Jimmy Cornell has decades of cruising experience and has seen, first hand, the changing face of the sailing world. Here are his 10 destinations for your cruising bucket list
Jimmy Cornell can safely be described as the father of modern ocean cruising. He founded the ARC rally in 1986, ran the first circumnavigation rally and has himself sailed over 200,000 miles on three round the world voyages. He is author of the bestselling World Cruising Routes, and the latest edition of Cornell’s Ocean Atlas is out now.
Jimmy has been tracking the global movement of cruising boats since 1987 and has seen some big shifts in global cruising patterns over the years due to a variety of factors, with climate change particularly having an effect on where sailors are cruising. Here’s Jimmy Cornells lis of the best 10 places that should go on your sailing bucket list.
10 best places to sail now
Located between French Polynesia and American Samoa. Rarotonga is the clearing in port, but the 15 different islands are scattered across almost half a million square miles of the Pacific. The northern group of the islands, with turquoise sea and sand fringed coral atolls, are the ones to head to if possible, and include the hideaway of Suwarrow (pictured here, see also page 27).
Cruising in Cuba and its off-islands has restrictions on where you can sail, but there are marinas to base at or you can head off and find some wonderful remote anchorages with absolute peace and quiet. There are many places with no settlements ashore, just you, coral, white sand beaches and mangroves. Go before it opens up to large numbers of boats.
A group of islands of the British Overseas Territory including Henderson, Ducie and Oeno, Pitcairn is tiny – only two miles long – and has around 50 inhabitants, almost all descended from the mutineers of the Bounty and their Tahitian companions.
A fascinating place, and known for the warm welcome of one of the most isolated communities in the world.
The tiny atoll is a national park, part of the Cook Islands, and, you have to apply to visit well in advance. It was once home to New Zealander Tom Neale, who lived a hermit-like lone existence, and is now looked after by caretakers and opened up for visits from June to November. There’s a unique feel to this hideaway.
A fascinating volcanic archipelago and a melting pot of Portuguese and African culture, cuisine and music, Mindelo on Sao Vicente is the usual stop; there is a marina there, very basic maintenance but diesel supplies and provisions. You won’t regret a visit and a typical transatlantic is shorter and easier from here.
For most trans-Pacific sailors, this is the first stop in Polynesia after the 3,000-mile passage from the Galapagos, and without doubt the most special. The islands of Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa are the usual stops, deep water anchorages beneath high, rugged green mountains and fringed by palms – the Pacific dream. The garden island of Fatu Hiva might be one of the most beautiful you ever visit.
A favourite place to drop out of a round the world voyage for a complete season before picking up again, the country offers every type of scenery and experience you could wish with a culture that feels comfortably familiar and yet distinctly unique. A first stop in the Bay of Islands is a gentle introduction after the passage from Tonga and Fiji.
Not a destination you can just set out on, and on any given year the route is not guaranteed to be open as the eastern and western ends can get blocked by sea ice. Global warming has had a big impact, though, and transits are more likely. One of the last great feats of ocean exploration, possible with a suitable boat and detailed planning.
Now the ‘summit’ of the return stages of a circumnavigation, given how few cruisers contemplate the Red Sea route. Crossing the Agulhas Current is the hard part, requiring careful planning and timing from the island of Réunion to avoid the march of lows. From Richard’s Bay, the timings are easier to predict, so coast-hop to Cape Town and the Cape winelands.
Certainly the most accessible polar sailing destination, with over 120 potential anchorages and harbours, sights that include polar bears, abundant bird life and true remoteness. You need to apply for a permit and, like any high latitudes destination, it demands the right type of yacht and preparation, but it is unforgettable.
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