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Old 01-21-2019, 07:29 PM   #1
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Caribbean to Europe - power route vs sail?

We're planning our move from the Caribbean to Europe. Most of the research (Cornell etc.) are for routes in which the wind is steady and either abeam or astern. But for a power vessel, the routes through high pressure areas with little wind at all seem at first glance to be better - less fuel use with less hobby-horsing and a quieter ride.
This seems to be almost opposite criteria to the (gentle) sailing routes!
I could say that the power boater wants to aim at the high pressure areas, while the sailor typically wants to aim somewhere between the high and low pressure areas (ignoring currents!).

One option is to engage a weather router familiar with the whole northern Atlantic AND understands the needs of power boats vs sailors (both want to avoid the worst weather of course). Does anyone know/recommend one?

We will of course self-route using Gribs and/or forecasts and trying to steer into the highs. Offshore, Iridium GO + Predictwind seems to have lots of supporters. Inreach are cheaper but don't have Grib download, only more localised forecasts which would appear to be less useful. Does anyone have other options for the whole northern Atlantic? Also for forward route planning and knowing when to leave, how do people look at data from previous years - I'm finding it hard to source historical data...
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Old 01-21-2019, 07:51 PM   #2
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Sounds like a great trip! When we were offshore, Commander Weather had high marks with other cruisers.

https://www.commandersweather.com/
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Old 01-22-2019, 12:17 AM   #3
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Thanks for that, I'll definitely check it out.

I also found some good historical data at a very broad level - the pilot charts.

It does appear that an April-May sail works well (not surprising that it matches the predominant time people have chosen for years!), especially from US-Azores-Europe.
Whereas May-June does seem at a high level to be better for motoring with the Azores high creating light winds directly underneath it between 20-40 degrees N. Again good for motoring but less so for sailing. The risk is of tropical cyclones, even in May, although I haven't found how far up the Atlantic they curve during that time as the Azores high may keep them tropical-only.
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Old 01-22-2019, 01:27 AM   #4
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Look up info on the Nordhavn Atlantic rally.


https://www.nordhavn.com/rally/voyage/welcome.htm




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Old 01-22-2019, 06:15 AM   #5
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Look up info on the Nordhavn Atlantic rally.


https://www.nordhavn.com/rally/voyage/welcome.htm




Happy Planning,
HOLLYWOOD
Great suggestion. The Nordhavn community continues to update trip planning for this route. Jim Leishman could supply you with current list of favored routers.
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Old 01-22-2019, 06:53 AM   #6
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If it was me I would use the Jimmy Cornell Pilot Charts almost exclusively.
I agree with your assessment about calm weather.
In fact, when I did my first passage in 2014, from Rhode Island to the Azores, I met a sailboat who had left from NC to Bermuda to Azores and he had no wind and took 40 days (versus my 21 days).
In hindsight, I should have looked at it, but two big caveats:
1. The Great circle distances become much greater
2. By keeping to one of Jimmy Cornells the Northern Route, while we had winds on 18 of 21 days, but they were always behind us in some quadrant. I can deal with winds on the beam, winds on the bow on the other hand, are a different matter.
The risk of being on the wrong side of the High can mean strong headwinds for days, that will kill your fuel and you'll go nowhere.

Lastly, at the speed of your boat, 120 to 150 miles per day, chasing forecasts once you left shore is a losing game.
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Old 01-22-2019, 07:48 AM   #7
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"Ocean Passages for the World" covers most of what you need to know.

The caution is most low powered ships DO use the "low powered " route , so a watch must be kept at all times.

The sailors can get by single handing with a wind vane as the sail routes are mostly empty and with no motor noise a ship can be heard many miles away when below.

NOT a motorboat option.
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Old 01-22-2019, 06:14 PM   #8
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Great suggestion. The Nordhavn community continues to update trip planning for this route. Jim Leishman could supply you with current list of favored routers.
Thanks sunchaser and Hollywood - I had read that the documents for that trip were closely guarded and not available to anyone.

I will ask Jim though about routers - excellent idea .
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Old 01-22-2019, 06:30 PM   #9
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If it was me I would use the Jimmy Cornell Pilot Charts almost exclusively.
I agree with your assessment about calm weather.
In fact, when I did my first passage in 2014, from Rhode Island to the Azores, I met a sailboat who had left from NC to Bermuda to Azores and he had no wind and took 40 days (versus my 21 days).
In hindsight, I should have looked at it, but two big caveats:
1. The Great circle distances become much greater
2. By keeping to one of Jimmy Cornells the Northern Route, while we had winds on 18 of 21 days, but they were always behind us in some quadrant. I can deal with winds on the beam, winds on the bow on the other hand, are a different matter.
The risk of being on the wrong side of the High can mean strong headwinds for days, that will kill your fuel and you'll go nowhere.

Lastly, at the speed of your boat, 120 to 150 miles per day, chasing forecasts once you left shore is a losing game.
Love reading about your travels on Dauntless!

I was a bit confused about your comments though: when you say you "should have looked at it", do you mean to find calm weather using Cornell's world cruising routes OR the pilot charts (since the 1880's) OR both?

Your comment on being caught in highs is one of my concerns - essentially burning fuel for days in almost a holding pattern. It then becomes a guess - educated or not - whether to increase speed and use more fuel to get around the high using good information, keep going and use fuel while moving little, or slow down saving fuel but risk wallowing around. Again, uptothe minute weather information seems important to the choice?

Can you explain why "chasing forecasts once you left shore is a losing game"? I would have thought that at a middle speed it is even more important to chase the weather... My thinking is that at low speeds, 2-4kn, you're not moving fast enough to move out of the way; at 5-10+kn you can thread your way through thus daily weather routing is important; at 15-72.4kn you've essentially picked your line beforehand and weather routing is more a daily check and minor change.
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Old 01-22-2019, 06:39 PM   #10
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"Ocean Passages for the World" covers most of what you need to know.

The caution is most low powered ships DO use the "low powered " route , so a watch must be kept at all times.

The sailors can get by single handing with a wind vane as the sail routes are mostly empty and with no motor noise a ship can be heard many miles away when below.

NOT a motorboat option.
Thanks - I didn't know those documents. Rather expensive unfortunately, but possibly good for the more unusual routes that the internet doesn't already cover ok (such as US-Bermuda-Azores) as distinct from our Caribbean-Azores...
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Old 01-22-2019, 07:20 PM   #11
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Thanks - I didn't know those documents. Rather expensive unfortunately, but possibly good for the more unusual routes that the internet doesn't already cover ok (such as US-Bermuda-Azores) as distinct from our Caribbean-Azores...
I have both Cornell and Ocean Passages, and Cornell relies on the latter. Both are great to have, along with the relevant pilot charts.
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:42 PM   #12
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What boat and what range at what speeds?
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Old 01-22-2019, 11:16 PM   #13
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Love reading about your travels on Dauntless!

I was a bit confused about your comments though: when you say you "should have looked at it", do you mean to find calm weather using Cornell's world cruising routes OR the pilot charts (since the 1880's) OR both?

Your comment on being caught in highs is one of my concerns - essentially burning fuel for days in almost a holding pattern. It then becomes a guess - educated or not - whether to increase speed and use more fuel to get around the high using good information, keep going and use fuel while moving little, or slow down saving fuel but risk wallowing around. Again, uptothe minute weather information seems important to the choice?

Can you explain why "chasing forecasts once you left shore is a losing game"? I would have thought that at a middle speed it is even more important to chase the weather... My thinking is that at low speeds, 2-4kn, you're not moving fast enough to move out of the way; at 5-10+kn you can thread your way through thus daily weather routing is important; at 15-72.4kn you've essentially picked your line beforehand and weather routing is more a daily check and minor change.
Chasing forecasts is predicated on a cruising speed of 6 to 7 knots, 130 to 150 nm/24hr.
I don't know anyone crossing the Atlantic at 15 knots. A sailboat can probably do 12 to 15 in the trade winds.

A Low moves 500 nm/ day. So even if, and that's a big if, the forecast is "right" it can be easily off 150 miles, at which point you zigged when you should have zagged.

I would love to have been able to find that Azores High, but I also can't go 500 miles out of my way to find it.
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Old 01-22-2019, 11:29 PM   #14
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What boat and what range at what speeds?
Our boat (50' aluminium power cat. 16' BOA), range with internal tanks about 2000nm, range with additional tanks that are already available about 3800nm, all at 6kn. Boat came across from Europe about 15 years ago - would that make it an attempt at a "great A-loop"?
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Old 01-22-2019, 11:51 PM   #15
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Chasing forecasts is predicated on a cruising speed of 6 to 7 knots, 130 to 150 nm/24hr.
I don't know anyone crossing the Atlantic at 15 knots. A sailboat can probably do 12 to 15 in the trade winds.

A Low moves 500 nm/ day. So even if, and that's a big if, the forecast is "right" it can be easily off 150 miles, at which point you zigged when you should have zagged.

I would love to have been able to find that Azores High, but I also can't go 500 miles out of my way to find it.
Hmm, best average I could find is that hurricanes (an extreme low, not a normal low) moves at 10-20mph over the ocean (NOAA), or about 270nm-540nm per day.

At 20-40degrees north, the NOAA hurricane average is about 10-15kn or 240nm-360nm/day (fortunately less than 500!).

I'm definitely not as experienced as you are on the ocean and Atlantic in particular, but I would imagine being able to travel 6kn or 150nm/day could definitely give some benefit - being able to choose a direction within say 35 degrees either side of the rhum) to avoid or mitigate a slower moving low (say 200-300nm/day+?), especially if there's some accuracy out to 72hrs+ (Bob Cook opines that GFS is pretty good from 3-5days out)...?
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:37 AM   #16
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6 K for most economical long range cruise (LRC) strikes me as low,,, 7k or a bit more 7.1 or 7,2 might cost the same fuel.

I would do a measurement , with a graduated fuel supply to work out what the actual LRC is.
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Old 01-23-2019, 07:54 PM   #17
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Hi FF,
It's a good thought and I'd like some accurate figures, say from fuel flow meters.

But in lieu of that, I'm going on our efficiency numbers as well as others: Dauntless (KK42) averaged 5.7kn. The majority of the 2004 Nordhavn's 40-62' averaged 6.3kn on the Azores leg.

Is there any reason you think 7+ is "normal"
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:18 PM   #18
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Our boat (50' aluminium power cat. 16' BOA), range with internal tanks about 2000nm, range with additional tanks that are already available about 3800nm, all at 6kn. Boat came across from Europe about 15 years ago - would that make it an attempt at a "great A-loop"?
Ok, keep in mind that this is only opinion and may not be the one you like. The fact that boat made the trip over 15 years ago, doesn't give me any comfort crossing in it today. I've never been on the specific boat you own, but a 50' Catamaran is not something I'd personally cross on. However, I wouldn't cross in boats many have done so in. I'd ship it, as much as I want to cross myself.

Now, beyond that. I'd take the popular Bermuda to Azores route. That gives you the longest crossing of about 1900 nm. That brings the weather forecasts and planning into vision. At 6 knots, that's basically two weeks time. The longer that time, the more you're subject to major changes in conditions and forecasts. At 3 to 4 days they've become extremely dependable. At a week, a little less so. As you approach two weeks, the swings in conditions can be substantial so you try to hit the best you can but have to be prepared for the worst. As Richard said, chasing weather isn't practical at 6 knots.

Now, that brings us to fuel. You have a relatively light boat for crossing oceans at approximately 36,000 pounds if my numbers are right. It weighs less than Richard's 42' KK with that weight spread over a much larger area. Look carefully at how much additional fuel you add. How much fuel does it have for the 2000 nm? Surely not just 264 gallons as some were sold with so that means already additional fuel weight and when you start doubling that, you can change how the boat sits in the water and handles different conditions dramatically.

Best of luck if you do this.
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Old 01-23-2019, 11:57 PM   #19
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Now, beyond that. I'd take the popular Bermuda to Azores route. That gives you the longest crossing of about 1900 nm. That brings the weather forecasts and planning into vision. At 6 knots, that's basically two weeks time. The longer that time, the more you're subject to major changes in conditions and forecasts. At 3 to 4 days they've become extremely dependable. At a week, a little less so. As you approach two weeks, the swings in conditions can be substantial so you try to hit the best you can but have to be prepared for the worst. As Richard said, chasing weather isn't practical at 6 knots.
Apart from the fact that there are more boats are on the northern Bermuda-Azores route, there's very little difference in distance - your 1900nm vs about 2200nm for St Martin-Azores (rhum for both). At 6kn that's only two more days.

Is there another reason apart from distance and popularity that you prefer the Bermuda-Azores for a power boat (I do understand more benefits for a sailing vessel depending on time of year with the prevailing winds)?

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Now, that brings us to fuel. You have a relatively light boat for crossing oceans at approximately 36,000 pounds if my numbers are right. It weighs less than Richard's 42' KK with that weight spread over a much larger area. Look carefully at how much additional fuel you add. How much fuel does it have for the 2000 nm? Surely not just 264 gallons as some were sold with so that means already additional fuel weight and when you start doubling that, you can change how the boat sits in the water and handles different conditions dramatically.
It's nice you say "light" - I worry she is already heavy for a multihull!

We have 2400L/630g in tanks. Another 1000L/260g, 750L/200g and 750L/200g in existing bladders that can generally be placed in good positions (the 1000L is a bit of a pain). I assume these were bought - and needed - for the original trip. At 6kn the un-bladdered () range is 2000nm - with no margin!

The boat was built and designed for larger tankage. We are at about 16.5t/36000lb at the moment with average cruising gear (not liveaboard), full water and part-fuel. The additional designed capacity is about 4t/9,000lb, so additional fuel in the bladders will be ok (well, as ok as any additional weight it on a multihull ).

To cover our bases, we did get quotes for shipping from DYT and P&M, and brokers did search for other options. The range was US$20k through to $33k. I've estimated fuel at just over US$6k. Learning experience factor is extreme. Fun factor I estimate as spewingly high (to cover both options). With everyone's help I'm trying to lower the proposed sphincter tightening factor .
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Old 01-24-2019, 01:00 AM   #20
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Apart from the fact that there are more boats are on the northern Bermuda-Azores route, there's very little difference in distance - your 1900nm vs about 2200nm for St Martin-Azores (rhum for both). At 6kn that's only two more days.

Is there another reason apart from distance and popularity that you prefer the Bermuda-Azores for a power boat (I do understand more benefits for a sailing vessel depending on time of year with the prevailing winds)?



It's nice you say "light" - I worry she is already heavy for a multihull!

We have 2400L/630g in tanks. Another 1000L/260g, 750L/200g and 750L/200g in existing bladders that can generally be placed in good positions (the 1000L is a bit of a pain). I assume these were bought - and needed - for the original trip. At 6kn the un-bladdered () range is 2000nm - with no margin!

The boat was built and designed for larger tankage. We are at about 16.5t/36000lb at the moment with average cruising gear (not liveaboard), full water and part-fuel. The additional designed capacity is about 4t/9,000lb, so additional fuel in the bladders will be ok (well, as ok as any additional weight it on a multihull ).

To cover our bases, we did get quotes for shipping from DYT and P&M, and brokers did search for other options. The range was US$20k through to $33k. I've estimated fuel at just over US$6k. Learning experience factor is extreme. Fun factor I estimate as spewingly high (to cover both options). With everyone's help I'm trying to lower the proposed sphincter tightening factor .
I consider even an additional 2 days significant. I also think Bermuda gives you a chance to really shake everything down before the longer run. And, don't underestimate the impact of prevailing winds on your boat.

Add supplies to carry you for 3 weeks, extra spares and parts and equipment, and 4000 lbs of fuel and crew and you're pressing yourself very close to the 9000 pounds and adding 25% in weight. Be sure to carefully check and test those bladders if they've sat unused for 15 years. 15 years is typically considered the life of them. I'd definitely want some bladders, perhaps not all, but want a nice cushion in range.

What size crew do you anticipate?

Your boat might be heavy for a catamaran sail boat but quite light for a 50' ocean crossing powerboat.
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