30 Apr Our Sailing Route Around The World
One of the questions we get asked the most is where we are going to go next, and why?
Well folks, here it is. This is the route we are taking around the world, and why we chose to go this direction.
We are sailing west-about around the world, or from East to West, via Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope. Most people say this is the hard way, or backwards, and it is. There are much faster downwind routes and much warmer mid-latitude routes. We chose our route for a few reasons:
- It is the path less traveled, we like that!
- It follows in the footsteps of great explorers like Magellan, Darwin, and Joshua Slocum.
- Cape Horn is perhaps the ultimate adventure for sailors.
- It takes advantage of prevailing winds and currents.
- It is a difficult challenge, and we like challenges!
The Standard Routes
There are 3 “standard” sailing routes around the word. There are also some not so standard routes to circumnavigate the world, and routes that are not deemed official by whatever sanctioning body. We will stick with discussing the most popular though.
The first and possibly most well known is the Clipper Route. This is an east-about, mostly tradewind and downwind route around the bottom of the world. Most people know this route from the Whitbread, Volvo Ocean Race, Vendee Globe, and record setting RTW sailing voyages. It is called the Clipper Route because this is the route the old clipper ships would use to get back and forth from the West Indies and back to Europe in record time, taking advantage of following wind and waves in the southern ocean. Vessels choosing this route need to be prepared for heavy air, cold weather, and even ice at high latitudes.
The Coconut Milk Run
The Milk Run or Tradewind Route is the sailing route most recreational circumnavigators choose. It is slightly longer than the Clipper Route, but it is mostly downwind in medium to light air, at low latitudes and warm temperatures. Going west-about, this route also takes sailors through the Panama canal and through areas that are familiar with and offer support to small yachts along the way. It is a very popular route for the various cruising organizations which organize rallies such as the World ARC. The goal of this route is warm water sailing and having an easy cruise, hence the name.
The Magellan Route
The route of the Magellan expedition has great history and is the first to be sailed around the world over 500 years ago. The route is west-about, around the bottom of the world and into the south pacific islands, but not via Cape Horn. Magellan chose to sail through the aptly named Magellan Straight instead of rounding the horn. This route is most similar to the route we chose.
Sweet Ruca’s Circumnavigation Route
We chose to sail around the world our own way, but like the others that have gone before us, we are taking advantage of winds and currents to get the places we want to go. We wanted to take a historical route, one that would take us to places not well traveled and out of the typical charter boat, rally, and vacation sailing areas. Our route is most similar to Magellan’s, however because we have read the amazing stories of the Whitbread race, Cape Horn was on our list. We looked at the books, the wind and current maps, and pilot charts. We then chose timings based on weather and hurricanes. We also knew we wanted to experience the fjords of Chilean Patagonia, the Caribbean and Atlantic Islands, sail, surf, and scuba dive in the South Pacific, and did not want to go through the Red Sea to avoid pirates. We also have a dog on board, so that pretty much ruled out stopping in Australia or New Zealand. This made our route a pretty easy chose, we would go west via the capes!
Leaving from Newport, Rhode Island in the USA, we would first do a shakedown cruise in Maine. Here our plan was to prepare the boat and ourselves for more challenging sailing and work out the kinks in an area with good support for yachts. We learned lots about navigating in big currents, kelp, and huge tides here.
Next we would sail down the USA east coast, through New York City, to Annapolis, Maryland. Sailing past the statute of liberty was a bucket list item, and Annapolis is possibly the capital of all sailing in the United States.
From Annapolis we would sail directly to the Bahamas on our first big offshore excursion. Rounding cape Hatteras in November would be a good prep for Cape Horn in the future. Who doesn’t want to go to the Bahamas?
Next we would sail to the Caribbean, directly from the Bahamas to the US Virgin Islands. We would cruise the Caribbean and wait for the proper season for our first Atlantic crossing.
We sailed from the Caribbean on what most consider a delivery skipper route, partially upwind and battling the Azores high to get to another world famous sailing town, Horta!
Next up was the Canary Islands, from which the original plan was to sail directly to Mar del Plata, Argentina, to provision the boat for southern sailing. We ended up making a pit stop for repairs in Ilhabela and Itajai, Brazil as well as Piriapolis, Uruguay. We are very happy we landed in these places!
From Piriapolis we sailed directly to Puerto Williams, Chile, around Cape Horn, through the Beagle Channel, the western arm of the Straight of Magellan, and then into the icy fjords of Chilean Patagonia to explore the glaciers of Torres del Paine.
We will sail from Puerto Williams to Puerto Montt, Chile, before launching into the Pacific Ocean.
We will cross the South Pacific, stopping in as many islands as we can along the way. Easter Island, Gambiers, Marquesas, Tahiti, and more. We aren’t quite sure yet what our exact timeline will be for this area of the world.
After the South Pacific we will head north a bit through Indonesia, over the top of Austrailia and into the Indian Ocean. Once again, we aren’t quite sure, and only time will tell how much we will explore this area.
We will cross the Indian Ocean to South Africa. We will then likely head north again making some pit stops at places like Ascension Island and St. Helena. From here we will more than likely continue northward, back through the equator, crossing our path around the world, and onward back to the USA via the Caribbean.
Time will tell though. Our plans have been changed a few times already and we are always open minded.