Our ultimate guide on things to consider if you're planning to sail across the Atlantic

13. Be smart with your provisioning

Involve the crew in the shopping list and the shopping, then they will have less reason to complain later. Cabbages last ages and are great in salad. Bananas go ripe all at once and you’ll soon be sick of them. For fruit supplies stick to apples, oranges and pears which all have a longer shelf life. Have a butcher vacuum-seal meat to help preserve it or get a machine and do it yourself before freezing. Take no cardboard packaging on board to avoid importing cockroach eggs.

Fruit

14. Safety

Don’t be afraid to wear lifejackets and use lifelines and always use them at night and in bad weather. If in doubt, play it safe. Drum into crew never to leave the cockpit to go forward when no one else is awake. And think about safety below decks too; for example, the risk to crews wearing shorts while handling pans of boiling water. Discourage crew from peeing over the side: there are no recorded cases of men falling overboard while using the heads.

15. Fuel

It’s difficult to have too much, even in a sailing boat. If going further than the Caribbean, carry some jerrycans – fuel is often a taxi-ride away from the shore.

ARC2014_640_CP__MG_5448

And lastly….don’t fix your arrival date in the diary

In some seasons an Atlantic crossing is quick. In others it’s slow. The weather varies quite a bit, especially early in November and early December, when the tradewinds can be elusive. So if you are fixated on a certain arrival day, you’ll be set up for disappointment before you even leave.

A sailing passage is not a liner service, so kick back, enjoy the experience, bring a few books and maybe go on a digital detox to enjoy time out from the deadlines that shape daily life on shore.

Keep your plans open. Remember that the crossing is the adventure, not the arrival in the Caribbean.

And whatever you do, don’t let your crew book flights immediately after your estimated ETA – nothing sours the atmosphere on board more than a single stressed person who is on a deadline and champing to be on land.

Heading the other way? Leaving the Caribbean for cooler climates? Check out our 16 top tips on crossing back to Europe here

Looking for more? For more advice on how to plan for your Atlantic crossing, read our Top 30 expert tips here

Take a read of our November 2014 issue featuring a 6-page report on planning your trip:

November 2014 issue

PLUS: Caribbean expert Chris Doyle shares his favourite places to sail in the Windward Islands:

November 2014 issue

Have your say:
If you have some tips of your own to pass on, add them to the comment section below.

Follow more news, views and tips from me on Twitter: @elainebunting

 

This article was first published October 7th, 2007. Updated March 24th, 2015.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Page 2
  3. 3. Page 3
  4. 4. Page 4
  5. 5. Page 5
Page 5 of 5 - Show Full List
  • Roman Kogalin

    hahaha we can imagine.. funny.

  • Buy your fruit and vegetables from the farmers market, supermarket produce will have been chilled and will go off quicker
    I stored some cheeses below the waterline “to keep cool” and then had a nasty mess to clear up when it melted as the sea got warmer.

  • khizar_07

    A P&O Cruiser can do it in 7 days.
    10 days for a super yacht doing 10 knots.
    The Atlantic is a harsh environment. You will have to take engineers with you to ensure

    the thing does not break down.

  • CaptainDoomster

    In 1989 I crewed a 46 foot boat from Southampton to Antigua. We left Southampton in October (wrong end of the season). The Bay of Biscay was without doubt the worst stretch of the entire voyage – beating into four Force 10/ 11’s all the way down to Morocco with 30 – 40 foot sea.

    I went from never sailing a boat in my life to rounding Cap Finisterre alone at the night helm with big shipping in extreme gale force conditions….a true baptism of fire….and one of the finest most memorable moments of my life.

    Once in the Trade Winds the crossing was easy…..in fact I would almost call it boring….apart from seeing whales, dolphins, flying fish and the magical phosphorescent after 21 days the crew began talking about Hamburgers and Beer.

    I remember 500 miles off the coast of Africa we encountered two boats no bigger than 22 feet in size sailing together….so it is a myth when people say you cannot cross the Atlantic in small boats. In fact in the 60’s 25 – 30 foot was the norm and all those boats were basic….no water makers etc. Modern boats are cluttered with so much unnecessary crap.

    From my experience keep the boat simple, uncluttered and as the author stated maintain the momentum. Buggering around with complex sail arrangements in a squall or in the middle of the night is an annoyance.

  • Adam christ

    Thank you, happy sailing 🙂

  • This one here is a gold mine. Thanks for sharing this sailing
    guide list. Nowadays, only few sailors who genuinely blog their sailing experience.
    Every sailors and yacht owners guide before sailing. J