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Old 08-12-2021, 12:29   #31
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Re: California to Europe

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Have the boat shipped!
Maybe I should have bought a semi instead of a boat... ;D
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Old 08-12-2021, 12:31   #32
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Re: California to Europe

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In addition to what denverdOn posted, I would add that an excellent piece of safety equipment is a 3 x 5 inch file card taped over the chart table.


"He who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned," said the old fisherman from the Blaskett Islands, "but we do be afraid of the sea, and we do only be drowned now and again."
Tell me about that index card, I'm always looking for good advice.
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Old 08-12-2021, 13:56   #33
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Re: California to Europe

Wow, lots of good advice, guys, thanks a lot! I am now almost scared to do it!! (Which only fuels my resolve.)

But seriously. My boat is in excellent shape, overhauled and upgraded top to bottom. I don't have lithium batteries, but noone is talking about power, so I guess that's ok.

So after reading your latest posts, I'm ready to dial down on my speed estimate to a more reasonable average. This is for cruising only, mind you, doesn't include time at dock or anchor which I figure is impossible to estimate, as you don't know if/when something will need fixing and how long that will take. So my time estimates are only for getting from point A to point B. And the overall timeline assumes some down time but with an optimistic slant.

I should make Panama from San Diego in, say, 6 weeks without a problem ("easy" sailing and no early breakdowns). Assuming I sail out of San Diego at end of February, I'm at Panama mid April.

If the trades die down around that time (as PAUL L mentioned), does it mean predominantly N wind? I may have to wait in Panama for a window, or decide to beat it up. No idea what will happen, I consider this the most challenging leg of the whole trip. If I get lucky (of course I will!), I may be able to leave Panama for the Bahamas before end of April. I give myself five weeks for that passage, so I'm there at end of May/beginning of June.

How to get there: I keep looking at the passage between Cuba and Haiti which looks most straightforward and wind-friendly, but I wonder about the safety of sailing close to Haiti these days (pirates). Do any of you have specific knowledge on that?

I'm also thinking that a stopover at San Andres or Providencia would be good to get some rest, in which case it might make more sense to go around the west end of Cuba. Except it seems to always be blowing from the East in that channel between C and FLA. Please, also comment on this.

That guy who called my boat "little" and "shity" (sure to get my business when I'm in the Med) posted a vid of a German fella in a Bavaria doing a solo crossing. The vid made it look easy. I know it's not. I think the man was probably quite experienced and did all the right things (even though he blew out a sail...) Myself, by this point in my journey I'm hoping to be a little beyond meager in experience and to do the right things, too. Please don't knock me for this, it's just how I'm wired. (No, I did not misspell "weird"!)

OK, so a week in the Bahamas to inspect the boat, provision and rest. Hopefully, no major repairs, though they are pretty well set up for those over there, too.

Mid-June out of Bahamas and on to Bermuda. A straight shot with a little arc, likely good wind, two weeks? In Hamilton early July. A week or two for umbrella drinks and to gamble away the rest of my savings, so I truly have nothing left to lose as I set out East across the Big Bad N.A. Haha. Aiming at the Azores.

I'm hoping for +/-30 days for this passage, knowing that wind will vary and I'm likely to go more North than I'd prefer, I may motor for a few days, and my average speed will be 3 kn. Leave end of July, so Azores early September. Again, two weeks for rest & repairs.

(It may happen that I will be forced to go way North and end up rounding Scotland, but let's leaver that out for now.)

Late September departure, and here I wonder if the weather will be changing drastically with end of summer. I figure to be heading for Portugal and hope to arrive there in two weeks (@ 3 kn), so mid-October in Lisbon.

Should I take my optimism one step further and plan on crossing the (possibly vicious) Biscayne Bay at this point? And then up the Channel upwind? Probably not. And wintering on the Med sounds really great, so I'll probably leave the Baltic for the following year and make for the warm climes. Deal with whatever when I get there. Hug the coast (European!), motor, stop often and take it easy.

Anyway, I'm on The Continent in October. WHAT'S WRONG WITH MY REASONING?

Please address the specifics of my plan in your comments, I appreciate the collective wisdom and experience on this forum. I'm sure there will be plenty of counterpoints, as y'all are reasonable-to-conservative, while I'm a damn-the-torpedos kind of guy, but that's the way it is. And if you don't want to waste your time on me, that's ok, too.
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Old 08-12-2021, 14:24   #34
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Re: California to Europe

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Originally Posted by JanekPL View Post
Wow, lots of good advice, guys, thanks a lot! I am now almost scared to do it!! (Which only fuels my resolve.)

But seriously. My boat is in excellent shape, overhauled and upgraded top to bottom. I don't have lithium batteries, but noone is talking about power, so I guess that's ok.

So after reading your latest posts, I'm ready to dial down on my speed estimate to a more reasonable average. This is for cruising only, mind you, doesn't include time at dock or anchor which I figure is impossible to estimate, as you don't know if/when something will need fixing and how long that will take. So my time estimates are only for getting from point A to point B. And the overall timeline assumes some down time but with an optimistic slant.

I should make Panama from San Diego in, say, 6 weeks without a problem ("easy" sailing and no early breakdowns). Assuming I sail out of San Diego at end of February, I'm at Panama mid April.

If the trades die down around that time (as PAUL L mentioned), does it mean predominantly N wind? I may have to wait in Panama for a window, or decide to beat it up. No idea what will happen, I consider this the most challenging leg of the whole trip. If I get lucky (of course I will!), I may be able to leave Panama for the Bahamas before end of April. I give myself five weeks for that passage, so I'm there at end of May/beginning of June.

How to get there: I keep looking at the passage between Cuba and Haiti which looks most straightforward and wind-friendly, but I wonder about the safety of sailing close to Haiti these days (pirates). Do any of you have specific knowledge on that?

I'm also thinking that a stopover at San Andres or Providencia would be good to get some rest, in which case it might make more sense to go around the west end of Cuba. Except it seems to always be blowing from the East in that channel between C and FLA. Please, also comment on this.

That guy who called my boat "little" and "shity" (sure to get my business when I'm in the Med) posted a vid of a German fella in a Bavaria doing a solo crossing. The vid made it look easy. I know it's not. I think the man was probably quite experienced and did all the right things (even though he blew out a sail...) Myself, by this point in my journey I'm hoping to be a little beyond meager in experience and to do the right things, too. Please don't knock me for this, it's just how I'm wired. (No, I did not misspell "weird"!)

OK, so a week in the Bahamas to inspect the boat, provision and rest. Hopefully, no major repairs, though they are pretty well set up for those over there, too.

Mid-June out of Bahamas and on to Bermuda. A straight shot with a little arc, likely good wind, two weeks? In Hamilton early July. A week or two for umbrella drinks and to gamble away the rest of my savings, so I truly have nothing left to lose as I set out East across the Big Bad N.A. Haha. Aiming at the Azores.

I'm hoping for +/-30 days for this passage, knowing that wind will vary and I'm likely to go more North than I'd prefer, I may motor for a few days, and my average speed will be 3 kn. Leave end of July, so Azores early September. Again, two weeks for rest & repairs.

(It may happen that I will be forced to go way North and end up rounding Scotland, but let's leaver that out for now.)

Late September departure, and here I wonder if the weather will be changing drastically with end of summer. I figure to be heading for Portugal and hope to arrive there in two weeks (@ 3 kn), so mid-October in Lisbon.

Should I take my optimism one step further and plan on crossing the (possibly vicious) Biscayne Bay at this point? And then up the Channel upwind? Probably not. And wintering on the Med sounds really great, so I'll probably leave the Baltic for the following year and make for the warm climes. Deal with whatever when I get there. Hug the coast (European!), motor, stop often and take it easy.

Anyway, I'm on The Continent in October. WHAT'S WRONG WITH MY REASONING?

Please address the specifics of my plan in your comments, I appreciate the collective wisdom and experience on this forum. I'm sure there will be plenty of counterpoints, as y'all are reasonable-to-conservative, while I'm a damn-the-torpedos kind of guy, but that's the way it is. And if you don't want to waste your time on me, that's ok, too.

You need to be working with two books -- a pilot atlas, and Jimmy Cornell's World Cruising Routes.


You do NOT want to sail from Azores to Portugal and then hard on the wind up the coast. If you go via the Azores, then you make straight for Falmouth, and that's reasonable sailing but for the risk of gales depending on the month, and the distance. Much shorter to go way further North, like the German guy did.



Hurricane season in the N Atlantic starts in June. Keep that in mind. And August the big gales in the far N Atlantic start. Timing the seasons right is the main trick to planning this kind of trip, and one year will not likely give you enough canvas to paint that on. Absorb the pilot atlases and Jimmy Cornell.



You are obviously not a fool, so discussing all this with you is no kind of waste of time. You can see by the volume of responses that this kind of question is interesting for a whole lot of us. Very interesting question which leads to an interesting thread which we all enjoy.
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Old 08-12-2021, 17:03   #35
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Re: California to Europe

Thanks, Dockhead. I'm already a big fan of Jimmy Cornell's World Cruising Routes, and I will get a hold of some recent pilot charts for my trip.

So it sounds like I should decide way back in Bermuda whether to go the northern arc or via the Azores, because from the Azores there is only one practical way to the Baltic, I'm pretty much committed to the English Channel (or "La Manche", as I first learned in school). But, maybe even first decide whether I'm going into the Baltic this year or wintering in the Med. I think if I decide on the Med, I should definitely aim for the Azores, while the Baltic I can reach via either route.

Two things I need to do first: One, get more familiar with charts to see how much of the geography in my head is actually true (the real distances); and of course, get to Bermuda first, then I can see "into the future" (by a couple of weeks, anyway) to see what's happening on the Atlantic. Yes, the season is risky in the summer/fall, so I must rely on very good weather forecasting, so as to be sure footed on the trail. So to speak.

Btw, can you guys recommend good weather and routing service for my passage? I have iridium-go satellite receiver with PredictWind subscription, but I'd like an individual custom guidance from shore, the $500 kind.

Thank you.
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Old 08-12-2021, 19:44   #36
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Re: California to Europe

I have actually twice sailed from California to Europe. Once on a Maxi, once on a Swan 65.

Both times we left California in the fall (end of September, beginning of November). Both times we arrived in Europe before summer with months of stops along the way: hence, more time stopped than underway.

From California to Central America, generally downwind and decent breezes. From Manzanillo to Panama the wind is less consistent, especially along the coasts of Guatemala and Costa Rica. Once you get to the Pacific side of Panama, plenty of breeze to Europe.

Panama canal is not a big problem: you need to have line handlers and a pilot, not really a problem. But on the last lock down, things are different and potentially dangerous. The pilot will be completely ignorant of everything -- do not expect useful information. They usually ride on huge ships where the master will protect the pilot from their natural ignorance. On your boat, you must be aware that on the last lock down only the fresh water will ride on top of the salt, and so the forward (north bound) flow of water caused by the huge ship that will follow you into that last lock will cause a current equal to the speed of the ship -- about 8 knots -- and that current will go exactly right to the doors at the end of the lock before turning straight down. You MUST be tied up with spring lines BEFORE the ship approaches the lock, and that is HARD to achieve.

The Caribbean is WINDY and you will need to beat from Panama to wherever you want to go. Once I went to Grenada, once I went to Cozumel and the Florida Keys. Both times close hauled the entire way, always headed on either tack. Expect the entire time to be under shortened sail.

Going up the Caribbean side of Central America the sea is shallow, so the waves are steep and big. Several times I got the entire Swan 65 airborne! Quite a ride.

Going to the Caribbean islands such as Grenada is also a pure, long, tough beat, but at least the sea is much deeper so the waves are not so extreme.

If you beat across to the Eastern Caribbean (aim for any islands from Grenada to the Virgin Islands) then enjoy the islands for a bit -- you will need it -- and then set off from Antigua to Bermuda before June.

If you beat up to Florida, then enjoy the Bahamas for a bit -- you will need it -- and then set off again to Bermuda. A bit closer of a reach than leaving from Antigua, but not much.

Bermuda is a wonderful place.

Bermuda to the Azores, and enjoy Horta (paint a sign!) and the off towards England.

Sail along the south coast of England, cross the channel and take the Kiel Canal.

Its about 12k miles, so about 120 to 150 days sailing on your boat. So a January departure is barely possible.

But I suggest that you are not as ready to leave as you think you are. You might want to really shake your boat down in California over the summer, and then leave in October. Then you will be sailing through places at the perfect times of the year, and you will be able to enjoy all the beautiful places you will see. Besides, it does appear that covid is not yet done with humanity, so lockdowns may occur again (as they are already).
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Old 08-12-2021, 22:54   #37
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Re: California to Europe

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Originally Posted by JanekPL View Post
Wow, lots of good advice, guys, thanks a lot! I am now almost scared to do it!! (Which only fuels my resolve.)

But seriously. My boat is in excellent shape, overhauled and upgraded top to bottom. I don't have lithium batteries, but noone is talking about power, so I guess that's ok.

So after reading your latest posts, I'm ready to dial down on my speed estimate to a more reasonable average. This is for cruising only, mind you, doesn't include time at dock or anchor which I figure is impossible to estimate, as you don't know if/when something will need fixing and how long that will take. So my time estimates are only for getting from point A to point B. And the overall timeline assumes some down time but with an optimistic slant.

I should make Panama from San Diego in, say, 6 weeks without a problem ("easy" sailing and no early breakdowns). Assuming I sail out of San Diego at end of February, I'm at Panama mid April.

If the trades die down around that time (as PAUL L mentioned), does it mean predominantly N wind? I may have to wait in Panama for a window, or decide to beat it up. No idea what will happen, I consider this the most challenging leg of the whole trip. If I get lucky (of course I will!), I may be able to leave Panama for the Bahamas before end of April. I give myself five weeks for that passage, so I'm there at end of May/beginning of June.

How to get there: I keep looking at the passage between Cuba and Haiti which looks most straightforward and wind-friendly, but I wonder about the safety of sailing close to Haiti these days (pirates). Do any of you have specific knowledge on that?

I'm also thinking that a stopover at San Andres or Providencia would be good to get some rest, in which case it might make more sense to go around the west end of Cuba. Except it seems to always be blowing from the East in that channel between C and FLA. Please, also comment on this.

That guy who called my boat "little" and "shity" (sure to get my business when I'm in the Med) posted a vid of a German fella in a Bavaria doing a solo crossing. The vid made it look easy. I know it's not. I think the man was probably quite experienced and did all the right things (even though he blew out a sail...) Myself, by this point in my journey I'm hoping to be a little beyond meager in experience and to do the right things, too. Please don't knock me for this, it's just how I'm wired. (No, I did not misspell "weird"!)

OK, so a week in the Bahamas to inspect the boat, provision and rest. Hopefully, no major repairs, though they are pretty well set up for those over there, too.

Mid-June out of Bahamas and on to Bermuda. A straight shot with a little arc, likely good wind, two weeks? In Hamilton early July. A week or two for umbrella drinks and to gamble away the rest of my savings, so I truly have nothing left to lose as I set out East across the Big Bad N.A. Haha. Aiming at the Azores.

I'm hoping for +/-30 days for this passage, knowing that wind will vary and I'm likely to go more North than I'd prefer, I may motor for a few days, and my average speed will be 3 kn. Leave end of July, so Azores early September. Again, two weeks for rest & repairs.

(It may happen that I will be forced to go way North and end up rounding Scotland, but let's leaver that out for now.)

Late September departure, and here I wonder if the weather will be changing drastically with end of summer. I figure to be heading for Portugal and hope to arrive there in two weeks (@ 3 kn), so mid-October in Lisbon.

Should I take my optimism one step further and plan on crossing the (possibly vicious) Biscayne Bay at this point? And then up the Channel upwind? Probably not. And wintering on the Med sounds really great, so I'll probably leave the Baltic for the following year and make for the warm climes. Deal with whatever when I get there. Hug the coast (European!), motor, stop often and take it easy.

Anyway, I'm on The Continent in October. WHAT'S WRONG WITH MY REASONING?

Please address the specifics of my plan in your comments, I appreciate the collective wisdom and experience on this forum. I'm sure there will be plenty of counterpoints, as y'all are reasonable-to-conservative, while I'm a damn-the-torpedos kind of guy, but that's the way it is. And if you don't want to waste your time on me, that's ok, too.
You are underestimating the early breakdowns, boat fixing that you will do if you want this to be succesful. I assume it has been a long time if ever, that the boat has done long offshore passages. You will need to stop to fix and source parts. As I mentioned above La Paz or Puerto Vallarta are good places to plan this as your initial infantile fixes. Then Panama.

As far as getting out of Panama, what I said was the trades lay down some time starting mid-April to early May. This is what you need to get a good sail north . Each season the trades pick there own time to lay down, it could be well into May. We waited for the transition and left Shelter Bay, Colon first week of May. Did a long port tack to the east, tacked and had a really pleasant sail all the way to the Caymans. The Yucatan Passage and on to Key West. FYI the Bahamas is not a good place to fix your boat.

Don't underestimate fixing your boat. If you don't leave time to do this you may find yourself missing the entire crossing season and either end up stuck somewhere for 10 months or making the generally poor decision to do passages out of season.
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Old 09-12-2021, 02:44   #38
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Re: California to Europe

Some free Nautical Publications, from the NGA Maritime Safety Information website:

Atlas of Pilot Charts ➥ https://msi.nga.mil/Publications/APC

SAILING DIRECTIONS NORTH ATLANTIC OCEAN AND ADJACENT SEAS
https://msi.nga.mil/api/publications....pdf&type=view

BSB ver2 electronic Raster Chart format ➥ https://opencpn.org/OpenCPN/info/pilotcharts.html
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Old 09-12-2021, 03:13   #39
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Re: California to Europe

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Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
You are underestimating the early breakdowns, boat fixing that you will do if you want this to be succesful. I assume it has been a long time if ever, that the boat has done long offshore passages. You will need to stop to fix and source parts. As I mentioned above La Paz or Puerto Vallarta are good places to plan this as your initial infantile fixes. Then Panama.
. . .

Don't underestimate fixing your boat. If you don't leave time to do this you may find yourself missing the entire crossing season and either end up stuck somewhere for 10 months or making the generally poor decision to do passages out of season.
To the OP: Read the above excellent advice three times. This is key. You will probably spend more time fixing your boat than you will spend sailing, along this journey even if your boat if in fairly decent condition. All those miles offshore add up to a ton of wear and tear, and stuff which works fine on short coastal hops sometimes just falls apart on long rough offshore passages.

Also, don't be misled by the story above from the guy sailing this route in a Maxi (!) and fully crewed Swan 65. Your boat is, I guess it goes without saying, NOT a Swan 65.

You would be making a big mistake, in my opinion, to think that you can do this whole thing in one season, especially if you mean this one! Beware especially the tendency to make "poor decision[s] to do passages out of season" which will result from an overly ambitious schedule.
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Old 09-12-2021, 03:48   #40
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California to Europe

Leaving the Azores anytime after July is sheer folly , especially if your intended destination is Northern Europe double folly , the late summer storms approaching Ireland and the uk Coasts are a real problem. The F11 I got caught in was 10th August 350 miles south of Ireland

Every delay for weather windows , pushes you further into autumn.

You will not realistically do the trip safely in one season. Just accept that advice.

If you try it, you’ll seriously test that suicidal streak you mentioned
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Old 09-12-2021, 04:18   #41
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Re: California to Europe

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Leaving the Azores anytime after July is sheer folly , especially if your intended destination is Northern Europe double folly , the late summer storms approaching Ireland and the uk Coasts are a real problem. The F11 I got caught in was 10th August 350 miles south of Ireland

Every delay for weather windows , pushes you further into autumn.

You will not realistically do the trip safely in one season. Just accept that advice.

If you try it, you’ll seriously test that suicidal streak you mentioned
The most important seasonal limitations on this trip is the Western Approaches, one of the most fearsome bits of water on Earth, much worse than Biscay.

I would aim to be through the Western Approaches to be either in the Channel or North Sea (depending on whether you go North around or not) not later than the middle of August, and better by the end of July. The storms start to roll through reliably by the middle of August -- if not earlier! And you'll need to keep up with the long term developing weather situation, jet stream, etc. Some of these storms are the remains of tropical hurricanes, and can be even much worse than getting caught in an actual hurricane, because the rotating structure has dissipated and there is no benign semi-circle you can get yourself into, and plus the wind is cold and heavy. Some of these storms are not really survivable.

This part of the ocean has the highest waves and highest incidence of storms of any place on earth except only for the Southern Ocean.

In order to get the timing right for this, you will need to be at your jumping off point, wherever that is, early enough to give you some flexibility on departure time.

An advantage of sailing along the North American East coast is that you have a late jumping off point so shorter crossing time, allowing you to better calculate a weather window. It's also less miles altogether.

I will be doing this trip next summer and will probably jump off from Newfoundland, stopping in Iceland, Faroes, then Norway. But the boat is a fully crewed 67 footer so different passage planning from the OP.

This is the shortest way to the Baltic, but has another drawback is that you pass through another fearsome piece of water, the area South of Cape Farvel. I would probably not recommend going so far North, to the OP.
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Old 09-12-2021, 04:38   #42
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Re: California to Europe

June/July depending on how far north the route is (ice bergs) is a good time to cross from New England.
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Old 09-12-2021, 04:42   #43
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Re: California to Europe

You've noted that you intend to single-hand most of this journey. And you say your experience is "meagre"

Hmmm

While perhaps not mutually exclusive, I would venture to say they are not the best combination.

At any rate, if you are single-handing, expect to be reefed down hard at night. That means you will not be posting boat speeds of 6+ knots, not even 5+ knots. Think something like 4 knots. On the average.

As others have noted - you can be certain that on a voyage of that length, there will be at least one major repair - major enough that you will have to haul the boat or wait a long time for spare parts. As someone mentioned, the Bahamas are not a good place to repair your boat.

Most places aren't-
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Old 09-12-2021, 06:48   #44
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California to Europe

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The most important seasonal limitations on this trip is the Western Approaches, one of the most fearsome bits of water on Earth, much worse than Biscay.

I would aim to be through the Western Approaches to be either in the Channel or North Sea (depending on whether you go North around or not) not later than the middle of August, and better by the end of July. The storms start to roll through reliably by the middle of August -- if not earlier! And you'll need to keep up with the long term developing weather situation, jet stream, etc. Some of these storms are the remains of tropical hurricanes, and can be even much worse than getting caught in an actual hurricane, because the rotating structure has dissipated and there is no benign semi-circle you can get yourself into, and plus the wind is cold and heavy. Some of these storms are not really survivable.

This part of the ocean has the highest waves and highest incidence of storms of any place on earth except only for the Southern Ocean.

In order to get the timing right for this, you will need to be at your jumping off point, wherever that is, early enough to give you some flexibility on departure time.

An advantage of sailing along the North American East coast is that you have a late jumping off point so shorter crossing time, allowing you to better calculate a weather window. It's also less miles altogether.

I will be doing this trip next summer and will probably jump off from Newfoundland, stopping in Iceland, Faroes, then Norway. But the boat is a fully crewed 67 footer so different passage planning from the OP.

This is the shortest way to the Baltic, but has another drawback is that you pass through another fearsome piece of water, the area South of Cape Farvel. I would probably not recommend going so far North, to the OP.


This man , knows his Celtic Sea !!! A storm on the “ western approaches” is a fearsome thing. They tend to cover an enormous area , with very high winds , and as you approach the continental shelf , huge seas , the whole coast is a lee shore

Thankfully there’s a reason we have the best rescue services in the world.
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Old 09-12-2021, 07:27   #45
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pirate Re: California to Europe

Sorry.. its the Delivery Skipper in me..
Always go for the shortest viable route with minimal stops..
Did not realise you wanted to stop and smell the roses along the way..
In which case... stay in the Azores till late September checking out those lovely islands then head for Lisbon/Cascais from Sao Miguel or straight down to San Vincente and the Algarve (8/9 days) where this year the weather was fantastic as usual that time of year then work your way East if the Med is your aim.. maybe upriver to Sevile and then down to Cadiz to await a window for the Strait.
Going N from Lisbon is a pain, aim further N and stop in N Spain like La Coruna and wait for one of the periodic SW'lies to run the Biscay.
Better to bite the bullet and do the 1500nm to Falmouth from Terciera and save valuable time while getting past some temperamental waters.
From Falmouth on its easy peasy...

Oh.. A word of caution.. there have been Orca 'attacks' between just N off Cape Finisterre down to the edges of the Straits of Gibraltar so if your planning on sailing along those coasts get some Orca updates from the Policia Maritima in the Azores.
Seems to be just the one coastal pod with a couple of bull youngsters who like chewing rudders resulting in Mayday calls for tows into port.
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