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So you want to sail around the world. Now what?

By Author Fiona McGlynn

Posted on Last updated: November 20, 2023

Sailing around the world is a major undertaking, but you don’t have to be super rich, athletic, or have salt water running in your veins to do it.

I know bluewater cruisers and round-the-world sailors from all walks of life: young couples,  single women ,  families with kids , and an  85-year-old Reverand .

Man and woman on sailboat celebrating an equator crossing

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When I was in my late twenties, my husband, Robin, and I spent three years sailing 13,000 nautical miles from Vancouver, Canada to Mexico and then across the Pacific to Australia in our 35-foot sailboat.

We didn’t complete a full circumnavigation of the world—our goal was to reach Australia—but that’s pretty common for cruisers our age (I’ll talk more about routes and timelines below).

I grew up dinghy sailing and Robin had no sailing experience at all. We had office jobs, average incomes, and knew almost nothing about bluewater sailing when we started. 

It was two years from buying our boat to casting off the dock lines and setting sail. However, we did 95% of our preparation in the year before we left. This just goes to show how quickly you can go from “dreamer” to “doer”.

woman and man on sailboat

How to sail around the world

For every bluewater cruiser I know, I can think of dozens of “armchair sailors” who dream of sailing around the world but never get out and do it.

Why? There are some big hurdles to overcome before you set sail: getting offshore experience, finding the right boat, outfitting it with all the right gear, learning how to be self-sufficient, and fixing things that break. 

Not to mention finding a way to finance it all.

There’s also a strong psychological and social element: “What will my parents, friends, and colleagues think?” “Will I be able to find work again with a big hole in my resume?”

Going bluewater cruising is a radical departure from the norm and an entirely new way of living. You’ll be faced with challenges, but that’s what makes it such an incredible experience.

If you want easy travel, get a camper van. Sailing around the world is a life-changing adventure. 

So, I wanted to share how we made our transition from landlubbers to bluewater cruisers and share a few resources to help you on your way.

woman walking down white sand beach with blue kayak in background

1. Get some offshore sailing experience

Sure sailing around the world sounds romantic—the freedom of the open ocean, sunsets on a beach in Bora Bora, sipping fresh water from a coconut you picked yourself (words of caution: climbing a palm is much harder than it looks!).

But are you willing to put up with  the not-so-fun stuff  that comes with it?  Seasickness , scary conditions, sleep deprivation from  sailing at night , repairing your boat when it breaks (which it will), and being thousands of miles from friends and family?

Some of the best moments in my life were on the boat, but I’ve also had experiences that put me way out of my comfort zone.

It’s not simply a matter of being  mentally tough  (though that helps), some people are just never going to enjoy the sailing life.

Woman in yellow float suit at the helm of a sailboat

The question is: is it right for you? What about your partner, your kids, or whoever else is coming along for the ride? 

Bluewater sailing can blow up relationships. I’ve heard many stories about sailing couples investing tens of thousands in their boats, only to set sail and discover that one or both of them hate it. 

So, before you buy a bluewater boat, quit your job, or give up your studio apartment, you (and your crew mates) should  go and get some offshore sailing experience . 

Spending a week on an offshore passage will not only teach you valuable skills, but it will also give you a taste of the challenges and joys that come with bluewater cruising.

There are plenty of ways to get experience if you don’t already own a boat:

  • Take a course at an  offshore sailing school
  • Try  sailboat hitchhiking
  • Look for crewing opportunities (or pay for a spot) on a rally boat in the  ARC  (Atlantic Ocean crossing),  Pacific Puddle Jump  (Pacific Ocean crossing), or  Baja Haha  (San Diego to Cabo). 
  • Become a crew member on a friend’s boat 

woman and man on dock dressed in Halloween costumes

2. Find your community and immerse yourself in cruising culture

If you want to go cruising, you’re going to need a support network of people who’ve been there and done it.

We received so much help leading up to our trip (and along the way). Our liveaboard friends and neighbors in Vancouver helped us fix up our engine, rewire our boat, and find a great deal on a new set of sails, just to name a few. 

There are lots of ways to  find your sailing community , either online or in person. I highly recommend mooring your boat in a  liveaboard marina , where you’ll likely be surrounded by other bluewater cruisers.

You can also learn a lot from other people’s stories. Immerse yourself in bluewater cruising culture: read the  classic sailing books , subscribe to a magazine like  Good Old Boat  or  Cruising World , listen to  sailing podcasts , and follow a few  sailing Youtube channels  or  sailors on Instagram .

People on beach and sinking catamaran sailboat

3. Make a plan

There are many different routes for sailing around the world. Most cruisers sail the easier legs—following the trade winds across the Atlantic and Pacific, transitting the Panama Canal —and spend their time exploring beautiful places and cruising grounds like the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, and New Zealand. 

Only a few cruisers take on the harder routes—transiting the Northwest passage, Southern Ocean, or Indian Ocean (perhaps you’ve heard of the infamous Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope?).

For route planning, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Jimmy Cornell’s  World Voyage Planner  which shows you how to sail from anywhere in the world to…well, anywhere in the world.

Five boats anchored in anchorage with turquoise water in Mexico

How long does it take to sail around the world?

The current world record for sailing around the world is 40 days, 23 hours, and 30 minutes (IDEC 3, skippered by Francis Joyon). But unless you’re going for the speed record, you’re going to want to visit the different countries you sail to.

I know cruisers who’ve circumnavigated in as little as five years and others who spend decades making the big loop. 

Two people kiteboarding in Bora Bora

In my experience, it doesn’t pay to be in a rush because inevitably things don’t go to plan.

Your boat will break down and need repair which often means spending time in a boatyard. 

You may find yourself waiting weeks if not months for crucial parts. 

You may need to fly home in the middle of your cruise (as we did) when a relative is ill or dies. 

Or, you may just fall in love with one of the remote places you visit and want to stay for a while.

Bad weather and hurricane season will dictate when and where you sail. For example, we had originally planned to cross the Pacific in 2016, but we didn’t feel ready. So, we waited a whole year for the right conditions and crossed in the spring of 2017.

My recommendation is to give yourself a minimum of three years to trial the cruising life . Make a plan but don’t be disappointed if you have to throw it to the winds.

Woman and man getting married in registry office

4. Make a cruising budget

When people learned that we were traveling the world on our sailboat, they often assumed that we were independently wealthy, which couldn’t have been further from the truth!

We’ve cruised for as little as $1000 a month, but when it comes to cruising budgets, the sky is the limit. It all depends on:

  • Your boat . Smaller boats cost less to buy and maintain.
  • Destinations . We found places like Mexico and Fiji very affordable, while places like French Polynesia and Australia were quite expensive. 
  • Your timeline. Most of the young cruisers we knew were on three-year timelines (because that’s what they could afford). The retirees and families we met often had the financial means to cruise for longer (sometimes indefinitely). Some had houses that they rented, and others would take breaks in places like New Zealand where they worked regular jobs.
  • Whether you’re willing to work along the way. We wrote for sailing magazines while we were cruising, but it wasn’t enough money to fund our trip. We mostly relied on savings. With technology like Starlink and the post-pandemic remote work boom, it’s probably easier today to  earn money while cruising . However, cruising is a full-time job. It can be challenging to cover ground while keeping up with work commitments
  • Your lifestyle. As I mentioned, it’s possible to  sail around the world on a budget . But we lived pretty rough: no air-conditioning, no freezer, no hot water—at one point, we hadn’t taken a shower for 8 months!

When making your budget, I’d suggest perusing a few  sailing blogs  where cruisers post their monthly expense. 

Also, there are plenty of  creative ways to finance a sailboat . Some people even manage to  travel the world for free by buying and selling their boats in the right markets . 

Woman in white shirt on a sailboat gesturing to land

5. Buy a bluewater boat

You can’t sail around the world in any old sailboat.  Bluewater boats have specific design characteristics  that make them appropriate for offshore sailing. 

I love data, so I made a list of the  best bluewater sailboats  by looking at 2,000 boats that were entered in the Pacific Puddle Jump, a cross-Pacific rally, over the last decade. We also have a list of  smaller boats  which I recommend if you’re on a budget.

Once you have your list, you can get busy searching YachtWorld, Craigslist, and these other  great places to buy used boats . 

Sailboat anchored with sunset

Keep in mind that a bluewater boat isn’t necessarily a seaworthy boat. It may have structural damage, unsound rigging, or need an expensive retrofit. Uncover any lurking issues (and know what they’ll cost to fix) before you sign on the dotted line.

We had a very in-depth  boat checklist  that we used to inspect every boat we considered buying. We also hired an accredited marine surveyor, twice, to survey every detail of our boat. The first time was for the purchase, the second time was when we were preparing to go offshore.

For more on how to search,  understand boat values , and close the deal, check out our series on  how to buy a boat .

Man in red shorts climbing rock next to waterfall

6. Live on your boat

The next big step on your cruising journey will be moving onto your boat.

We lived on our boat for two years before we set sail and it taught us so much about the boat (read: what needed to be fixed) as well as ourselves (and whether we could handle close-quarter life).

By moving aboard you’ll learn if living on a boat is right for you  and your family. You can also save a bunch of money for your trip. After two years of living aboard, our rent savings paid for the purchase of our boat.

Woman smiling and eating lobster in cockpit of sailboat

7. Prepare yourself

Preparing yourself for going offshore is a major undertaking. You’ll need to learn advanced navigation, weather, and excellent seamanship, among other things.

It’s not enough to know the theory. Get out and practice with your gear and become comfortable with maneuvers like reefing,  heaving to , sailing downwind with a pole out genoa , and  anchoring under sail .

In addition, you should become intimately familiar with your boat’s systems. Sailboats break down at sea (here are the  most common problems ). So, you have to be capable of fixing your boat when you’re hundreds of miles from shore. 

Woman smiling and holding courtesy flags

Become an expert in your boat’s electrical system , propulsion, rigging, sails, and plumbing, before you go.

When the pandemic hit, a lot of sailing education moved online. Now there are plenty of great  online sailing courses  covering everything from learning the parts of a sailboat to celestial navigation.

That being said you can’t beat on-the-water instruction and offshore experience (see #1 for offshore sailing courses). 

man and woman look out over boatyard

8. Outfit your boat

Preparing your boat for offshore will take dedicated effort and money, especially if it’s an older boat that’s not been previously equipped for bluewater sailing.

In addition to fixing existing issues and replacing old equipment, you’ll want to add offshore gear like a  watermaker , a boom brake , downwind sails , self-steering wind vane, life raft,  satellite phone , AIS, solar panels, and inverter. 

Not to mention all the spare parts you’ll need to keep these systems running. 

Needless to say, outfitting can get pretty expensive but you can save money by buying used boat parts and second-hand sails .

We spent six months in the boatyard, working full-time on our 1979 Dufour 35 to get her ready to sail. We built a solar arch , installed panels, replaced our rigging, added a roller furler, replaced our anchoring setup, removed 30 years of antifouling paint, and much much more. 

Ripped spinnaker

9. Do a shakedown cruise

Next, it’s time to test your boat (and yourself) by taking it on a shakedown cruise. The idea of a shakedown is to test your boat’s performance after any major changes or repairs. The goal is to find any issues (and fix them) before going farther afield. 

We circumnavigated Vancouver Island for our shakedown cruise. It took us a little over a month and allowed us to test our systems in a variety of conditions including ocean swell, fast currents, and light and moderate wind speeds.

Despite checking and fixing every system on our boat over the preceding months, we still had issues. Our engine quit, we struggled to get our wind vane working, and we had to make a few adaptations to our brand-new sails. But that’s the whole point of a shakedown cruise!

Two women and a man plant a palm tree

10. Go now!

“Go small, go simple, go now” is a popular cruising philosophy and one that we adhere to.

Life is short and we’ve seen poor health and other life situations bring cruising adventures to a halt.

There’s no ideal time to go cruising. You can be young or old, with or without kids, retired or working. 

Certainly don’t wait until you can afford a larger boat. A  small boat  was our ticket to cruising early in life because it made it more affordable. 

If your dream is to sail around the world, start working towards your cruising dream NOW. You won’t regret it.

Man and woman on ferry with Sydney Harbor in the background

Let us know how we can help you on your bluewater journey and what topics you’d like to learn more about by leaving us a message in the comments.

Fiona McGlynn

Fiona McGlynn is an award-winning boating writer who created Waterborne as a place to learn about living aboard and traveling the world by sailboat. She has written for boating magazines including BoatUS, SAIL, Cruising World, and Good Old Boat. She’s also a contributing editor at Good Old Boat and BoatUS Magazine. In 2017, Fiona and her husband completed a 3-year, 13,000-mile voyage from Vancouver to Mexico to Australia on their 35-foot sailboat.

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  • Navigating Dreams: A Comprehensive Guide to Sailing Around the World

Sailing around the world is an epic adventure that offers unparalleled freedom, breathtaking vistas, and an opportunity to test your limits like never before. It's a journey that takes you through calm waters, stormy seas, and everything in between, allowing you to experience the beauty and diversity of our planet in a deeply personal way. Whether you're drawn to the romance of the open sea or the challenge of navigating through unknown waters, this guide is designed to help you prepare, embark, and thrive on your round-the-world sailing expedition.

Preparing for Your Journey

Choosing the right sailboat is paramount to a successful voyage. It's not just about size and comfort but also seaworthiness and ease of handling. Equipping your vessel with essential gear and supplies, from navigation tools to emergency rations, cannot be overlooked. Moreover, possessing a solid foundation in sailing skills, first aid, and weather forecasting is crucial for your safety and enjoyment.

Navigating the Seas

Understanding weather patterns and mastering navigation techniques are vital for plotting your course and making informed decisions at sea. Safety protocols, including regular drills and maintaining your vessel, ensure that you're prepared for any situation, whether it's a man-overboard incident or equipment failure.

The Best Routes to Sail Around the World

Choosing the best route for your sailing adventure depends on various factors, including the time of year, your sailing experience, and what you want to see and do along the way. Popular routes take advantage of prevailing winds and currents, making your journey more efficient and enjoyable. Timing your adventure is key to avoiding extreme weather and making the most of your port calls.

Life at Sea

Life at sea is a unique experience, characterized by daily routines that keep your vessel running smoothly, managing provisions to last between port calls, and dealing with the mental challenges of isolation. It's also a time for personal growth, reflection, and connection with nature.

Port Calls and Culture

One of the most enriching aspects of sailing around the world is the opportunity to make port calls in a myriad of different countries, each with its own unique culture, traditions, and landscapes. These stops are not just necessary for resupplying your vessel but are golden opportunities to immerse yourself in the local way of life, learn from the people you meet, and experience the world in a way that few other forms of travel can offer.

Read our top notch articles on topics such as sailing, sailing tips and destinations in our Magazine .

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Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Sailing around the world is not without its challenges, from unexpected weather conditions to mechanical failures and health emergencies. Being prepared, staying calm, and having contingency plans in place are essential for overcoming these obstacles.

Stories from the Sea

The sea has always been a source of tales that stir the imagination and inspire the soul. For those who choose to sail around the world, the ocean becomes not just a path but a place where stories of adventure, endurance, and discovery are written in the vast expanse of water under the endless sky. These stories, shared among sailors and with those they meet on their journey, carry the essence of the sea and the spirit of exploration. There are tales of narrow escapes from danger, whether it be from the wrath of nature or the challenges posed by mechanical failures far from help. Then, there are stories of serendipitous encounters with marine wildlife, reminding us of the wonders of the natural world and our place within it.

Returning Home

After months or even years at sea, returning home can be a bittersweet experience. You'll likely find that you've changed in many ways, and adjusting back to life on land can take some time. Reflection on your journey and sharing your experiences with others can be a rewarding way to close this chapter of your life.

How to Get Started

Embarking on a round-the-world sailing trip requires thorough planning and preparation. Start by gaining as much sailing experience as possible, familiarising yourself with different types of boats, and deciding what kind of journey you're looking for. Budgeting, route planning, and preparing your boat are next steps. Don't forget to consider visa requirements, insurance, and the potential need for a crew.

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Kraken Travel

Kraken Travel Sailing Holidays

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Sailing Around the World: How to Get Started

Sailing around the world is the ultimate adventure, and it starts right here..

Sailing around the world is a dream for many people. For adventurous spirits, it conjures up images of navigating the wide open ocean, visiting far-flung corners of the world and living the simple life guided by Mother Nature. And the good news is that contrary to what many may think, a sailing trip around the world is well within reach of the average person.

You don’t need to be a hardened salty dog to do it. But before you set sail on an amazing adventure around the world, have a look at our guide about sailing around the world to bring you up to speed about what to do and expect, and most of all, how to get started.

How To Sail Around the World

There are many different ways to go about sailing around the world. Each option comes with its unique set of considerations. Opting to sail with your own boat offers unmatched freedom to customise the journey, and select preferred routes. However, this choice demands substantial financial commitment, meticulous vessel preparation, and a significant level of sailing experience.

sailboat to sail around the world

Joining a round-the-world trip, such as the popular World ARC (World Cruising Club’s Atlantic Rally for Cruisers), has a softer level of entry. The rally offers a structured and supported approach to round-the-world travel, combining the thrill of adventure with professional guidance and a ready-made community of fellow sailors.

You can participate with your own yacht or join the crew of someone else’s. Experienced World ARC sailors like Ian and Fiona love to share their epic adventures with sailors of all levels, making it a great option for those new to sailing, or without any prior sailing experience who want to partake in just one leg of the journey.

The Best Time to Sail Around the World

The best time to sail around the world depends on several factors, including the chosen route, seasonal variations, and the sailor’s preferences regarding weather conditions and cultural encounters. Meticulous planning and continuous monitoring of weather patterns are indispensable for a successful and enjoyable circumnavigation. Careful consideration of the optimal timing to ensure a safe and comfortable journey across diverse climates and ocean conditions.

Many circumnavigators adhere to established trade wind routes, beginning their journey in regions like Europe and crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter to benefit from favourable easterly trade winds.

sailboat to sail around the world

Timing plays a crucial role in avoiding hurricane seasons in the Atlantic from June to November and cyclone seasons in the South Pacific from November to April. For the challenging Southern Ocean, circumnavigators often opt for the Southern Hemisphere’s summer between December and February to minimise exposure to extreme weather conditions.

Navigating the Pacific Ocean involves monitoring El Niño and La Niña events, which can impact weather patterns. The Southern Hemisphere’s winter, between May and August, is generally preferred for sailing across the Pacific and Indian Oceans .

For an Atlantic crossing, particularly from the Caribbean to Europe, sailors wait for favourable weather windows, usually in late spring or early summer, to ensure smoother passages. Timing the journey through the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia requires avoiding the monsoon seasons – the northeast monsoon from November to March and the southwest monsoon from June to September.

Beyond weather considerations, circumnavigators often align their journeys with personal preferences and cultural experiences. Some choose to time their passages to coincide with specific cultural festivals or events in the countries they plan to visit.

Routes to Sail Around the World

There are several established routes to sail around the world. Selecting the most suitable route for a global circumnavigation is an important decision, influenced by factors such as prevailing winds, ocean currents, and seasonal weather patterns.

The Eastward Route

The eastward route involves sailing against the Earth’s rotation, navigating from west to east. This route typically follows the prevailing winds known as the “Roaring Forties” and “Furious Fifties” in the Southern Hemisphere. Sailors often encounter challenging weather conditions, including strong westerly winds and rough seas. Notable eastward routes include passages through the Southern Ocean, around the Cape of Good Hope, and navigating the vast Pacific Ocean.

The Westward Route

Sailing the westward means sailing with the Earth’s rotation, from east to west. This route often follows trade wind routes, such as the North and South Trade Winds in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Westward-bound sailors typically navigate around the Cape of Good Hope, cross the Indian Ocean, and may traverse the Panama Canal.

The Trade Wind Route

Following the trade winds, sailors might depart from Europe and sail southward to cross the Atlantic via the Cape Verde Islands. After crossing the Atlantic, they navigate the Panama Canal and continue across the Pacific, rounding the Cape of Good Hope, and returning to Europe.

The Classic Circumnavigation

The classic route often starts in Europe, crossing the Atlantic to the Caribbean via the Canary Islands. From the Caribbean, sailors traverse the Panama Canal to enter the Pacific Ocean. This route typically involves circumnavigating the globe in an eastward direction.

sailboat to sail around the world

The Red Sea Route

The Red Sea route serves as a crucial passage for sailors travelling between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. Sailors enter the Red Sea through the Suez Canal, providing a more direct route and bypassing the need to sail around the southern tip of Africa. However, the route has faced security challenges such as piracy and geopolitical tensions in the area.

The Southern Ocean Route

Adventurous sailors often opt for a Southern Ocean route, starting in the Southern Hemisphere and circumnavigating Antarctica. This route passes through challenging latitudes, including the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties, known for their strong westerly winds.

The Clipper Route

Inspired by the traditional clipper ship routes, this historical route involves sailing from Europe to Australia and the Far East via the Cape of Good Hope. Sailors then cross the Pacific, rounding Cape Horn, and return to Europe via the Atlantic.

The Transpacific Route

Some circumnavigators choose a predominantly Pacific route, sailing from the west coast of the Americas across the Pacific, exploring islands such as Tahiti, Fiji , and Australia, before rounding the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn to return home.

sailboat to sail around the world

The Northern Route

A more unconventional route involves sailing through the Arctic Circle, navigating the Northwest Passage and possibly continuing through the Northeast Passage. This route offers a unique Arctic Ocean exploration experience but requires careful planning due to ice conditions.

The World ARC Rally

The World ARC (World Cruising Club’s Around the World Rally) provides a structured and supported route for circumnavigators. This rally typically starts in the Caribbean, crosses the Panama Canal, explores the South Pacific, and Indian Ocean, and returns via the Atlantic.

Benefits of Joining the World ARC Rally

An existing crew on the World ARC already has an ocean-crossing-ready yacht, so you don’t have to worry about getting one. You also get an immediate sense of community and camaraderie, as you become part of a team sharing the adventure. Sailing with experienced crew members gives you the opportunity to learn and develop your skills, especially if you’re new to sailing or long-distance cruising.

The logistical aspects of the journey, including route planning and safety measures, are often handled by the experienced crew and rally organisers, making the experience smoother and offering a level of security for participants.

One of the best things about joining a crew on the World ARC is that you can join for one leg, many legs, or the entire journey, making it an extremely flexible option if you can’t take a year and a bit off to go sailing around the world.

How Long Does It Take to Sail Around the World?

It usually takes around 100 days to sail around the world non-stop. However, the duration of a global circumnavigation varies widely. Direct eastward or westward routes along the equator cover approximately 15,000 to 25,000 nautical miles, but most circumnavigators opt for longer routes to explore islands and continents, significantly extending the journey.

Sailing yachts typically cover 100 to 150 nautical miles per day, depending on design, size, and wind conditions. Strategies vary, with non-stop circumnavigations taking around 100 days, while cruisers may prefer a leisurely pace over several years, allowing for extended stays in ports and exploration.

Circumnavigators often plan around seasonal weather patterns, resulting in extended stays in specific regions. The time spent in ports, cultural exploration, and participation in events significantly influences the overall duration.

What You Need to Sail Around the World

Besides the usual provisions and safety considerations, things like essential documents, medical necessities, and cultural sensitivity are also important. Ensure that your passport is valid and that you have the required travel visas for the countries you’ll be visiting, make sure you are up to date with relevant vaccinations and that you have a sufficient supply of prescription medications.

sailboat to sail around the world

On your trip, you will meet different cultures that may be completely different to yours. Research these cultures, including local customs, and language (even if you only know how to say “hello”) and learn how to interact with other cultures with respect. This will make your journey so much more enjoyable and rewarding.

Can Anyone Sail Around the World?

Yes! Really the only prerequisite is a sense of adventure. Sailing around the world doesn’t necessarily require extensive sailing experience if you are joining a crew and not sailing your own yacht. But even still there are various routes and options that cater to varying skill levels. While sailing experience definitely helps, the accessibility of global sailing adventures has expanded, allowing anyone to tick off this massive bucket list adventure.

If you’re not sure whether you’ve got what it takes to sail all the way around the world, you can join someone else’s crew for one or two legs to get a taste of it. There are many options, from joining a laid-back leg or two on the World ARC to jumping into the adrenaline-pumping action of round-the-world racing in the Ocean Race.

Notable People Who Have Sailed Around the World

Embarking on a global circumnavigation is a feat achieved by a diverse array of individuals, each with their unique motivations, challenges, and inspiring stories. Numerous sailors have etched their names in maritime history through remarkable circumnavigation achievements.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

In 1969, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston became the first person to complete a solo non-stop circumnavigation aboard his yacht, Suhaili, as part of the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race. His journey took approximately 312 days.

sailboat to sail around the world

Laura Dekker

Laura Dekker, a Dutch sailor, achieved global recognition in 2012 when, at the age of 16, she completed a solo circumnavigation aboard her yacht, Guppy. Her journey spanned over a year, making her the youngest person to sail solo around the world at the time.

Francois Gabart

In 2017 French sailor Francois Gabart broke the record for fastest single-handed circumnavigation, completing the journey in 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes, and 35 seconds, beating the previous record by almost a week. Gabart achieved the record for sailing a multihull, the record for monohulls is held by another Frenchman, Armel Le Cléac’h, setting a time of 74 days, 3 hours and 35 minutes.

Joshua Slocum

Joshua Slocum, a Canadian sailor, achieved the first recorded solo circumnavigation between 1895 and 1898 aboard his yacht, Spray. His detailed account of the journey, “Sailing Alone Around the World,” remains a classic in maritime literature.

Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz

Following in Slocum’s footsteps, Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz made history as the first woman to solo circumnavigate the globe. Sailing on the Mazurek from February 28, 1976, to April 21, 1978, she conquered the Southern Ocean, rounded the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn, and crossed the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

sailboat to sail around the world

The Crew of Maiden

The crew of Maiden, led by Tracy Edwards, made waves in 1989 when they became the first all-female team to compete in the Whitbread Round the World Race (now known as The Ocean Race). This feat won Edwards the Yachtsman of the Year Trophy, the first woman to receive this prestigious award.

Jeanne Socrates

In 2019, at the age of 77, Jeanne Socrates became the oldest woman to complete a solo non-stop and unassisted circumnavigation. Her 330 journey aboard the yacht Nereida also broke a world record for the oldest person to sail around the world solo, nonstop and unassisted. In 2020 Socrates lost her record to 81-year-old Bill Hatfield, however, there was some controversy regarding his route, as it didn’t sail around the ‘Five Great Capes’.

Sail Around the World Yacht Races

Participating in a sail-around-the-world yacht race is a thrilling and challenging endeavour that attracts seasoned sailors and adventurous novices alike. These races offer a unique opportunity to test sailing skills, navigate diverse conditions, and experience the camaraderie of a global sailing community.

The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

The Clipper Race is one of the most renowned yacht races, circumnavigating the globe in a series of challenging legs in specially designed identical yachts. What sets it apart is its inclusivity, allowing individuals with minimal sailing experience to join as “crew” under the guidance of professional skippers. Crew members sign up for one or more legs of the race, covering various global destinations.

Vendée Globe

The Vendée Globe is the world’s only solo, non-stop, and unassisted yacht race that circumnavigates the globe. It is known for its extreme challenges and demands on skippers, testing their endurance and sailing skills to their limits. In 2020, Kraken sponsored close friend Pip Hare’s historic successful completion of this gruelling race.

sailboat to sail around the world

World ARC (World Cruising Club’s Around the World Rally)

The World ARC is designed as a cruising rally, offering a structured and supported route for circumnavigators. It typically spans 15 to 18 months and covers a diverse range of destinations, allowing participants to explore the world in a well-organised manner.

Golden Globe Race

The Golden Globe Race is a retro race that pays homage to the original Sunday Times Golden Globe Race of 1968. Held every 4 years, participants sail solo, non-stop, using vintage yachts and equipment available during the race’s inception. The race ultimately led to the founding of the Vendée Globe race.

The Ocean Race

Formerly known as the Volvo Ocean Race and the Whitbread Round the World Race, The Ocean Race is a global team event that circumnavigates the world with a series of challenging offshore legs. Professional sailing teams compete in state-of-the-art offshore racing yachts. The race covers some of the world’s most treacherous waters, testing the limits of sailing skill and strategy.

sailboat to sail around the world

Kraken offers the opportunity to experience what it’s like racing on an Ocean Race yacht, with spots on former Ocean Race competitors, the VO65 Sisi and the VO70 Green Dragon .

Sailing around the world is the ultimate adventure, and whether you’re a seasoned sailor or have never set foot on a sailing yacht before, you can make it a reality. Join a round-the-world sailing trip, charter a yacht, join a racing team or take your own boat, such a big adventure has never been so accessible!

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Swan 51: atlantic crossing caribbean – europe spring 2025, from £4,350 per person, this is the trip of your life. the southern trade wind routes have very little to do with the northern route back to europe and you can prepare to meet the wild forces of nature., 17th july 2025 to 29th july 2025, volvo 70: green dragon – rolex fastnet 2025 race campaign, from £5,885 per person, join the prestigious rolex fastnet race 2025 on the revamped volvo 70: green dragon. sail, learn, and conquer in this ultimate offshore adventure., various dates available, world arc 2024 & 2025, a round-the-world adventure taking place over 15 months and covering 26,000 nm. following the classic trade winds route, the rally avoids regions of political instability, piracy and storm seasons., how we work.

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Sail Away Blog

Ultimate Guide: How to Sail Around the World – Expert Tips and Routes

Alex Morgan

sailboat to sail around the world

Taking up the challenge of sailing around the world is an exhilarating and rewarding endeavor that requires careful planning and preparation. Whether you are a seasoned sailor or a novice, embarking on this global adventure requires a comprehensive understanding of the various aspects involved. From gaining sailing experience and choosing the right boat to planning the route and equipping your vessel, each step is crucial for a successful journey. Understanding weather patterns , maintaining health and well-being, and knowing how to handle emergencies at sea are essential skills to possess. Interacting with different cultures along the way also adds a unique dimension to the experience. In this article, we will guide you through the process, providing valuable insights and tips on how to sail around the world.

Key takeaway:

  • Taking up the challenge: Sailing around the world requires determination and perseverance, but it can be a life-changing experience.
  • Preparing for the journey: Gaining sailing experience, choosing the right boat, and securing necessary documents are crucial steps before setting sail.
  • Planning your route: Selecting the best season, considering trade winds and currents, and identifying potential stops and ports are vital for a successful voyage.

Taking Up the Challenge: How to Sail Around the World

To embark on the challenge of sailing around the world , follow these steps:

1. Taking Up the Challenge: Gain sailing experience by learning navigation skills and sailing in various weather conditions.

2. Plan your route: Conduct thorough research on seasons, wind patterns, and potential hazards to chart the safest course.

3. Prepare your boat: Prioritize safety by equipping your boat with necessary safety gear, provisions, and performing regular maintenance checks.

4. Obtain necessary permits and visas: Ensure compliance with country entry requirements by obtaining the required permits and visas.

5. Study weather patterns: Familiarize yourself with meteorology to make informed navigation decisions and ensure a safe journey.

6. Create a watch schedule: Establish a rotation system to have someone always alert and attentive during long passages.

7. Stay connected: Invest in reliable communication devices to maintain communication with the outside world throughout your voyage.

8. Practice self-sufficiency: Acquire essential repair and maintenance skills to address any potential issues that may arise during the journey.

9. Be prepared for emergencies: Carry a well-stocked first aid kit and have emergency procedures in place to be ready for any unforeseen circumstances.

10. Enjoy the journey: Embrace the breathtaking views and savor the unique experiences encountered along the way.

Fact: Sailing around the world can be a voyage lasting anywhere from 1 to 3 years , depending on factors such as weather conditions, route choices, and boat speed.

Preparing for the Journey

Are you ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime? In this section, we’ll dive into the essential steps for preparing your journey as you set sail around the world. Discover the importance of gaining sailing experience , choosing the right boat , and securing the necessary documents . So, grab your compass and get ready to explore the thrilling world of global sailing!

Gaining Sailing Experience

When it comes to gaining sailing experience, there are steps you can take to build your skills and knowledge:

  • Take sailing lessons or enroll in a sailing school to learn navigation, boat handling, and safety protocols.
  • Join a yacht club or sailing community to connect with experienced sailors who can provide guidance and mentorship.
  • Participate in regattas or sailing races to practice skills in competitive environments and learn from more experienced sailors.
  • Crew on other people’s boats to gain practical experience and learn different sailing techniques.
  • Sail in different conditions , such as different weather conditions and types of waters, to cultivate proficiency in different sailing scenarios.
  • Stay up-to-date with sailing publications, books, and online resources to enhance theoretical understanding of sailing techniques, rules, and navigation.
  • Consider completing certifications such as the American Sailing Association (ASA) or Royal Yachting Association (RYA) to validate sailing skills.

Fact: Gaining sailing experience is crucial for a safe and enjoyable sailing journey around the world.

Choosing the Right Boat

When sailing around the world, picking the right boat is crucial for a successful and safe voyage. Consider these factors when selecting your vessel:

1. Size: Determine the boat’s size based on the number of crew members and trip duration. A larger boat offers more space and stability but may be harder to maneuver.

2. Construction: Look for a boat made of durable materials like fiberglass or aluminum. They resist damage from waves and weather conditions.

3. Design: Consider the boat’s layout, ensuring it has enough storage space, comfortable living quarters, and a functional deck for sailing.

4. Sail Rigging: Choose a boat with a sail rigging system that matches your sailing experience and preferences. Options range from traditional sloop rigs to modern catamarans.

5. Navigation Equipment: Ensure the boat has essential navigation instruments such as a compass, GPS, and radar for safe navigation.

An illustrative story underscores the importance of choosing the right boat. A couple attempted to sail worldwide on a small boat. Despite their experience, the boat lacked stability and safety features for long-distance cruising. They faced multiple challenges, including rough seas and equipment failures. Eventually, they had to abandon their journey and get rescued. This story emphasizes the need for thorough research and selection of a suitable boat for your sailing adventure.

Securing the Necessary Documents

Securing the necessary documents is crucial when preparing to sail around the world. Follow these steps:

1. Research the required documents for each country you plan to visit, including passports, visas, and cruising permits.

2. Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date to avoid complications.

3. Check the visa requirements for each country and apply well in advance. Some countries may have specific visa requirements, such as transit visas for shorter stopovers.

4. Obtain the necessary cruising permits or licenses for your vessel, providing proof of ownership and insurance.

5. Make copies of important documents, such as passports, visas, and permits. Keep these copies secure and carry them with you while sailing.

6. Consider getting international health insurance to cover medical emergencies while traveling.

7. Register your trip with your local embassy or consulate to receive assistance in emergencies or evacuations.

8. Stay updated on any changes in entry requirements or travel advisories for the countries you plan to visit.

Securing the necessary documents ensures a smooth and hassle-free journey around the world. It is advisable to start this process well in advance to allow for processing times or unexpected delays.

Planning Your Route

When it comes to sailing around the world, one of the most crucial aspects is planning your route. In this section, we’ll dive into the nitty-gritty details and explore how to select the best season for your voyage. We’ll also take a look at the importance of considering trade winds and currents in order to navigate efficiently. And of course, we’ll discuss the key factors to keep in mind when identifying potential stops and ports along your epic journey. Get ready to chart your course and make your sailing dreams a reality!

Selecting the Best Season

When planning a sailing journey around the world, selecting the best season is crucial. Consider factors such as weather conditions, navigation difficulties, visibility, chances of storms, and sea currents to help you determine the best season for your journey.

Typically, the summer months offer more stable weather conditions with calmer seas and lesser chances of storms. It is essential to research specific regions’ weather patterns as they can vary. For example, sailing through the Caribbean is best between December and April when the weather is pleasant with lower chances of hurricanes. Meanwhile, sailing across the Pacific may be best during the southern hemisphere’s summer months between November and April to take advantage of favorable winds.

Keep in mind that weather patterns can change, so it’s important to monitor forecasts and consult experienced sailors or local experts for accurate information to make the best decision.

Considering the Trade Winds and Currents

When considering a journey to sail around the world, it is crucial to incorporate the trade winds and currents into your planning. These natural forces can greatly impact the speed and direction of your voyage, making it essential to understand and take advantage of them.

The trade winds act as consistent winds that blow in specific directions in different parts of the world. By utilizing these winds, sailors can maintain a steady and efficient course.

Ocean currents resemble rivers within the ocean, flowing in various directions and speeds. By comprehending these currents, sailors can navigate more efficiently, ultimately saving both time and fuel.

To effectively plan your route, it is recommended to study weather charts, pilot books, and seek guidance from experienced sailors. This will help determine the best course to take full advantage of favorable winds and currents for each leg of your journey.

Remember that the timing of your departure is crucial as certain seasons may offer more favorable winds and currents. It is important to remain flexible and adjust your departure dates for a better sailing experience.

By considering the trade winds and currents , sailors can navigate their way around the world more efficiently, ultimately leading to smoother and faster passages.

Incorporating these factors into your planning is an essential aspect of ensuring a successful and enjoyable circumnavigation.

Identifying Potential Stops and Ports

When planning your journey to sail around the world, it is important to identify potential stops and ports. By doing so, you will have the opportunity to rest, resupply, and explore new destinations along the way. There are several important factors to consider when choosing these stops:

1. Research: It is essential to conduct thorough research in order to identify potential stops and ports that align with your travel goals. This includes taking into account the distance from your current location, the available facilities at each port, and the local attractions that may be of interest to you.

2. Navigation: To ensure a smooth journey, it is advisable to use nautical charts, guidebooks, and online resources to identify suitable ports. It is important to pay attention to any navigational hazards that may exist and ensure that the ports you choose have adequate mooring facilities available.

3. Infrastructure: Before selecting a port, it is crucial to check if it has the proper facilities to accommodate your vessel. This includes looking for marinas, anchorages, fuel stations, and repair services. By doing so, you can ensure safe docking and maintenance for your vessel.

4. Customs and Immigration: It is important to research the customs and immigration procedures for each potential stop in order to comply with local regulations. This includes planning enough time for clearance procedures and ensuring that you have all the necessary documents ready.

5. Safety and Security: Considering the safety and security of each stop is of utmost importance. It is advisable to look for ports that have a reputation for safety and low crime rates. Consulting experienced sailors or online communities for advice on port safety can provide valuable insights.

6. Local Attractions and Culture: It is important to take into account the attractions and cultural experiences available at each stop. Immersing yourself in different cultures, trying local cuisines, and exploring the beauty of each destination will enhance your journey.

By incorporating these considerations into your planning, you can ensure a more enjoyable and successful journey around the world.

Equipping Your Vessel

Equipping your vessel is crucial when embarking on a journey to sail around the world. In this section, we’ll explore key aspects such as ensuring safety equipment and first aid supplies , stocking up on food and water , and installing navigation and communication systems . Get ready to dive into the practical essentials that will make your sailing adventure safe and smooth, from the necessary gear to the provisions for sustenance and the tools for navigation.

Ensuring Safety Equipment and First Aid Supplies

When getting ready for a sailing adventure, it is essential to ensure the presence of safety equipment and first aid supplies. This will help protect both yourself and your crew. Here is a comprehensive list of the must-have items:

  • Life jackets: It is crucial for each person to have a properly fitted life jacket.
  • Flares and signaling devices: These items can effectively draw attention and assist rescuers in locating you during emergencies.
  • Fire extinguishers: Make sure to have fire extinguishers on board to swiftly extinguish any fires.
  • First aid kit: Include bandages, antiseptics, and medications for addressing injuries or illnesses.
  • Emergency radio: Use an emergency radio to communicate with the coast guard or other vessels in case of emergencies.
  • Navigation tools: Carry a compass, charts, and a GPS system to ensure safe navigation.

By having these safety equipment and first aid supplies, you will have peace of mind and be well-prepared for any unexpected situations that may arise during your sailing journey.

Fun Fact: The International Safety Management (ISM) Code has provisions in place that require the proper presence of safety equipment and first aid supplies on ships to ensure the safety of both the crew and passengers.

Stocking Up on Food and Water

When embarking on a global sailing expedition, it is vital to stock up on provisions, including an ample supply of food and water, to satisfy the crew’s sustenance and overall well-being.

For sustenance , it is recommended to procure non-perishable food items, such as canned goods, dried fruits, nuts, and energy bars. It is essential to take into account any dietary restrictions and crew preferences when selecting these items. The aim should be to have enough food to last the entire journey, while also considering additional supplies for unforeseen emergencies .

To meet hydration needs, it is important to ensure an adequate water supply. This can be achieved by calculating the daily water consumption per person and multiplying it by the duration of the trip. Factors such as climate, physical exertion, and possible delays should be considered in this calculation. It is advisable to invest in water storage containers and filtration systems to ensure safety during the voyage. Carrying extra water capacity is recommended for added security .

It is crucial to create a detailed provisioning plan for each leg of the journey, taking into account potential restocking points along the route. This plan should be adjusted based on the availability of supplies at these points.

To prevent damage or spoilage of provisions during rough seas, it is essential to have adequate storage space. Using lockers and securing items will help safeguard them. For the preservation of perishable items, it is crucial to rotate them regularly to maintain freshness and avoid waste. Prioritizing the consumption of items with shorter expiration dates is advisable. Proper food storage techniques should be followed to prevent contamination .

By adhering to these guidelines and diligently planning food and water supplies, you can ensure proper nourishment and hydration throughout your exciting sailing adventure.

Installing Navigation and Communication Systems

To sail around the world, install navigation and communication systems on your vessel. This ensures safety and effective navigation throughout your journey.

  • Choose a reliable GPS: Install a Global Positioning System (GPS) for accurate positioning information to determine your exact location at sea.
  • Install a marine VHF radio: A marine VHF radio is crucial for communication with other boats and coastguards. It allows distress calls, weather updates, and communication with nearby vessels.
  • Set up an AIS transponder: AIS transponders transmit your vessel’s information, such as position, speed, and course, to other vessels. This prevents collisions and enhances safety.
  • Install radar: Radar systems detect objects, land masses, and other vessels using radio waves. It provides valuable information during poor visibility or night navigation.
  • Consider satellite communication: Satellite communication systems keep you connected when out of traditional cellular networks. They provide weather updates, emergency services, and communication with loved ones onshore.

Pro-tip: Regularly test and maintain your navigation and communication systems to ensure optimal functionality before embarking on your journey. Familiarize yourself with their operation and keep spare parts or backup systems onboard as a precaution.

Understanding Weather Patterns

Weather patterns play a crucial role when it comes to sailing around the world. In this section, we’ll uncover the secrets to understanding these patterns. From learning how to interpret weather forecasts to navigating around tropical storms and heavy weather, we’ll equip you with the knowledge needed to sail safely. We’ll also explore how to tackle calms and light winds, ensuring you’re prepared for all conditions Mother Nature throws your way. Get ready to set sail with confidence!

Learning to Read Weather Forecasts

Learning to read weather forecasts is crucial for sailors. By understanding weather patterns, sailors can make informed decisions about when to set sail, avoid storms, and navigate through different wind conditions.

To read weather forecasts, sailors should analyze meteorological data such as wind direction , speed , atmospheric pressure , and cloud patterns . This information can be obtained from weather forecasting websites, radio broadcasts, and onboard weather instruments.

By interpreting weather forecasts, sailors can anticipate the behavior of weather systems and plan accordingly. For example, if a forecast predicts strong winds and storms , sailors can delay departure or seek shelter. Conversely, if the forecast indicates favorable conditions, sailors can plan longer passages and optimize their route using wind patterns.

Learning to read weather forecasts requires practice and knowledge of meteorological concepts. Sailors should familiarize themselves with weather symbols, terminology, and the use of weather instruments. It is important to stay updated with the latest forecasts throughout the journey to make necessary adjustments.

In a true story, a sailor named Lisa embarked on a solo circumnavigation. Her ability to interpret weather data and make informed decisions contributed to a safe and successful journey. Lisa learned the importance of constantly monitoring weather updates, trusting her instincts, and seeking advice from experienced sailors. Her newfound knowledge and skills in reading weather forecasts enhanced her confidence as a sailor.

Avoiding Tropical Storms and Heavy Weather

Stay updated on weather patterns and forecasts to anticipate the formation and movement of tropical storms and heavy weather.

Avoid areas prone to tropical storms and heavy weather by planning your route strategically.

Choose a time of the year when the likelihood of tropical storms and heavy weather is minimal in the regions you will be sailing through.

Utilize real-time weather information to avoid potential danger.

Stay in contact with other sailors, local authorities, and rescue services to receive timely warnings and advice regarding tropical storms and heavy weather.

Prepare your boat by securing loose items, reinforcing the rigging, and checking and maintaining essential equipment to withstand strong winds and rough seas.

If you encounter a tropical storm or heavy weather while at sea, find a protected anchorage or marina until the weather improves.

Familiarize yourself with emergency procedures and know how to deploy safety equipment and handle emergencies during tropical storms or heavy weather.

Develop a contingency plan for worst-case scenarios, such as losing control of the boat or facing exceptionally severe weather, to ensure the safety of yourself and your crew.

Prioritize safety above all else when deciding whether to continue sailing or seek a safe haven during tropical storms or heavy weather.

Dealing with Calms and Light Winds

Dealing with calms and light winds while sailing can be challenging, but with the right strategies, it’s possible to navigate through these conditions. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Maintain momentum: Maximize your boat’s speed by carefully trimming the sails to capture the available wind. Use any breeze, no matter how light, to keep your boat moving forward.

2. Be patient and persevere: Sailing in calms and light winds requires patience. Stay focused and alert for any subtle changes in wind direction or intensity.

3. Consider alternative propulsion: If there are prolonged calms, use methods like an engine or auxiliary power to maintain progress towards your destination.

4. Conserve resources: During periods of calms and light winds, conserve essential supplies such as food, water, and fuel. Plan accordingly and make sure you have enough to sustain your journey.

5. Stay updated with weather forecasts: Anticipate areas of potential calm or light wind conditions by staying updated with weather forecasts. This will help you plan your route and make necessary adjustments.

6. Utilize current and tidal flows: Take advantage of favorable currents or tidal flows that can provide additional propulsion in the absence of wind.

Remember, dealing with calms and light winds is a normal part of a sailing adventure. By using these strategies and remaining adaptable, you can continue to make progress towards your destination even in challenging conditions.

Maintaining Health and Well-being

When it comes to sailing around the world, maintaining health and well-being is crucial. In this section, we dive into the key aspects that contribute to a successful voyage. From staying physically fit to managing seasickness and maintaining mental resilience, we’ll uncover the essentials for a smooth and enjoyable journey across the vast oceans. So, grab your compass and let’s explore the secrets of maintaining your health while sailing the seven seas!

Staying Physically Fit

Staying physically fit is of utmost importance for sailors embarking on a journey around the world. Sailing necessitates strength, endurance, and agility to effectively navigate the physical trials experienced at sea. It is essential to consider the following key factors in order to maintain fitness:

1. Regular exercise: Engage in cardiovascular activities such as running or swimming to enhance stamina and cardiovascular health. Incorporating strength training exercises , like weightlifting, aids in building muscle strength and endurance.

2. Flexibility and mobility: Integrate stretching exercises like yoga or Pilates into your routine to improve flexibility. This is vital for maneuvering on the boat and reducing the risk of injuries.

3. Healthy diet: Maintain a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients to promote overall health and physical well-being. Ensure your diet includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains to provide energy and aid in recovery.

4. Hydration: It is crucial to consume an adequate amount of water to stay hydrated. This helps to maintain optimal performance and prevent dehydration.

5. Rest and recovery: Allow your body sufficient time to rest and recuperate. Ensure you get enough sleep and schedule rest days to prevent fatigue and facilitate muscle repair.

By staying fit, you will significantly enhance your sailing experience by improving your well-being and proficiency. Giving priority to physical fitness ensures that you possess the necessary physical capabilities to overcome challenges encountered at sea.

One inspiring account of maintaining physical fitness while circumnavigating the globe through sailing is that of Lisa Blair . In 2017, she accomplished the remarkable feat of becoming the first woman to solo and unassistedly circle Antarctica . Blair exhibited extraordinary fitness and resilience by diligently adhering to a strict regimen of exercise, yoga, and a nutritious diet. Her unwavering dedication enabled her to conquer the physical demands of her journey and achieve this awe-inspiring accomplishment.

Maintaining Mental Resilience

Maintaining mental resilience is crucial when sailing around the world.

It requires staying focused, positive, and adaptable to handle challenges.

1. Build a positive mindset: Cultivate a positive outlook. Embrace the adventure, stay optimistic, and maintain a proactive attitude towards overcoming obstacles.

2. Develop coping strategies: Find healthy ways to cope with stress and difficult situations. Engage in activities like meditation or journaling. Take breaks and seek support from fellow sailors or loved ones.

3. Enhance problem-solving skills: Think critically and adapt to changing circumstances. Practice problem-solving techniques and develop a flexible mindset to navigate unexpected situations.

4. Prioritize self-care: Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Get rest, eat nutritious meals, and exercise regularly to keep both body and mind strong.

5. Manage emotions: Recognize and manage emotions that arise during the journey. Embrace the highs and navigate the lows. Develop emotional intelligence to make better decisions and maintain mental well-being.

Remember, maintaining mental resilience is an ongoing process. By applying these strategies, sailors can better navigate challenges, adapt to the demands of the journey, and enjoy a fulfilling experience sailing around the world.

Managing Seasickness and Motion Sickness

When sailing, managing seasickness and motion sickness is crucial. Here are some strategies to naturally alleviate discomfort:

– Stay hydrated: It is important to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, as it can worsen seasickness.

– Eat light meals: To avoid nausea, it is best to steer clear of heavy or greasy foods. Instead, opt for small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day.

– Focus on the horizon: To reduce the feeling of motion and alleviate seasickness, fixate on a stable, distant point.

– Take breaks: If you start feeling queasy, find a calm and well-ventilated area to relax.

– Use medication: Consulting a healthcare professional for options such as antihistamines or ginger-based products can help alleviate symptoms.

– Avoid strong smells: It is advisable to stay in well-ventilated areas to prevent worsening nausea caused by certain smells.

– Stay above deck: Spending time in the open air and feeling the breeze can help reduce motion sickness. Try to avoid staying below deck for extended periods.

– Practice relaxation techniques: Engaging in deep breathing exercises, meditation, or listening to calming music can distract from nausea and promote relaxation.

By incorporating these strategies, you can effectively manage seasickness and motion sickness while enjoying your sailing journey.

Handling Emergencies at Sea

Emergencies can strike anytime, anywhere, and even when sailing around the world, you need to be prepared. In this section, we will explore how to handle emergencies at sea. From dealing with equipment failures to managing medical emergencies, and developing a plan for man overboard situations, we will equip you with the knowledge and skills to navigate through unforeseen challenges. So, tighten your lifejacket and let’s dive into the essential tips for handling emergencies on your sailing journey.

Dealing with Equipment Failures

Dealing with equipment failures is essential when sailing around the world. It is crucial to properly maintain and prepare your vessel to minimize the impact of these failures. Consider the following key points:

– Regular inspection: It is important to inspect your boat frequently, including the engine, rigging, sails, and navigation systems. The goal is to identify potential issues before they become serious problems.

– Emergency repairs: Make sure to equip your boat with a comprehensive toolkit that includes spare parts, tools, and materials for onboard repairs. Addressing minor issues promptly can prevent them from escalating.

– Training: Take the time to familiarize yourself with basic repair techniques and procedures. Knowing how to fix common equipment failures can be incredibly valuable in emergency situations.

– Backup systems: Install backup systems for critical equipment, such as an auxiliary engine or redundant navigation instruments. Having this redundancy in place can help mitigate the impact of failures during your journey.

– Communication: Always carry a reliable means of communication onboard, such as a satellite phone or radio. This way, you can seek assistance in the event of major equipment failures or emergencies.

– Insurance: It is crucial to ensure that your boat is adequately insured to cover equipment failures or damages. Review the policy’s terms and conditions to fully understand the coverage it provides.

By following these steps, you can enhance safety and confidence while sailing around the world.

Managing Medical Emergencies

Managing medical emergencies is of utmost importance when sailing. It is crucial to be prepared for potential crises in order to save lives and guarantee a safe journey. Here are some important steps to follow in order to effectively manage medical emergencies:

1. It is vital to stock a comprehensive first aid kit with bandages, antiseptic solutions, and medications for common ailments.

2. Develop a clear communication plan to easily contact emergency medical services. It is essential to have a working satellite phone or radio onboard.

3. Ensure that the crew is trained in basic first aid and CPR. It is important that everyone knows how to respond to emergencies and provide immediate assistance.

4. Create a medical emergency response plan that outlines the necessary steps to take in case of injuries, illnesses, or accidents.

5. It is essential to regularly check and maintain all medical equipment and supplies to ensure that they are in proper working condition.

6. Keep detailed records of the crew members’ medical conditions, allergies, and medications. This information will be helpful to inform medical professionals if the need arises.

7. Stay well-informed and consider enrolling in medical training courses such as wilderness first aid or advanced marine medical training.

8. Consider subscribing to a telemedical service that can provide real-time medical advice while at sea.

Remember, prevention is key. Encourage good hygiene practices and ensure that the crew is aware of potential health risks associated with sailing. Being well-prepared for medical emergencies is essential to ensure a safe and successful journey.

Developing a Plan for Man Overboard Situations

Developing a plan for man overboard situations is crucial for safety. It is essential to follow these steps in such emergencies:

  • Immediately shout “ Man overboard! ” to alert the crew and ensure they start monitoring the person in the water.
  • Throw a buoyant object, like a life ring or flotation device, towards the person to provide something to hold onto.
  • Activate the man overboard alarm system, if available, to notify nearby vessels or authorities.
  • Designate a crew member to visually monitor the person in the water and continuously point towards their location.
  • Initiate a quick and efficient recovery procedure, such as turning the boat around or using a rescue sling or ladder.
  • Retrieve the person from the water using the established recovery procedure, ensuring the safety of the rescuer.
  • Provide immediate medical attention if required and monitor the person’s condition until professional help can be reached.
  • Conduct a debriefing with the crew to assess the situation and identify any lessons learned.

A true story highlighting the importance of a plan for man overboard situations involves a sailing team in a race. During a storm, a crew member fell overboard. Thanks to their quick response and well-rehearsed plan, they safely retrieved the crew member and provided necessary medical assistance. Their efficient handling of the situation highlighted the importance of developing a plan for man overboard situations and the significance of preparation and training for everyone’s safety on board.

Interacting with Different Cultures

Stepping into new cultures while sailing around the world offers a beautiful tapestry of experiences. In this section, we’ll dive into the joys of interacting with different cultures, exploring topics like respecting local customs and traditions , learning basic language skills, and establishing positive interactions with locals. So, get ready to expand your horizons and embrace the richness of diverse societies as you embark on your global sailing adventure.

Respecting Local Customs and Traditions

Respecting local customs and traditions is essential when sailing around the world to establish positive interactions with locals and ensure a harmonious experience.

Before visiting a new destination, it is crucial to research and understand the local customs and traditions to avoid offending or disrespecting the locals.

Following the appropriate dress code for each destination, taking into consideration religious or cultural requirements, is important.

Modest clothing is often expected in conservative countries or when visiting religious sites.

Learning the proper way to greet locals in each country is also vital as handshakes, bows , or other forms of greetings may vary based on cultural norms.

Being aware of social etiquette, such as dining customs, gestures, and table manners, is equally important.

Even if it differs from your own cultural practices, it is crucial to respect the local way of doing things.

Familiarizing yourself with local customs, such as gift-giving, ceremonies, or festivals, can greatly enhance your cultural experience and show appreciation for the local traditions.

An important pro-tip is to observe and follow the lead of locals in their own country.

By showing respect and embracing local customs and traditions, you can foster meaningful connections and create lasting memories during your sailing journey.

Learning Basic Language Skills

Learning basic language skills is essential when you are sailing around the world. It is necessary for effective communication and meaningful interactions with the locals. If you want to improve your language skills, here are some tips that can help you:

1. Begin by learning common phrases: It is important to learn simple greetings, directions, and essential words for daily interactions. This will enable you to navigate different countries and effectively communicate your basic needs.

2. Pay attention to maritime terms: Make sure to familiarize yourself with nautical vocabulary that is specific to sailing. Understanding these terms will allow for clear and effective communication with fellow sailors and port authorities.

3. Make use of language learning apps: Take advantage of language learning apps and online resources to practice and improve your language skills. These tools offer interactive lessons, pronunciation guides, and vocabulary exercises.

4. Consider attending local language classes: During your travels, you may want to consider enrolling in language classes conducted by native speakers. Learning from them will enhance your language proficiency and deepen your cultural understanding.

5. Immerse yourself in the local culture: Engage in local customs and traditions to enrich your language learning experience. By participating in cultural activities, you will have the opportunity for real-life conversations and gain a deeper understanding of the language.

Pro-tip: Try to speak with locals as much as possible, even if you make mistakes. Most people appreciate the effort and are willing to help you improve your language skills. Embrace the learning process and enjoy the multicultural experience!

Establishing Positive Interactions with Locals

Establish positive interactions with locals by respecting local customs and traditions. Take the time to learn about the culture and customs of the places you visit, showing that you have a genuine interest in learning and that you respect the locals.

To establish positive interactions with locals, it is helpful to learn basic language skills. While you may not become fluent in every language you come across, learning a few key phrases such as simple greetings, thank you, and please , can show that you are making an effort to communicate.

Being polite and friendly is essential in establishing positive interactions with locals. A smile and friendly attitude can go a long way. Treat everyone with respect and kindness.

Show an interest in the culture of the locals to establish positive interactions. Ask questions and demonstrate genuine curiosity about their local culture, traditions, and history . This will not only help you learn more but also show the locals that you value and appreciate their heritage.

In order to establish positive interactions with locals, it is recommended to support local businesses and artisans . Instead of patronizing big chain stores and restaurants, seek out local businesses and artisans. This not only supports the local economy but also provides opportunities for meaningful interactions with locals.

Being mindful of your actions is important to establish positive interactions with locals. Show respect for the local environment and be conscious of your impact on the community. Avoid littering, follow local rules and regulations, and be aware of cultural sensitivities .

Being open-minded and flexible is crucial when trying to establish positive interactions with locals. Embrace new experiences and be willing to adapt to different ways of doing things. Remember that you are a guest, and there is much to learn from the locals.

Some Facts About How To Sail Around The World:

  • ✅ Living aboard a sailboat and sailing around the world is becoming increasingly popular.
  • ✅ The duration of a trip around the world depends on factors like exploration, weather, and direction.
  • ✅ Legal documentation and the appropriate type of boat are required to sail around the world.
  • ✅ The recommended sailboat size is between 35 and 45 feet, considering factors like the route, number of people, and supplies.
  • ✅ Safety in sailing around the world depends on navigation skills, the right boat, and avoiding certain areas prone to extreme weather.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. what are the key factors to consider when planning to sail around the world.

When planning to sail around the world, it is important to consider factors such as a well-prepared route, reliable bluewater sailboat, necessary paperwork, safety training, mental and physical preparation, and research. These elements will ensure a smooth and pleasant voyage, allowing you to make the most of your grand adventure.

2. Can I sail around the world with a rented sailboat?

While it is technically possible to sail around the world with a rented sailboat, it may come with restrictions and limitations. Renting a sailboat is typically more suitable for shorter trips or coastal cruising. For a circumnavigation of the globe, it is recommended to have your own reliable bluewater sailboat, which is better equipped to handle the challenges and demands of long-distance voyages.

3. How much does it cost to sail around the world?

The cost of sailing around the world can vary depending on factors such as the type of boat, family size, route, and lifestyle choices. On average, the cost can range from $500 to $1,000 per person per month. This includes expenses such as food, maintenance, insurance, cruising and mooring fees, satellite phone, fuel, and other miscellaneous costs. It’s important to budget accordingly and plan for unexpected expenses.

4. What safety training is necessary for sailing around the world?

Proper safety training is crucial when embarking on a sailing trip around the world. It is recommended to undergo appropriate safety training courses, both online and practical, to learn navigation skills, emergency procedures, and essential safety protocols. This preparation will equip you to handle unforeseen situations and ensure the well-being of yourself and your crew.

5. How long does it take to sail around the world?

The duration of a sailing trip around the world can vary depending on factors such as exploration, weather conditions, and direction. While the world record is 40 days, most trips take around 100 days or even 3 to 10 years if you want to make stops along the way to explore different countries and islands. It’s important to plan a flexible and realistic itinerary that matches your desired pace of travel.

6. Can I sail around the world without any sailing experience?

Sailing around the world without any sailing experience is not recommended. Operating a sailboat and having basic sailing knowledge is essential for a safe and enjoyable journey. It is advisable to gain experience by crewing on other sailboats, taking shorter voyages to refine your skills, and possibly obtaining an internationally recognized sailing license. Learning from experienced sailors and continuously improving your sailing abilities will greatly contribute to the success of your circumnavigation.

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Sailing fast and hard aboard the   .

We were heaved to in the middle of the Atlantic, the sails of the 40-foot sloop set in such a way that the boat drifted slowly through the water, riding gently upon the heaving ocean swell that rose and fell with cosmic regularity. The puffy trade wind clouds marched across the sky in the perpetual easterly breeze. The sea itself was an indescribable shade of deep blue that exists only in deep waters far offshore, a color for which we have no word.

I was on the lee deck, wedged between the coach roof and the lifelines, bracing myself against the swell, gripping an old plastic sextant and practicing my sun sights. Engaging in a method of navigation used for centuries is to truly become one with the universe, a sensation long lost among the lives of those on shore. After plotting my line of position that I obtained by calculating the angle of the sun on the horizon, I figured we were around 26 degrees North latitude, 65 degrees West longitude, just about halfway between Charleston, SC, and our landfall in the Virgin Islands. We were seven days off the East Coast, another seven or so more to sail. We had finally adjusted to life at sea, the simple life of living in tune with the universe.

Traveling and Working as a Volunteer Crew Member

The author at the helm of the yawl

Amazingly, I was along for this trip of a lifetime as a volunteer crew member. The owner had paid my way, provided the food onboard, and would pay for a return ticket from Tortola upon our successful delivery of his yacht to the islands, where he planned to use it over the winter months. The 40-foot, French-built sloop boat was incredibly comfortable for the four of us onboard — my father, another 20-something young woman, and the volunteer French captain. We had a nicely-sized galley with working refrigeration, ample sleeping space, and plenty of food (and coffee) for two weeks at sea.

Traveling the world by sailboat is a dream shared by many but experienced by few — more often than not, thrown to the wind and destroyed by careers, commitments, and shore side attachments. But life is gratifying for those who commit to the sea — simple in its routines yet profoundly natural.

As a lifelong sailor and professional captain, I have traveled the world by every means imaginable, yet I have found that the best way to travel is under sail. For those looking for a unique way to see the world and experience life, becoming volunteer crew doing yacht deliveries is an exciting, unique, and reasonably affordable way to get around.

Mia Karlsson at the helm of the yawl

How to Find the Right Boat to Work On

Yacht deliveries can range from taking a neglected 32-footer built in the 1960s from Bermuda to Nova Scotia in the dead of winter (which I have unfortunately experienced) to sailing a sparkling new 70-footer in the warm Trade Winds of the Caribbean, island hopping your way around some of the most beautiful sailing grounds in the world. So it pays to do some research before signing up for any trip that is out there.

Walk to Docks to Find a Boat: Ironically, the best way to get a job as a delivery crew member is to arrive in a new port on a sailboat and walk the docks looking for work. Unfortunately, the age-old catch-22 situation rears its ugly head — you need experience to be crew, yet need to crew to gain experience. Suppose you are lucky enough to live in a sailing city — such as Annapolis, MD, Ft Lauderdale, FL, or any coastal town in the Caribbean or Mediterranean. In that case, walking the docks and talking to people is your best bet for finding a boat. The girl on my last trip found our boat precisely that way. She was a local from Charleston, SC, simply looking for sailing experience and a ride to the islands where she wanted to pursue her kite surfing passion. Since we were only three then, we welcomed her extra help, even though she had never been on a sailboat before.

Use the Internet: If you are like me, come from a rural inland town, or are otherwise far removed from the ocean, the Internet is helpful and provides another way to find a boat. Several websites are dedicated to finding crew, particularly for deliveries, and they often allow you free access. Professional delivery skippers often post ads looking for volunteer crew people, and it is usually just a matter of sending your resume, a photo, and a short email about why you want to crew that will get you on a boat. Frequently these skippers are willing to take inexperienced crew as a third or fourth member and are usually very amenable to teaching.

Take Part in “Cruising Rallies”: Increasing numbers of retired businessmen and women are buying boats with big dreams of crossing big oceans without the knowledge, skill, or confidence to do so alone. Several career sailors have recognized this problem, and "Cruising Rallies" are becoming increasingly popular in all the world's oceans. They are organized by experienced sailors with thousands of ocean miles, and together with up to 50 other boats, inexperienced sailors (primarily retirees) can cross the ocean of their dreams in the relative safety of the group with experienced leadership. Once in port, these newfound ocean sailors have the added benefit of organized parties and events to share the joys of their first ocean passage with others.

You can be a part of the increasing popularity of cruising rallies, and many of the organizations behind the logistics maintain websites and crew registers. The Carib 1500, for example, is perhaps the most popular cruising rally on this side of the Atlantic, with nearly 50 boats, all over 40 feet (and many much bigger), sailing non-stop from Norfolk, VA, to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. The rally occurs after hurricane season and before the onset of winter, in early November. They also organize a return rally in May from Tortola to Bermuda. From there, the boats split up and headed east to Europe or back to the U.S.

What About Experience?

The author at the helm of the 74' , in the background.

Many captains, including myself, require at least one if not two, professional or very seasoned sailors to join them on a major ocean crossing. However, like me, many are more than willing to take a few extra inexperienced sailors or intrepid adventurers along for the ride and are often willing to instruct them along the way.

The key to finding a boat to sail on is to present yourself as a trustworthy person eager to join the trip. Ulterior motives are often very apparent, and no captain is willing to take along someone just looking for a free ride.

Working Aboard the Sailing Boat

The work aboard an ocean sailing boat is difficult, tiring, and unending. A passage of even ten days sounds short, yet when you're on a watch schedule of four hours on and eight hours off, one day seems like two, and you must adapt to an utterly different way of life than the one you are accustomed to ashore. Everyone shares in all the duties involved in running the boat, from standing watch in the rain at 2 a.m. to cooking breakfast and making coffee. Then you must clean up upon arrival when the boat is in shambles, and you have not had a freshwater shower in two weeks.

Life at sea is incredibly raw and incredibly basic. Your world shrinks to the three miles or so you can see in every direction before the horizon curves out of view. A passing freighter is often the most exciting thing on a given day. The intense discomfort of being salty and sticky for two weeks is offset by the rewards of a cloudless night watch under a new moon. The sky is so dark you can scarcely see your hand in front of your face, yet the stars fill the night sky like an enormous diamond exploding in the center of the universe, sending fragments to every corner of space. You will see more shooting stars on one night watch than you would in a lifetime ashore; at sea, the lights of civilization do not pollute the sky.

Ocean Sailing Makes the World Feel Big Again

In our age of instant communication and light-speed travel, crossing even a short distance in a sailboat reminds us that despite our attempts to shrink the world with technology, our planet remains one enormous place. After two weeks at sea, watching a distant island grow on the horizon provides an indescribable feeling of accomplishment. The first beer ashore never tasted better, and a freshwater shower after weeks of bathing in the salty ocean is a blessing from Heaven.

If you plan accordingly and have ample time, traveling the globe by "hitchhiking" on sailing yachts is a unique and rewarding way to see the world. After the first trip, you still gain experience, and finding and sailing on additional boats becomes progressively easier. You will save thousands on airfare and gain a greater appreciation for the distances we travel so quickly through the sky. But most importantly, you will return to nature, experience life with a stronger sense of connection to the universe, and return with unforgettable stories. You will change.

For More Info on Finding Work on Sailboats of All Kinds Around the World

Check out the list of websites below offering crewing opportunities around the world. The best ones require a paid membership, but the small fee is well worth the experience you will have once signed on a boat.

— Offers amateur and professional yacht crewing positions available worldwide. Registration and posting is free. To contact yacht owners and join their crew, you must become a member for a fee — a U.K.-based site.

— Lists available crew positions, paid and unpaid, and boats available worldwide.

— A general site for work abroad, paid and unpaid, with a search option that pulls up many positions on yachts or other sailboats worldwide.

You will only receive pay for some trips as a professional sailor. However, owners will likely pick up the tab for airfare to and from the boat and almost always provide food en route.

Occasionally you will find a cruising couple looking for an extra hand or two to move their boat across a large ocean to their next port. These people will often require a small stipend for your onboard expenses (i.e., food) and will not cover airfare. However, this is usually the best and easiest way to cover large distances under sail, as you can sail from port to port on several different cruising yachts, often spending far less money than you would if you had been traveling by conventional means while staying in hotel or hostel-style accommodations.

When interviewing for a crew position, the most important attribute you can have is trustworthiness and an honest, hard-working attitude. Yacht owners, especially the big ones, desire reliable people, and once you gain their confidence will often provide further opportunities to sail with them.

Andy Schell is a professional captain and freelance writer who lives aboard his sailboat Arcturus in Annapolis, MD, and travels extensively.

© 1997-2024 Transitions Abroad Publishing, Inc.


My Cruiser Life Magazine

Sail Around the World Route – Best Options Explained

Before you ponder your route to sail around the world, think about why you’re even thinking about such an undertaking. 

There are countless sailing routes you can take to circumnavigate the globe, but each one is for a different sort of sailor. The two most common routes are the mid-latitudes “Milk Run” and the high-latitudes journey through the Southern Ocean or Northwest Passage.

Here’s a look at some of these very different trips and the types of sailors and vessels that accomplish each one every year.

Table of Contents

Basic planning factors – winds, currents, and storms, the classic sail around the world route – the milk run, circumnavigating in the southern ocean, an alternate sail around the world route the northwest passage, which sailing routes would you pick for your circumnavigation, sailing routes around the world faqs.

sailing around the world route

The Basics of Sailing Routes Around the World

First, some lingo. Sailors refer to a sail around the world route as a “circumnavigation.”

Taking a boat around the world requires some gumption. So why do it at all? For some, it is the goal of having done it. For others, it’s a fun way to combine their passions of sailing and travel. Some folks compete in races to see who can do it fastest. And some folks think it would be a good lark and a neat way to see the world.

Whatever reason draws you to the idea of completing a circumnavigation, you aren’t alone. Every year there are rallies or races that you can join to meet up with like-minded people. And for as many people who compete in rallies, there are likely an equal number of people doing it on their own. 

No matter how you cut it, a circumnavigation is made up of numerous legs. So if traveling and seeing the sights is your goal, then it only makes sense to take your time and visit as many places as you can along the way. 

Folks with a limited time frame will inevitably miss something or rush through someplace they want to see. 

For sightseers, the goal of a circumnavigation might be secondary to seeing the places they want to see. In other words, someone with their heart set on circumnavigating might set a schedule of two years to get it done, while another sailor who wants to complete loops in the Atlantic and Pacific might have a lot more time to visit more countries and ports of call. 

Every sailor and every boat comes into this adventure with different goals. Therefore, it’s important to think about your motivations and the sort of circumnavigation that you’d like to have. What’s the most important part to you, and how much money and time can you dedicate to the endeavor? 

Sailing Routes Around the World

Most pleasure boaters contemplating a circumnavigation are interested in the safest route to sail around the world. Part of the safety and enjoyment of the crew comes from planning the trip to follow the prevailing wind patterns around the globe.

When sitting on land, you might think of the wind as unpredictable and variable depending on the day and weather conditions. And while that is true all over the world, at sea prevailing weather patterns tend to be more steady. 

That means by understanding the causes and patterns in the winds, you can use them to your advantage on a circumnavigation. 

For example, let’s look at the North Atlantic circuit. If a yacht wants to depart Europe for North America, its best bet is to head south first and follow the area between 10 and 30 degrees north latitude westbound. Why? Because this is the area where the winds flow from the east almost constantly. Since ships used these winds to get to the Caribbean in the old days, they are still known as the Trade Winds. 

What if you want to go the other way, back to Europe? In that case, your best bet is to head north and make your easterly course between 40 and 60 degrees north latitudes. There, the prevailing winds are westerly and will push you back to Europe. 

While sailboats can sail into the wind, doing so is called “beating” for a reason. It’s rough on the boat and crew; it’s tiring and unpleasant. You’ll have to do it occasionally, but a successful and comfortable passage is usually the result of planning so you don’t have to sail to weather. 

Similarly, you can use the world’s ocean currents to your advantage. If the Gulf Stream can give you a knot or two of an extra push toward Europe, you should take it! It makes a big difference when your normal speed is six knots. Trying to fight against it for any length of time could double your trip planning and make for a very nasty ride.

And then there is the risk of storms at sea. With good trip and weather planning, a boat can circumnavigate without ever experiencing a bad storm at sea.

That requires conservative planning to avoid areas and times of the year when the weather is bad. To do this means you must plan to be in the right places at the right times. Pilot charts are published for every ocean sector on Earth, showing the prevailing winds for any given month and the probability of encountering a severe storm in the area. 

Using pilot charts and the historical prevalence of hurricanes or cyclones, sailors can plan to transit these areas only during quiet times. In other words, no one wants to be in the middle of the North Atlantic during peak hurricane season or during winter gales, but being in the middle of the North Atlantic in May is pretty optimal. 

Likewise, you don’t want to be in the middle of the South Pacific during February when it is peak cyclone season, but June or July is good.

The classic route for circumnavigating is based on the path of least resistance, making it the safest route to sail around the world. These routes utilize the prevailing winds to make as many downwind, fair-weather passages as possible. 

The goal of this route is not speed but comfort and safety. This is the route you take your family on. This is the route that around the world rallies, like the World ARC Rally , use for every trip. 

Starting from the Caribbean, this route travels westbound and keeps close to the equator. Of course, you can start anywhere, but many yachts cross their wakes (begin and end their voyage) somewhere in the Lesser Antilles. 

After crossing the Caribbean Sea, transit is arranged through the Panama Canal. Canal transits are expensive and time-consuming, and they usually involve a broker to arrange all the paperwork and scheduling. 

Before the canal was constructed, the only way to make the journey was to travel south in the Atlantic and pass Cape Horn. There, you can follow Drakes Passage through Argentina’s islands and Patagonia’s wild lands. Many expedition yachts still choose this route to see this remote and beautiful part of the world. 

After the Panama Canal, most yachts take familiar sailing routes across the Pacific . The first stop is the Galapagos Islands. This takes you mostly south along the coast of Central America and across the equator into the Southern Hemisphere.

From the Galapagos, the single longest passage lies ahead–roughly 3,200 nautical miles to the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia. This trip takes most sailboats about 14 days. An alternate route takes you farther south. It doesn’t shorten the trip but allows you to visit Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Pitcairn Islands.

Once in French Polynesia, you can island hop your way through the South Pacific island nations, but with a weary eye on the weather. The point is to avoid the area during cyclone season, roughly the summer months (December through April or so). 

At this point, many yachts find a hurricane hole where they can relax during storm season. Usually, it is time to haul out and complete some maintenance after so many sea miles. Some make it south and out of the cyclone belt to New Zealand or Australia. Others opt to stay in the islands but find a well-sheltered marina or boatyard where they can haul out.

Once cyclone season is winding down, the next big passage awaits. After passing through the Torres Straits, stops in Northwestern Australia and Indonesia welcome you to the Indian Ocean. There are only a few isolated stops after that. Many yachts make one long passage out of it, although many enjoy a few stops, like Cocos Keeling, Maldives, Diego Garcia, or Seychelles.

This is where the route branches in two directions. Traditionally, boats would transit on a northwest course and into the Gulf of Aden. From there, you follow the Red Sea to the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean is, of course, one of the most storied cruising grounds on the planet. You can cruise from Turkey and Greece to Italy, France, and Spain, with countless famous ports of call along the way. 

Unfortunately, the route to get there, through the Gulf of Aden and around the Horn of Africa, is home to bands of pirates who have been known to prey on leisure yachts and commercial vessels alike. For this reason, this route has fallen out of favor in recent years. 

Instead, boats head to South Africa. The country makes a good landfall point from which you can travel home or take land excursions to see the rest of Africa. Popular stops on the way are the islands of Reunion and Mauritius. Some folks also like to visit Madagascar.

After rounding the Cape of Good Hope, yachts are back in the Atlantic and can head northwest toward the Caribbean. You can make a few stops along the way, mostly isolated island nations like St. Helena and Ascension Islands. After that, it’s a straight shot back across the equator and to the Windward Islands of the Caribbean. 

When coming from the Mediterranean, boats heat westbound through the Straights of Gibraltar. The next stop is the Canary Islands. How long does it take to sail across the Atlantic? It’s a roughly 17-day passage downwind to the Windward Islands.

sailing around the world on the milk run

Most people take two full years or longer to complete a circumnavigation as described above, but even that only allows a little time to see the sights. So a more realistic number would be four or five years. 

This route isn’t for those looking to get it done in the shortest amount of time. Instead, the Southern Ocean Route is the favored path for those looking to trade a bit of safety for speed. This route, due to the prevailing winds along the route, is completed from west to east. 

Races like the Clipper Around the World , Vendee Globe , and the Golden Globe Around the World Race use this path. It utilizes the open expanses of the Southern Ocean. Once you get into these high latitudes, there are no real landmasses in your way, and you can steer a course all the way around the world in record time.

Of course, the Southern Ocean is not for the faint of heart. High-latitude sailing involves biting cold weather and dangerous gales. You’ll be rounding Cape Horn through Drakes Passage, one of the dicest stretches of water on the planet. 

It’s a punishing stretch of ocean, and boats are often beaten and bruised. Dismastings and equipment failures are common. In other words, a sailor who chooses this route must be ready for anything, capable of handling whatever the sea throws at them, and sailing an extremely well-founded bluewater vessel.

sailing the southern ocean

In recent years it has been in vogue to attempt a transit of the Northwest Passage, thereby making it possible to circumnavigate the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Obviously, this is a summertime endeavor only, and even then, only during years when the ice pack has completely melted. This is happening more and more, so the route is gaining popularity.

The leg that makes this possible starts from the United Kingdom going west across the Atlantic to Greenland through the Labrador Sea. The Northwest Passage itself then bisects Canada’s northern territories. Finally, you end up on the northern coast of Alaska. Then, keeping the mainland of North America to port, you continue south into the Pacific Ocean.

From the Aleutian Islands, the most favorable course is to transit to the west coast of North America. After that, you can make your way south along the famous Inside Passage, a network of fjords in British Columbia that can link you to Puget Sound and the Seattle metro area. 

Once in the US, your next steps are southbound transits to Baja, Mexico, or jumps like sailing to Hawaii from California . You can then join the normal routes across the South Pacific islands to Australia or Southeast Asia.

Both the Southern Ocean and the Northwest Passage routes are high-latitude routes that carry more risk than the Milk Run. High-latitude sailing involves dealing with more frequent severe weather systems, stronger winds, and greater variability in the weather in general. They’re also farther from services and more remote, so self-sufficiency is even more vital. 

While you can do the Milk Run in nearly any of best bluewater cruising sailboats , these high-latitudes routes are more comfortable in a robust expedition-level vessel. These are the perfect places for that aluminum sailboat you’ve been dreaming about.

sailing around the world in the Northwest Passage

There is much to learn and think about if you want to circumnavigate. If you’re dreaming of sailing the world, consider starting your research by picking up a book or two written by someone who has done it. Here are three stories of circumnavigations, but there are countless others and blogs galore to be found on the internet. 

sailboat to sail around the world

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Jimmy Cornell is the master of how to sail around the world. His “World Cruising” series of guides includes everything you’d ever need to know, from weather systems and route planning to legal formalities. This book, 200,000 Miles , combines some of those technicalities with a biographical story of his journey.

sailboat to sail around the world

Sailing Around the World Alone is Joshua Slocum’s story of his journey. It’s not a modern tale–Slocum set out in the late 1890s from Nova Scotia. But his adventure is the OG tale of sailing around the world and is worth a read. 

sailboat to sail around the world

  • Used Book in Good Condition

Lin and Larry Pardey circumnavigated several times (both eastbound and westbound), but if you totaled up the miles they sailed, it would be more like seven times. The difference, of course, is enjoying every port and stop along the way.

While they never wrote a book specifically about sailing around the world, their cruising tales live on in the various tales and how-to guides they produced over the years. 

Capable Cruiser discusses techniques that will get you there, interwoven by the Pardey’s inimitable charm and wit. For more travel inspiration, check out their original series of books: Cruising in Seraffyn , Seraffyn’s European Adventure, Seraffyn’s Mediterranean Adventure, and Seraffyn’s Oriental Adventure.

What route do you take to sail around the world?

There are several ways to circumnavigate, but the most common is the “Milk Run.” This route goes from the Caribbean through the Panama Canal. From there, it heads south to the Galapagos Islands and into the South Pacific. After Tahiti, yachts head to Australia, across the Indian Ocean, and through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea. Finally, leaving the Med, boats cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean to close the circle, or “cross their wake,” as they say.

How long does it take to sail around the world?

The WorldARC around the world sailing rally usually lasts 18 months, but you can do it quicker by selecting fewer stops or taking faster routes. For most sailors, however, the length of the trip around the world really depends on how much they stop along the way and for how long. If the purpose of the trip is to travel and see the world, it makes little sense to rush and do it in the shortest possible time. Many circumnavigations take five or more years. 

How much does it cost per month to sail around the world?

Sailing has been described as the most expensive way to get somewhere for free. The cost to sail around the world is extremely variable–it is impossible to pin down any price. On the one hand, the type of boat makes a difference. The larger the boat, the larger the costs. The lifestyle you choose while sailing matters, too–lavish resort marinas cost more than anchoring away from town. Hiring professionals to do boat maintenance costs more than doing it all yourself. There are ways to do it lavishly and ways to be cheap about it. Comfortable cruising is somewhere in the middle, but where exactly that depends entirely on you. 

How big of a sailboat do you need to sail around the world?

Many solo sailors and couples have circumnavigated in boats less than 30 feet long. Lin and Larry Pardy wrote many novels as they circled the globe on 22-foot-long Seraffyn , a Lyle Hess-designed cutter. The size of the boat has everything to do with your cruising style and budget. So long as the vessel is well-founded and designed to take the rigors of bluewater passages, size matters less than many people think.

sailboat to sail around the world

Matt has been boating around Florida for over 25 years in everything from small powerboats to large cruising catamarans. He currently lives aboard a 38-foot Cabo Rico sailboat with his wife Lucy and adventure dog Chelsea. Together, they cruise between winters in The Bahamas and summers in the Chesapeake Bay.

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sailboat to sail around the world

sailboat to sail around the world

17 Best Catamarans for Sailing Around the World

sailboat to sail around the world

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Catamarans are quickly outstripping single-hull boats for long-distance journeys. They are more stable and comfortable , and some can travel more than 200 miles in a day. In today’s article, I have put together a complete (well almost) list of some of the best catamarans for circumnavigating the planet; the question is, which one is best for you?

The best catamarans for sailing around the world include: 

  • The Fountaine Pajot Ipanema 58

These cats focus on speed, safety, and comfort for longer journeys. 

This article will show you the seventeen best catamarans for long journeys, and why they’re the best. You’ll also learn some great tips on what to look for in a Catamaran and how to save money by buying a used catamaran. Let this list be a jumping-off point for your future research!

Pro-tip; here are the actual costs of maintaining a cat and here are considerations on how to circumnavigate .

Table of Contents

The Best Catamarans for Sailing Around the World 

A catamaran is a double-hulled boat with a deck or cabin area in between (bluewater cat definition in this article ). The double hull design means that the boat rocks less, sits higher on the water, uses less fuel to sail, and can be sailed in shallower waters than a single-hulled boat without worrying about grounding. 

Catamarans come in a variety of sizes and can be sail-powered or motor-powered and range from single-person sailing boats to family-sized yachts. Every catamaran design is different, and the twin-hull shape offers many ways to customize the layout of a ship. 

Each boat on this list is a larger catamaran (+40ft, more on size here ), so if you’re going to sail around the world, you want lots of space for provisions and rest.

Of course, there are tons of technical specs for each of these boats, but I’m going to focus on the overall features of each of these catamarans, what makes them stand out, and why they would each be an excellent choice for a transatlantic journey. 

Antares 44i 

The Antares 44i is an excellent option for sailing around the world and was explicitly designed for long-distance cruising. It performs well in any weather conditions, can be sailed easily by two people, and you’ll be able to sail long distances and live in comfort. 

Although it can be easily sailed by a crew of two I believe that a true bluewater cat should be set up for single-handed sailing, more on that in another article .

This catamaran features a stateroom on each hull and a forward cabin with plenty of storage space. The living and entertainment features include a flatscreen tv and a high-end deck speaker system. 

With this model, Antares dedicates itself to high-quality boats with optimal rigging and engine configurations. 

Atlantic 42

Atlantic is no longer building this catamaran, but there are usually a few pre-owned boats on the market. You can also get it made custom if you love the design, but be prepared to spend more money on a custom boat (custom boat also gets custom problems ;)). 

The Atlantic 42 is slightly smaller than some of the other catamarans on this list but is a seaworthy vessel. 42 ft is what most sailors I interview ( in this article ) said was the smallest cat to safely cross big oceans. It is also a decent size to counter the risk of capsizing (more on that here ).

It has a forward cockpit and pilothouse, which gives the owner a better use of space and makes the boat easier to navigate. With single-handed capability, one person can sail it easily and let the rest of the crew relax. 

One of the best-praised aspects of the Atlantic 42 is its galley, more extensive than most 42-footers (12.8-meter) can offer. 

One of the few 50 footers (15.24 meters) that can be sailed by just one person (many would of course disagree on this).

The Catana 50 is a catamaran worthy of an overseas journey. Its size adds to its stability on the open waters and its ability to sail straight through the choppy ocean and windy conditions. 

The Catana is also incredibly spacious on the inside, with substantial cabins and showers. The biggest downside to the Catana 50 is its price, as it’s much more expensive than most of its competitors. 

Catana also holds up well against some of the fastest cruising cats out there, here’s a list of the fastest cruisers if you are interested in that.

However, if you can find a gently-used Catana 50, you can rest assured that this boat will last! 

The Dolphin 42 is unique because of the use of daggerboards instead of fixed keels. This upgrade means that the boat has some pretty decent upwind performance while at the same time being faster downwind.

Centerboards and daggerboards offer some interesting downsides compared to mini keels. This is an interesting discussion and I suggest you read another one of my articles if you want to deepen your knowledge a little.

These catamarans are some of the lightest on the market. Not many Dolphins were made, so they are relatively hard to find. However, if you want a small, lightweight boat capable of going great distances, the Dolphin 42 is an excellent choice. 

Fountaine Pajot Belize 43

The Fountaine Pajot Belize is another well-built cruising yacht. Its core is made of foam instead of balsa, which reduces the risk of structural damage due to a rotten core in case of water intrusion. 

The design of Belize offers many options for customizability, with large open spaces and a combined saloon, navigation, and dinette area. 

There are two styles of Belize catamarans for sleeping quarters. You can either purchase a boat with an entire primary suite on one hull or one with two cabins in each hull. The first option is great if you are sailing the world alone and not expecting many guests, as it increases the storage capacity. 

Understanding what factors to consider when getting a cat can be hard, there are just so many of them (such as the daggerboard discussion above), I have tried to compile some of the most important in this article .

The boat also has wraparound windows to increase the sense of space in the galley. 

Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40

Fountaine Pajot is one of the best sailboat manufacturers existing today, as their boats are well made and highly versatile. The Lucia 40 is no exception – it’s a smaller boat but has a lot of room for moving around and on-board living. 

The living area is remarkably spacious on this catamaran for its size. 

The galley and lounge easily accommodate 6+people. The Lucia 40 doesn’t disappoint when it comes to sailing either, as the narrow hulls slice through choppy waters with ease. 

Most catamarans today are built to withstand rough weather but that doesn’t matter as much if the crew isn’t up for the task, I firmly believe that the most important thing a boat should consist of, is knowledge. Therefore taking online courses ( two free here ) or reading books ( my favorites here ) is imperative.

Gemini 105M

Gemini’s boats have been on the market for years and are solidly built for cruising. This boat is one of the most popular ever made, I personally would consider something different for offshore cruising, but since it has such a good reputation, I felt I had to add it to the list.

If you want to understand why I am hesitant to take this boat around the world, I recommend you read my article: What are trampolines on a catamaran?

The Gunboat 62 is a great catamaran and set the standards for the rest of the impressive Gunboat lineup. It’s sleek and spacious while being robust and capable of transatlantic journeys. You can easily travel the world in a Gunboat 62 with several people and not feel cramped. 

The yacht was made for speed and power and remains one of the fastest catamarans on the market, even rivaling the newer Gunboat models.  GABO

Although the earlier models of the Gunboat 62 weren’t designed for a lot of cargo, you can still find space for everything you need without compromise. 

Lagoon catamarans are known for their reliability and ease of use. If you are considering a catamaran for the first time and are unsure about the technicalities of sailing, a Lagoon boat is a great option. 

The Lagoon 380 is probably the smallest cruiser on this list, which makes it better suited for solo or couple sailing.  

When I go looking to buy something, whether it be a boat, campervan, or whatever, I create a checklist and classify all the things I want either by NEED or NICE to have.

I believe the Lagoon 380 to be sub-optimal for my NEEDS, even though it does check a lot of NICE boxes, there’s a step-by-step article on the NEED and NICE method here .

There are several cabin options available on the Lagoon 380, but if you’re sailing by yourself, you can settle for three cabins and a larger galley and living space. With a smaller cockpit and broader side decks, the Lagoon 380 packs a lot of practicality and ease of sailing into a more compact catamaran. 

If you like the idea of a Lagoon boat but want a little more space, the Lagoon 42 is the upgraded version of the Lagoon 380. With all of the same benefits, it comes with more space for cabins or storage, making it one of the best-selling Lagoons of all time. 

The Lagoon 42 is also a faster cruiser built for strength. While it’s not the fastest on the market, it works well in choppy waters and windy conditions, making it great for the beginning sailor to go on a more extended trip. 

Many people have completed an around-the-world sail with this ship.

Although there is a flybridge version, I would recommend the “open” version due to several factors, some including increased windage and a higher boom. More on flybridges pros and cons here .

For stability, safety, and durability, you can’t beat the Lagoon 42. 

The Leopard 45 performs better with less storage weight because of the relatively low bridge deck clearance. If the boat is fully loaded, you could experience some wave pounding. However, the cockpit is open and airy, with devices that block the sun and provide maximum comfort while sailing. 

The Leopard 45 is an incredibly beautiful boat,   and has a strong reputation for excellent build quality!

Leopard catamarans are one of my personal favorites, as such I have written an entire article about the brand, so if you want to understand its pros and cons then here is the link . Gabo

Designed in South Africa, it features a high rear arch for extra support and very smoothly connected decks. The galley is large and open, and most Leopards offer a four-cabin plan. If you are traveling with another person, this boat is an excellent option for you! 

The Manta 42 is another classic catamaran that you can buy used (at a decent price), as it is an incredibly seaworthy vessel. While still in production, the Manta was one of the most popular catamarans on the market. 

It is still in high demand amongst circumnavigators. Buying a used Manta 42 usually means that you inherit some of the previous owner’s boat upgrades! 

The Manta 42 also made it to my list of the 9 safest catamarans on the market ( link ).

This blue water cat can be sailed by one or two people, making it ideal for liveaboard couples or long-distance shorthanded sailing. The galley is in the saloon ( instead of in one of the hulls ), making the cabins below more spacious and better equipped. 

Overall, the Manta is well equipped for sailing around the world. 

Nautitech 44

Nautitech is an excellent brand of the catamaran, with several different designs per boat. The Nautitech 44 has a unique feature, you can have it with two options for steering: twin wheels or a single wheel.

The Nautitech 44 also features a cockpit on the same level as the saloon. The door between the two is more convenient than a hatch and dramatically reduces the risk of water damage during rain pour. 

This is also the same boat that aeroyacht president Gregor owns, he has offered some great insights into Nautitech in the book Catamarans (amazon link )

Outremer 45

Outremer is famous for being one of the fastest brands of catamarans on the market. If you need speed, the Outremer 45 might be the perfect choice for you. It has a top speed of 16 knots, which is higher than almost every other catamaran of its class. 

While the Outremer 45 is known for speed, it doesn’t compromise on the quality of living. 

You can settle into life on this boat with complete peace of mind. Even as a beginning sailor, the steering is simple and easy to use, and the autopilot is top of the line, so you’ll be able to sail across the ocean in an Outremer without issue. 

Privilege Serie 5

A French-designed catamaran, the Privilege Serie 5 is one of the most comfortable 50-foot (15 m) yachts available. The unique cabin layout includes the master cabin in the boat’s center instead of in one of the hulls. 

The Privilege Serie 5 is also incredibly easy to sail, despite its larger size. 

The sails and controls lead to the helm, where the raised deck makes it easy to see all around the deck. If you want to cross the ocean with a full crew then the Privilege Serie 5 might be perfect for you! 

Seawind 1000

The Seawind 1000 is the smallest boat on this list, measuring 33 feet (10 meters) long altogether. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s not livable. If you are sailing on your own or with a partner, there is more than enough space to live in the Seawind 1000, which includes the option of a centered cabin or two hull cabins. 

Because it’s small, the Seawind 1000 is easy to handle. The mast and sails are all manufactured for extra stability and ease of use. 

Overall, the Seawind 1000 is an excellent example of a simple, safe, and seaworthy catamaran. 

Note: since this is a small catamaran it will also be more sensitive to heavy weather so trip-planning becomes even more important.

The Voyage 44 is one of the oldest cats on this list, having had its hay-day in the mid-1990s. However, this also means that a used Voyage 44 will be cheaper than a newer boat. If you can find a Voyage with previous responsible owners, you will inherit any upgrades and fixes that they’ve made on top of a very seaworthy boat. 

The Voyage 44 has more storage and space than most cruisers of its size and is known for behaving very well in choppy waters. 

This catamaran does its job well while providing adequate space for cooking, sleeping, and living aboard. 

What To Look For in a Long-Distance Cruising Catamaran

If you are planning to sail around the world, you need to be very careful about which kind of catamaran you decide to use. Many of the things you want in a boat really comes down to personal preference, so be sure you know what design preferences you want before you start shopping! 

Size and Payload

The most important thing to consider when buying a catamaran is how much space and cargo you need because the larger the boats are, the bigger the payload it can handle. Decide how long you want the ship to be and how much you’re taking with you. 

It’s vital not to overload a catamaran, this will reduce performance and increase risk of unwanted behavior in heavy seas.

Cabin Placement  

Most catamarans have options for a “Maestro” cabin placement, where one entire hull is the master suite, and the other cabins are located on the opposite hull.

Cockpit and Protection From The Weather

Is the cockpit on the boat you’re looking at covered or open? This can make a difference on the high seas, especially during rainy weather. 

The size of the ship also can affect how many people you need as a crew. If you’re traveling by yourself or with one other person, you don’t want to buy a boat that needs a larger crew. 

Buying Used? 

If you don’t want to spend the money on a brand new catamaran, I don’t blame you. Several of the ships on this list are out of production and can only be found used. However, for circumnavigation, you do want a boat of high quality to keep you safe and dry until you make it to your destination.  

When buying a suitably used catamaran, it’s essential to look at the refit history of the boat more than the year it was made. Catamarans are sturdy, and the general design has been the same for at least the past decade. 

If you find a newer, larger, cheaper boat, you should look into its history. 

Your best bet to save money while buying a catamaran will be to buy an older, probably smaller boat with an excellent refit history and no serious issues. It will still be an investment, and a sturdy used catamaran will serve you well. 

Final Thoughts

No matter which catamaran you decide to buy for your journey, you’ll be able to sail safely and comfortably. Catamarans are great yachts for long-distance sailing, and the ships on this list are the best of the best. These brands are time-tested and ready to accompany you on an adventure around the world! 

Here are Some of My Favorite Catamaran Cruising Resources

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you hopefully start your sailing adventures. Here are some resources that I use as a sailor that I hope you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the exact things that I use and recommend to everyone, even my own family. Sailboats: If you’re looking for the best boat to suit your needs, I would recommend a catamaran. If you’re interested, I can show you the differences between catamarans and other types of sailboats .

Books:  For getting started, I really like  Cruising catamarans made easy . It is actually a textbook from the American sailing association; it is used to get a cruising catamaran certification. There are some other great books, and I have compiled a list of books about cruising catamarans that you will find useful.

Communication:  Being out on adventures, whether it be sailing or climbing mountains, good communications are essential to being safe. I recommend two things Google fi (incredibly simple cellular data all over the world) and Garmin inreach mini (for text and voice in remote areas without cell coverage)

Sailing courses: Online sailing courses are great for beginners starting out their sailing career; it’s an efficient way of learning the basics of navigation, throttle controls, and maritime safety. I suggest starting with two free courses from NauticEd .

To see all my most up-to-date recommendations,  check out this resource  that I made for you!

  • Wikipedia: Catamaran
  • Cruising World: A-Z Best Cruising Catamarans 
  • Dreamy Yacht Sales: Four Best Catamarans for New Buyers
  • Atlantic Cruising: Good Cat/Bad Cat
  • Yachting World: Catamaran Sailing Across the Atlantic
  • Boat Affair: What is a Catamaran? 
  • Nautilus Sailing: Catamaran Sailing

Owner of CatamaranFreedom.com. A minimalist that has lived in a caravan in Sweden, 35ft Monohull in the Bahamas, and right now in his self-built Van. He just started the next adventure, to circumnavigate the world on a Catamaran!

3 thoughts on “ 17 Best Catamarans for Sailing Around the World ”

I like the efforts you have put in this, regards for all the great content.

Thanks Elisabeth I really appreciate the kind words 🙂

I appreciate you sharing this blog post. Thanks Again. Cool.

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Best Small Sailboats To Sail Around The World

Best Small Sailboats To Sail Around The World

While there are plenty of 30-35ft blue water cruising yachts currently on the used sailboat market, many of them are tired and need new standing rigging, sails, engine, etc. That said, there are good boats out there that have been loved and looked after. Those that are well used have most likely been well maintained, too, so don’t be put off by yachts that have crossed oceans or even circumnavigated before, as their owners will have had to keep them properly seaworthy. Sailing around the world is no easy task, so these boats should be in tip-top shape. 

Some might consider 30-35ft too small for bluewater cruising or for a circumnavigation (sail around the world), but that has been disproved over the years. Bigger might be better for coastal cruising with friends, but maintenance costs rise exponentially with every extra foot. A small sailboat should be more than enough to carry a couple off on the adventures of which they dream.

Nicholson 35

Now somewhat legendary, the tough and dependable Nicholson 35 first appeared in 1971, and between then and 1985, some 228 boats were launched. Built to Lloyds’ specifications with a hand-laid solid GRP hull, she boasts a fully encapsulated lead fin keel and full-depth skeg. She has an alluring sheer with nicely balanced overhangs, giving her bows a powerful go-anywhere look, while her low-profile coachroof blends pleasingly into the decks.

Compared to today’s modern cruiser, the Nic 35’s accommodation is somewhat limited due to her relatively narrow beam and pinched ends, but what there is has been used intelligently and makes for a good working environment on long passages. The need to pass through the heads to reach the forecabin can be inconvenient with guests on board. Still, for two people cruising, these minor irritations are more than compensated for with the high quality and solidity of the fittings and joinery and the availability of safe sea berths on passage.

The main saloon is comfortable with 1.88m/6ft 2in headroom. A U-shaped dinette makes a narrow but long double in port, and the 1.92m/6ft 4in-long starboard settee a great sea berth. However, many were fitted with one or two pilot berths above the settee backs instead of lockers. The galley boasts a huge coolbox, full-size gimballed cooker, deep sink, and plenty of stowage. A crash bar, bum strap, and bulkhead pole make it a great working galley at sea. Opposite is a large aft-facing chart table with instrument mounting space on a half bulkhead separating it from the watch seat and wet locker further aft. A few boats had a forward-facing chart table and roomy quarter berth instead.

The water tanks are under the sole above the keel, not under the saloon settees as with many modern crafts. Small portlights and hatches mean natural light and ventilation might not be so plentiful as on a newer boat, but then there is less opportunity for leaks. Her cockpit is business-like – not over wide but with high coamings to support the crew securely and keep them dry. She also has a high bridge deck to stop water going below should a wave find its way into the cockpit and very deep cockpit lockers. The mainsheet track is within reach of the helmsman, just forward of the pedestal, but getting to the primaries entails climbing over the seats from behind the wheel. Her masthead sloop rig has a keelstepped mast. It is stout and uncomplicated, with twin lower shrouds and a removable inner forestay for a storm jib.

Post-1975 models had a taller mast option (51ft as opposed to 45ft), increasing the sail area considerably. No doubt most will now have the control lines led aft into the cockpit for safer shorthanded sailing. Under sail, the Nic comes into her own. She has a very positive helm, although she can be prone to weather helm if overpressed. Her performance under sail is well mannered and drama free. However, her large (145%) genoa can take some sheeting in (don’t leave the inner forestay on). Her high bows part the waves with a gentle motion, and her deep, longish keel keeps her tracking dead straight in a following sea. She won’t break any speed records, averaging around 5 knots on a long passage, but she’ll always get you there safely and in comfort.

Nicholson 35 best small yacht for circumnavigation

Nicholson 35 Specs

Overall Length10.76m (35ft 3in)
Waterline Length8.20m (26ft 9in)
Beam3.20m (10ft 5in)
Draught1.83m (6ft 0in)
Displacement8,013kg (17,630lb)
Hull TypeFin with Rudder on Skeg
Rigging TypeMasthead Sloop
First Built1971
Last Built1985

>>Also Read: Best Sailboats Under 30 Feet

The Sadler 34 evolved from the 32, and while the 32 was a tough, capable seaworthy sailboat cable of sailing around the world. The 34 offers much more in the way of accommodation thanks to her wider beam. Apart from being pretty, the most notable feature of the 34 is her double-skinned hull, sandwiched with thick closed-cell foam, making her unsinkable and eliminating condensation thanks to the added insulation. She came with a deep fin, shoal fin, or bilge keels, and the post-1990 models had a Stephen Jones-designed, foiled fin keel with ballast bulb that upped upwind performance. Under sail, she is responsive and vice free with a comfy motion and predictable handling. While her pinched (in modern terms) stern might limit the width of the aft cabin, it works well at sea, allowing her deep full skeg-hung rudder to keep a good bite on the water.

The Sadler 34 is quite a powerful performer and, despite having a fairly high displacement, achieves excellent passage times due to her ability to soldier on through foul weather and rough seas. Her deep and secure cockpit is perfectly dimensioned so as not to get thrown around at sea, and yet it provides enough clear seating for dining alfresco with mates. Stowage is also good, especially in the full-depth locker to port. There are harness points in the cockpit, but the mainsheet track runs across the bridge deck, which can catch out the unwary if the traveler isn’t locked in place.

On deck, the layout is practical, and the side decks uncluttered. Her foredeck is set up ideally for regular anchoring with a twin roller stemhead fitting and big anchor locker. Her accommodation is spacious enough for four. Though it was called a ‘double’ aft cabin, it only really works as a single, roomy quarterberth. She has an excellent U-shaped galley where pretty much everything can be reached with ease. The chart table opposite faces forward with its own seat, and there’s room aplenty for instruments and pilot books. Her saloon is roomy, and the table and seating are large enough for six to dine in comfort.

To port, the heads have a basin and its own door, allowing access to the forecabin. But in shower mode, the entire compartment runs athwartships, which isn’t ideal, especially as the hanging locker is in the same enclosure. There’s a decent-sized vee berth forward, which makes an ideal owner’s cabin at anchor. Stowage is reasonable, although the water tank is under the starboard settee.

Sadler 34 Specs

Overall Length10.59m (34.75 ft)
Waterline Length8.48m (27.83 ft)
Beam3.28m (10.75 ft)
Draught1.78m (5.83 ft)
Displacement5,806 kg (12,800lb)
Hull TypeFin with Rudder on Skeg
Rigging TypeMasthead Sloop
First Built1983
Last Built1995

>>Also Read: Best Sailboats Under 100k

Not unlike the Nicholson 35 in both hull lines and reputation, the Rival 36 is a tough, solid yacht designed for passagemaking in virtually all weathers and sea conditions. The 36 slotted between the slightly cramped 34 and the larger 38 ketch, with 78 in total being launched. Possibly a squeeze on such a tight budget, but you get a lot more space in the R36 than the older R34, and there’s a good chance you could find one that’s already equipped for bluewater cruising. She was offered as a masthead sloop or with a cutter rig option. Keel choice was between a deep lead-ballasted fin, a shallower Scheel keel, or a centerboard (R36C).

Under sail, she’s predictable and easily handled, although, like her predecessors, she’s not the fastest boat around. As with most heavy displacement cruisers, she’s designed more to get you safely across oceans than to race around the cans. Wheel or tiller-steered, she has a large, deep cockpit with high coamings and excellent stowage for deck gear. Access along the wide side decks is good, assisted One of a range of solidly built and well-found cruising yachts built by Northshore Yachts, the Vancouver 32 was designed specifically for serious passagemaking.

Full hull sections and short overhangs offer a high-volume yacht with excellent load-carrying abilities. Her fully encapsulated shallow keel contains nearly 3 tonnes of lead ballast, giving her an enviable ballast ratio of nearly 45%; a keel shoe extends aft to support the rudder and protect the prop from floating debris and lines. Only available with tiller steering and transom-hung rudder, she has an easily manageable masthead cutter rig with full shrouds and twin straight spreaders.

A smart teak-capped bulwark offers extra security going forward while large scuppers ensure rapid deck drainage. The interior is surprisingly spacious and comfy. The long quarterberth and port-side straight by high teak-capped gunwales and long handrails on the coachroof, and the foredeck big enough for handling the headsails and ground tackle, which can be securely stowed in the large, deep anchor locker when sailing. Below decks, she is warm and woody and retains the trademark Rival ‘keyhole’ bulkhead separating the superbly designed and well-appointed galley and navigation areas from the saloon. The twin-leaf saloon table has fiddles and can seat six for a meal, while the settees are straight and make comfortable 1.91m-long sea berths with lee cloths. Most had a pipe cot above as well.

Maximum headroom is 1.91m/6ft 3in, and stowage is good, thanks in part to the water tank being above the keel. With no double cabin aft and only a quarterberth, the forecabin provides a comfortable vee berth with ample floor space to dress, plenty of lockers to stow your clothing, and even a dressing table. The heads/shower compartment is also roomy, and Jack and Jill doors offer access from both saloon and forecabin.

Rival 36 - best used sailboats to sail around the world

Rival 36 Specs

Overall Length10.92m (35.83 ft)
Waterline Length8.28m (27ft 2in)
Beam3.35m (11ft 0in)
Draught1.83m (6ft 0in)
Displacement6,464kg (14,250lb)
Hull TypeFin with Rudder on Skeg
Rigging TypeMasthead Sloop
First Built1980
Last Built1990

>>Also Read: Best Sailboat Brands

Vancouver 32

One of a range of solidly built and well-found cruising yachts built by Northshore Yachts, the Vancouver 32 was designed specifically for serious passage making. Full hull sections and short overhangs offer a high-volume yacht with excellent load-carrying abilities. Her fully encapsulated shallow keel contains nearly 3 tonnes of lead ballast, giving her an enviable ballast ratio of nearly 45%; a keel shoe extends aft to support the rudder and protect the prop from floating debris and lines. Only available with tiller steering and transom-hung rudder, she has an easily manageable masthead cutter rig with full shrouds and twin straight spreaders. A smart teak-capped bulwark offers extra security going forward while large scuppers ensure rapid deck drainage. The interior is surprisingly spacious and comfy.

The long quarterberth and port-side straight settees make excellent sea berths, leaving the U-shaped starboard saloon settee (converts into double berth) and roomy vee berth forward for sleeping at anchor. A half bulkhead separates the galley/navigation areas from the saloon, with a support pillar on either side providing excellent handgrips. It’s a bonus having the quarter berths behind the ch

art table as it allows the off-watch crew to keep one eye on the instruments and chart. However, having the heads forward can result in a lot of water dripping off your oilies when going below in wet weather.

All that lovely solid hardwood adds to her weight (nearly twice that of a modern 32ft Bavaria). Most owners are more concerned with her superb oceangoing abilities, though. She sails predictably and undramatically, her high bows and fine balance ensuring she parts the waves with little spray and no slamming – ideal for long passages where many lighter boats can throw you about.

Vancouver 32 - Best Sailing Boat To Sail Around The World

Vancouver 32 Specs

Overall Length9.8m (31ft 11in)
Waterline Length8.38m (27ft 6in)
Beam3.20m (10ft 7in)
Draught1.45m (4ft 9in)
Displacement6,596kg (14,513lb)
Hull TypeLong Keel
Rigging TypeCutter
First Built1986
Last Built1991


Peter is the editor of Better Sailing. He has sailed for countless hours and has maintained his own boats and sailboats for years. After years of trial and error, he decided to start this website to share the knowledge.

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Sailing Around The World – Planning For Global Circumnavigation

August 14, 2021 by Martin Parker Leave a Comment

various sailing gear for global circumnavigation

There’s something about sailing around the world that captures the imagination and inspires. For some, it’s the reason for learning to sail in the first place. Others only start to think about global circumnavigation as their skills and experience grow. Regardless of what motivates you to circumnavigate, one thing remains true. For most, it will be the challenge of a lifetime.

But how do you start the process? For someone new to sailing, the prospect of circumnavigation can be truly daunting. With so much to think about and plan for, many get overwhelmed and abandon their dreams before they begin. 

This brief article aims to get you thinking about the task of circumnavigation and what it takes to practically and successfully navigate the process, from start to finish.

What Constitutes a Global Circumnavigation?

The definition of circumnavigation is a matter of debate, but there are some defined rules regarding a nautical, wind-powered trip where racing is concerned. A basic description would be to follow a route that forms a great circle. The passage must be at least 21,600 nautical miles for racing, and you must cross the equator, starting and finishing in the same port.

A cruising circumnavigation will often take a route that covers a much greater distance, with multiple diversions to visit places of interest. So long as you meet the essential criteria stated above, it can be classed as a circumnavigation.

If you are in a hurry, the current world record is held by Francois Gabart. He completed an official circumnavigation in just 42 days, 16 hours, and 40 minutes in December 2017.

No Substitute for Experience When Sailing Around the World

sailing around the world on a single hull sailboat

Some people spend a lifetime planning their trip, while others have just thrown the basics together and departed. In both cases, some have been successful, and some have not. We are trying to point out that while your planning is a necessary task, it does not guarantee success. Our best advice? Don’t keep putting off your departure because you haven’t planned everything 100%. 

Start with the basic, most important tasks, and get ready to learn as you go. After all, thinking on your feet will be a big part of your circumnavigation journey. 

Solo Circumnavigation, or Go With a Crew?

a man helps adjust the sails on a sailboat

Single-handed circumnavigation is perfectly possible. However, it’s a huge challenge that presents certain obstacles and dangers you could avoid with a crew. We highly recommend going with a crew for your first attempt, be it friends, family, or staff. The average time for cruising circumnavigation is around 18 months, although many people travel slowly over multiple years. 

If none of your family and friends are keen, you can use websites like Ocean Crew Link to find crew. You could also consider joining another boat as part of a crew to complete your first journey.

How Long Will it Take to Circumnavigate the Globe?

a wooden sailboat helm at dusk

This really is an open-ended question. How long you have might be a better question. If you’re in a hurry, the current world record is just under 43 days. For most of us, though, we’re circumnavigating to see more of the world at a leisurely pace.

On average, most complete their journey in approximately 18 months. Riley and Elayna from Sailing La Vagabonde started their trip in 2014 and are still going strong. They have even begun raising their young son on board during the journey. Theirs is a lifestyle choice that most won’t want, though. They even took a risky approach and started sailing around the world with little to no experience. It’s a route we wouldn’t recommend, but it shows that circumnavigation is possible – even for beginners.

In the end, your circumstances and endurance will determine how long you spend on your journey.

Is Sailing Around the World Dangerous?

The US Coast Guard practices an emergency rescue drill at sea

If anyone tries to tell you that it’s not slightly dangerous to circumnavigate the globe, don’t believe them. Sailing thousands of miles from land, passing through inclement weather, and relying on yourself and your crew presents many challenges and at least some level of risk. With proper knowledge, planning, and execution, though, you should be able to navigate your way through safely. By correctly preparing for your journey, you’ll have a better understanding of the risks, allowing you to reduce or even eliminate certain dangers. 

A good starting point is learning your basic sailing skills. These skills include setting your sails and trim, boat handling, and basic navigation, to name a few. Practicing emergency procedures also helps to set yourself up to manage emergency scenarios if they arise. Man-overboard scenarios, how to make a mayday or pan-pan call, having sufficient rescue equipment, and having excellent navigation skills will all help prepare you to make the best of a bad situation. There is a wealth of information and training available both online and through professional organizations, and we strongly recommend taking several training courses until you feel adequately prepared.

Choosing a Boat for Global Circumnavigation

A sailboat sits on the horizon while sailing around the world

When you consider that people have successfully traversed the oceans in a myriad of craft – including small rowing boats – perhaps the type of boat you choose is not the most critical factor. It’s true that with help, you can cross oceans in almost anything, but the less suitable the boat, the more challenging, uncomfortable, and dangerous it will ultimately be.

The range of boats available may seem baffling, but the standard for making significant passages are the cruising bluewater style yachts. Our recent article on bluewater sailboats for under $100,000 offers insight into some well-known, competent, and affordable cruising yachts .

Vessel Considerations For Sailing Around the World

  • Size: Yacht size affects many different aspects of sailing. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time onboard, having the extra space of a 40-foot yacht or bigger will undoubtedly come in handy. In this yacht category, you’ll also get a good sail area to cater to the varying conditions you’ll encounter.
  • Weight: Although a heavy yacht won’t break any speed records, it will keep you steady when the sea conditions are challenging. Strong winds can become challenging in the open ocean, and having a heavy-displacement vessel will help you keep your course.
  • Keel Design: Fin keels are very popular, and they’re featured on many modern boat designs. However, carefully consider where you intend to go. A bilge keel, for example, gives you a lower draught so you can visit more shallow waterways and will allow you to moor in areas where the tide will leave you aground. Additional benefits include easier maintenance when aground and reduced roll for added comfort.
  • Sailing Winches: There are pros and cons to electric and manual winches, but hand winches make sense on circumnavigation passages from a practical point of view. Electric winches save you effort and help if you are sailing short-handed, but they need an efficient power source. Manual winches are more straightforward and less likely to cause you trouble.

What Gear Do You Need for Sailing Around the World?

Orange and yellow emergency life raft used for sailing around the world

There is some sailing gear that is essential for safely navigating a circumnavigation. While this list is far from exhaustive, your boat should be equipped with the following: 

  • Life Jackets: This should go without saying, but it’s amazing how many don’t consider it essential. Ending up in the water thousands of miles from land is scary enough, but it could very well be a death sentence without a buoyancy device.
  • Lifeline: Prevention is better than a fix, so attaching yourself to the boat by a lifeline should be common sense when conditions call for it.
  • Ocean Liferaft: Inside should be an equipment and ration pack that will last longer than 24 hours.
  • Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB): An EPIRB is a device that automatically begins transmitting a rescue signal as soon as it’s submerged in water. 
  • Battery Charging System: You will spend most of your time sailing during a circumnavigation. Running your engine to charge your batteries will not last long, and it’s also not advisable. Install at least one method, but preferably two or more, that can charge your batteries under sail. Solar panels, wind turbines, and towed impellors give you three different options for power, depending on the conditions.
  • SSB Radio: A Single Side Band (SSB) radio is a commonly used maritime communication system in the open ocean and remote parts of the world. Although AM radios are also widely used, SSB radios offer much better reliability and performance.
  • Pactor Modem: Connecting your SSB to a modem will allow you to send and receive emails nearly anywhere at sea. 
  • Flare Pack: Flare packs are used to signal distress to other boats or rescue services, and having them on board could potentially save your life.

Other Items to Consider for Sailing Around the World:

  • AIS Transponder: Safe navigation at sea, particularly at night, requires at least one pair of eyes to monitor the sea for natural obstacles and other ships. While using an AIS transponder does not remove this requirement, it gives you additional information to avoid collisions at sea. 
  • Satellite Phone: Keeping in contact with friends and family can be a lifeline that keeps you going in the most challenging times. A satellite phone will allow you to make direct calls from nearly anywhere on the ocean.

Natural Factors to Consider Before Global Circumnavigation

Turbulent blue waters in the ocean

Your circumnavigation journey will cover more than 21,000 miles, and during that time, you will likely encounter everything mother nature can throw at you. Through good planning, though, you can choose to avoid the worst of the weather and take advantage of favorable winds and ocean currents.

Trade Winds

The trade winds blow continuously throughout the year, thanks to cold air at the poles and warm air at the equator. These temperature differences create westerly winds (from the west) at the poles and easterly winds around the equator. 

Trade winds nearer the poles are much stronger than at the equator, and racers tend to take advantage of this – the passage will be colder and far less comfortable, though.

Cyclone and Hurricane Season

Cyclones and hurricanes occur mainly when the ocean water is warm. This happens between July and October in the northern hemisphere and between December and April in the southern hemisphere. Using this information, it’s a simple task to plan your passage, avoiding the main storm seasons. Of course, storms can still occur at any time in the year, so always be prepared for the unexpected.

Major Ocean Currents

In general, the ocean’s major currents follow the direction of the trade winds, but in some areas, such as South Africa, they can work against you. This makes following the trade winds even more appealing when sailing around the world.

Things To Do Before Sailing Around the World

White and green sailboat used for sailing around the world

Below, we outline some of the ways you should prepare before setting out on your first circumnavigation.

As we mentioned previously, some intrepid sailors have completed circumnavigations with no formal training and have learned while en route. While it is possible to do this, we wholeheartedly recommend you get some basic training before setting off.

Most sailing courses around the world offer certification that is acceptable in other countries. The Royal Yachting Association is the primary certification agency in the UK, and the US Sailing School is the leading agency in the US. 

The most widely accepted certificate is the International Certificate of Competence for Operator of Pleasure Craft (ICC). Once you have your national license, you can apply for the ICC, which is accepted in virtually every country worldwide. Even if a country doesn’t accept the ICC, most charter companies will, allowing you to charter a yacht nearly anywhere.

A variety of insurance policies are available for sailors, but there will likely be clauses in the policy referring to piracy and storms. If you ignore the clauses and visit restricted areas, your insurance will not cover an incident.

Piracy refers to anything from abduction and murder to petty theft and assault. Depending on where you’re at in the world, you’ll need to be vigilant to combat potential downfalls. 

The Philippines and the Suez Canal are two hotspots for more severe piracy, and your insurance likely will specify these areas as high risk.

Only you can assess the risk you are willing to take. Avoiding known problem areas can be beneficial, but incidents can still occur anywhere in the world. 

Get the Right Sails For Your Route

Assuming you will follow a typical cruising circumnavigation route, you’ll spend most of your time downwind. Aside from the fact that many monohull sailors find continuous downwind sailing uncomfortable, you’ll need to kit out the sail locker appropriately. Spinnakers and screechers are the order of the day, along with standard genoa sizes or furling genoa.

Many countries require visas for transit through them, and depending on where you’re going, they could take weeks or even months to traverse. You need to plan carefully, as arriving in a country’s waters without the correct paperwork could prove troublesome.

Interested in joining a like-minded social circle? Get a conversation started on the  new #BoatLife forum  by leaving a question or comment today!

If you found this article helpful, please leave a comment below, share it on social media, and subscribe to our email list.

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Planning a Circumnavigation


Last Updated on September 13, 2023 by Amy

Plotting world circumnavigation routes is a lot easier than it sounds.  There are cruising boats LITERALLY all over the world.  There are boats in the Northwest passage (up and over Canada), in the Antarctic, and everywhere in between.  There are a few key things to take into consideration, but 95%* of circumnavigation routes follow the same general course.

Table of Contents - Click to Jump

Insurance Restrictions on Circumnavigation Routes

There are two major restrictions put on us by our vessel insurance; stay out of highly pirated areas and stay out of named storm zones.  Insurance restrictions come with the option to ignore them.  You can always go to these restricted places, BUT if something happens, your insurance will not be covered.  Another option is that you can pay significantly more to be covered in these places as well.  We have made the choice for ourselves to follow the restrictions set by our insurance.

By definition, piracy is the act of attacking and robbing ships at sea.  By that main definition, the Caribbean is one of the worst places for piracy.  Petty theft of boats and their tenders is a major issue in some parts of the Caribbean, and steps should be taken to protect yourself and your assets.

However, the piracy of the biggest concern is murder and kidnapping.  There are two main hotspots where our insurance will not cover us;  the Philippines and the Red Sea/Suez Canal (hereby referred to as simply Suez).   Again, people cruise literally everywhere in the world, and there are people who cruise the Philippines (2015 reports state 200 yachts).  The other side of the coin is true too.  Just because you avoid the Suez or the Philippines does not mean you will avoid being kidnapped or murdered.

It’s up to you to decide the level of risk you are willing to take when planning out a circumnavigation route.

Tropical Storms

In North America, it’s a hurricane.  South of the equator, it’s cyclones.  In Asia-Pacific, it’s typhoons.  Either way, your insurance probably has a word or two to say about where you spend tropical storm season.

Our insurance requires us to avoid certain parts of the world during storm seasons.  This is why there is a mass exodus of boats from the Caribbean every year.  Our insurance requires us to be north of roughly the Florida-Georgia line.  Now, that doesn’t mean we are safe from hurricanes, but it does mean if something happens, we will have the  privilege of consoling ourselves of our losses by applying for an insurance claim.

For those moving quickly, your primary concern is systems in the southern hemisphere.  Just make sure you are moving from east to west quickly enough to pass through the storm zone.

World circumnavigation routes, like ours, usually have you dipping out of these storm zones for the season. It’s a great time to haul your boat out for annual maintenance, like we did in New Zealand, Australia, and Thailand.

Tradewinds for Circumnavigating

Around the equator lies the doldrums.  This is typically an area with very little wind.  However, each ocean has a wind pattern.  In the northern hemisphere, winds circulate clockwise.  In the southern hemisphere, winds circulate counterclockwise.  This means that on either side of the equator lies a band of wind flowing from east to west.  This is why 95%* of cruisers plan their circumnavigation routes to sail from east to west.

Factoring the Wind into Outfitting Your Boat

Knowing where you will sail will help you determine what kind of sail performance you are looking for in a boat.  For someone doing a typical circumnavigation route, sailing east to west, you’ll be sailing downwind a lot.  Some monohull owners have complained to us about how uncomfortable their boat is sailing dead downwind.  Catamarans, however, typically perform best downwind.  We have a very smooth ride when we are traveling with the wind and waves.

Outfitting your sail locker also factors in where you are sailing.  For a downwind circumnavigation, spinnakers are highly useful – or so we hear.  We’ve not had terrible success with our spinnaker, but find our screecher to be very useful.  That could possibly be because we deviate enough from the standard downwind route.

For more about sail configurations in a cruising catamaran, read our Sail Trim blog post.

Those Who Sail West to East Circumnavigation Routes

There are a few who do sail the “wrong way”.  It can definitely be done and done fast.  However, you need to have a boat that sails well to wind.  While most catamarans sail well downwind, we do not sail well into the wind.  However, if your catamaran has daggerboards, you’ll sail much better to wind than a catamaran without daggerboards.

Circumnavigation Routes & Bottlenecks

This is why most circumnavigations follow the same basic route.  There are major bottlenecks to passing around the continents, so again, we’ve got the 95%* of boats funneling into one narrow part of the world.

Panama Canal

We paid $1300 to transit the Panama Canal because the only other option is to sail against the wind and waves around either North America or South America.  Taking one of the high latitudes routes is pretty dang extreme, takes a significant amount of time, and a toll on ship and crew.  Ushuaia, a port of call in Argentina, reported 64 boats in 2015, versus 1,079 boats transiting the canal – 95% transiting the canal*.

Torres Strait

The Torres Strait occupies the space between Australia and New Guinea.  It’s fairly small, just 650 nm between Thursday Island and Indonesia’s first port of clearance.

There are some cruisers (like our friends on S/V Field Trip) who are going over the top of New Guinea to get to Southeast Asia.  Getting any further north than that requires dealing with the Philippines – either through or around the top of the Philippines into the South China Sea.

Cape of Good Hope

Traveling around South Africa requires tackling the Cape of Good Hope, which is not to be taken lightly due to the challenges in the winds and currents.  The alternative is the Suez.  There used to be a rally passing through the Suez.  The other alternative is to hire private security, but that’s pretty complex.  Reports show 358 boats sailing through Cape Town verses 19 through the Suez – again, 95% choose Cape Town*.   I know the Mediterranean is a great cruising ground, but we decided if we want to cruise it, we’d rather cross the Atlantic twice than go through the Suez.

How Long Should a Circumnavigation Take?

Barring racing yachts who are smashing world records, it’s not uncommon to complete a circumnavigation in a year and a half.  This is a fairly straightforward and quick route.

The World ARC is a one and a half year rally that circumnavigates the world.  They have a fantastic route and schedule on their website.

Longer circumnavigation routes still use the same general track, but add on detours.   For example, we extended our South Pacific portion into two seasons by sailing south to spend cyclone season in New Zealand.

We’ve met sailors who have taken 15 or more years to circumnavigate. That’s a lot of detours!

Our Circumnavigation Route

Our sailing circumnavigation route took us four years and three months to travel all the way around the world. You can read the summary of our world circumnavigation for more details.

Book: World Cruising Routes

This is LITERALLY the bible of sailing around the world. If you have ever asked yourself (or, god help you, asked on a forum) “I wonder when the best time to sail from X to Y is?” the answer is in this book.

Even though we know our route, I’m still pulling out this book every so often to look up possibilities. It’s a great guide to planning your circumnavigation route overall and planning each individual passage.

Buy Jimmy Cornell’s World Cruising Routes .

Book: Cornell’s Ocean Atlas

This handy reference book is full of windgrams  – “a summary of wind direction and strength derived from the individual windroses along a specific ocean route “. Basically this means you can open a chart for a particular region and month and you will be able to tell where the wind “usually” blows from.

Buy Cornell’s Ocean Atlas .

Book Review: How to Sail Around the World Part-Time

  • Who: Linus Wilson and his wife, Janna
  • Available: Kindle, Kindle Unlimited or Paperback
  • Published: January 2016
  • Editing (scale of 1-10, 10 is best): 10

Linus Wilson has been cruising part-time on his 31-foot Island Packet. This is his second book, and in it, he details how one could sail a circumnavigation part-time. I agree – it is possible and might be the solution more potential cruisers should consider.

Wilson pulls a lot of statistics about sailing. Did you know fewer people complete a sailing circumnavigation every year than climb Mount Everest? An hour spent above base camp on Mount Everest is 264 times more dangerous than an hour sailing?

One question unanswered is how long it would actually take to sail the world part-time. Of course, it depends on how much time you dedicate every year, but hypothetically:

  • Year 1: the Caribbean to Panama, store in Panama
  • Year 2: Panama to French Polynesia, store in FP
  • Year 3: French Polynesia to Fiji, store in Fiji
  • Year 4: Fiji to Australia, store in Australia
  • Year 5: Australia to South Africa, store in SA
  • Year 6: SA to the Caribbean

Of course, you’d see a lot less than you would on a 6-year circumnavigation like ours, but you get it done in a fraction of the cost and less risk.

Bottom line: it was a short, interesting, and informative read. If you don’t want to full-time sail, or can’t convince your partner to full-time sail, consider how fulfilling a part-time adventure could be.

*Jimmy Cornell is the foremost expert on tracking cruising boats, and the statistics for this blog post were pulled from his article Where do all the boats go?


Wonderful article. I am from Goa, India. I wish you had come to Goa. I would have happily looked after your boat, and you could have travelled through India and enjoyed its majestic and diverse cultures and sites. I am 67 years old grandfather. I have been coastal and competitive sailing for the past 50 years. I am now planning to go on a circumnavigation on a Leopard 39 sailboat starting from Goa. Hoping to do it in 2 to 3 years. Your article and videos have inspired me. All the best. Thank you for your well written and detailed articles.

Wow, great to hear from you! It is amazing to us when we hear from people like you all over the world! We have some friends who visited Cochin last year on their boat, I think that’s a popular stop for cruisers. I know that formalities in India are complicated.

I have never been, but I love the food and the culture that I’ve experienced so far! I hope we get to visit someday.

Do sail down to Goa anytime you want. I will sort out all you entry formalities. Wish you all the best. Keep inspiring us with your wonderful sailing and videos.

Hi, how many miles is it when circumnavigating around the earth please? Captain cook did it in 60k, but is this because you cant just sail direct around the earth due to islands and storms etc?

Hi! Our circumnavigation was about 34,000 nm. You can read more about it here: https://outchasingstars.com/world-sailing-circumnavigation-summary/

Amy, when you and David are on a long passage, what kind of watch schedule do you keep? Assuming you’re both healthy (unlike your passage to St. Helena), what do you find to be a comfortable limit for the number of days at sea before exhaustion begins to set in?…or does it ever set in for you guys?

We do a soft 7-hour watch. The only actual watch is I do 7 pm to 2 am. Then David goes on watch while I sleep. When I wake up we switch, and he naps. Then when he’s up, I nap. By then it’s time to do the whole thing all over again! The worst night is the second. You’ve been tired, but not tired enough to sleep off your normal routine yet. But after the second night it gets a lot better. Exhaustion does not set in long-term – boredom does!

I really enjoyed reading your article, it’s very informative although that I don’t have a boat, it’s too expensive where I’m from, and it would take a fortune to be registered if it’s allowed in the first place, as authorities put a lot of restrictions for civil citizen to do so after military took over in 60s, for example we can’t camp as a first without a security permit bla bla bla that it raerly issued or thread fishing without a license and permit bla bla bla….etc, there isn’t a proper Marina for docking not even mention the amount of visas that it required. I love to sail one-day but till that time I’m really enjoy reading and watching. I’m from Egypt, and it makes me sad that sailors stop passing by, as we have a great shores, great diving spots, the Suez canal, and the right wind, but to be considered as unstable area for the Somalian pirates acts, and all the Egyptian governmental claims about fighting terrorist and repel ghost they imagine, this is horrible. It’s really tearing me that after around 8000 years on Earth people couldn’t yet handle their conflicts. I’m sorry to make it very long. Glad that some people had the privilege to try and be able to chasing stars and wind. Godspeed

Sarah, thank you for your comment! It’s amazing to us that we have someone reading from Egypt!

I recently read a memoir about a yacht who sailed through the Suez, and it sounded like they had a lot of difficulties, not just with pirates and corruption, but it’s hard sailing too! Egypt is very high up on my list of places I would truly love to visit because of its amazing history and culture.

We hope that somehow you get to enjoy sailing, even if it’s just continuing to follow us along.

You are amazing, all the best in your upcoming, and hopefully everyone can enjoy sailing in Egypt one day, and be able to see you here in the future.

Hi Amy, first, what a nice simple but very informative blog. I have run a ‘sailing for disabled people’ organisation for the last 25 years and as part of our 25th anniversary are planning to build a 20m cat for a round the world adventure. Planned for start in 2025 I need to get people to understand the real dangers and risks of such travel as well as the good things, would you mind if I used your blog in this matter, I would of course say that is yours. Details of us are under the ‘new projects button’ at http://www.disabledsailing.org

Hi Mike! You are welcome to link to our blog post. If you need anything beyond that, send us an email and we can talk more!

Excellent and informative article. I’d just like to point out the following statement where it states: “Ushuaia, a port of call in Chile, reported 64 boats in 2015….”

Please note that Ushuaia is not located in Chile, but rather within the Tierra del Fuego province of Argentina.

Thank you so much for the correction! I will fix it right away. Geography lesson of the day. 😉

Now you can completely delete my comment 🙂 It’s all sorted. Happy and safe sailing to you and your family. Antonella

Nice write up. Very helpful. Keep up the good work. However sailing through the suez is not really that dangerous. My friends Ingo and Maya sailed through from turkey to India and onward to thailand and had no probs with pirates.

I do hear that the piracy situation is improving. I do think there are a lot of good reasons to go around South Africa though, and I am glad we did.

Great informative article, thanks for sharing.

Where do you store your bladder when it is full? Also, thanks for all the info and videos. It has helped us a great deal in preparation for purchasing our boat,

Thank you! I’m glad you’ve found it helpful. We store the duel bladder in the cockpit.

On the longer passages, how much extra fuel do you carry in your blatter tank. What motering range do you think is sufficient for your longer passages?. I’m thinking the Helia goes about 750 miles on 125 gallons of diesel. Thanks Jon

Our fuel tank holds 125 gallons, plus four 5-gallon jerry cans, plus the 50-gallon fuel bladder, to total 195 gallons. If we motor at 1800 rpms with one engine it’s roughly .8 gph. Theoretically, our tanks should take us about 900 nm. Of course, we go months and thousands of miles without using all of our diesel.

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Navigating the World: Choosing the Right Size Boat for Your Round-the-World Sailing Adventure

sailboat to sail around the world

Circumnavigating the globe is not a goal for the faint of heart, and it takes a lot of planning. One of the earliest decisions to make is the boat to choose, and how big it should be. “Navigating the World: Choosing the Right Size Boat for Your Round-the-World Sailing Adventure”

There are a lot of factors that go into the decision, everything from budget to how many people will live on board. And while there’s no right answer to the question for everyone, thirty-five to forty-five feet is the most common size range , for many good reasons which we will explore. And can certainly sail around the world in something larger or smaller.

General Considerations for Boat Size

sailboat to sail around the world

It’s not just how many people you sail with that dictate the space you need, but also how you plan to circumnavigate. If you’re planning to spend five or ten years meandering around the world, then speed isn’t a problem. But if you’re joining an around the world rally with a circumnavigation in twelve to eighteen months, you’d be hard pressed to do it on a slower boat.

And how you get there is important, too. Island hopping across the Pacific is slow and comfortable, and a pretty gentle route. But heading down the coast of South America to do a high latitude crossing in cold weather means you need a lot more boat.

Finally, the slower you go, the more time you’ll spend not sailing. And boat size has a tremendous impact on comfort at anchor. A tiny boat may work fine for slow, solo-sailing meander around the world, but a larger group will need some elbow room for those months of exploration when you’re stopped.

Read also: Top 3 Yachts For A Memorable Mediterranean Yacht Charter Experience

Sailing around the world: Monohull or Catamaran?

sailboat to sail around the world

The choice of a monohull versus a catamaran is a topic of its own, and there are many advantages and drawbacks to either type of boat. Issues of safety, comfort, reliability, price, and personal preferences all go into the discussion.

More monohulls have sailed around the world

While catamarans aren’t a new concept, the blue water cruising catamaran is a more recent development. Because monohulls have been circling the globe for over a century, more of them have completed the journey. That doesn’t mean they are inherently superior, but that there is more data available about their suitability to the task.

Catamarans are comfortable (except when they’re not)

At anchor, it’s tough to compete with a catamaran for comfort and stability. The huge bridge deck area and cockpit make for spacious living quarters, and the broad platform doesn’t rock and roll. And while sailing, a catamaran does not heel much, so sailing on more upwind angles is more comfortable without all the tipping.

But in terrible conditions, catamarans can be miserable. Steep, choppy waves are uncomfortable for any boat, but a catamaran may pound those waves with a low bridge deck. Cats with lower bridge decks are more prone to this, but it can happen to any catamaran if the waves are big enough. Constant pounding for hours or days is miserable.

Monohulls are usually cheaper

Building a single hull is much easier than building two hulls and joining them with a bridge deck that won’t flex and twist under all the loads at sea. And material costs are higher for two hulls, as there is so much more volume. And many marinas charge extra for multihulls because of their high beam, sometimes they may charge you for two slips!

Safety Comparisons

If a monohull capsizes, it has a keel to right it, and most monohulls will roll back from it, eventually. Catamarans will not. This is often touted as a major safety difference, and it is a fact to be considered. But consider also that with two hulls and no heavy keel, catamarans are very difficult to sink.

Cruising catamarans are not sailed in a way likely to flip them. The catamarans most likely to capsize are high performance racing catamarans, not cruisers laden with gear and stores and sailed for comfort, not speed.

A full analysis is beyond this article, but both types of boats have safety risks, be it capsizing or losing a keel, with the worst-case scenario of either being quite rare. It’s important to come in with your eyes open to make a realistic determination of the risks you accept.

Read also: Best yachts for transatlantic: our selection and advices for 2023

Monohull sizes to sail around the world

sailboat to sail around the world

These are rough guidelines only, and you will have to look more closely at individual boats for living space and performance requirements.

Under Twenty-five Feet

While boats under twenty-five feet have sailed around the world, those who did it were on very specialized adventures. The sort of trips that establish your name in the Guinness Book of World Records or the sailing hall of fame. These are cramped trips on very small boats by one person. You can do it, but it’s more of a stunt than a lifestyle.

Twenty-five to thirty-five feet: for cost conscious adventurers

If you are sailing around the world on a boat under thirty feet, more power to you. It’s possible, but it will be slow and possibly cramped. Thirty to thirty-give feet gets to more reasonable ground for a cruising couple, but too small limits room for gear and stores. But it is a very affordable way to get out and sailing. You’re unlikely to have hot water, and refrigeration is limited.

Thirty-five to forty-five feet: the sweet spot

This size range is the sweet spot for many cruisers. Cruising couples, small families, and other groups do well in this size without costs escalating. The longer boats can get some faster passages and give more range and stores. These boats can have water heaters, more refrigeration and instruments, and even freezers.

Over fifty feet: comfortable, capable, and costly

A couple can comfortably sail larger monohulls with the right sail handling equipment, and they are also good for larger families. With more room for comfort systems, a fully equipped boat over fifty feet will lack for little. Costs are higher, but passage times are a lot faster.

Catamaran recommended sizes to sail around the world

sailboat to sail around the world

Catamarans have more volume for the equal length in monohulls, but their performance drops off dramatically if overloaded.

Under thirty feet: few and far between

Tiny catamarans rarely have the stores and carrying capacity for crossing oceans, there have been very few built. Most catamarans this small are more suited to coastal cruising.

Thirty to forty feet: Relative comfort and speed

Starting in the low thirty-foot range, there are some solid catamarans capable of blue water sailing, and they offer a good balance between comfort and budget. They aren’t always the fastest, but you’ll have no lack of living space, even if cargo capacity is light.

Forty to fifty feet: the catamaran sweet spot

Manufacturers have focused on the mid-forties in catamaran length, and there are so many options in a broad range of price, style, and configuration. You can find lighter, faster cruising boats or heavier boats with more carrying capacity and interior volume.

Over fifty feet: sail the world in speed and comfort

Larger catamarans are redefining the terms “performance cruising” and “comfort.” When you get towards fifty feet and beyond, the interior volume of these boats is amazing. Some builders have focused on plush comfort, while others focus more on sailing performance. In this range, the boats can get quite expensive, but you’ll have a sailing experience like no other.

The best boats models to sail around the world

sailboat to sail around the world

We’ve selected a few solid boats to look at for sailing around the world. It’s not an exhaustive list, it’s a place to look for boats that match your requirements for space, speed, and budget. Every boat listed is one model from a quality brand of boats, so explore the entire range of models for options.

sailboat to sail around the world

Westsail 32 – a small, sturdy, comfortable boat that will take you where you want to go. Although Westsail went out of business years ago, this model and others are available on the used market, and the Westsail 42 is another popular option.

Valiant 40 – Another classic, older cruiser, the Robert Perry designed Valiant 40 broke a lot of rules about what was supposed to be on a small, ocean-going sailboat. The result was one of the fastest forty-footers for its time, and still an excellent performing, sea-worthy boat.

Hallberg-Rassy 40C – one of the latest offerings from this Swedish builder, it features a modern design built to Hallberg-Rassy’s exacting standards. The entire range of Hallberg Rassy yachts, old and new, are solid, capable blue water sailboats that can handle anything.

Hylas 46 – A good medium displacement cruiser, it has plenty of space for a couple or small family. It sails well, and doesn’t break the bank.

Amel 54 – Cruising ketches from French builder Amel have a fanatic loyal owner base, because of the well thought out and practical designs coupled with solid, high-quality construction.

Read also: Five Easy Beginners-Friendly Sailing Trips And Destinations

sailboat to sail around the world

Gemini 105M – At 10.5 meters (34′) this is one of the smallest and most successful ocean-going production catamarans. The Gemini Legacy 35 is an updated version which is also still an excellent option in the small cat market.

Atlantic 42 – The Chris White designed Atlantic catamarans are known for their speed under sail and interior comfort. This is the smallest of the Atlantic catamarans, but it will not disappoint you if you’re looking for a little more performance.

Leopard 44 – Built in South Africa by Robertson & Caine, Leopards are great for on the water comfort and easy handling. The 44 is available in an “owner’s” version, but is also a very popular boat in the charter fleets. Plenty of space for a family.

Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46 – The French-built Fontaine Bahia is an earlier example of one of their many good sailing, comfortable cruising catamarans.

Outremer 51 – while we know Outremer best for screaming performance, their boats are also comfortable, well built, and spacious. If you’re going large and speed is your thing, you won’t go wrong with any of their boats.

The right size for YOU

sailboat to sail around the world

Yes, there are “sweet spots” and “ideal ranges” for boats we can talk about, but no one can dictate the best boat for you and your plans. Remember, when you are looking at boats and considering size, that it needs to work for your plan, your budget, and your skill level. Buying too much boat can be as much of a mistake as going too small for your needs. If you can’t handle the boat or the finances cause you stress, it won’t be fun.

So remember when you look and read all these recommendations, they’re just to give you a baseline in your search for the perfect sized boat for you .

Read also: 10 Best Destinations For Luxury Yacht Vacations


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Best boats to sail around the world

Oct 20, 2020

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Best boats to sail around the world

Sailing around the world is regarded as one of the safest ways to travel, according to recent statistics. The only way for it to become a little bit worrisome is if you are not careful. That said, having a good boat to sail worldwide will also increase your chance of being safer and enjoying your trip better.

Therefore, sailing around the world boats do possess some optimal characteristics and features that make them better suited for such long voyages. These features would be durable hulls, lightweight structures, cutting edge technology as well as large volume and length to ensure comfort. Some of the most popular world cruising boat brands include:

  • Hallberg-Rassy

The World Cruising Club has been featuring boats and comparing them throughout their rallies. Based on their choices, here is a list of the 8 most popular cruising boats to sail around the world:

  • The Hylas 54 is commonly seen in the Caribbean. This is one of the most popular world cruisers due to its strong hull and ergonomic deck layout. In addition, it includes a raised saloon, a wide interior, and elegant finishes. Hylas 54 achieves a good balance between a chic design and good engineering.
  • Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 54DS is an interesting and eye-catching boat. It was introduced to the marine world in 2003 and has been a sight for sore eyes ever since. This is a powerful and strong structure including a deep-draft keel and an in-mast furling mainsail. ts exterior seems quite futuristic and cannot go unnoticed.
  • The Amel Super Maramu is a boat intended to be sailed by a couple. It features electric furling gears and high-tech sail handling systems. There are only 500 of this model made.
  • Oyster 56 is a very popular boat for Britain. It is quite interesting as this boat is so small it can be  operated by just two people, but it is durable and strong enough to cross oceans. In addition, despite its size, it is regarded as a very comfortable vessel. Most importantly, the Oyster 56 is quite fast and has won several rallies and done very well in regattas.
  • The Hallberg-Rassy 42 is a Swedish boat designed by German naval architects. It features tough center-cockpits, an ingenious interior layout, great materials, impeccable building quality, and last but not least, luxurious finishes.
  • Bavaria 42 is a mass-production boat that can easily be compared to luxurious yachts when it comes to crossing oceans. This is an affordable boat with a long waterline length and a couple of sleeping cabins. What distinguishes it from the rest is its straightforward interior and its high quality.
  • The Amel 54 was introduced to the naval world in 2006. It is an utterly comfortable boat featuring a contemporary design, durable materials, and luxurious amenities.
  • Beneteau 57 is an ingenious masterpiece that features a very fast hull with an interesting and attractive shape. The finishes inside the boat scream luxury, while the center-cockpit is quite flexible and practical.

The most common routes for the best boats to sail around the world include the Canary Islands to St Lucia, Virginia to Tortola, and Tortola to Portugal. You can catch a glimpse of these boats in those routes as part of the WCC rallies. Explore more boats and other interesting facts in TheBoatAPP blog.

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How Big Should a Sailboat Be to Sail Around the World?

I see you've already started googling your research and want to know how big of a boat you need to circle the globe. Well, search no more, this article is here to tell you in-depth what size boat you need to sail around the world.

How big should a sailboat be to sail around the world? The best sailboat size to sail around the world is 35 to 45 feet. Smaller boats of 25 feet will be more uncomfortable and inconvenient; it is, however, possible. Larger sailboats of 60 foot and up will be more comfortable, but they are more expensive as well.

Read on, we will have a look at these statements more closely; a cookie-cutter approach is never good, so we will analyze it a bit more in-depth. Obviously, it depends on your specific situation.

sailboat to sail around the world

On this page:

What's the ideal boat size to sail around the world, does (boat) size matter, small boat circumnavigations, the ideal boat size for circumnavigations, large boat circumnavigations, in conclusion….

The ideal sailboat size to sail around the world is between 35 and 45 feet long. This length will ensure a high enough maximum hull speed, good handling in high waves, and enough cargo capacity to carry multiple weeks of food and water. Longer boats will perform as well, but are more expensive too.

The most important factors in sailing around the world are:

  • cargo capacity & supplies

Longer boats are faster and can carry more cargo, which you will need for circumnavigation. Especially water can take up a lot of space and weight.

Smaller boats will have less cargo capacity. Smaller boats are slower as well, which increases the need for cargo capacity since you'll need more water and food.

Boats over 45 feet long will get disproportionally expensive. However, there are a lot of boats available between 35-45 feet for very reasonable prices.

We did research on average sailboat prices by comparing thousands of prices for you. Learn more on the average cost of buying & owning a sailboat here.

sailboat to sail around the world

The first thing you're probably thinking about is whether your boat of choice can handle the weather, the waves, and the long journey. But contrary to what you might have been led to believe, size is less relevant than you probably think.

Not that it doesn't matter in the overall picture, it does, but for very different reasons.

You see, a 20-foot Flicka is just as capable of crossing oceans as is any seaworthy 60 footer. It is more tricky to handle, especially in harsh conditions, but the boat's size doesn't necessarily impact its bluewater abilities .

As long as you stay within a reasonable range and keep away from 10-foot dinghies, of course. Though the smallest boat to ever cross the Atlantic had just a bit over five feet.

Respect to Hugo Vihlen, the man who operated this miracle.

Now I understand you aren't asking how big a boat can be to circumnavigate, you are asking how big it should be. But the reason I started with explaining that even small boats can do the job is that sailing around the world can get pretty pricey.

I wanted to make sure you know that even if your budget isn't the largest, so you can't go for a bigger boat, that shouldn't necessarily stop you from getting what you want.

With that in mind, let's kick this off with what it means to sail around the world on a small boat and work our way up in size.

sailboat to sail around the world

Now that we've established that small boats can too be seaworthy, let's see the drawbacks.

Such a vessel will take you from point a to point b successfully, but you might face issues when it comes to its speed.

There is a thing called hull speed, something too complicated for my simple mind to understand beyond this simple statement:

'because of physics, the longer the boat, the faster it can go'.

So a 1000 mile crossing with a 20 footer will be significantly slower than with a 50 footer, even with the same weather conditions. If you are in a hurry, take this into account.

Longer journey means more supplies

Also, take it into account when planning the logistics. If your passage takes more time, you will need more supplies, for which you need more space - and on a small boat, that spells possible storage space issues.

Dried meat and oatmeal isn't particularly bulky, but water volume is non-negotiable. And you need at least a couple of liters per day .

Even if comfort is not an issue for you and you don't mind spending a few months in a tiny warehouse full of provisions with not much room for yourself, supplies, paired with all the necessary equipment you need, become heavy and a small sailboat can find itself being quite overwhelmed by the weight, becoming more difficult to maneuver.

Which is the last thing you want when facing the Poseidon himself in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Just calculate the weight of water you will need for a four-week crossing - something you may easily encounter when sailing around the world.

Even if you minimize the freshwater use and have it for drinking only (hello salty showers) you will easily get to nearly a hundred kilos, and that's just for one person.

On an average 5,500 lbs 20 footer, you might end up in a passage situation where just water for two people makes up 10 percent of the boat's weight, which isn't ideal.

Small boats are more affected by waves

Last but not least, small boats will be influenced by the waves more than larger ones would be. Again, they can deal with them, but the question is if you can. The constant up and down movement can wear even an enthusiastic explorer down.

I understand that this is a matter of comfort, something which many of you hardy ones won't need. Just putting it out there to warn you ahead of time.

What you ideally want is to have your boat be around 40 feet, give or take five. This size will give you enough space to store all you need for long crossings, you can fit a partner plus a bunch of friends on it and its sails and keel are likely big enough to have your back even in rougher conditions.

Moreover, at this size, boats still aren't too much if you want to operate them by yourself, +-40 feet is generally quite manageable short-handed, especially if you tweak them a bit.

Short-handed simply means 'solo'.

That makes sense for circumnavigation especially because it can lead to scenarios where you will have to rely on yourself without the ability to get much external help. If you sail as a pair and want to take shifts, or if your partner in crime becomes unable to contribute for whatever reason, it will give you peace of mind knowing you can do the job for both.

Now for the important, storage space matter - unlike the smaller boats, +-40 footers won't suffer as much when you load them with all you need for such a journey, so you can safely get spare sails and parts without overloading your precious vessel.

This means more comfort since you can prepare yourself for many worst-case scenarios - be it equipment breaking down or a two-week crossing turning into a four week one because of bad weather.

They say long passages are not as much about sailing skills, rather about the ability to maintain your boat and good spirit. For that, spare parts and good company is needed. An overprepared sailor is a happy sailor.

All the other categories are covered quite well by this size too. Prices won't ruin even a tighter budget, comfort-wise you won't suffer more than you need to when the seas get rough and speeds are sufficient enough so that when you will read prognoses about how long your passages will take, the estimates won't be off by much.

So what's wrong with doing the journey with a 50+ footer? In short, as long as you can afford it, nothing.

In fact, comfort-wise, space-wise, and speed-wise, this is the best option. You won't have issues when taking ten friends on board for a ride-along, you can store enough food to go around the whole world without stopping anywhere to resupply, you can have plenty of extra gear and spare parts without even noticing it.

The ride will be smooth, even bigger waves won't be as felt, the long hull will make for some impressive speeds, simply, a boat the size of a floating family apartment has a lot to offer.

Large boats are not always rigged for solo sailing

When it comes to handling , years ago this would be the point where larger boats fail, but these days, even 60+ footers are often designed for solo sailing, with electronic winches, self-tacking jibs, and all the controls handily within your reach from the helm. So if you stick with a new boat, even a larger size shouldn't pose problems when short-handed.

As already probably apparent, the only issue here is the price. Of course, it is easy to recommend going around the world on a 70-foot cruiser. But it would be a bit of an unfair excuse for a tip since for the majority of the readers this would be financially unattainable.

So what you should take away from this particular part is that if you want to go for it, as long as you stick with new models made for easy operating, not much in terms of handling stands in your way. And yes, it will provide you with all the comfort you think it will.

All in all, when you look at boats that are used for heavy traveling including circumnavigations, you will see the 40-foot mark quite often. It wins in terms of practicality, affordability, and manageability. So if circling the world is what you want, you won't be making a mistake if you go for this size. Although if you feel like it, and have a stomach and skills for it, you can go small, very small. And if you can afford it, with today's technology, even a 70 footer can be the right choice.

Laura Phasouliotis

Thank you for your advice, it has been super helpful as I am just embarking on a sailing hobby at the age of 60. It has been my lifelong ambition to own a boat and sail.

I would love to have your suggestions for a trip. A 45 or 55 would be okay. Would like suggestions as to crew needs etc.

Dennis France

I am ticking on (87 in good condition) So would need a skipper and another crew besides myself. If I were to purchase a new Kraken 50’ what problems do you see??

A very good article. Give a very firm answer, 40-foot. No BS like “It depend on how many people on board”.

Daniel Clifford Cunningham

I see the writer and commentors are sensible and serious about doing this sailing thing. In a few months, when the VA hospitals have either fixed my heath problems

Great article. This is a beautiful summary. Great job.

Like most big questions, it is a matter of balancing needs which also include the money trick.

The following facts will be helpful.

My son moved his 48 foot sailboat to from the east coast US to Italy I fought up with him on Sept. 5 in nova Scotia this year and we crossed to the continent I got off in the azores and went back to Idaho as a friend of his met us there and helped out frist time on sailboat for me and at 350 lbs and 67 yrs old I wasn’t much help although my wife was glad to see he didn’t go alone.we missed the worst of a the hurricanes and I only fell down once the frist day and hurt my ribs and couldn’t move around for days. James was the greatest we had to fix the motor and steering system everyday I can’t believe how much u need to know to go to sea thanks

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My big dream is to one day sail the world seas with my wife. But I was unsure how long it actually takes. So I got into it and wrote this article.

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How to Sail Around the World

When British sailors Dan and Em Bower were young and recently married, they dreamed a dream of sailing their own boat around the world. The obstacles before them were the usual ones: money, time and sailing experience

Undaunted, they spent six years preparing for the adventure of a lifetime and eventually were able to join the World ARC 2014. Over the next 18 months, they lived their dream and carved a circle around the world,

Now, 10 years later, they are at it again, this time with the World ARC 2024

In a recent article in Yachting Monthly , Dan looks back at bis first circumnavigation and reflects on what it took, for them, to make themselves ready for the adventure and what he learned the first time around.

He covers everything from building seamanship skills to the best sails for the job and how to deal with inacurate charts in the Third World. His advice is plain, thorough and on the mark.

A circumnavigation is not for everyone, but if it is on your bucket list, you’ll appreciate Dan and Em’s council.

sailboat to sail around the world

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11 Around-The-World Cruises For An Epic Getaway

"Sailing around the world" sounds so romantic, doesn't it? You're sailing to remote islands with like-minded people while chasing sunsets on a distant horizon. Sure, you can just board a plane to, say, New Zealand, but there's something so pure and patient about maritime journeys. Cruises are like floating resorts, which ease their way over the waves. It's the definition of "slow travel." 

Amazingly, in the modern world of jet-setting travel, round-the-world cruises do exist. Voyagers visit dozens of ports over the course of their odyssey, each with its own landscape, climate, and personality. There are lots of ways travelers can experience "the trip of a lifetime," but this kind of circumnavigation outmatches just about all of them -- and in style. However, there are a few things to consider before investigating such cruises. First, what does it actually mean to sail "around the world?"

Many companies use this phrase — and sail thousands of nautical miles — but only around a single ocean or hemisphere. Even when ships do sail a distance equivalent to the equator (or more), they rarely return to their precise port of origin. Also, these epic  cruise vacations can be pricey ; the kind of dream that merits cashing in a 401K, and the time commitment is also substantial, meaning months on the water. But for diehard cruisers, crisscrossing the planet could easily be worth the time and money, and if this sounds like you, these 11 cruise lines are scheduled to sail around the world.

Read more: The Prettiest Waters Around The World

Viking: World Cruise

For 138 days, passengers frog-hop through the Caribbean, pass through the Panama Canal, make their way to the islands of Polynesia, and skirt Australia, Asia, and Europe before finally dropping their anchor in London. On Viking's World Cruise, you can step ashore in 28 different nations and pick from 57 guided tours. Viking has been a prolific, respected cruise line since its founding in 1997, and this three-quarter circumnavigation sets sail in December 2024, so there's still time to book.

Ships are equipped with spas, luxury dining options, and cabin beds that can be separated or combined, among many other touches. Long before stepping aboard, the Viking website has a virtual 360-degree tour, acquainting future travelers with the ship's staterooms. Viking has thoughtfully put together a reading list to help travelers get a deeper understanding of the countries they will visit, which is especially helpful in little-understood destinations like Moorea and Indonesia. The ship also has a sizable library onboard for further research. This, plus its sophisticated tours and dining options that reflect the culture of each port, may explain Viking's moniker, "the thinking person's cruise." Quality does come at a price, with full passage starting at $59,995.

Ambassador: Grand Round The World Cruise

The Ambiance sets off from London, crosses the Atlantic, passes through Panama, and hits Australia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America before pinging back to the United Kingdom. Not only do you cross all the major oceans, but you actually cross the Atlantic three times. Most of these destinations are warm-weather ports, including Sydney at the height of summer. Sunscreen and wide-brimmed hats are recommended on this largely equatorial route.

Ambassador is new to the cruise scene, having been established in the United Kingdom in 2021, and Ambiance is its flagship vessel. Passengers will spend their 120-night voyage in extreme comfort, traveling to 24 countries and 34 ports of call, with top-notch dining, live entertainment, and about 35,000 nautical miles in between. If you can live without a porthole, opting for an  inside cabin on the cruise , then passage starts at the budget-friendly price of $8,500 per person, making this Ambassador cruise one of the most economical on this list. You can also add on drink packages and arrange tours in advance or onboard through an agent or the Ambassador app. You can also explore the ship before you travel, thanks to a 360-degree virtual tour. The 2024 voyage sets sail on June 6.

Regent: World Cruise

The 2026 Regent World Cruise starts in Miami and ends in Miami, which makes it convenient to coordinate, especially if you're already based in the United States. Regent Seven Seas Cruises was founded in 1992 and is a respected brand in the industry.

The ship, the Seven Seas Mariner, also lives up to its name with a formidable 154-night itinerary: the Panama Canal, points along Central America, a dozen Pacific islands, Australia, South Asia, East Africa, and two Atlantic islands before returning to Florida. The Mariner arrives in many well-trod ports like Cape Town and Acapulco, but the route also includes locations that most travelers would have trouble pinpointing on a map: Lautoka, Abidjan, and Male are all names cruisers will become familiar with. To really explore these places, Regent organizes a whopping 431 free shore excursions across six continents, 77 ports, and 47 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Sailing nearly 40,000 nautical miles with world-class spas, dining, and entertainment aboard doesn't come cheap. While you'll need to contact Regent to request specific prices, passengers can expect to pay nearly $100,000 for passage. Regent's World Cruise is considered a luxury-level experience with first-class airfare, gratuities, and 24-hour room service included. If this is your tax bracket, just wait until you see the suites.

Royal Caribbean: Ultimate World Cruise

Royal Caribbean has been taking tourists to far-flung destinations since the late 1960s, and it's now one of the most recognizable cruise companies in the world, so naturally Royal Caribbean would host a round-the-world voyage. But even for seasoned travelers, the Ultimate World Cruise is pretty, well, ultimate. Royal Caribbean's world cruise lasts 274 nights and arrives in no fewer than 60 countries. In other words, you'll spend nine months at sea and personally visit more than a quarter of the sovereign nations on Earth. The saga starts and ends in Miami, where the Royal Caribbean is headquartered, which should make arrangements easy.

The biggest bragging right of all: This cruise touches on every single continent, including Elephant Island and Paradise Bay in Antarctica. You'll find yourself in both Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Australia, plus ports you've never even heard of. That said, unless your soul is fueled by pure wanderlust, this itinerary may sound like a lot of cruising, which may explain why Royal Caribbean has divided the journey into four segments. Cruisers don't have to commit to the entire itinerary; they can easily pick from the quarter that most interests them. 

By the time you read this, a segment may be the only option left, as the next Ultimate World Cruise departs in December of 2023. The segments are significantly more affordable as well. An interior stateroom for the full cruise costs at least $60,000 per person, while a segment starts at $12,500.

Cunard: Full World Voyage

When the Queen Mary 2 departs from New York City on January 3, 2024, it won't return to this same harbor for 123 nights. The itinerary isn't exactly "around the world," but rather a crossing of the Eastern Hemisphere — twice. Passengers traverse the Atlantic to the United Kingdom, then ease their way down the eastern coast of Africa before beelining for Australia. The ship boomerangs back, with many stops in Asia, a shortcut through the Suez Canal, and a tour of the Mediterranean before heading back to the U.S.

The voyage comes at the heels of Cunard's 100th anniversary, making it the second-oldest company on the list. The Queen Mary 2 has been Cunard's flagship vessel since 2004, and the company has mastered hospitality over the past century, with exceptional dining, luxury suites, and Broadway-quality performances by the Royal Court Theatre. Cunard also takes pride in its children's facilities, encouraging families to travel together, as well as the great English tradition of afternoon tea. Most of the budget cabins on the Queen Mary 2 were already booked at the time of this writing, but cabins with balconies are still available, starting at the not-ludicrous price of $16,899 per person. 

Oceania: Around The World In 180 Days

When Junes Verne wrote his novel "Around the World in Eighty Days," his Victorian goal was to travel as quickly as possible. Oceania is now advertising the opposite: This journey takes passengers the long way from Los Angeles to New York City, across the Pacific, around Australia, along the coasts of East Asia, and then up through the Middle East, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, and even Greenland. The itinerary doesn't spend much time in the "global south," so you'll have to visit Africa and South America another time.

The Miami-based Oceania was founded in 2002 and specializes in long-haul cruises, so they know their system well. This cruise may be especially appealing to foodies. The company takes particular pride in its onboard meals as well as in-country Culinary Discovery Tours. Passengers can also take advantage of The Aquamar Spa & Vitality Center, which can orchestrate a special dietary regimen.

Oceania exudes "small-ship luxury" and caps its total number of passengers at 1,250. Everything about the ship is more intimate than found on its larger cousins, from the live entertainment to the duty-free boutiques. If you like a small-town feel, 180 days should be just enough time to meet all your shipmates. If you can't summon the time or (at least) $47,599 by January 2024, the next ship departs in January 2025.

Princess: 111-Day World Cruise

This Princess cruise is another true circumnavigation, starting in Los Angeles and bearing west until the ship arrives back at its original dock. The 111-day cruise starts on January 18, 2024, and includes all three major oceans, both the Suez and Panama Canals, plus 47 ports along the way. The itinerary is light on Asian and African ports and skips South America altogether, but you can still enjoy visits to Australia, the Middle East, and numerous destinations around Europe.

Princess is a hallowed name in the cruise industry. Not only have its ships been sailing the world since the 1960s, but Princess is still one of the most profitable cruise companies in the world. Passengers can expect onboard enrichment programs, award-winning live performances, and rejuvenating treatments at the Lotus Spa. Each port will also bring its own offerings of special excursions, from river rafting to art tours. 

With its dependable quality of service and nearly four-month itinerary, it's remarkable that base bookings start at only $15,498. Better yet, if you want to circle the globe with the whole family, this Princess itinerary is a family-friendly cruise and offers youth programming, which is not always the case. If you miss this one, no worries. Three more, of varying lengths, are slated for January 2025.

Holland America Line: Grand World Voyage

Fort Lauderdale is the beginning and end point for the Zuiderdam, which spends 128 days making a complete circle around the globe. Holland America's Grand World Voyage is true to its name. Passengers travel across the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, making port on five continents. Most of its destinations are clustered around Asia and the Mediterranean, and it skips over Australia. But the Voyage is a rare opportunity to sail up the Amazon River, with visits to inland Brazilian cities most travelers would never think to visit.

Holland America began as a shipping and passenger line in the mid-19th Century, and its history of cruising is nearly as old as the concept. The flagship Zuiderdam is a luxury vessel with a swimming pool and sizable theater. It also boasts several diverse dining areas, including the Pinnacle Grill steakhouse, the Italian-themed Canaletto, and the à la carte Lido Market. There's Billboard Onboard, a special room for trivia nights and karaoke, as well as World Stage, a presentation space with a wraparound LED screen. Bookings start at the more expensive rate of $22,499 for an inside cabin, and the 2024 voyage will set sail on January 3, 2024, but you can expect additional Grand World Voyages to be slated in the coming years.

Azamara: World Voyage

Formerly part of the Royal Caribbean fleet, Azamara is now an independent company taking its own journeys. The 2025 World Voyage begins in San Diego and sails westward, across the Pacific, to Australia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean, before passengers disembark in Barcelona. The World Voyage doesn't quite girdle the globe, stopping just short of the Atlantic Ocean, and the only stop in Africa is Giza. But this 155-night expedition should satisfy almost any traveler, especially with its 40 countries and 22 overnights.

Unlike many world cruises, Azamara has divided its full itinerary into segments with clear geographic themes, such as "South Pacific Jewels" and "Mediterranean Icons." These titles can help turn experiences into coherent narratives. For example, "Ancient Pathways" draws a historic and economic line between Mumbai and Athens, along with all ports in between. These themes are coupled with thoughtful excursions, which are often scheduled around local holidays and festivals. The World Voyage for 2024 appears to be sold out, but the 2025 edition sets sail on January 5. Passage starts at a princely $39,999.

Freighter Cruises

Some of us want to keep it simple. No need for late-night show-stoppers, cocktail parties with hundreds of strangers, or daring bets at the roulette wheel. "Freighter cruises" have gone by many names over the years, such as "banana boats" and "cargo cruises," but passengers have hitched rides on commercial ships since the dawn of seafaring. These accommodations come in many forms, and you do have to share your vessel with stacks of massive shipping containers; still, you can expect a comfortable cabin and regular meals, along with friendly and respectful crewmembers from around the world. For travelers with a Jack London streak, the freighter cruise feels raw and adventurous.

The Freighter Travel Club was founded in 1958, and companies like Maris Freighter Cruises and Voyage en Cargo have booked passengers on commercial vessels for years. Maris has arranged round-the-world itineraries in the past, and multi-week journeys are common, as enormous loads are floated from one nation to the next. The pandemic took its toll on this niche industry, and most of these journeys do not precisely travel around the world. But when they're in operation, freighter cruises usually cost a little over $100 per day, and savvy travelers have flexibility in their bookings.

Miray Cruises: Life At Sea

Sure, cruising is fun, but what if you want to turn your ship into a semi-permanent address? Life at Sea Cruises promises three years of luxury seafaring, with stops in 140 countries across all seven continents. By the time you're done with these 382 ports, you'll have more photos to sort through and stories to share than most people will amass in a lifetime.

That sounds life-changing, but we'll have to see whether it's too good to be true. Life at Sea is a brand-new enterprise from Miray Cruises, and the maiden voyage has been fraught with delays. However, at the time of this writing, Life at Sea should get underway by the end of 2023, and most full-voyage passengers should already be sailing by 2024. If all goes well, there are four scheduled embarkation options for travelers who want to hop aboard later on, and more will likely be scheduled.

One of the problems has been the ship itself. For a while, the purchase of the ship was in limbo, pushing back the original sail date. However, the MV Lara now seems ready to sail. The medium-sized vessel has space for 1,266 passengers, with a range of cozy cabins, a wellness center, and a pool deck, among many other amenities. Travelers committed to living at sea for three years should get a lot out of their floating home. Life at Sea is a dreamy concept, so let's hope for calm waters once it finally sets sail. 

Read the original article on Explore .

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The Alternative to Huge Cruises? 3 Masts, 28 Sails and Wind Power.

We checked out the 136-passenger Sea Cloud Spirit on a Mediterranean cruise. In this era of gargantuan ships, its elegant clipper design, wooden decks and relatively small size stands out.

sailboat to sail around the world

By Ceylan Yeğinsu

From the bridge of the three-masted windjammer, the Sea Cloud Spirit , the captain called out the words we’d all been waiting for.

“Let’s set the sails!” he cried, after turning off the engines, while maneuvering to maintain an optimum angle for his 18 deckhands to climb into the shrouds and unfurl the ship’s 44,132 square feet of sails by hand.

Like acrobats, the crew scurried up the masts to the upper topgallant sails that rose nearly 200 feet above us. The ship’s captain, Vukota Stojanovic, later insisted that none of it was for show. “Whenever there is an opportunity to sail, we sail,” he said.

sailboat to sail around the world

For the next hour, the crew hauled the ropes until the 28 sails were billowing in the wind, propelling the 452-foot-long ship — the world’s largest passenger sailing vessel on which the sails are raised by hand — toward its first port of call, Portofino, Italy.

At a time when cruise lines are packing their ever-more-gargantuan ships with water parks and basketball courts, the 136-passenger Sea Cloud Spirit, with its old-fashioned clipper design and wooden decks, stands out. It is the newest ship from the Hamburg-based Sea Cloud Cruises , and while it is the company’s biggest, Sea Cloud said it wanted to leave space for passengers to connect to the surrounding elements.

“Wherever you are on the ship, it feels like you are sitting on the water,” said Amelia Dominick, 71, a retired real estate agent from Cologne, Germany, who was on her third cruise onboard the Sea Cloud Spirit.

I had arrived for a four-night “taster sailing” from Nice, France, to the Ligurian region of Italy, designed to entice passengers to sign up for a longer cruise. Here’s what I found.

The ship and cabins

The Spirit has many comforts and luxuries, including a fitness center, library, hair salon and a spa with a Finnish sauna that overlooks the sea. The deck layouts are spacious, with nooks carved out for privacy and relaxation.

Sixty-nine spacious cabins have windows that open onto the sea. My room, a junior suite on the third deck, had two large arched windows, mahogany tables, a balcony and a comfortable couch and armchair. The marble bathroom was lavish, with a gold-plated sink and large jetted bathtub.

The elegant interior design is inspired by the original Sea Cloud, built in 1931 for Marjorie Merriweather Post, the American heiress of the General Foods Corporation, with glossy wooden panels and gold trimmings. The Sea Cloud was the largest private sailing yacht in the world before Post handed it over to the U.S. Navy for use as a weather-reporting vessel during World War II. The four-mast, 64-passenger ship has since been restored to its former glory and will sail across the Aegean and Adriatic this summer.

sailboat to sail around the world

The experience felt authentic — even before the sails were set — with a detailed safety drill. On most cruises, the drill entails a safety video and signing in at an assembly point. But here, passengers put on their life jackets and walked through emergency scenarios that included rationing food supplies and fishing from the lifeboat.

Each day, the sails were set, even during heavy rain and wind speeds over 30 knots. Guests wanting to participate in the rigging are usually invited to do so, but the weather conditions made it too risky for this sailing.

“It was amazing to watch the work go into putting the sails up and down and to experience the wind power pulling the ship so fast without the engines,” said Malte Rahnenfuehrer, a 50-year-old psychologist from Zurich, who was traveling with his partner and two children.

A man with dark hair wears navy blue and white clothing as the captain of a large windjammer sailing vessel. He stands on deck, a walkie-talkie-like device in his hand, beneath the ropes and riggings of the vessel's sails.

The captain

It is rare for cruise passengers to see the ship’s captain after the initial welcome drinks or gala dinner. But Capt. Vukota Stojanovic was omnipresent throughout the cruise, from setting sails to lifeguarding to mingling with guests.

Originally from Montenegro, Captain Stojanovic piloted container ships for years. When he was asked to consider helming the original Sea Cloud nearly 10 years ago, he hesitated because he had no experience sailing. Even after he learned the ropes — and there are 340 ropes (known as running rigging) on the vessel — he was unsure. “I grew to love the sailings, the boats, the crew the lifestyle, but I still felt I belonged on container ships,” he said. “It would be a big adjustment, especially because I would have to shave every day,” he joked.

Eventually, he accepted the opportunity and worked tirelessly to learn how to sail and operate the ship. Today, he keeps an “open bridge” policy, allowing passengers to visit the control room, even when he is wrestling with the wind.

“The crew and the passengers are all part of the experience, and I like to meet people and receive their feedback,” Captain Stojanovic said.


Sea Cloud Cruises aspires to take a “gentle” approach, using wind power to drive its ships wherever possible, even if that means changing course for optimal weather conditions. When sailing is not possible, the Spirit has two diesel-electric engines that run on low-sulfur marine diesel fuel. The company is also working with ports that have shore power capabilities to plug into the local electric power.

Onboard, there is an emphasis on reusable bottles and paper straws, and crew members separate solid waste to be compacted and removed when in port.

Excursions and Activities

We made stops in Portofino, San Remo, Italy, and St.-Tropez, France, anchoring offshore and getting to land by tender — a contrast to the big cruise ships with their loud horns and thick plumes of exhaust spewing from their funnels.

For passengers wanting to take a dip (there is no pool), the crew marked an area in the water with floats and an inflatable slide. The water was frigid, but many passengers took the plunge from the swimming deck. Guests could also take “Zodiac Safaris” around the ship to get views of the vessel from the water.

sailboat to sail around the world

Excursions ranged from food and wine tours to e-biking and beach trips. In Portofino, passengers were free to explore the sights independently, including the Castello Brown Fortress and the lighthouse on Punta del Capo rock. There was ample time to eat meals on shore as the ship did not depart until 11 p.m. Over the summer, the Sea Cloud Spirit will sail to Spain, Portugal, France and the Azores, among other destinations. On Nov. 11, she will depart for St. Maarten in the Caribbean for the winter.

Wherever the vessel goes, said Mirell Reyes, president of Sea Cloud Cruise for North America, the company tries to “stay away from the crowds and ports where big cruise ships spit out 6,000 passengers.”

Summer prices, which include food and beverages, range from $3,995 for a four-night sailing in a superior cabin to $9,420 for a veranda suite. Seven-night sailings cost between $6,995 and $16,495.

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Ceylan Yeginsu is a travel reporter for The Times who frequently writes about the cruise industry and Europe, where she is based. More about Ceylan Yeğinsu

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54-knot winds severely deplete 2024 Round the Island Race fleet

Helen Fretter

  • Helen Fretter
  • June 15, 2024

Extreme conditions severely depleted the fleet of the 2024 Round the Island Race, with hundreds of boats opting not to compete or retiring in 50-knot winds

sailboat to sail around the world

Competitors in today’s 2024 Round the Island Race , an annual 50-mile circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight, faced one of the most severe conditions in years with gusts of over 50 knots recorded at The Needles, the westernmost point of the course.

The Round the Island Race traditionally attracts one of the largest fleets of any yacht race, and this year saw 939 boats originally entered.

However, today’s extreme conditions have severely depleted both the number of starters and finishers, and just 153 yachts completed the race with 418 retiring.

First to complete the course was Irvine Laidlaw’s Gunboat 80 Highland Fling , which posted an impressive elapsed time of 3h 39m 5s.

sailboat to sail around the world

The Gunboat 80 Highland Fling was first multihull in the 2024 Round the Island Race Photo: Paul Wyeth/RTIR

Owner Irvine Laidlaw said: “It was the first event for us in 2024 and we’ve travelled over 3,000 miles from Palma to be here but it’s worth it! I thoroughly enjoyed the race – I like the fact we go around an island with the start and finish in the same place, it’s rather satisfying.”

Boat captain Xavier Mecoy added: “[The] Boat is only a year old and it’s the first time we’ve sailed her in a big breeze, we’ve never had 2 reefs in the main before, so that was pretty exciting and we spent quite a bit of time sailing bare-headed as it was safer. 

“We were charging around the course doing 30 knots of boat speed at times.”

First monohull around was the Cowes based TP52 Notorious , owned by Peter Morton, who finished more than 40 minutes ahead of the nearest monohull yacht in 4h 21m 20s.

Notorious also finished 1st overall in IRC on correcrted time, winning the coveted Gold Roman Bowl.

Peter Morton, owner and skipper of Notorious, said: “I’ve not had the boat that long but I’ve competed in Round the Island Race many times over the last 50 years in various boats I’ve owned.

“It’s one of the most famous yacht races in the World and we went out to try and win. It’s 40 years ago since I won it on a little 25ft boat called Odd Job , so today was very special for me.”

sailboat to sail around the world

Peter Morton’s TP52 Notorious took monohull line honours and 1st overall under IRC in the severe conditions of the 2024 Round the Island Race Photo: Paul Wyeth/RTIR

54 knots at the Needles

Despite a deceptively sunny start as the first fleets set off from the Royal Yacht Squadron at 0600, conditions quickly deteriorated to become even more extreme than many forecasts had suggested. The Needles Battery wind station (above the famous rock formation) recorded gusts of 54 knots from 0700 and a steady wind of 39-45 knots from the south-west. Competitors reported 35-40 knots going through Hurst Narrows.

This led to a severe sea state on the south of the island which saw many boats which had started choosing to turn back before the Needles. Fewer than 100 boats in the IRC and ISCRS fleets (the majority of monohulls) were recorded as rounding the Needles. 

Many of those retiring have reported sail damage, particularly torn mainsails. There was a collision off Yarmouth, and at least one man overboard incident, which was recovered swiftly. However, organisers report that there were just nine other incidents – fewer than in previous years. Local RNLI and Independent Lifeboat crews were on the water across the Solent and on the south of the island supporting the fleet throughout the day.

David Rolfe, skipper of the Sigma 33 Shadowfax was one boat whose race ended by the Needles. Shadowfax  was welcoming her new part owners aboard for their very first race on the boat.

“We started with a reef and our Number 2 [jib],” explained Rolfe. “It was, I would say deceptively – not calm, but quieter than forecast. When we came off the line, and if anything, it then dropped a little bit. As we headed down the Solent we even had a little bit of a talk about how we might set the spinnaker lines for when we’re on the south side of the island.

“Then a weather band that came in, a whole load of rain squalls, and that just changed mode completely. Suddenly we were in full on, probably 30-odd knots, gusting high 30s. It was a bit on and off through those squalls, some heavy rain, maybe even a little bit of hail in amongst it.

“The sea state was a bit rough, but not crazy. And then as we got towards Hurst, it went up another level. We could see it coming down the track towards us, and a few boats were really on their ear. One boat was definitely 45 degrees or more over, out of control, just pushed on its side by the wind. So we were battened down and gearing up for that.

“Then we got pushed right on our ear. We’d trimmed the main out. We’re trying to control it, but we were right on our side and going slowly, and almost sideways! I don’t know the wind strength, probably gusting into the 40s. And the sea was getting bigger and rougher with wind over tide really driving it pretty hard. So we decided we needed to go for a second reef, put that in. And after putting that in [we] tacked off to go into the full [tidal] stream through Hurst.

“That’s when we saw, unfortunately, we’d ripped our main, probably as we were reefing it. That was the end of the race for us. We bore away and hurtled back, surfing down these waves on our way back to Cowes.”

sailboat to sail around the world

The Needles recorded winds of 54 knots as the 2024 Round the Island Race fleet passed the landmark. Photo: Paul Wyeth/RTIR

2024 Round the Island fleets cancelled

The race typically attracts a large cohort of family and amateur crews, for many of whom this is the only race they may compete in all year. A building forecast over the preceding week had led many competitors to withdraw ahead of the race. 

The day before, organisers had also announced that eight classes would not start . Racing was cancelled for the Classic Racing Yacht (ISCRS), Diam 2 class, Gaffers under 23ft, J/70s, both divisions of Bridgedeck Multihulls, the smaller Grand Prix and MOCRA Multihulls, and the Sportsboat division.

Race safety officer Mark Southwell said on Friday 14 June, when making the announcement: “We will only cancel fleets where there is a significant chance that the majority of the fleet could get into difficulties and risk injury to the crew, a situation that could quickly overwhelm the support services. 

“For other fleets, with a wide range of crew experience and boat types, it is each skipper’s sole responsibility to evaluate the capability of their crew and the suitability of their boat to handle the expected conditions (including wind and sea state) and make the decision as to whether their boat should take part.”

Race Director, Dave Atkinson said in a statement from the organisers after the race: “This race was a challenge for both the competitors and the Race Team at the Island Sailing Club, with the safety and well-being of the crews being the main priority.”

“We would like to thank the RNLI, independent lifeboats and coastguard teams for their assistance and co-operation before and during the race on Saturday. Despite the challenging conditions we only had nine incidents connected to the race which is less than previous years, this shows the seamanship of the crews and the correct decision making that went into undertaking of the race.”

sailboat to sail around the world

'No one came to help us': Only eleven migrants survived boat capsizing in one of Ionian Sea's worst disasters

The boats used by migrants are often unseaworthy and the smugglers they pay are untrustworthy - and so it has proven off the coast of Italy's Calabria region. Of 76 people aboard a sailboat, only 11 have survived.

sailboat to sail around the world

International correspondent @sparkomat

Wednesday 19 June 2024 02:38, UK

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Italy shipwreck

The waters of the Ionian Sea seem tranquil enough in the middle of June, but they also form part of the most dangerous migration route in the world.

The shoreline of southern Italy , with its position in the central Mediterranean, is the primary objective of many who put to sea.

Yet the boats used by migrants are often unseaworthy and the smugglers they pay are untrustworthy - and so it has proven off the coast of Italy's Calabria region.

Some 120 miles from the port of Roccella Ionica, the Italian coast guard caught site of simple sailboat, a recreational vessel with a single mast barely peaking above the water.

A map of Italy showing the Calabria region and the islands of Sicily, Malta and Lampedusa

Leaving Turkey eight days earlier, it was packed with 76 people, including more than 70 migrants from Iraq, Iran and Syria.

But something had gone terribly wrong,

Red Cross officials in southern Italy said only 11 people survived, among them a pregnant woman and two children. It was clear these individuals had suffered greatly at sea.

More on Italy

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Brawl in Italian parliament leaves MP injured after Five Star and League confrontation

A yacht capsized off Calabria. Pic: Italian coast guard

17 people dead and dozens missing after two shipwrecks off coast of Italy

Related Topics:

  • Migrant Crisis

"Well, 11 migrants who arrived here have multiple fractures, severe dehydration, severe bruises from what they say," said Concetta Gioffrè of the regional Italian Red Cross.

"They were in shock, with clear signs of burns. I have no words for those who didn't reach the port."

Ro'ya Muheidini, a 19-year-old Iraqi Kurd

Sky News spoke to one survivor, now being cared for in a local hospital.

Ro'ya Muheidini, a 19-year-old Iraqi Kurd, said that different smugglers had been involved in the voyage - but all the passengers had been duped.

"The smugglers told us not to bring any food because [the vessel] had everything. After that, we ran out and shared what we had. Nothing was left on the boat, no water, no food, nothing."

Migrant shipwreck survivors taken to Italian port for medical treatment

Ms Muheidini told us that the captain had tried to open a box or tube with provisions but there was an explosion which tore a hole in the hull.

The boat capsized, and all 76 people - including two dozen children - were thrown into the water.

"We stayed on the water for four days and no one came to help us," said the 19-year-old.

"Two or three boats passed by and they got very close. We shouted a lot for help, but they ignored us and passed by.

"If it was not for a French boat, none of us would be here."

Read more on Sky News: French police 'powerless' to stop beach landings People smuggler 'at peace' with dying

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There seems to be little to no prospect that any of those still unaccounted for will be found alive, making this one of the worst disasters in the Ionian Sea in recorded memory.

But that is unlikely to shift public opinion in the European Union. In fact, it may go unnoticed. The politics of immigration and migration have changed in Europe.

It now requires a tougher, harsher approach, but the consequences of that will prove deadly.

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    The Figaro Beneteau is built for speed, but it can be great for sailing around the world, especially if you want to sail around the world fast. The Figaro Beneteau 3 is a monohull single-handed racing sailboat with an overall length of 35'7" (10.89m) and a waterline length of 31' (9.46m). It has a beamwidth of 11'5" (3.48m) while its ...

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    Everything you need to sail around the world: A Well-Prepared Route. A Reliable Bluewater Sailboat. $500 - $1,000 per Month per Person. Travel Documents (passport and visas, boat registration, port clearance) Cruising Equipment Recommended by Other Cruisers. The Proper Safety Equipment. The Appropriate Safety Training.

  3. 5 best small sailboats for sailing around the world

    Vancouver 28. Photo credit: YachtFathom.co.uk. A sensible small boat with a "go-anywhere" attitude, this pocket cruiser was designed with ocean sailors in mind. One of the best cruising sailboats under 40 feet, the Vancouver 28 is great sailing in a small package. Hull Type:Full keel with transom hung rudder.

  4. 7 Best-Known Routes for Sailing Around the World (with Maps)

    The Fast Route - for the minimum time. The Pleasure Route - for the maximal pleasure. The Traditional Route - the road most taken. The Arctic Route - for the rough ones. The Dangerous Route - without regards for piracy. The Cheap Route - with a budget in mind. The Coast Lover's Route - never going far from the coast.

  5. How to sail around the world: Launching an epic adventure

    Admittedly, our main hurdles were mainly financial—in our 20s, there was first the challenge of buying and equipping a cruising boat, then getting funding to how to sail around the world.

  6. So you want to sail around the world. Now what?

    A sandbar in the middle of nowhere. 1. Get some offshore sailing experience. Sure sailing around the world sounds romantic—the freedom of the open ocean, sunsets on a beach in Bora Bora, sipping fresh water from a coconut you picked yourself (words of caution: climbing a palm is much harder than it looks!).

  7. A Guide to Sailing Around the World

    Navigating Dreams: A Comprehensive Guide to Sailing Around the World. Embark on the ultimate maritime adventure with our in-depth guide to circumnavigating the globe by sailboat. Discover essential preparation tips, captivating routes, and how to overcome the challenges of the open sea. Sailing around the world is an epic adventure that offers ...

  8. Sailing Around the World: How to Get Started

    It usually takes around 100 days to sail around the world non-stop. However, the duration of a global circumnavigation varies widely. Direct eastward or westward routes along the equator cover approximately 15,000 to 25,000 nautical miles, but most circumnavigators opt for longer routes to explore islands and continents, significantly extending ...

  9. How To Sail Around The World (With Timeline and Examples)

    There are 8 different ways to Sail around the world, Join a research vessel. Get on a friend's boat that is already out sailing. Date the owner of a boat. Get paid to work as a; Mechanic, Chef, or General helper. Use Your specialty skill to help the crew; online marketing, language teacher, musician, etc.

  10. Ultimate Guide: How to Sail Around the World

    Taking Up the Challenge: How to Sail Around the World. To embark on the challenge of sailing around the world, follow these steps:. 1. Taking Up the Challenge: Gain sailing experience by learning navigation skills and sailing in various weather conditions. 2. Plan your route: Conduct thorough research on seasons, wind patterns, and potential hazards to chart the safest course.

  11. How to Work Around the World on a Sailboat or Yacht

    Walk to Docks to Find a Boat: Ironically, the best way to get a job as a delivery crew member is to arrive in a new port on a sailboat and walk the docks looking for work. Unfortunately, the age-old catch-22 situation rears its ugly head — you need experience to be crew, yet need to crew to gain experience. Suppose you are lucky enough to ...

  12. Sail Around the World Route

    The Classic Sail Around the World Route - The Milk Run. The classic route for circumnavigating is based on the path of least resistance, making it the safest route to sail around the world. These routes utilize the prevailing winds to make as many downwind, fair-weather passages as possible.

  13. 17 Best Catamarans for Sailing Around the World

    The best catamarans for sailing around the world include: Lagoon 42. The Fountaine Pajot Ipanema 58. Manta 42. Catana 50. Dolphin 42. Gunboat 62. These cats focus on speed, safety, and comfort for longer journeys. This article will show you the seventeen best catamarans for long journeys, and why they're the best.

  14. Best Small Sailboats To Sail Around The World

    Sailing around the world is no easy task, so these boats should be in tip-top shape. Some might consider 30-35ft too small for bluewater cruising or for a circumnavigation (sail around the world), but that has been disproved over the years. Bigger might be better for coastal cruising with friends, but maintenance costs rise exponentially with ...

  15. Best Sailboats of 2022: From Top To Sail

    Picking out a great vessel is imperative to enjoying a great sailing experience. We have selected the creme de la creme of sailboats suitable for a range of budgets and needs. Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 380. Beneteau First 44. Fountaine Pajot Isla 40. Hylas 57. Leopard 42.

  16. Sailing Around The World

    There's something about sailing around the world that captures the imagination and inspires. For some, it's the reason for learning to sail in the first place. Others only start to think about global circumnavigation as their skills and experience grow. Regardless of what motivates you to circumnavigate, one thing remains true.

  17. World Circumnavigation Routes for Sailboats

    There are major bottlenecks to passing around the continents, so again, we've got the 95%* of boats funneling into one narrow part of the world. Panama Canal. We paid $1300 to transit the Panama Canal because the only other option is to sail against the wind and waves around either North America or South America.

  18. Navigating the World: The Right Size Boat for Your Round-the-World

    Navigating the World: Choosing the Right Size Boat for Your Round-the-World Sailing Adventure. 01/10/2023. Circumnavigating the globe is not a goal for the faint of heart, and it takes a lot of planning. One of the earliest decisions to make is the boat to choose, and how big it should be. "Navigating the World: Choosing the Right Size Boat ...

  19. What are the Best Small Bluewater Sailboats? Cruisers Top Picks

    The Pardeys are icons of small sailboat cruising. Having sailed over 200,000 nautical miles and circumnavigated both east and westbound on their home-built, engine-free, sub-30-feet cutters, they are among the most recognized sailors in the world. They're also known as "America's first couple of cruising.".

  20. Best boats to sail around the world

    Catalina. Amel. Hylas. Tayana. Hallberg-Rassy. The World Cruising Club has been featuring boats and comparing them throughout their rallies. Based on their choices, here is a list of the 8 most popular cruising boats to sail around the world: The Hylas 54 is commonly seen in the Caribbean. This is one of the most popular world cruisers due to ...

  21. How Big Should a Sailboat Be to Sail Around the World?

    The best sailboat size to sail around the world is 35 to 45 feet. Smaller boats of 25 feet will be more uncomfortable and inconvenient; it is, however, possible. Larger sailboats of 60 foot and up will be more comfortable, but they are more expensive as well. Read on, we will have a look at these statements more closely; a cookie-cutter ...

  22. Sailing around the world: Cruising couples' top tips ...

    While St Lucia marked the end of the 2018-19 rally, Grenada signalled the fleet's return to the Caribbean. A full circumnavigation for most, 438 days sailing for those who'd completed it in a ...

  23. 5 Best Sailing Catamarans for Sailing Around the World

    This boat has been made popular by the YouTube channel Sailing La Vagabonde - a family sailing around the world on an Outremer 45. These best sailing catamarans are solid boats built in fiberglass with a divinycell core, although below the waterline the hulls are all glass. They are designed to sail around the world in comfort and speed ...

  24. How to Sail Around the World

    When British sailors Dan and Em Bower were young and recently married, they dreamed a dream of sailing their own boat around the world. The obstacles before them were the usual ones: money, time and sailing experience. Undaunted, they spent six years preparing for the adventure of a lifetime and eventually were able to join the World ARC 2014.

  25. 11 Around-The-World Cruises For An Epic Getaway

    Sailing nearly 40,000 nautical miles with world-class spas, dining, and entertainment aboard doesn't come cheap. While you'll need to contact Regent to request specific prices, passengers can ...

  26. Sailing the Mediterranean on a 136-Passenger Windjammer

    For the next hour, the crew hauled the ropes until the 28 sails were billowing in the wind, propelling the 452-foot-long ship — the world's largest passenger sailing vessel on which the sails ...

  27. 54-knot winds severely deplete 2024 Round the Island Race fleet

    First monohull around was the Cowes based TP52 Notorious, owned by Peter Morton, who finished more than 40 minutes ahead of the nearest monohull yacht in 4h 21m 20s.

  28. Sail the Sporades in 7 Days: A Dream Itinerary for Island-Hopping

    Sporades Islands boast irresistible areas for sailing. It is a sailor's dream playground with 24 scattered islands, making it an exceptional place for an island-hopping tour. Ideal winds, numerous sheltered and secluded bays, optimal distances and colourful scenery are factors that count when deciding on a relaxed yet enriching sailing trip.

  29. 'No one came to help us': Only eleven migrants survived boat capsizing

    The boat capsized, and all 76 people - including two dozen children - were thrown into the water. "We stayed on the water for four days and no one came to help us," said the 19-year-old. "Two or ...