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Old 08-11-2009, 12:13   #1
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West Indies to Black Sea - Help!

Ok, I don't want to go into details but I've developed a medical condition that I cannot fly. I've been stuck in Eastern Europe hoping it would clear up, but its not. I'm perfectly safe for boat travel though.

I live in Antigua and have a cat there. Its a bluewater 38' cat that has crossed the Atlantic 3 times before, but not when I was owner. I have limited land travel options, because I need so many visas to cross all the borders.

I'm working with a friend to have him sail across and get me. First - about how long should it take? 2-3 months? Longer?

What other major preparations? I know the ropes are wearing, so I'll have him replace all that before he leaves.

Also the boat is not setup for single handed sailing. So we are looking for some others lookig to go across to Europe... I'll post in other forums and FindCrew etc later, but since I have this post already...
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:21   #2
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It's not advisable to cross the Atlantic in a small boat west to east at this time of the year. You might have to wait till next May.
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:26   #3
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It's not advisable to cross the Atlantic in a small boat west to east at this time of the year. You might have to wait till next May.
Yes of course the timing is an issue too. Forgot to ask. Hurricane season ends end of Nov.

After that, why until May? And when is it possible to return back from East to West?
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:33   #4
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East to west in the late fall, west to east in the spring.
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:37   #5
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Is it because of wind conditions and how long it would take? or safety concerns? If one left in January would it be unsafe? or just take a long time?

The issue I see coming back in late fall, is June starts up hurricane season and I certainly would prefer not to be out in the Atlantic then!
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Old 08-11-2009, 18:31   #6
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It is not adviseable to cross from North America to Europe in the fall/winter because you have to go north to cross because you have to go around the easterly trade winds that blow from Europe to the Caribbean.

But the north Atlantic this time of year is not a safe place to be for a small boat. Even big freighters are careful crossing this time of year. You are guaranteed to have strong gales and if your boat sinks, the water will be freezing and even with a life raft you will not survive. The other option, sailing east against the trade winds is probably less dangerous but no more practical.

Wait until spring is the only option unless you can catch a ride with another sailor heading west that needs a crew member.
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Old 09-11-2009, 01:16   #7
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Why not take one of the cruise ships directly to Antigua? You would need to get into a Schengen country (departures from Barcelona might be closest) but you would get home much quicker and the price isn't too bad compared to time saved.
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Old 09-11-2009, 01:20   #8
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Thanks for the detailed answer. I've mostly done coastal and inter island sailing, so Atlantic crossings are a whole new thing.

I could wait her until May, but its becoming financially troubling to be so far away from work and family.

If one did not want to go north (where its dangerous), could one just tack back and forth into the trade winds? I realize it might take 75% more time than going straight, but still the boat might arrive here end Jan, rather than mid June.....

Remember the boat will be targeting Gilbraltar to enter the Med so heading north and then back south would add extra time too. And coming from Antigua which is pretty far south already....

What about heading south to Brazil and over? Or are the winds still heading towards the west at this time?
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Old 09-11-2009, 04:00   #9
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File:Map prevailing winds on earth.png - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This link shows youi a map of the trade winds, east and west. Yes in distance it is longer to go north to catch the westerlies but believe me, in time and trouble it is much, much shorter. Look at it this way. You have to travel from town A to town B. The direct route is 5 Km but involves climbing up a, steep, 5 Km mountain. Or you can take the flat, level road around the mountain that is 10 Km.

Sailing to Europe from the Caribbean directly against the trade winds may not be possible. Winter trades can run 15-20-25 kts. Cats are also not at their best close hauled.

If I absolutely had to take a boat the wrong way, wrong season across the Atlantic I might consider the doldrums and motorsailing but you have to carry a lot of fuel.

I go with taking a cruise ship across. If you have to go now that would be the best option.
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Old 09-11-2009, 05:08   #10
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Of course cats dont sail close well. But even if we went to an extreme - and sailed at 45 degrees off, that would put it as sailing the sides of a triangle. That is much less than going that far north and around in a box. Remember, we are leaving from Antigua - which is quite a bit south and east from even Miami let alone the rest of the US east coast.

Lets say its 4000 miles - then even sides of a right triangle and other two being 45 degrees, that would be 5650 miles - about 1/3rd longer. So if it can normally be done from USVI in 22 to 30 days, Antigua is a good 3 days closer, so lets say 19 to 27 + 1/3rd woul dbe 25 to 35 days to Gibraltar... Not so bad.... Am I still missing something?

But are the sea conditions also a problem during this time?

Cruise ship is a good idea, but I have a passport thats not well respected. Cruise ships leave mostly from Spain, Italy and make a lot of stops. I already looked into this..... And very few cruise ships hit Antigua without leaving from US first, and I'll never get a US visa (tried many times before)
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Old 09-11-2009, 05:10   #11
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Also the winds dont go perfectly to the west, but go to north(a bit)west. From Antigua to the med, its a northeast sail, so it would already be off the wind a bit.
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Old 09-11-2009, 07:56   #12
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And don't forget about the Atlantic Gyre - the currents flow in a circle clockwise up the USA east coast across to Europe and back west again in the Tropics. Going upwind and up current would make the southern eastbound route futile.
- - If you need the boat quicker, then put it on a freighter and ship it to the Med. Dockwise Transport; Peter and Mays; and ordinary container ships all take boats across the ocean anytime of the year.
- - The cruise ship season starts in Nov/Dec and that would undoubtedly be the cheapest way to go. You can also find small freighters; or other ships that cross the ocean and sign on as "crewman - last class" or as a passenger.
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Old 09-11-2009, 07:59   #13
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Also the winds dont go perfectly to the west, but go to north(a bit)west. From Antigua to the med, its a northeast sail, so it would already be off the wind a bit.
Well, kind of the same issue with the east trades, they blow typically from NE or ENE in the winter.

My concern is as you mentioned in the previous post, more the waves than the strength of the wind. Of course it will depend on the strength of the trades this year. I've been in the Caribbean years when the winter trades were relatively mild and years when it blew 25-30 kts for weeks nonstop. If you have 25 kt trades you could end up with 6-10' seas or better and a pretty rough sail.

It is not impossible to do, but would not be fun at all. Very hard on the boat and the crew. I don't know of anyone that has done it in a yacht. Maybe someone else on the forum has some experience here?
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Old 09-11-2009, 08:04   #14
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And don't forget about the Atlantic Gyre - the currents flow in a circle clockwise up the USA east coast across to Europe and back west again in the Tropics. Going upwind and up current would make the southern eastbound route futile.
- - If you need the boat quicker, then put it on a freighter and ship it to the Med. Dockwise Transport; Peter and Mays; and ordinary container ships all take boats across the ocean anytime of the year.
- - The cruise ship season starts in Nov/Dec and that would undoubtedly be the cheapest way to go. You can also find small freighters; or other ships that cross the ocean and sign on as "crewman - last class" or as a passenger.
Freighter is a good idea. Get it close then sail it to exact destination. Any idea roughly what that would cost for a 40' cat? Rough guess?

Problem with freighters / cruise is that getting one from here to Antigua - its not a route at all. I have a passport that requires visas nearly everywhere, so unless Im to arrange ship to ship transfers......

All the cruise ships I checked leave from Spain, Italy mostly and head to the US. Freighters tend to go to Rotterdam and then out. To get to Rotterdam by freighter even would be several hops from here.

I do appreciate all the ideas though, and shipping the cat by freighter is a very good one worth investigating.

If we got it here, say by end of March. When is the earliest we could sail back to Antigua from Europe?
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Old 09-11-2009, 08:07   #15
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Could you not book a cabin on this line and exit in Guadeloupe? That way you avoid the US, only need visas for Italy, Spain and Madeira.


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The Costa Fortuna December 5, 2009 transatlantic sailing will depart from Savona (Italy), and call on Malaga (Spain), Funchal (Madeira), Pointe-A-Pitre (Guadeloupe), St. Maarten, Catalina Island (Dominican Republic) and Nassau, Bahamas before arriving in Ft. Lauderdale on December 20. A return 17-night voyage departs on March 28, 2010 from Ft. Lauderdale with stops in Nassau, Catalina Island (Dominican Republic), St. Maarten, Pointe-A-Pitre, Barbados, St. Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands), Funchal (Madeira) and Barcelona before arriving in Savona on April 14.
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