How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic – Windrider of The Rockies

It will be the most challenging voyage you’ve ever undertaken on your boat: crossing the Atlantic. You have always wanted to do something like this, and you are planning it out. 

Do you know ‘how long does it take to sail across the Atlantic?’

If you want to sail across the Atlantic, count on it taking up to three or four weeks on one trip.

Reducing the journey in two weeks necessitates understanding shortcuts, optimizing speed, and having prior Atlantic crossing expertise.

Let’s dive into the details! 

What Is The Best Time For An Atlantic Crossing On A Sailboat?

How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic

Sailing Across Atlantic Ocean

If you want to sail across the Atlantic, you should plan on spending nearly a month on the sailboat. Because most sailboats feature open designs, you will be exposed to all types of weather for three weeks. 

It would be best if you were cautious about when deciding to sail. The trade winds are another element to consider when deciding what time to set sail. 

Based on the season, they might change direction, either assisting or hindering your trip. So, with that in mind, when is the ideal time to go on this adventure?

You should set sail from November to February if you intend on stopping in the Caribbean or South America. 

Those are the year’s coldest months! So what’s the point of sailing? For beginners, the Atlantic is among the world’s warmest seas.

The average maximum temperature of the water in November is nearly 83 degrees Fahrenheit, which is extremely pleasant. 

The temperature drops to 82 degrees in December. The temperature reached 81.5 degrees in January and 80.9 degrees in February. If you sail then, you won’t be trembling and shivering.

There are some more compelling reasons to boat at this time. Author Chris Tibbs says that the Canary Islands seem to be more exposed to storms from June to November. 

As you might expect, sailing during storm season is far more hazardous than sailing at other times. If you are a novice to sailing, you don’t want to put your confidence in the wrong hands. Wait till November is nearly through before leaving. 

From November to February, the winds are on your side. The Easterly breezes and Mid-Atlantic prevailing winds will make sailing from the East to the West easier.

How To Use Prevailing Winds When Sailing?

How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic

Take Advantage Of Trade Winds

Let’s take a closer look at prevailing winds and how you can take advantage of them. If you are unfamiliar with trade winds, they blow from the northeastern side and can drive you all along the equator if you are sailing in the northern latitudes. 

If you are riding in the south pole, the winds will be from the southeast. These prevailing winds will blow from the equatorial in either a southern or northbound direction, at 30-degree angles. 

Horse latitude is the name given to the area established here. The Coriolis Effect refers to the air that blows at an angle from the northern and southern hemispheres. 

Before Europeans truly understood prevailing winds, a French mathematician named Gaspard Gustave de Coriolis knew much about the phenomena.

The prevailing winds originate along with a band that runs parallel to the equator when more significant pressure and the Coriolis Effect combine. 

Close to the equator, the wind blows dry, hot air, blocking air currents and the ocean. Either five degrees to the south or the north of the equator, this will happen. 

The Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone sometimes referred to as the doldrums, is a narrower band. The doldrums play an essential role in keeping the trade winds warm by supplying sun heat. 

As a result, atmospheric air rises and becomes colder. Because they are in that zone from the doldrums, the tropics and rainforests get thunderstorms that other regions of the planet do not. 

This colder, higher air rises to the poles before descending. It lands near the equine latitudes when it does. This way affects trade winds, causing them to settle down in the absence of precipitation. The process might then repeat. 

When boats worldwide sailed to America in the past, the seamen relied primarily on prevailing winds. Many contemporary ships and other ships are in the same boat. 

You may accomplish the same by pursuing the trade winds and allowing them to direct you to your goal. Confident sailors recommend special accouterments for boating in trade winds. 

If you are sailing downwind, you can use sheet-to-tiller guiding to stay on course. You also want to investigate an electrical or a wind vane steering system, both of which help you sail more effectively in the prevailing winds.

How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic?

A boat never sails in a single direction, although the entire distance traveled is approximately 6800 kilometers. Because the journey is generally curved or S-shaped, you will cover more ground than the standard 6800 kilometers. 

In other words, you will probably travel 8000 kilometers, taking up to three weeks in excellent conditions and an extra week if the winds and weather are against you. 

Since you never predict what the sea or the weather may bring, it is best to talk about mileage in nautical miles rather than time. When sailing the Atlantic on a sailboat, though, several considerations come into play.

From New York To London

How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic

Colonial Trade Pattern At North Atlantic

We’ll discuss details in the following parts, such as going from one region to another. Let’s pretend you wished to go from New York City to London. It requires you to ship from the USA to the UK on a charter yacht. 

Sailboats and yachts are the most common types of charter boats, although other vessels can also be included. You can choose between skippered and bareboat chartering. 

With captain leasing, you’ll be sailing with a group of individuals, maybe having an experienced sailor. When you hire a bareboat, you are responsible for piloting the sail yourself.

It would take 3300 nautical miles to travel between New York and London. A nautical mile is about 2025 yards long. The equivalent of a nautical mile in conventional miles is 3786 miles. 

How long does it take you to travel? It is dependent on several things. You would have to keep moving, averaging around 8 knots over the sea. It translates to 9.20 MPH; thus, it is a relaxed yet determined speed. 

It is possible to keep up, although it may be difficult for inexperienced sailors. If you go at such speed for the rest of your journey, a rented boat from New York to London takes roughly 17 days.

From The United States To Spain

How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic

USA-Spain Relations

What if your final goal is not London, but rather Spain? You are still beginning in the United States. However, this time you’ll be sailing on your sailboat or another comparable craft. How long do you think it would take to go to Spain? 

There are several elements at play in this situation. For example, what kind of boat do you have? Is it a sailing ship, a cruise ship, a cargo ship, or a frigate? Your journey speed will be affected as a result of this. 

Sailboats can only achieve 10 knots or 11.51 miles per hour. The speed of a cargo ship is somewhat higher, roughly 14 knots. It translates to a speed range of up to 16.11 miles per hour. Cruise ships can cruise up to 23.02 miles per hour.

Frigates, which go at 30 mph, are the fastest boat. It corresponds to a speed range of 34.52 miles per hour. 

Aside from the velocity, we need to know where you’re disembarking from the United States. Is it California, New York City, or a whole different part of the country? We do not need to remind you that the United States is a vast country, but where you depart from is crucial. 

Assume you started in New Bedford and ended up in Vigo, Spain. That is a distance of 2800 nautical miles. If you move at a constant rate of 20 knots for the duration of your voyage, it takes you around 280 hours or nearly 12 days.

From Europe To California

How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic

Sailing Across The Atlantic Is A Challenging Task

What if you want to begin your journey in Europe and end up in California? You are nearly reversing the previous trip. In Europe, the ideal departure points are Panama or Cape Horn, with the latter being preferable if speed is a factor. 

You’ll go roughly 8100 nautical miles if you take the Gibraltar Verde-Caribbean itinerary at a pace of 5 knots.

It means you would be on the water for around 67 days, which is quite a journey! However, several elements might influence the length of your trip.

It’s important to remember where you are sailing from once more. The sort of boat you’re using, as well as the route you travel, are crucial considerations. Traveling quicker can also reduce the number of days spent at sea.

What Do You Need To Prepare For The Best Trip?

How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic

You Need A Sufficient Budget, Schedule, And Suitable Path

Sailing across the Atlantic is not as simple as pointing your boat west or east and setting sail.

You must be a skilled sailor who has gained experience and prepared for the journey. The essential thing is to educate yourself, make plans, and gain experience. 

The following are several things you must do. 

  • Make a financial plan
  • Make a schedule for the journey. 
  • Choose the most suitable path. 
  • Select your team. 
  • Ascertain that the team is knowledgeable, self-sufficient, and seasoned. 

You also need to be self-sufficient and able to save yourself. On the other hand, it is not the sort of trip for a lone traveler. Find a team and invite them to accompany you on this adventure. 

It is usually a good idea to travel light without jeopardizing your safety when sailing across the Atlantic. This journey will take you across a broad range of weather situations and temperatures, so be prepared.

What Is The Best Way To Cross The Atlantic

How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic

One Ideal Route Is Heading North

One ideal route is heading north. When going in this way, you want to keep some breeze but not too much. Faster sailboats can usually handle this course better.

There is a possibility of depression building somewhere in the center of the Atlantic, so remember that if you select this route. 

If you are more at ease with it, you can head south. It is less risky than sailing north since there are northerly swells to contend with. Because the trade winds seem to be more constant, novice sailors may rely on them for navigation.

You can travel eastward if you want, but we do not recommend it because in 2016, one of the sailors that completed it described it as a “totally unusual experience” that was also “difficult.”

Is It Hard To Sail The Atlantic Ocean?

How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic

A Second Backup Route Is Necessary

Although they have never sailed across the Atlantic, a sailor should have enough skill to make this voyage relatively easy. On the other hand, beginner sailors should get some practice sailing in their backyard before traversing an ocean. 

Another critical aspect of succeeding on this journey has a strong boat that you are familiar with. It’s difficult to get lost with today’s technology, including sailboat GPS, which is a positive. 

That does not rule out the possibility of being thrown off course or neglecting your responsibilities as the boat’s captain. You can do a few things to make the journey more difficult for yourself, but we don’t advise it. 

For one thing, you can attempt sailing the Atlantic from west to east, as we suggested before. You might even venture out during hurricane season when the winds whip more unexpectedly.

You will arrive at your goal sooner rather than later if you plot a route, use the trade winds, and sustain your pace. 

Always have a backup way and, if necessary, a second backup route available. Because prevailing winds and weather may always toss your initial plans out the window, versatility is a good thing.

What Size Of Boat Do You Need To Cross The Atlantic Ocean?

How Long Does It Take To Sail Across The Atlantic

You Need A Sailboat At Least 29Ft Height

A boat that is less than six feet in length is too tiny to traverse the Atlantic safely. Instead, you’ll need a yacht or sailboat with a height of at least 29 feet, ideally 40 feet. 

However, you cannot ensure your boat will be able to resist big seas and bad weather. In an ideal scenario, your sailboat would also have full sails that you can easily manage, particularly in a crisis. 

In ocean sailing, a permanent keel works well, but suspended rudders don’t. When you can, purchase a monohull sailboat rather than one with several hulls because the latter may cause more problems when the weather becomes severe. 

If you can, choose a monohull sailboat to focus on the voyage with as few interruptions as possible.

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Final Thoughts

While crossing the Atlantic Ocean is a difficult task, it is doable and possibly a goal for every sailor. The trick is to get knowledgeable, prepare, plan the route, select the proper crew, prepare for the journey, and understand how to take advantage of the winds! Windrider of The Rockies.

You should also double-check that the schedule is correct and that the boat is suitable and well-equipped for the journey.

Thank you for reading!

Reference: Sail across the Atlantic and back

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