Racing To Cruise

Racing sailboats is a great way to gain experience that will be invaluable when we go offshore cruising. John shares a passage across the Gulf of Maine.

Q&A: Crossing The Atlantic In A 32-foot Boat

Question:

I received a Cris Craft 32′ cruiser/racer as a gift. This is my first boat and I’d like to sail it to France from NYC. I’m preparing it for solo sailing and would like your opinion on it’s survivability. A Sparkman& Stephens design…it has a fin keel and a lovely interior. It has been upgraded with a roller furler jib. Vetus diesel (25hp) and a steering system to replace the tiller. But I’m not certain of an Atlantic crossing with a 32′ [boat] being wise! Can you suggest what preparations I require and the best time and route to sail?

Q&A: A Late West To East Atlantic Crossing

Question:

westtoeast I am a fairly experienced Swedish sailor;  however, I have never “crossed the pond”. We have decided to buy a MacGregor 65. There are several for sale at good prices in the US, but very few in Europe.

We will miss the most appropriate season [to cross the Atlantic]. Hence, I want to ask your advice about the best routes during August, September or October. The [four] crew all have extensive ocean experience.

If we can postpone, when is the end of the hurricane season?

Q&A: A Novel, But Probably Smart, Way To Cross The Atlantic, East To West

Question: I’m thinking about sailing to Greenland from my home in Germany. My boat is a very sound 33-foot steel sloop, which I have singlehanded often. The natural way to go to Greenland from the German coast seems to be to use the stepping stones: Norway and/or Scotland/Shetlands, thence to Faroe and Iceland and on to Greenland.

But I will be starting as early as the beginning of May and I think it will still be too rough and very cold up north. Also, from Iceland to Cape Farewell I could run into strong winds and I will be exposed to the dangerous lee shore of  the east coast of Greenland. Then I will have the problem of rounding the Cape.

So I figured that it could be much wiser to go down to the Azores first and from there sail NNW straight to the west coast of Greenland, taking advantage of the mostly westerly winds over the North Atlantic and the ice-free waters west of Greenland and without having to worry about being too close to Cape Farewell.

Q&A: Trans-Ocean Navigation

Question: We are crossing the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to St. Lucia. I found a large scale chart of the Atlantic (Imray Passage Chart 100). This single chart shows the entire Atlantic Ocean taking the earth’s curvature into account and therefore does NOT have a compass rose to help steer by. I am having trouble finding a series of smaller charts that DO have a compass rose that might be a bit easier to navigate by. Do you know of a source where I might purchase charts of a smaller scale?

Q&A: Trans-Atlantic In An Old Boat

Question: I have my 36′ Aage Nielsen yawl in Norway and I need to bring her home to Maine. I would appreciate your comments regarding my choice of routes.

One idea is down to the Azores and then over to the eastern US; the reverse of how I sailed to Europe. The other option I’m considering is going the northern route via The Shetlands, The Faeroes, Iceland, Greenland, Labrador and Newfoundland.

If going via the Azores, I would hope to do the crossing in June. If going over the top, I would plan for July.

My boat’s cockpit is very exposed and she doesn’t have any cabin heat to speak of. Being wooden, I don’t want to sail in ice. Plus, she’s 50+ years old and getting tired, so I’d like to avoid heavy [weather] conditions.

Coastal Overnights—They’re Tough But They Get The Job Done

After spending much of the last four winters in Maine and Nova Scotia refitting Morgan’s Cloud, John and I agreed that a winter in the Bahamas would be just the ticket. So when the blazing fall colours and chilly temperatures of early October indicated that Penobscot Bay, Maine wasn’t going to remain the balmy summer playground we had enjoyed since mid-July, we started thinking about heading south.

Q&A: Risk Management, Hurricanes

Question [received July 11, 2008]: We’re in St. John’s, Newfoundland, waiting to cross to Scotland. We’re just about ready to go and the weather forcast is good for leaving. However, Hurricane Bertha is just south of Bermuda. The current forecast is for her to weaken to 55 knots within four to five days, and stay well south of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

It seems possible for us to go now and if Bertha speeds up and heads northeast we could head for the Labrador Sea to get out of her way. Would you consider leaving a stupid choice to make?

Q&A: Picking A Sailing Route Across The North Atlantic, West To East

Question: We’re planning to sail from New York to Falmouth (UK) leaving around May 18th. Our plan is to sail WSW out from New York till we hit the Gulf Stream and then attempt to sail the great circle to Falmouth. We’re debating whether to consider a more southerly route to stay clear of weather systems? Any views?

Answer: This type of question (asking for a suggested route for a trans-Atlantic passage) has come up several times lately so I’m going to deal with it in some detail.

Q&A: Norway To The Chesapeake Bay

Question: I’m planning to sail from south Norway in mid-June in my Oceanis 46, hoping to arrive in the Chesapeake Bay by the beginning of August. The crew will be 5 to 6 relatively experienced sailors. Presently I’m looking at routing via Færoe and Iceland, then across to Newfoundland and then coastal.

My idea is to be on the northern side of east-moving lows so as to get fair winds. I have excluded the southern option due to the risk of hurricanes even though it is relatively early in the season. I would appreciate your opinion on my route selection.