Q&A: Best Time For A West To East Atlantic Crossing

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Question: I will be sailing to Gibraltar from the Chesapeake via the Azores. When would be the best time to leave and when would be the earliest I could/should leave?

Answer: This is a pretty standard west to east Atlantic crossing. The best time to leave the east coast of North America is late May to mid-June. The earliest is probably mid-May, although leaving that early will increase your chances of a gale.

The latest date to go is dictated by the onset of the hurricane season. Ten years ago I would have said that mid-July or even late July was the latest time to leave, but we are definitely seeing more frequent and more intense hurricanes in June and July than we did then, so now I would say the end of June is the latest prudent date.

For more information you should consult the excellent Atlantic Crossing Guide, published by the RCC .

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for 25 years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 20 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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