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Old 22-06-2016, 10:16   #1
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Seeking advice on crossing

Hello, my newly-retired husband and I have purchased a 27' Catalac 8M catamaran. We sailed her from Marathon to North Carolina last summer and settled for a year in Wilmington. We will be giving up our apt to liveaboard in Sept. The plan is to practice our sailing for the next 2 years up and down the coast, and make the crossing to the Mediterranean in 2018.
Questions: Is it best to go Newfoundland-Ireland-Lisbon-Gibraltar or NC-Bermuda-Azores-Gibraltar? There are sailors from LI who have told me Montauk-Ireland is doable.
I know it's a small boat for a long trip, but it made it here from England over water. We will not make the trip without EPIRBS and communication set up.
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Old 22-06-2016, 10:24   #2
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Re: Seeking advice on crossing

Welcome SeaGoose - I have nothing substantive to offer just happy to see someone starting the journey and asking good questions. I'm sure you'll get lots of good advice soon.
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Old 22-06-2016, 10:46   #3
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Re: Seeking advice on crossing

Check out "World Cruising Routes" by Jimmy Cornell. The book will give you some idea of relative merits of each route distances involved and seasonal Windows you want to hit.

That said, you probably don't want to go direct, longer distance means you need to provision more which exacerbates the overloading of a boat that is probably a bit small to begin with.

If I recall this model uses an outboard which means the prop will be coming out of the water in big seas, i.e. you don't want to motor in big seas. Unless you can find an old diesel outboard you will also be subject to a really hefty fuel effieciency penalty (60% the mpg of a diesel or worse). To that end:

A. Provision as if you will average 100nm/day plus a reserve of at least 30%.

B. This is a sailboat, outfit it to keep going in light air. If money is an issue get a used drifter. Less of an issue, get a new drifter designed for the boat. Money not much of an issue get a roller furling CodeZero. Do not let anyone talk you into a regular symmetrical spinnaker, while they give slightly better performance downwind they are a lot more work to handle and become more than one person can handle if dousing is delayed. Calling up the offwatch person to help douse means they are short of sleep and will have fatigue and judgement issues if this is a recurring issue. For a sailing couple fatigue management is a primary concern.




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Old 22-06-2016, 12:12   #4
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Re: Seeking advice on crossing

Thank you, redhead and Adelie!
Our Catalac, luckily, has two Yanmar inboards- one in each hull. Would second your thoughts on the jib- we have a roller-furled Genoa and there's no point unrolling it all the way, it just becomes a pain to manage, we've learned that much just from the bit of sailing we've done on her. We've been through one slight thunderstorm and spent about a half-hour with 5 foot waves on the beam (bad day to have to make the port turn into Charleston's channel), the boat sits very low in the water and feels remarkably sure-footed.
I'm sure in the next 2 years we'll learn more of her weaknesses and strengths. Right now we're just feeling cautiously elated.
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Old 22-06-2016, 13:46   #5
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Re: Seeking advice on crossing

Seagoose, you have a solid British yacht, so next time you are out sailing and the wind is settled, let all the genoa out and see how she sails. As you say she is a heavy so will benefit from lots of genoa until the wind speed rises too much.

As to routes to the med, Google Earth will give you something like 2200 miles from from the leewards to Azores but lots of motoring in windless conditions. Slightly less if you go via Bermuda to Azores with the northerly route to start followed by east. Finally New Foundland to Azores will be cold and windy.

There is also a risk of the odd gale from Azores to UK, France or Portugal. The prevailing wind will be NW blowing you across to Europe 1200 miles to England. From NW Europe the route south is with the wind and current along the Spanish and Portuguese coasts.

As previously stated by Adelie Jimmy Cornell's Cruising Routes is an interesting read so worth picking up a second hand copy off Amazon etc.
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Old 22-06-2016, 13:48   #6
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Re: Seeking advice on crossing

One thing to consider taking the northern route. NS to Ireland you will be crossing 50 north latitude. That far north, even in the summer you are risking some very stormy weather. If you follow the round the world sailing races, in the southern hemisphere they refer to the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties. The northern hemisphere isn't quite as furious but still a consideration.

Lot better chance of a laid back crossing if you go US east coast (say NC or SC) to Bermuda to the Azores to the Med. This route there will also be a higher chance of calms that you have to wait out or motor through so you pays your money and you takes your chances.
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Old 22-06-2016, 14:55   #7
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Re: Seeking advice on crossing

It is a small boat.

Perhaps she sailed from England ... via the Cabo Verdes?

Think twice.

If I were to sail such a small boat across, I would sail via Guadeloupe/Azores. But I do not recommend the crossing at all in an 8m Catalac, UNLESS you feel competent and the boat is in top prep.

Cheers,
b.
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Old 23-06-2016, 11:50   #8
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Re: Seeking advice on crossing

On the northern route you will get fog which can make the trip uncomfortable. The boat prep and experience of the crew will determine your success, not the size of the boat.
Good Luck
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Old 23-06-2016, 12:16   #9
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Re: Seeking advice on crossing

A split the difference move would be to leave Halifax for Ireland but to stay south of 45N until 20 W or so, and then to run NE before Biscay. I agree, however, that an eight-metre cat, no matter how seaworthy, is going to be challenging just in terms of logistics. Halifax to the Azores gives you a shorter run of 1700 NM and a longer run from there to Ireland, but the number of "outs", chances to repair, restock and recover, and to avoid ice and fog favours that route. It sounds exciting and even a small heavy cat should be able to move smartly. You may consider a third crew to ease the watch-standing.
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Old 23-06-2016, 12:36   #10
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Re: Seeking advice on crossing

Quote:
Originally Posted by seagoose View Post
The plan is to practice our sailing for the next 2 years up and down the coast, and make the crossing to the Mediterranean in 2018.

Good, but I might add a suggestion - sail out to Bermuda and back. Up and down the coast will NOT tell you all that much about passage-making. Bermuda is 4 days and just about the perfect 'offshore' test . . . and a nice place to boot.

Questions: Is it best to go Newfoundland-Ireland-Lisbon-Gibraltar or NC-Bermuda-Azores-Gibraltar? There are sailors from LI who have told me Montauk-Ireland is doable.

All sorts of routes are doable. But for a newish cruiser heading to the Med I would strongly suggest Bermuda, Azores. It is the easiest and most pleasant route.

I know it's a small boat for a long trip, but it made it here from England over water. We will not make the trip without EPIRBS and communication set up.

mmmmm . . . . epirb and comms are really not your first priority. After a simply solid & well found & well maintained boat with spares and tools and you having various skills (weather and navigation and sailing and first aid and engine repair and electroical trouble shooting & ...) . . . . then the clear #1 is extremely reliable self-steering, with back-ups and spares for all components.
.........
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Old 23-06-2016, 13:17   #11
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Re: Seeking advice on crossing

too small a boat for such an adventure- please reconsider
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Old 23-06-2016, 13:55   #12
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Re: Seeking advice on crossing

I have done both routes, the northern route once, and the southern (Bermuda, Azores, Gib) more times than I can remember:

I do not know your boat, so I cannot comment on it, only the passages.

The southern route is fun, mostly good winds if you leave in late June or July, Bermuda is great, Azores fantastic, and it is not cold. (and if you want you can go east to Lisbon with little problem, it is worth the stop. Although every time I have tried to go to Ireland I have ended up in a nasty gale and had to go south).
Lots of small boats have made this trip, even hunters and beneteaus. You are likely to have one light gale for a day but nothing bad.

The northern route is interesting, but cold, cold and cold. I went into Goose bay which is a long way in, but nice place to see. (interesting they have a Vulcan on display at the airport there, same as Gibraltar, Beautiful airplane). I love it in the ice, but it is cold, and foggy. And a little bit of wind on the bow when it is cold is not fun. But the wildlife is fantastic. I would worry more about good seaboots and fowlies than a bunch of epirbs if going north.

Hope this helps, and have a great voyage.

Michael
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Old 23-06-2016, 14:05   #13
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Re: Seeking advice on crossing

This is NOT an affirmation of your boat's abilities or a recommendation as to it's suitability for this voyage, but in the 70's we met a family who sailed one from the UK to New Zealand via Cape Horn with two toddlers on board.
The husband then sailed non-stop singlehanded from New Zealand back to the UK!
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Old 23-06-2016, 14:33   #14
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Re: Seeking advice on crossing

You might consider the Bahamas as a first off shore. Then yes, Bermuda or maybe farther into the Carribean. The point here is that you have a lot of skills and experience to get under your belt, even if you decide to turn down the advice that you not make the trip in that size boat. I'm suggesting increasing your envelope in small steps, each of which may open your eyes to what you need to learn next. You need to have some stories to tell about jams you've gotten out of. Yes, small boats cross the Atlantic. So do small airplanes. Both also disappear. Not epirb and mayday, just no one knows what happened to them. A final word - if I were going to sail into unknown water on crossings so long that the weather could radically change enroute, I'd do it in a monohull. Cats are great for speed and interior space, but they float better upside down than right side up, whille ballasted monohulls have been known to do 360 degree rolls and stop the right way up.
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Old 23-06-2016, 14:53   #15
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Re: Seeking advice on crossing

Wow, Luther! I guess there wasn't a jusidiction available to charge them with reckless endangerment! As a counter example, remember that the most famous single-handed circumnavigator, Joshua Slocum, disappeared somewhere between Boston and South America. Personally, I think single-handed cruising is a violation of the requirement that you keep an adequate watch - you can't do it and sleep. My father-in-law, a ship captain in the 1960s, met a small sloop in the middle of the Pacific, fortunately during daytime. Neither horn nor siren brought anyone up on deck. It was on vane autopilot, but was anyone on board? He never found out.
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