Routes outside the straits
In the Mediterranean, they leave when they want and arrive at their destination when they can, because everything depends on it - on the wind, and our wind is too capricious to make any calculations. Yes, of course, there are weather forecasts, but they are only worth what they are worth, and those who go to sea today, as in the time of Odysseus: try to avoid or use Aeolus, but mostly use what blows.
Outside the straits, things are quite different. The winds are more constant and predictable, stronger on average, and whoever is about to sail out into the ocean, whether he decides to go through the ancient Pillars of Hercules or choose the newer Suez, must think in advance where to go and when to leave so that the voyage is in harmony with the forces of nature.
A person opens a map on a table full of books and notes, and reasoning begins like: - If I leave Cape Verde in January, what wind will be when I go to the Caribbean? Or, if we leave Massawa in April, what will the weather be like in the Gulf of Aden? And will it rain when we later arrive in the Maldives? When will the next crossing be possible? What will the weather be like where it ends?
Among the many possible routes, you need to choose the right one that will satisfy numerous requirements and take into account: where we want to go, how long it will take, what the currents will be, how strong the wind is, etc. All the necessary information is collected in a series of special maps called Pilot Charts ( Pilot Charts) and is based on statistical data collected over decades. Pilots divide the ocean into many small sectors and provide information for each zone for each month: wind direction and strength, wave height, current speed,water temperature, air temperature, fogs, etc. There are also books that give similar information in a more convenient form. The most famous "Guida alle rotte del tutto il mondo" by Jimmy Cornell, published in Italy by the Zanichelli publishing house, will suggest dates and routes for all oceans.
The first thing to remember well is that you cannot go against the wind in the ocean. Sooner or later you will have to do it and see for yourself that it is always just a disaster. It's funny for a few miles, even if it's water from head to toe, but after a few hours, patience ends, the boat is damp, everything falls down in the cabin, the sinks are full of water, it's impossible to cook, every time you open the locker, everything spills out, the crew suffers from seasickness and the boat from the blows of oncoming waves. Distances over fifty, one hundred miles againstra is better left to the sailboats of super regattas or the crews of supermasochists. Normal boats always run full courses, and this is always possible, it is enough to choose the right direction and the right time. The trade winds, for example, blow all year from east to west, so a westerly direction is practically a must. That is why ninety-nine percent of sailboats leave Gibraltar and return via Suez. And it is thanks to these winds that ocean crossings, although long, are quite simple. The wind in the stern doesn't seem so strong, popA dark wave is more gentle, its effect is softened by the movement of the boat. There is also a current, always in the same direction as the wind and waves, which adds ten miles a day to the distance covered. Therefore, as in the time of Columbus, it is very easy to cross the ocean with the trade winds: it is enough to let the wind carry you, and in twenty days you will reach the other shore. However, be careful! There is another side of the coin: it is impossible to change your mind and go back, because the same wind and the same waves in the stern, which seemed just big, standing oncomingonce become huge. This means that when the decision is made to leave one archipelago of islands and go to another, you need to weigh everything well, as this is a choice without return. It was a long time ago, the sailboat left the Canary Islands for the Caribbean. On board the steam, apparently the first experience in the ocean. After a few days of sailing in the Atlantic, the two discovered that they had made an unforgivable mistake, they forgot to fill the tanks with water. There were bread, biscuits, vegetables, all kinds of food and even some alcoholic drinks on board, but they forgot about fresh water. Heand changed course and tried to return: impossible. They refused, returned to their previous course, enduring thirst. But in these latitudes with a constant temperature of 32 degrees, being without water is a tragedy. It all ended in tragedy. One of the crew members died, the other was found half-dead in a life raft, which he opened in desperation and found water supplies there. The moral is that big transitions are always made in one direction.
Fortunately, there are still winds that change their direction. The monsoons, for example, blow for six months in one direction and six in the other, so that the whole of the southern Indian Ocean and the western Pacific can be crossed both eastward and westward, it is only necessary to wait for a favorable season. There are some obligatory sections on round-the-world routes that narrow like a funnel: the Gulf of Aden, located between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea; Torres Strait, located between the Indian and Pacific oceans. Depending on timeFor many years, the wind and current rush into these narrownesses, forming kind of rivers, and again, the only possible direction is the direction of the wind and you need to be there on time when it is favorable. The punishment for being late is to stand and wait, which is not always possible. In the Aden zone, for example, it is very difficult to find a place to wait for the change of season. In this case, the necessary information is contained not in the pilot, but in the directions of the area of interest. In the introductory part, they always contain a description of the winds and currents. And if not properly informed, the consequencese slow to affect.
In 1997 we ended up in Singapore waters. We had never been there, and only when we arrived, we realized that Singapore is a terrible modern city, surrounded by a terrible sea with dirty greenish water. I wanted to leave immediately, but where? It was August and the monsoon was blowing from the southeast. You could go north with the wind, but three hundred miles away is the Philippines, where they say pirates meet. To the northwest, the Strait of Malacca, which we have just passed, is ugly and of little interest. Further south in Bali eight hundred miles, with beautiful surrounding islands. - Eighthundreds of miles upwind? Are we crazy? “Well, we can try to go through them in parts, stopping somewhere along the way. After much deliberation, we couldn't think of anything better and decided to give it a try, as the wind would remain head-on until December, and we couldn't bear the place any longer. We set up the reduced staysails, reefed the mainsail and mizzen, and got ready for a long tedious passage. But it is one thing to think, and quite another to do. After fifteen days of sailing, having advanced only 150 miles, we were covered with a crust of salt and dreamed ofle or island to stay. In a month we had advanced 250 miles, but we were exhausted, we sewed up the mainsail countless times and a stray wave tore the number two jib to shreds. There was also a counter current, a common occurrence in constant winds, which threw us back thirty miles a day. Two weeks and another 200 miles covered. One fine morning, on the eve of another storm, when the wind was strong, the waves flooded the deck, it was necessary to change the staysails again, while the GPS showed that we were not moving forward at allwe looked at each other:
- I can not do it anymore.
- I also. Enough!
We changed course and at the same moment the sea became friendly again. The waves that hit us brutally before now pushed us forward, the wind that howled now whispered, the boat, which suffered from the blows of the waves, now ran forward and not even spray flew onto the deck. The sun dried my wet beard. And they didn't give a damn about Bali and other fabulous islands. The only thing we wanted was for this torment to end! In just four days, we were again a few miles from Singapore, in the dirty waters of Malacca, to do what we should have done right away, dojigiven the change of season. But this happened to more famous people.
Captain Bligh, who during the expedition was going to bring the Bounty to Papeete to collect breadfruit, planned to round Cape Horn, then to cross the eastern Pacific Ocean and come to Tahiti. For various reasons, he approached the cape too late, but despite this he tried to go around it anyway, fighting against waves, wind, currents and storms for more than a month, but in the end he was forced to give up. The bounty changed course and headed for the Cape of Good Hope, from where, after repairs, it circled Africa, crossed the Indian Ocean and half of the Tihogo to stay in Papeete. An almost complete world tour due to the wrong timing! But that's exactly how it works.
The greater freedom of the oceans is limited by the conditions of the wind, waves and currents, and finding ways to be in tune with them is part of the game.
What else you need to remember when preparing for a trip is to avoid rainy seasons and cyclones. Cyclones are a terrible natural phenomenon. Winds can exceed one hundred and twenty knots, heavy rains, ten-meter waves, sea levels rise, rivers overflow their banks, carrying tree trunks, debris and dead animals, space is filled with objects rushing through the air. It's so creepy that it's hard to even imagine. It is necessary to avoid the risk of encountering them, which in general is not difficult, since we are talking about seasonal phenomena. Cyclones are formingsummer period, that is, from March to October in the northern hemisphere and from December to April in the southern. To avoid them, it is enough to change the hemisphere and it will be very interesting to discover how little is needed for this. Suppose the boat is at a latitude of ten degrees north and decides to move to the tenth parallel south. Only twenty degrees, that is 1200 miles. In ten days of non-stop sailing, averaging 120 miles a day, we change hemisphere and go from summer to winter, or vice versa!
Less dangerous, but still better to avoid it, the rainy season. It is not winter, on the contrary, it almost always coincides with summer. The problem may be that it's too hot, it's raining too often, and there's constant thunderstorms with angry gusts of wind punctuated by unbearable calm. The situation is difficult for navigation and inconvenient for parking. I remember a year when at the end of the rainy season our cockpit was green with mold, and I won't say what smells were inside because the hatches were closed for too long. Much better is the dry season, which is in the tropicscoincides with winter, with mild temperatures, dry air and steady winds. Ideal for long voyages, when you can even forget about adjusting the sails, because the wind is always the same. To avoid rain, sometimes it is enough just to move a little. For example, in the winter months on the west coast of Thailand there is magnificent weather, dry, fresh, with temperatures of about twenty-five degrees, and having gone down the Strait of Malacca for only 400-500 miles, after Singapore you find yourself in constant rains and thunderstorms.>
A round-the-world trip on a sailing sailboat can last from six months to twenty years. It depends on the size of the boat, on whether the route is laid to the west or to the east, how many and which countries are supposed to be visited, on the money and time available, and a thousand other factors.
Just to dream and give an idea to those who are thinking, here is an example of a circumnavigation of the world lasting thirty months, leaving Gibraltar in September and returning via Suez in March after two and a half years.
1.1. From Gibraltar to the Canaries: 700 miles. First taste of the ocean. A small transition compared to those that follow, but unexpected storms are possible in a zone that is not yet tropical. Departure in mid-September and arrival at the end of the month. Parking in the Caribbean until November, preparing the boat, visiting the islands in anticipation of the season. You can not go out until the cyclone season ends in the Caribbean.
1.2. Crossing the Atlantic, from the Canaries to the Caribbean: 2,700 miles. Out in early November. First, head south until you are in the trade winds, then west. The transition can take 20-25 days. Arriving in Trinidad, Guadeloupe, Martinique or anywhere else you want. The season is favorable and has just begun and there are several months to enjoy sailing between the islands.
1.3. Caribbean to Panama: 1000 miles. period end of February. This transition can be made in several stages with stops on the islands of Venezuela. Then go further away from Colombia, and if you stop there, then only in Cartagena, because the coast is dangerous. Wind is always in abundance, sometimes even too much.
1.4. Panama Canal: 80 miles. This is an artificial waterway and the dates don't matter, but you need to get through before March so as not to enter the Pacific Ocean too late.
1.5. Panama to Galapagos: 900 miles. A very long transition, as it passes through a zone of tropical calm. It can last from 10 to 25 days, depending on luck and the use of the motor. You can stay on the beautiful island of Cocos.
1.6. From the Galapagos to the Marquesas. Longest crossing. Without stops and all in the zone of trade winds. 20 to 25 days.
1.7. From the Marquesas to New Zealand. The entire Pacific Ocean lies ahead for exploration and an itinerary for improvisation. French Polynesia, Cook, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji... Endless sea dotted with fabulous archipelagos, thousands of islands and atolls among which you can get lost forever. But there is a limitation. The cyclone season starts in November and until that time you need to be in a safe place, for example in New Zealand, where you stay until April, doing boat maintenance and quiet tourism.
1.8. From New Zealand to Torres Strait. Period from April to June with trade winds and stops in Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
1.9. From Torres Strait to Bali. Two months with passing trade winds, with stops on the islands of Indonesia. Arrival in August.
1.10. Bali to Phuket: 1350 miles. Again with the trade winds, which gradually die out as time passes and the rise to the north. In Phuket, supplies and maintenance are made before crossing the Indian Ocean. Looking forward to November to come out with the northeast monsoon.
1.11. Phuket to Cochin: 1400 miles. Exit in the second half of November. Slow sailing with the first breath of the Monsoon. The sea is blue and calm, a light breeze. Stops are possible in the Andaman Islands and Sri Lanka. Arrival at the end of November.
1.12. From Cochin to Aden: 1450 miles. From mid to late December, with the monsoon already established. Nice and calm transition. There are Laccadives on the route, but the bureaucratic difficulties of obtaining permission scare away.
1.13. Aden to Suez: 1200 miles. The first 300 miles with a tailwind, then everything is in a tack. Despite the headwind, sailing can be very interesting. It is better to go in short passages, using days when the wind is not very strong and making numerous stops in natural ports, which are rich in the African coast of the Red Sea.
Leaving Aden in January, you can enter the Mediterranean Sea at the end of March, two years and six months after the exit.
Increasingly, I hear from people that, although not being able to leave everything for a few years, they could organize work and life in such a way that each year they have a few free months. In this case, too, you can go around the world.
Round the world journey in stages. Instead of two or three years, it will take much more. It is about dividing the route into parts, choosing meteorologically favorable moments and finding reliable ports where you can leave the boat between stages.
I would say that the minimum period is two months in order to be able to adapt every time after a sharp transition from the city to the sea-boat atmosphere and avoid constant stress from the fear of not being on time and missing the plane.
Remember that the sea and the wind behave as they please. On some stages, even less time may be enough, such as when the boat is in the Caribbean or Fiji, and you can make short transitions between the islands.
Longer periods will be needed for passages across the Pacific Ocean, from Panama to Polynesia and across the Indian Ocean. With such a journey, of course, it is necessary to be sure of the reliability of the place where you have to leave the boat, but there are surprisingly many such places and they are scattered all over the world, and not only in civilized countries. We left the boat in Eritrea at the port of Massawa, in Tanzania at a local sailboat club in the north of Dar Es Salaam, in Malaysia on the Lumut River, in Indonesia at the port of Bali, in Panama in the canal, in Fiji at the marina and many other places. To decide nhow reliable is the place where the boat remains, you need to try. Yachting there-there, a valuable source of information that becomes more and more reliable as you get closer to the chosen place. What is very important is not to rush. You need to arrive ten days in advance to calmly look around, sniff the area, assess the situation and perhaps strike up a friendship with one of the locals who would agree to look after the boat. If you're leaving your boat in port, it's not a bad idea to talk to the Harbor Master. We did this when we left Barca Pulita in Massawaat anchor in the most protected part of the water area. The captain, a gloomy Eritrean who until recently commanded a military ship, immediately bombarded us with refusals, said that he would not take any responsibility, that we left the boat at our own peril and risk, that he did not want any problems and did not even want to know what we were want. But the deed was done. We put the problem on him. And while he was saying no, it was clear that in fact it was yes. He asked us for the name and surname of the person who will periodically open the boat, demanded a statementthat he does not take any responsibility and in the end, after shaking hands with us, he promised that he would look after us. Two days later, everyone in the port knew that our boat was under the protection of the captain. Another time, at Pontianak in Borneo, we did not dare. Despite the fact that the captaincy officer assured us of his personal interest. We could leave the boat anchored on the river and he would put a guard on board. The atmosphere was not the best, theft, poverty and hopelessness. It was more sensations than facts, but we did not dare. From Borneo we went toMalaysia and left the boat on another river, Lumut, in an uninhabited bay, where an enterprising Chinese organized something like a makeshift marina. And finally, throughout the tropical zone, on the most important islands, many marinas were opened equipped to store sailboats during the cyclone season. The boats are lifted ashore and placed in narrow long pits, blocking the keel and resting the sides on the old tires, so that in the event of a cyclone with a strong wind they cannot overturn. In the illustrations, we have indicated some places in the world where you can leave lodku.
A few years ago, a couple of our friends managed to organize their work in such a way that they carved out a year of freedom for themselves. They wanted to make a voyage on a sailboat, long enough, in warm latitudes. When they asked for advice, my first answer was that a year is too short, that the sea requires more time, that you can’t and shouldn’t rush on a boat, and other similar platitudes. But then I tried to take their place, thought a little and got this route: leaving Suez in February, descending the Red Sea, crossing the Indian Ocean with the monsoonom and back also with the monsoon, returning through Suez at the end of February next year. A total of 7,500 miles, mostly with fair winds and a wide variety of weather conditions: monsoons, trade winds, equatorial calms. Very beautiful places. Not an easy cruise, only for those who really love long voyages. The only condition is to leave and return from Cyprus and leave the boat there in anticipation of a more favorable season in the Mediterranean to return home.
3.1. From Suez to Bab Al Mandab: 1100 miles. Out at the end of February. The Red Sea is beautiful and it will take a couple of months to pass it calmly. Sailing along the coasts of Egypt, Sudan and Eritrea with a constant fair wind. Amazing scenery, pristine sea, sunny beaches, turtles, ospreys, secluded anchorages in the middle of the desert. As the miles go astern, the temperature rises and gets hotter. There are hundreds of natural ports for stops, but there are only three places for replenishing supplies: Hurghada in Egypt, Port Suden in Sudan and Massawa in Eritrea.
3.2. From Bab Al Mandab to Socotra: 600 miles. Period: end of April. This crossing is best done without stopping, as the shores are not very safe. In late April or early May the wind is usually light or variable and may take 5 to 15 days. You can stop at Socotra only if the sea is calm. At one time they said that there are pirates there. We stayed for a week and didn't see any pirates. The island is beautiful and wild, but there is nowhere to replenish supplies.
3.3. Socotra to Maldives: 1300 miles. Period: second half of May. Sailing with the southwest monsoon, which begins in May and immediately becomes strong and gusty, with thunderstorms and intensification. Quick transition to Gulfwind. Guaranteed speed and comfort. Duration of ten days. The sea around the Maldives is very beautiful, but anchorages are difficult, as the depths are very deep. Arrival at the end of May and stay there during June and half of July.
3.4. Maldives to India: 350 miles. Period: end of July. Easy transition. You can go to India (Cochin) or Sri Lanka (Galle). Very bright, exotic, country full of character. Parking for a month is required.
3.5. From India to Chagos: 900 miles along the border of the equatorial calm zone. Period: beginning of September. Before leaving, it is necessary to make good supplies, since there is nothing on the Chagos except coconuts, crabs and fish. The first part of the transition with the monsoon, then the equatorial calms and near the Chagos the zone of southeast trade winds begins. The archipelago consists of two atolls and a dozen islands. Landscapes from postcards. The sea is full of fish. Maybe you will meet another sailboat there, maybe not. Worth staying there for a month or more.
3.6. Chagos to Aden: 1900 miles. Period, November. It is necessary to rise to the north, cross the zone of calm before entering the northeast monsoon, which sets in November. It is a light and dry wind with blue skies and moderate seas. There is not much choice in Aden, but basic supplies can be replenished.
3.7. Aden to Suez: 1200 miles. December to February. Starting from December, in the southern part of the Red Sea, the wind will be favorable, then all the time in a tack. It takes time and patience to move forward in small steps. Two months is enough. Return to the Mediterranean at the end of February, when signs of spring are already visible.
Attention! These are just general considerations. You can't take them literally. Everyone should plan according to their own requirements and beliefs. So if someone has to struggle for weeks with unexpected headwinds or incessant torrential rains in a season that should be dry and clear, or when .... he should not put the blame for this on us.
In recent years, there has been a fashion for Round The World Rally, or around the world as part of a flotilla. Lots of sailboats that leave together for safety reasons sail together, call at ports together and sail further along pre-planned routes to avoid any accidents. In our opinion, this way of travel is nonsense. No adventures, no loneliness, no deserted bays at sunset... Imagine fifty sailboats that come to the same place, to the anchorage, where perhaps there are not even thirty in a year. Prices for beegu swell like crazy. What restaurant owner or merchant would pass up an opportunity to capitalize on a crowd of people who are starving from long days of sailing and who, moreover, must stockpile for the next leg? You can not even say that the crews of these sailboats do not learn anything about the reality, history and habits of the people of the country in which they arrived. They will tidy up the boats for the next crossing, meet other crews, tell how the previous leg went, even though they did it daily on the radio, and overeat on barbecue, which will be organized every other day. In addition, participation in the rally is expensive and does not give much in return. In the vast majority of countries in the world, there is no need to travel in large crowds for mutual protection. There is no misunderstanding that cannot be resolved by common sense. If the country is not safe, it is much better not to go there at all than to go in a crowd, strong with the idea that there is strength in unity. This looks like an invasion!