat to wait out hurricane season). Thanks.
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Old 29-03-2010, 16:42   #2
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Atlantic Circle in one season, I've done it....and it was fun!!

Gordon,
A few important things to share with you....

1) Sailing an Atlantic circle, all in one season, can be fun and exciting, but you're going to need to enjoy sailing offshore (as I do) as much as, or more than, you enjoy taking your time siteseeing and exploring......

I made my first Atlantic crossing back in the pre-GPS days, 30 years ago, with just DR and celestial....

But more recently (2007), I also just did a complete Atlantic circle in less than one year...
I sailed out of South Florida June 26, 2007 for Horta, Faial, Azores.....and after a few days in the Azores, sailed to Gibraltar....
Left Gibraltar in Nov. 2007, for Lanzorte, Canaria....and after a few days there, sailed to St. Thomas, USVI.....arriving in mid-Dec.....
(Completing 85% of the "circle" in less than 6 months)
And, after a few months in the VI, we sailed back to Florida, arriving in early May 2008......
Completing the circle in about 10 months....

I do have some photos and a short article about this trip (the eastbound part anyway) posted on-line, have a look here:
Annie Laurie Translant


And, Gord posted some info about Jphn K's Atlantic circle here, a few years ago....have a look here:
Atlantic Circle ~ by John Kretschmer


~~~ ~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now, that I got the good news out of the way....here's some not-so-good news....

2) Sailing an Alberg 29 across the Atlantic, you will NEED to be prepared and experienced......and since you've got a couple of years before your planned departure, you've got the time....just make sure you DO get prepared and DO get the experience.....

There are many threads here (and on the SSCA disc boards) on boat choices and preparation (read them all), but fewer threads on the human factor / experience, but do searches and read them as well......

I won't bore you with the details here, but in short, I have no idea what your experience level is.....although I am making an assumption that it is limited.....from this question about making an Atlantic circle in one season being your first post here and you're inquiring on timing / schedule... (and you're planning on doing it in a 29 footer)....
If my assumption is correct, you've got quite a bit of experiencing to do in the next two years.....
Making a few offshore passages on others' boats, is always a good way to learn and gain experience......(in addition to friends, marina mates, etc. you can post as crew available on-line, and may even want to look into one of those offshore rallies, like OPO, etc....)


3) As to the heart of your question on "timing/schedule".....
A lot depends on the weather patterns of that exact year (and month) of your departure, so it's difficult to give an absolute answer, but here's my experienced opinion....

a) May is a bit early, in MY opinion, for an Eastbound Atlantic crossing.....
Yes, many DO leave the US during the first half of May, but mostly from the SE US (Florida, Carolina, Virginia, etc.)...
And, I'd say end of May to early June is the earliest to consider leaving from New York for the EU....

(My parents sailed across the Atlantic in the 1970's, leaving south Florida on April 2nd.....and it was a COLD and ROUGH passage....and their boat was almost twice the size, and 4 times the weigth of your Alberg 29....oh, and they had no motor, just sails, from 150 miles out of Bermuda all the way into Falmouth Harbour, England....so, when I say they "sailed", I mean they really SAILED.....)


b) As for heading down to about 40"N and then for the Azores???
Yeah, that's the "traditional" routing.....and certainly do-able.....but in a 29 footer, in mid-May, you're likely going to be in for quite a cold and rough ride!!!!

I do wish you good luck and fair winds.....
My guess is that you'll want to leave later, head further south, or do it in a different boat......or all of the above....


4) Oh, as for Portugal.....buy some guide books, Almanacs (Imray, McMillian, etc.) and make some inquiries.....
Villimora and Lagos are two spots that come to my mind, but haven't been to either in years.....


I hop this helps...

John
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Old 30-03-2010, 19:03   #3
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Atlantic Circle

Thank you John. Love the photos.

Looking around the Forum, I realize that I should have introduced myself in the 'meet and greet' area. I'll go and say hello there in a bit.

You are right about limited experience. I had little sailing time untill about 7 years ago when we (my wife and I) got our first 'cruising' boat, a 25 footer, and began sailing local lakes. Limited ocean sailing with friends. What I do have is an absolute passion for this trip.

A friend and I have been planning for about a year and a half. We found the Alberg and purchased her last Spring. Spent all summer on the hard and re-cored some deck areas. Big Job. She's now solid and dry and we're painting in May, just prior to launch.

We are taking Power and Sail Squadron courses (Radio, Seamanship, Weather, Navigation) so that we're current. I just completed a first aid / CPR course.

I'll be retiring next year.
RE: Leaving in May.
We are trying to maximize the benefits we can draw from training and the experience of others. We have countless books on all aspects of sailing, cruising and boat maintenance. One I especially enjoyed was "Atlantic Crossings" by Les Weatheritt. In it he suggests that adverse currents are least during May and that, though the incidence of Northerlies is less in June and July, you are in hurricane season. We were thinking we'd make our way to arrive in New York around mid-may and head south in a coastal fashion until the best weather window opens.

I appreciate your input and will look into heading further south
Gordon_A
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Old 31-03-2010, 17:41   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon_A View Post
suggests that adverse currents are least during May and that, though the incidence of Northerlies is less in June and July, you are in hurricane season. We were thinking we'd make our way to arrive in New York around mid-may and head south in a coastal fashion until the best weather window opens.
Gordon,
Three quick comments....which might sound contradictory, but are not....

1) Make sure you DO look at / study the pilot charts and come away with a clear understanding of the Atlantic's hostorical winds and currents, rather than just take the highlights from a book....
(Also take note that hurricanes in the northern North Atlantic in June, and even July, are VERY VERY rare....but of course the same is not true in the Caribbean / Gulf of Mexico / etc..)

2) Make sure you understand the difference between historical weather data / info, and current (and 3 - 4 day forecasted) weather......

3) And, my last comment is based on a peeve of mine, so please don't take it personally...
There's really no such thing as a "weather window" for small to mid-sized sailboats crossing an ocean......
Weather forecasts and precdictions out to 3 days are pretty good....but there's little certainly at all past 5 days.....
(yes, you can look at historical weather / climate patterns to gain knowledge of the entire month's "average weather", but that is not looking for a "weather window"....gosh I really do hate that term!)

I won't rant on and on about this here....just please understand that waiting for a "weather window", to cross the Atlantic thru, on a 29 footer. you're likely to be waiting for years and years...




Wishing good luck and fair winds...

John
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Old 31-03-2010, 20:02   #5
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Thanks again John.

We have a North Atlantic Planning Chart and Pilot Charts. Of course I realize that there are no garantees. We wanted to head southeast from the coast so as to head toward areas of less severe winds and warmer weather before turning east, even though this route adds miles to the crossing.

However, the idea of waiting for a 'weather window' (sorry) is to get away from shore and hopefully cross the Gulf Stream in favorable conditions. It seems popular opinion that this first part of the journey is often the most challenging and I've read that we should not hesitate to combine sail with diesel if necessary to get through the stream in a hurry.

I'm looking forward to a 'Global Weather' course in the fall.

A question if you don't mind. . . . did you choose a water generator (noticed in your photos) because a wind generator is not so efficient on a run?

Regards,
Gordon_A
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Old 31-03-2010, 21:05   #6
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That was an informative post John, I appreciate it also. I'm planning a similar trip in 2012 but leaving from the Leewards. I've talked with a delivery captain who says the earliest we can leave is mid April and head straight to Azores. From there we would book it to Greece as fast as possible. I've no problem burning diesel in order to maintain the pace. My hope is to arrive in Greece between June 1st and 15th.

Good luck and I hope to see more posts on your trip planning.
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Old 01-04-2010, 07:23   #7
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The North Atlantic International General Aviation Operations Manual also contains a lot of useful weather/meteorology information:

Goto ➥
http://www.nat-pco.org/nat/CurrentNAT%20IGA.pdf
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Old 01-04-2010, 19:46   #8
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Atlantic Circle

Hi 'Palarran'
Interesting. We'll be following you across in the the spring of 2012. . . hope you have a great time of it. We're planning a couple of weeks to visit the Azores. . . a destination as much as a stop-over.

Hi 'GordMay'
Thanks for that link. I've bookmarked it and looking forward to the read.

Gordon_A
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Old 08-04-2010, 02:18   #9
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Great to read your discussion here, guys! I'm not really doing an Atlantic circle, but I was indeed hoping to cross from Florida to Portugal this year. Like Gordon_A, I'm not very experienced but motivated (it seems to be a keyword here!)

What I found interesting, is the possible advantage of heading directly to the Azores, rather than passing by Bermuda. I'll be leaving Florida around the 20th of June and I planned to pass by the Bahamas (just the edge); then Bermuda and finally Azores. It was mostly due to provisioning problems - despite the fact that my boat is bigger, I still can hardly fit enough water / diesel in it to guarantee safe passage for more than 2 weeks. Of course, there are several more or less desperate measures to solve it (desalinator, elastic water tanks, etc...)

Do you think it's better due to the wind / current situation to skip Bermuda? Sailing in July, I fear the lack of wind, especially when nearing the Azores high. What do you thing would be time I need to do the Florida -> Azores passage around that time?
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Old 12-04-2010, 15:13   #10
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I do atlantic circle each year but via gib, canaries, carib, st martin, azores gib. So dunno bout NYC - azores and i think this'll be the bit where you earn the circuit!

We had a fine time one year starting st martin to azore 10th april, the problem being not enough wind. Another time we went 10th May and had a rougher time. These days i tend to go around 10th May, ish. If the first few days seems favourable and Hurricane Mental isnt bearing down, you may as well go, really.

Definitely true that there's no such thing as a weather window! Later means longer evenings. On a small boat i would target to arrive azores say mid june, ish. You often need loads of fuel for last 300miles into azores, or wait, of course.

Vilamoura is close to airport, big med-style marina, cafes restaurants etc. Portimao much liked by liveaboards, not been, further from airport.

An AIS transponder means you appear on big ship radar as a ship not a fuzzy mark, and they don't come close anywhere near as much.

A manual pump-action sprayer is a great way of getting a shower but economising on water.

Some water-catching gear would be useful.

Las Palmas the biggest and cheapest marina (by a long way) in canaries, best if leaving the boat a long time. But of course other islands nice along the way.
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Old 12-04-2010, 15:30   #11
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When you started on the 10th of April, how long before Azores? And then when did you get to Gibraltar?

How much diesel do you carry on your cat?

Great information, Thanks.
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Old 13-04-2010, 12:22   #12
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When you started on the 10th of April, how long before Azores? And then when did you get to Gibraltar?

How much diesel do you carry on your cat?

Great information, Thanks.
We're hijacking someone else thread a bit, but what the heck, i spose you can start another nearer the time.

I see your boat is right at the other end of the spectrum from the OP's - 56 foot catamaran, yeehah!

I know one boat (mate with 47 foot cat) that carries 1500 litres of diesel when he sets off for azores - he has no generator so needs to run an engine overnight.

I take about 1100 litres on 49foot cat with generator and 54hp yanmars. For us this means full tanks and 30 or so plastic jerrycans, generally stashd around the place and generally lowish around the mast lockers and further astern. I transafer asap just using shaker siphone tube, and keep a couple of jerrycans back so i can bleed an engine etc.

I think the more fuel the merrier if planning a direct route st martin to azores - it can be very flat north of the trade winds, and often windless for the last 300 or so miles into azores too. Dunno how this squares with the trip from florida?

I don't stop at Bermuda, partly cos it's out of the way ( i would stop there if summink went wrong of course), partly cos it's a flippin timewasting faff checking in and out, partly cos it's (i hear) quite/very expensive, and MAINLY because i sail with novice or fairly-novice crew and i don't want half of them to leave cos they don't much like it - that first bit of the passage from st martin to azores can be a bit lumpy with northerly swell and easterly wind, but it gets better after that.

You askd how long it takes um... we set off 11th may once and arrived Gibraltar 3rd June with 3 nights stop in azores. Didnt make much difference to these times going in April. Usually 14-15 days to azores, Gib another 1110nm aftr that say six days. Seven knots, not hopeless, not super-quick, but we're failry loaded wth gear Our best 24hour run was about 210nm.

Not worth filling jerrycans as well as tanks in Horta. But best wheeze to get fuel is to get crew to handball the jerrycans to the fuel dock the day before leaving - otherwise it's blimmin hours and hours of waiting and loadsa people all want to leave (and fuel) on the same day. I remember that the diesel guy at Horta insisted on cash (euros) for fuel.

In gibraltar, it's worth haggling on price before docking - four diesel sellers all side by side and yep, you brutally shout/haggle whilst manoevering up and down the line in Marina Bay. Then worth refilling all the cans, again. Gib diesel will take a credit card but i think cheapest deal is in cash Sterling (GBP).

Aside from the normal spares, i (now) take spare relays for the 240v circuit: these are the thingies that switch in/out the generator, hidden in dark box in engineroom - one trip (westwards, so no bermuda option) I flicked off the watermaker (which is 240v and 160lph) and summink (they say "relay chatter") fried the relays, not jammable. So the generator was fine, the watermaker was fine but the link betweenem busted. Yeah i could have bodged it but we had enough water in the tanks, banned showers, washed up using seawater and all fine for the next ten days or so. I take about 1.5-2litres water in bottles (80% full so they float) per person per day but hardly started using it. So five of us erm, 14 days =70 times 1.5 ish, yeah, 120 litres is fine.

Oh yeah, and the other thing you need is bodies. Big boat like yours you could take five of yer. I do. I run the four crew on a "rotating Mother watch" system and do sod all myself erm i mean, i'm on call 24/7, snooze in the cockpit. New to the boat can't sensibly gettem to do more than 3hour watches, so they do 3hours on, 6 off, and the spare person each day is Mum -makes lunch dinner and cleans up, then has full recovery sleep till ten next day when another person is Mum. It avoids one person being galley slave all the time. But there's loads of those watch systems. Some people just have a watch system at night, not always good enough - should be one person's job to look out all the time, imho.

What a drone, sorry.

Edit - oops just noticed you're going from Leewards! Best place to step out from is St Martin i think, best supermarket is Grande Marche, rent a car or taxi. PLenty of time to reach Greece another 2000nm i think from Gib, whole trip likely um, 5400 ish, 7knots 32days ish, 2nights horta, gib, palma and s italy makes 40 days, allow for cockups and waiting for weather eg hide in Vilamoura whilst gib howling easterlies, six weeks would be good else seven weeks, so starting beginning of may should be fine.

Rubbish weather at the moment here in SMX , i'm meeting crew 5th may and reckon to have boat clear of them ready for family to arrive in Alicante 5 weeks later on 9th June.
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Old 13-04-2010, 13:06   #13
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Where are you at on St. Marten? Oyster Pond by chance?
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Old 13-04-2010, 16:19   #14
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No issues around hijacking the thread, 'MCT'. Appreciate you sharing your experiences. Glad you could respond to 'Palarran' and 'szymk'. Also appreciate your suggestions on routes, dates, harbours, showers, water tankage, etc.
Bon Voyage,
Gordon_A
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Old 14-04-2010, 12:41   #15
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Where are you at on St. Marten? Oyster Pond by chance?
Ooer, i thought only charter boats go to oyster pond? I'm in the lagoon and right this minute i'm in turtle pier bar. Are you with that girl in the leopard-print bikini over there at the bar?
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