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Old 17-12-2012, 12:53   #1
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New RTW Route

I'm at least 5 years from heading out offshore from the PNW, and when we do head out, it will likely be a slow start (a year or two in Pacific Mexico), and then an on again - off again RTW trip with stops to fly back and work.

I just had this sudden realization over the weekend as I looked at some gorgeous photos of Canada's North coast, that I've been stuck in an old RTW route paradigm.

First, I'm beyond annoyed that Somalia has closed off the Red Sea as it makes it a lot more difficult to get up to the Med on an RTW trip. I was thinking I'd have to just skip Europe now. On the other hand, South Africa's a pretty cool place, and there's the opportunity to round one of the great capes.

Then I got to thinking, after SA, one heads over to the Carribean, but you don't have to go through the canal. You can head back accross to Europe, then accross the North Atlantic via Iceland and hit the Northwest Passage! Then cruise Alaska on the way back home.

RTW with no canals (not that canals are terrible, but it's neat to be able to skip them), and skipping most of the scary stuff.

I figure it'll be about 15 years before we get to the Northwest Passage, so it's likely to be pretty open and easy by then, given current trends. This stitches together all of the best cruising grounds in the world with no pirates or canals.
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Old 17-12-2012, 15:16   #2
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Re: New RTW route

Sounds great, we're also in the early stages of planning our route.
Any chance you could draw a quick map and post exactly where you're thinking?

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Old 17-12-2012, 15:23   #3
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Re: New RTW route

At this point, we'll probably not attempt the Red Sea but will mostly likely sail around South Africa, however, I can catagorically state that we won't even consider the Northwest Passage. High latitude sailing can be very demanding and uncomfortable - we do this for fun. Theoretically, anyway.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 17-12-2012, 15:39   #4
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Re: New RTW route

Sounds like an interesting plan. Keep in mind that across the north coast that you will be going against the prevailing currents given today's conditions. Of course much can change over a decade or so. You will enjoy it if works in your favour.
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Old 17-12-2012, 15:48   #5
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Re: New RTW route

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Originally Posted by simonpickard View Post
Sounds great, we're also in the early stages of planning our route.
Any chance you could draw a quick map and post exactly where you're thinking?

Regards,
Simon
Well, I'm not one for an exact route this far out...

I'm thinking: PNW to San Fran offshore ~100 nm in September of whatever year we leave. Then slow hop to Pacific Mexico, to arrive after huricane season (arrive November). Then a season or two in sea of Cortez and pacific mexico. Then head to Galapagos, Marquesas, and hop around the Pacific Islands until dropping to NZ to avoid Typhoon season. Then into Australia and up to Thailand, stopping at all the obvious spots on the way. Then Island hop to South Africa, then up to Brazil and into the Carribean. At least one season in the Carribean, then to the Med via Bermuda and the Azores. A season in the Med, then up to Norther Europe (really want to cruise Denmark and Stockholm and the Norwegian coast), then accross the top via Iceland to the NW passage, through the passage and down to Alaskan panhandle, then back to PNW via Haida Gwaii.

Pretty general, but there you go. That's all with prevailing winds except maybe the North Atlantic / NW passage stuff which I know little about except that it's been done recently in standard cruising boats.

I figure the tough stuff comes at the end of 5-10 years of cruising, so we'll be experts by then. And the arctic will be pretty ice free at the rate it's been going.

Not sure on timing or route for North Atlantic crossing. Likely need to lay up the boat in Newfoundland and then head North the next summer for the NW passage?
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Old 17-12-2012, 15:53   #6
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Re: New RTW route

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Originally Posted by LJH View Post
Sounds like an interesting plan. Keep in mind that across the north coast that you will be going against the prevailing currents given today's conditions. Of course much can change over a decade or so. You will enjoy it if works in your favour.
Good point. Can't say I know much about this or the North Atlantic leg. This is the direction that Matt Rutherford took in his 27' Albin Vega last year, though. Solo Around the America's Under Sail | An audacious attempt at sailing the Northwest Passage and circumnavigating entirety of both continents, to benefit Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating

Also an interesting point about potential for currents and conditions to change with the changing climate.
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Old 17-12-2012, 16:50   #7
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Re: New RTW route

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Not sure on timing or route for North Atlantic crossing. Likely need to lay up the boat in Newfoundland and then head North the next summer for the NW passage?
Key date is that you want to enter the eastern end of the NWP around august 1st. The ice typically clears in the choke points (about 300nm into the passage) august 15-22nd.

Of course by the time you do it, the ice melt timing may have changed.

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Old 17-12-2012, 17:16   #8
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Re: New RTW route

Great graph, Evans. You can sure see the inflection point somewhere around 1990!

What's the trip across the North Atlantic Westbound like? I believe you guys have been up there? Is a UK - Iceland - Greenland - Labrador trip feasible in the summer? I believe it would be upwind and against the gulfstream, but the gulfstream is more spread out and therefore not as strong at that point?
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Old 17-12-2012, 17:45   #9
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Re: New RTW route

I think its great to be planning now as it adds zest to the goal setting... And impetuous to achieving the goals.

One thing is important, a lot of cruisers became very set in their plans. So when they actually started cruising they were unable to change from what they had planned, or dreamed about for years.
It became a significant problem in the year i did the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, and more so the next year (the year the four Americans were shot dead).
Cruisers had planned to go that route and when it was denied to them they could not change to the South African route because their plans always had said the cape of good hope is too dangerous and the Red Sea was the way to go.

Many people were then stuffed... They couldnt sail back, couldnt go forward so many boats were put on the market in asia... Dreams destroyed.

So plan on! But never say never, and add extra flexability into every phase.

Yes the North West Passage may be feasable, but in ten years no one can tell. The same with Somalia... It could be better, but the Eritraens may be acting up, etc. the Suez canal may well be closed (many big ships are too large for it anyway).

Just because one entrance to the Med is blocked dont put that part off. For non Europeans the Med really is a cultural delight. Its well worth it, and nothing like the fear stories of expense you have heard. In a decade the Euro may be cheap.

Also in ten years new cruisng grounds may have sprung up that we dont even consider today... If we go round South Africa why not the coast of Africa by the Congo, Gabon and the Camaroons? In ten years the marinas might be springing up all over the place. Indonesia is another place. When we went through it life was like an administerative debarcle for dawn till midnight. I took us 4 days to clear in and 2 days to clear put!
China wants cruisers but is totally stuffed with knowing how to go about it etc etc

So keep the felxability in the plans now because when you are older you will be naturally less flexable.


Mark
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Old 17-12-2012, 19:55   #10
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Re: New RTW route

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Great graph, Evans. You can sure see the inflection point somewhere around 1990!

What's the trip across the North Atlantic Westbound like? I believe you guys have been up there? Is a UK - Iceland - Greenland - Labrador trip feasible in the summer? I believe it would be upwind and against the gulfstream, but the gulfstream is more spread out and therefore not as strong at that point?
Actually, if you go over the top of Iceland (as we did) it's above the westerlies (we had mostly spinnaker reaching) and well above the gulf stream. You can do it in relatively short hops (3 days or so) and if you watch the weather windows can get good weather the whole way. Being right on the arctic circle on mid-summer night was one memory that will be with me for the rest of my life.

But it can be cold (we had a snow storm in early July on the east coast of Iceland), and you will have some icebergs to negotiate getting under Greenland. And you have to drop down into a zone of higher probabilities of westerlies headwind there - just try to slant down in a Nwly and then slant back up in a Swly.

It would be a very interesting trip. But I agree with what Mark J said above - plan and dream but don't get to mentally locked in. We really enjoyed South Africa, and I think that you have to have done at least one great cape to feel like a 'true RTW'. I honestly would guess the Somali pirates will be mostly gone by the time you get there . . .but there also could easily be wars around the red seas.
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Old 17-12-2012, 20:13   #11
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Re: New RTW route

Here is an article that talks about some hard to predict polar storms:

'Missing' polar weather systems could impact climate predictions

I've been interested in this route for sometime but never heard about these types of storms.

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Old 18-12-2012, 00:01   #12
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Re: New RTW route

Thanks, Mark and Evans. Agree, of course, about not locking in a dream. The dream's been changing about every year now anyways. The over the top routing was a sudden flash of an interesting possibility that had never crossed my mind before.

I do have to be extra vigilant about not getting too set on a dream since I have to take into account that I will be a totally different person in 5 years when we leave, and there's two of us. We're both changing day by day, and especially so as we grow as sailors and cruisers. In theory, we'll have cruised Alaska by the time we head South, so that may have an effect as well.

I love the over the top of Iceland idea. Coolest spots to visit by boat seem to be in the Northwest corner anyways...

Interesting article, Viking. I don't know if the meso scale storms are hard to predict, exactly, just hard to put in a climate model (different from a weather prediction model). They didn't specify season. I believe they're more of a winter phenomenon (the couple examples they gave were winter storms, but I'm not sure).
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Old 22-12-2012, 03:24   #13
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Re: New RTW route

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Then Island hop to South Africa, then up to Brazil and into the Carribean.
If you go this way, I strongly recommend a stop in the Falklands. Nicest people I've met anywhere on the planet.
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Old 22-12-2012, 04:24   #14
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Re: New RTW route

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If you go this way, I strongly recommend a stop in the Falklands. Nicest people I've met anywhere on the planet.
While I am sure the Falkland Islanders are great people, I would have thought the trip from South Africa to the Falklands would be extremely difficult - no matter which way one goes about it.

But I could be wrong .
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Old 22-12-2012, 14:08   #15
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Re: New RTW route

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While I am sure the Falkland Islanders are great people, I would have thought the trip from South Africa to the Falklands would be extremely difficult - no matter which way one goes about it.

But I could be wrong .
Yes, I think the Falklands are typically done when rounding the Horn. They're too far south to hit on the way east across the south Atlantic.
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