When my wife and I crossed the Atlantic in our Bianca 27 back in 1977, (before GPS
, satnav, weather
routing, etc., etc.) we left Grand Canary on 6 November, and arrived in Barbados
on 3 Dec. Technically, the hurricane
season did not end until 30 November, but we figured that if there were any remaining hurricanes, they would likely be ahead of us. I am not so sure of that any more-hurricanes seem to be getting more numerous and worse. At the time, we were aware that the best time to cross the Atlantic is probably December through March or April.
We took a number of charts
for the northern coast of South America
, and we navigated by running sun sights on our sextant
direction finder. No matter the weather
, we found we were always within about 20-25 miles of our chosen track to Barbados
. With today's technology, it is not difficult to stay even closer to the track. We did not need those SA charts
We planned for a 30 day passage
(took 27 days) and carried provisions for 45 days. We had 50 gallons of water
on board in 2 x 25-gallon built-in tanks
, plus another 4 gallons in 2 jerry cans. This was plenty--we rationed water
going across, and had a full week of unrationed supply when we got to Bridgetown. You may very likely have a watermaker
on board, or more capacity than we had. Water is really the most critical commodity that you will need, so don't skimp on that. You can get by without fuel--you are a sailboat after all--but you cannot get by for long without water.
Leaving from the Cape Verdes you should hit the trade
winds fairly soon. Our track took us down the coast of Africa
for 6 days, then spent 11 days trying to reach the center of the Atlantic. We were becalmed for about a day or two. Then the trade
winds hit, and it was a quite boisterous 10 days to sail the other half of the Atlantic. It will likely be a bit bouncy--we could detect 3 different wave trains that whole second half of the trip--from the NE, E, and SE all at once--but the wind
was great and sailing fairly easy, downwind all the rest of the way.
I hope you'll like flying fish--makes for a tasty breakfast, just pick them up off the deck
. (at least it was at the time--I've been a vegetarian for over 30 years now).
If you have a quick passage
, no reason why you cannot head straight to St. Thomas. If you have a slow passage and want to hit shore before you get to the USVI, plan on an alternative harbor. Martinique
and Guadaloupe are good islands for respite, particularly if you are inclined with the French. Otherwise, Antigua
is a great stop.
Good luck, hope you have an enjoyable trip.