If crossing the Atlantic is on your travel list, wouldn't it be more more romantic and awesome to do it on a schooner or a square rigger. Imagine climbing the mast and looking out at a blue horizon than really seems to curve with acres of cream canvas below you. It is probably sensible you find out if sailing is really for you before you cross an ocean but we have plenty of newcomers who have the dream in their heart and just go for it. Get in the rhythmn of standing watches at odd times of day and night and the sense of achievement of reaching a new continent with just the wind and your physical efforts is something you will never forget.
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Sal, Cape Verde
Sal, Cape Verde
Follow the Trade Wind Routes
Trans Atlantic Passages come in many varieties. You need to look a routing chart to understand the trade winds and currents that will help you make a fast passage. A good guide to the best routes is to look at the old trading routes in the last days of sail where speed was everything when you had a cargo to deliver. Either side of the equator is a belt of wind called the North East Trades and the South East Trades. They were called this because they created a cargo ship 'conveyor belt' of reliable wind from a favourable direction to get your cargo across the Atlantic. You have to go as far South as the Cape Verde to pick them up, but the sailing here can be sublime, if a bit rolling. Force 4-7 with flying fish, fast sailing and seas so blue. The seas are gorgeous to swim in if you get becalmed and with more life in them than the stormy and hot equatorial belt.
West-East Trans Atlantic - Use the Westerlies
If you want to make a West - East Trans Atlantic in the Northern Hemisphere you need to head a bit further North to use the great belt of Westerly or South Westerly depressions. This takes more sail handling as the wind direction changes, and it can be a tougher experience where you will have the full range of sun, showers and rain, storms and lighter winds.....and you might need to pack more than shorts.....but you can dine out on the adventures for years.
Equator Crossing and South Atlantic
If you really want to enter the realm of Neptune then this is the voyage: Europe to South America, cutting diagonally across the North and South Atlantic and through the tropics. Sailors who cross the equator for the first time, may find themselves before Neptune's Court so you need to be very good to your fellow shipmates..... If you survive (only joking) you transform from 'greenhorn' to 'shellback' and you can legitimately earn a turtle tattoo if you are so inclined.
Cape to Cape - South Atlantic Roller Coaster
The last Antarctic Expedition of the season each year on bark Europa is an extended voyage of 52 days. Within the package it has some of the most incredible tall ship sailing you will ever do on this planet. Both Debbie and Adam in the Classic Sailing office have done it separately and it is by far our favourite for wildlife and adventure. The voyage starts in Tierra del Fuego, not far from Cape Horn and ends in Cape Town South Africa. It is 5500 miles of downwind roller coaster sailing in the Southern Ocean and crosses the South Atlantic via Antarctica, South Georgia and Tristan Da Cuhna.