Tips for Atlantic Crossing

Quick tips from a traveller on how to cross the Atlantic ocean using a sailing boat!

Posted on Posted in In The Sea, Tips, Travel

I decided to share our experience of crossing the Atlantic so I will try to give detailed information about how to cross the Atlantic ocean on a sailing boat and our journey and answer the most frequently asked questions that people throw at us all the time.

What is the best time for crossing the Atlantic ocean?

Since Christopher Columbus found America, sailors cross the Atlantic ocean from east to west between October and January. It is because in these months the trade winds are in the direction of east to west so you can easily and quickly cross the ocean. Also, the hurricane season ends around the end of November on the west coast of the Atlantic Ocean.

Why start from Las Palmas?

Las Palmas is one of the best marinas in the canary islands to give a break, to check all the equipment and technical devices, to shop for food and maybe to find a crew as a deckhand or watch keeper before starting the crossing. Las Palmas is like a last pit stop point before the crossing. Some boats do a stopover on Capo Verde islands as well.

How long does it take?

It depends on the boat’s route and technical features and mostly weather conditions but it is around 20-25 days.

Where will you be going?

Most of the boats arrive at the Caribbean islands. This is the shortest route fort them. Some boats take the southern route and go to Suriname, French Guyana or Trinidad and Tobago. The distance from Las Palmas to any one of the Caribbean islands is about 2000 and 2500 nautical miles. Some boats go a little bit south first and stay at Capo Verde islands then they continue on their way.

What size should be the boat?

You can cross the Atlantic with any kind of boat. The length is not important. Some people even cross the Atlantic with a canoe.  The important thing is a good preparation based on your boat’s technical features and the right weather conditions. The boats we saw are general between 9 and 20 meters. But again, as I said before, some people cross the Atlantic with canoes 🙂 Anyway, we only planned to cross with a sailing boat.

What is the usual weather conditions during the crossing?

Starting from October, the trade winds start so it is the best times for the crossing. The wind speed is about 18 and 25 knots (between 35 and 45 km), the length of waves are about 4 and 5 meters and the waves are rare and bigger than the inland seas. So you climb up the waves. The weather is generally hot. The more your get closer to equator line, the warmer the weather.  First 4 to 5 days could be a little bit chilly but then it gets warmer.

How  will you cross the Atlantic? Do you have a boat?

We planned to do boat hiking. I have been traveling around the world for a long time but I haven’t had any idea of what is it like to do boat hiking until last year. I heard about it from a sailor traveler who made the Atlantic crossing with boat hiking which also inspired me.  Actually, it is not like hiking. Around the world, there are many boats and sailors that sail continuously. In some crossings and routes they need some help like for cooking, cleaning, general maintenance, watch keeping, sailing, babysitting and so on so they get some crew members from marinas. The crews travel free by helping and working on the boat. That way the boat owners get company and free labor on their way. Some boat owners ask for some contributions like 10 to 15 euros per day.

There are some boats which cross with ARC  (Atlantic Rally Competition). Every year this rally starts from Las Palmas and ends at St. Lucia. This year it will start on 23rd of November. There are some sailing schools that join the ARC and they accept non-experienced sailors for a fee of about 5000 euros.

las palma

Should you be afraid?

We didn’t have any fear but we were so excited. The idea of 20 to 25 days without seeing any land, being in the middle of the ocean, observing stars and winds,  sailing with waves is a beautiful and great feeling. We never had done ocean crossing (actually I never had spent one single night on the sea 🙂 and I am serious!) but if you get prepared physically and mentally, the fear completely disappears. In any way, it was not an easy thing being in the middle of nature for city girls like us. And I guess that is why the best way to overcome all your doubts is to choose to be in harmony when you face the wild face of nature.

yelken egitimi

Where will you go from there?

We didn’t have any plans for after when we get to the west coast of the Atlantic ocean. Maybe one of the Caribbean islands or South America. But we thought while we are getting so close to South America, we should discover the Inca civilizations and other South American countries. Or we can continue to sail around Caribbean islands or to South America. All these were our draft plans.

Anyway when you are sailing you never know where you gonna end. The winds decide where you will go and for how long will you stay. We were only thinking about all the possible roads that will take us to different places and we were choosing the destinations on the way. To be honest, it was a journey with a one-way ticket 🙂

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