How fast can one expect to travel in an ocean-going sailboat?

  • Assuming two different trips - one with a current and one without, what is a reasonable speed to assume for a journey?

    First - Norfolk, VA to Bermuda to the Azores to Liverpool

    Second - Liverpool to the Azores to Bermuda to Norfolk, VA. (funny how I did that, no?)

    I'm trying to get an understanding of how fast a regular sailboat, not using power, traverses a wide body of ocean, both with and against a current. A rough order of magnitude for a lesiurely rate of speed is what I'm after here.

    As far as size goes, consider a private craft, again, under sail, not engine, maybe 30' - 40'. The idea would be a boat two people could crew and afford :). Feel free to make other assumptions- the idea is to understand if I'm talking days, weeks, or months.

    You might try asking this on The Great Outdoors, which accepts questions on sailing and might well get you answers from sailors.

    Answer: it depends on the weather.

  • My father did Liverpool - Azores - Halifax in a 26 foot wooden sailboat (a Thames Bawley, mahogany) in 1984 with a total crew of 3. Liverpool - Azores took 17 days; Azores - Halifax took 21. (They spent a week in the Azores resupplying and changing some of the crew since taking 6 weeks vacation to be part of something like this is quite a challenge.) BTW he took no GPS or the 1980s equivalent and navigated with sextant and the like. Eccentric no doubt, but it couldn't break and its batteries couldn't run out. You might want to spend a few weeks, months, or years learning that kind of thing before trying to sail the Atlantic.

    It took about 7 years to get back to that longitude, but that was because he carried on around the long way, and broke the trip into many legs with multi year pauses in between them. 20,000 miles took a total of 202 days sailing.

    I guess I completely understand when you say **you might want to spend a few weeks, months, or years learning that kind of thing before trying to sail the Atlantic**, but I'm wondering, aren't there better routes for people not so experienced? like going along the coast most of the time, then do a little jump from Cape Verde to Fortaleza (Brazil)?

    It is dangerous to attempt any ocean passage in a sailboat without substantial sailing experience, Cape Verde to Brazil is 2000km - not a 'little jump'.

    One can not directly relate danger to distance in sailing. There are "short" routes that due to winds and streams are more dangerous than longer routes.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM