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Old 08-11-2009, 07:34   #1
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Planning a World Circumnavigation - Trying to Estimate How Long it Will Take

Hello all,

I am a novice sailor with grand plans. A friend and i plan to take an extended break from working and sail around the world.

One big problem that we're experiencing at the moment is trying to plan the trip - specifically, how long the legs will realistically take.

At this stage i think that we're likely to be leaving from either Brisbane or Perth, depending upon where we find the right boat for sale.

We're looking at getting an old but solid and safe monohull around 35 foot in length. We will have a motor and will not be afraid to use it if necessary (although would prefer to minimise use of the motor).

I have MaxSea with charts for the entire world so i can calculate 'as the crow flies' distances relatively accurately.

Any advice people can offer on how to estimate how long our individual trips will take would be invaluable.

If leaving from Brisbane then we'd head north, round cape york, gove, darwin then off to Christmas Island. From there we'd head:

Cocos Keeling
Through the med
Canary Islands
Through the pacific islands back to Brisbane

I have started to put together a rough spreadsheet outlining the plan... see attached.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated!


Attached Files
File Type: xls Circumnavigation.xls (30.5 KB, 584 views)
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Old 08-11-2009, 07:50   #2
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Steve- get Jimmy Cornell's book "World Cruising Routes". That will tell you the distances. Also your boat will have its speed- you can get "average days" from multiple sources here on the web. Then all you need to do is figure out the $$ and the amount of time you want to spend in port. That and learn to bluewater sail
Oh and I almost forgot- know how to fix everything on the boat in the dark during a storm
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Old 08-11-2009, 07:56   #3
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Friends of ours recently completed their circumnavigation. He had set aside 7 years to make the trip. It took 12. The point being that no matter how much time you set aside, it will certainly be more.
Weather, breakdowns, the lack of parts, officialdom, world events, and of course the fact that some places are just so cool that you're not going to want to leave. My friends spent a year in New Zealand. The original plan was to be there just a couple months.

Make your plans but allow for extra time. You'll need it.

Most of all,, enjoy the experience.
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:06   #4
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Thanks to both of you for replies.

I have a copy of Jimmy Cornell's book and have been pouring over it for the past 6 months... it's an excellent book and i have a lot of fun reading and dreaming.

Newt - can you recommend a particular site(s) upon which i can find average speeds?

I know that a circ should take closer to 20 years but we're in our early 30's so don't have the luxury of time - careers to build and families to have! We're basically going to try to do an 'express' circumnavigation - taking time off strategically and as time permits (we'll probably take extra time in the Med, the carribean and through the pacific islands.

At this stage we're hoping to be back home in around a year and a half.

Do you think that this is possible?
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Old 08-11-2009, 15:28   #5
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100miles per day

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Old 08-11-2009, 16:24   #6
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most people linger... but some make "express" circumnavigations w/o problem.

hard boundaries:
tropical winters (or alternatively cyclone season) dictate travel windows in each hemisphere... and hence routing.
miles per day are definitely a function of boat, sails, and operator... but 100-200 per day is the range.
almost all cruisers sit >10 days per sea day. "express cruisers" probably need to think more like 1-2 days of sitting per sea day.
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Old 08-11-2009, 16:31   #7
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My parents did it in five years via the Panama canal and Cape of Good Hope. A friend single handed the same route in half the time. It really depends on the vessel and the amount of stops. Land is what tends to mess up a schedule (repairs, waiting for parts, and sightseeing). Good luck on your planning, have fun, and go for it.
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Old 08-11-2009, 17:12   #8
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Download the Pilot Charts of the areas you are going and have a look at it by the month
You will see the cyclone months in one of the small boxes at the bottom of the charts.

Maritime Safety Information <--- Pilot charts

Basically you are spot on, but your timings are a bit stuffed. The Med in their winter is no fun. You will need to hang out for a bit longer in Cocos (That would be though!) as the cyclones in Arabian Gulf, I think. I doubt there would be any cyclone holes in the Maldives.

You will be sailing quite a lot and thats fine, but doesnt leave you time to stop and smell the daiseys. If you stop you basically have to add a year on!

Med in the winter would be pretty horrible, I would think, but theres lots of people here who will know better than me.

I would try to add an extra day on every Fudge Factor for arriving at port at night and having to slow down or stop to allow for entry during the day.

It can be done!

You will need to have a good boat that's well prepared so breakdowns don't slow you down

Good luck

Notes on a Circumnavigation.

Somalia Pirates and our Convoy
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Old 08-11-2009, 17:53   #9
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Great stuff. I do know the Qld coast - Darwin section. Your estimate would not really include any stops or allowances for poor weather.

You may (will) need a shakedown to sort out yourself and the boat. After Cairns, you are pretty much on your own. Email me if you want my ideas on anchorages/ services etc

90 days through the PAcific. You'll need more.
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Old 08-11-2009, 18:18   #10
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I look at websites devoted to the particular boat I am interested in, plus I have a small library at home that I use. For 35 foot boats, I would look at the Nic 35, Alberg 35 maybe a Valiant 32. They all have hull speeds above 6 knts, and daily passages above 100. If you have a particular boat you are interested in, go to the owners association and sniff around.
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Old 08-11-2009, 20:50   #11
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I've known people who have circumnavigated in two years and they saw very little as their time ashore was tied up in reprovisioning, repairs, etc. I've also known people who spent ten years just in the Phillipines. I circumnavigated in four and a half years via Panama and the Cape of Good Hope and felt that was a pretty leisurely trip with lots of time to enjoy local cultures, some fun meanderings in Australia (a year and a half from Bundaberg to Gove) and nine months in French Polynesia. But along the way you have to play the hurricane seasons and that may mean hustling the trip along or slowing it down so you're in a relatively safe place during that season. Traveling at five miles an hour doesn't make much sense if you're in a hurry. There's also an emotional fatigue from long passages and it can take time in an anchorage to recover. Regional politics and pirates can play a role. We opted for the Cape of Good Hope because of a political situation that was stirring up the Suez route. So consider your distances and speed, plan a route, and look at the sailing directions and weather patterns, but recognize that those can only be very rough estimates. The point is not just to circumnavigate safely, but to learn some things along the way and enjoy the lifestyle without the pressure of a schedule. Best of luck. Follow your dream.
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Old 09-11-2009, 08:05   #12
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Back in 2000 there was a rally that circumnavigated in one year - but everybody only got 5 minutes per stop to see anything. (actually it was a day or two). I have friends who have done it in 2 to 3 years but felt rushed. But that was all the time they could take away from work. Others seem to average 5 years if you bore easy and 10 years if you are really interested in seeing places. Finally, there is the group that after starting around find out they really don't want to "go back" and spend a lifetime going around.
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Old 09-11-2009, 09:00   #13

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Steve not to be a downer but my 2 cents is to ask yourself why you want to do the circle at all? Personal developement of character? Bragging rights at the pub? If so how much mileage will you get out of it before people start to avoid you? Me - if I happen to circumnavigate as a byproduct of cruising I'll be pleased - but I suspect it will take the remainder of my life.
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Old 09-11-2009, 09:27   #14
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We completed our circumnavigation in May, 2008. I agree with michaeldsusa, that you need to have a mission for taking this voyage.
For us, it was an opportunity to give our children 'the world.'
please see Sailing Faith: Home Page for a look at what we did.
We started out with a plan to circumnavigate in two years, and made friends in Panama after three months at sea, who convinced us that we weren't going to see much if we were determined to make it around in such a short time.
We slowed down and made it home in 4-1/2 years.
As for the 'careers to build and families to have,' that you alluded to, the family can happen on the voyage (it did for us with 5, 12, and 16 year old children starting and finishing our circumnavigation.) I believe you will forever kick yourself afterward if you allow career much precedence in this decision - there will always be time for that.
The one tip I give to anybody thinking about a voyage like this is: Gather as much information as you can about what you're about to do, then throw away about 99% of it. It's your trip, take it, and use the 1% - that really good stuff - to stay safe.
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Old 09-11-2009, 09:51   #15
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If I were interested interested in climbing, I would not plan to start by summiting Mt. Everest.

Plenty of people do, however.
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