After sailing around the Caribbean for the winter, we are ready to complete the Atlantic Circuit and return to Europe. This is a passage that sailors have been making for hundreds of years and we’re excited to be joining that group. Last November we met with the ARC group in Las Palmas di Gran Canaria to make the crossing to the Caribbean along with 250 other yachts. You can read about our planning, our preparation and our experiences enroute on this traditional passage westbound from Europe. The full passage log with a map and daily log of the adventure is a good read as well. Enjoy!
After the frivolaties of enjoying the winter in a warm, sunny and tropical place we are ready to begin our journey home. Planning for this passage will mimic most of the preparation we did for the first half of the circuit last fall but there are a few things different. First of all we decided not to go back with the ARC group. Our experiences with what the group provided vs what it cost to participate along with their mandatory course way out of the way to Bermuda to pick up sailors from the USA rather than proceeding on a more direct route convinced me to pass them by this time. The illusions of safety this group provides is not worth much as soon as you cast your lines off the dock and get away from land.
With 8,000nm of sailing under my belt along with Sean, a RYA Yachtmaster and an instructor, my cousin Murray from Australia (a keen sailor in his own right) and Bruce, a crewmate borrowed from Professional Yacht Delivery we feel that we have a strong crew ready to make our safe passage back to Europe. Coupled with the wisdom in Alastair Buchman’s An Atlantic Circuit and my meteorological skills honed from 20 years of aviation, we think we’ve got a good portion of it figured out. Sean has already done this return passage but from Newfoundland, Canada almost ten years ago so while some of this will be new to him (i.e. leaving from the Caribbean instead of from up north), a lot will be the same. His experience and knowledge will be key to our success as well.
We expect to be able to leave around May 1st from Antigua and make our way north for 3-4 days until we get on the frontside of a low that will help propel us northeastwards until we get on top of the Azore High which should help us in our easterly direction. It’s a time-honored route so no brilliant strategy here however all this is tempered with the knowledge that weather will play a huge part in helping us deciding when to go and what to do while we’re enroute.
Contrary to our passage across the south Atlantic with the wind in back of us, we will most likely be beating windward into 2-3 meter seas. Not a fun prospect but once we get north enough we should be able to turn east and hopefully get some westerlies to reach with.
In the meantime, we begin our preparation of the yacht by inspecting all systems, doing a rig and steering check and provisioning the boat with food for the long passage. Our expecations are that best case it will take us 2 1/2 weeks and worse case almost a month. We need to be ready for either!