Trans-Atlantic, Caribbean to Europe Passage

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Trans-Atlantic, Caribbean to Europe Passage
Trans-Atlantic Passage - Caribbean to Europe


The transatlantic passage from Caribbean to Europe is sailed from dozens of boats every year, however, is a navigation should not be underestimated as it is subjected to 15-20 days to continuous passage of disturbances from the west heading east. The classic route of the sailing ships envisaged an arch approaching or even stopping in Bermuda just to get out of the system of trade winds to reach the perturbances zone in order to have adequate winds. In recent years with the advent of ever more powerful engines in yacths you prefer to make a more or less direct route trying to stay between the high pressure of Atlantic Center and the area of the passage of the disturbances trusting in the motor and in an adequate supply of fuel in the unlikely event of being trapped with no wind in the high. In my opinion this is absolutely a wise policy to pursue aided by sophisticated weather products we have. The Gale of may 6 2015 near the Azore Islands is a tragic event that corroborates what here said.


Give charts applicable to this port or refer to a Chart section of another page (Country or Region) that lists the charts.

Chart Number - Chart Name
Chart Number - Chart Name
Chart Number - Chart Name


* May (from Reference 2)
* GRIB issued april 28 2015 00 UTC, valid april 28 06 UTC
* GRIB issued may 12 2015 06 UTC, valid may 14 00 UTC

In the three images it is displayed graphically the kind of weather situation which is located in the trans-atlantic route.

The first is the page of May of ATLANTIC PILOT ATLAS (see References 2) and represents the mean direction and mean wind-force that you can find.

The second is an example taken from the GRIB file where the high pressure center in the Atlantic was very withdrawn to the south with the disturbances that took place, issued 28 april 00 2015 UTC, valid 06 UTC 28 april, this situation has kept up to may 1.

The third is the opposite situation in which the high was very moved north and the disturbance path is a lot to North, issued may 12 2015 06 UTC, valid may 14 2015 00 UTC.

From the pictures you understand how to take a route and maintain it independently from the evolution of the weather is a choice that presents great risks. You must download the product long-term weather, with Airmail and Winlink can download GRIB up to 16 days, you define a route of maximum and then vary it every day, adapting the changes to the weather. It is what the "guru" or the more modern "router" do, but you can very well make one yourself.

After this long introduction what we do? We are in St Martin or Antigua, a place or the other, and studing the Pilot Charts, we decide to establish a direct route and moving to 30 ° N and 50 ° W (Point A), then to 35 ° N and 45 ° W (Point B) and then head straight to the Azores. This initial decision is made only to be denied the following days by long term weather products (4 to 7 days). You must use long term products to have the time to dodge the low, they run from 3 to 4 times faster than you, with too much wind or the high with too little. Of course you must also download the products in short 1 to 3 days. To you the fun of making of "router" to yourself. Good wind.

Explanation of the image from the Pilot Charts: boldness of arrows indicates constancy of wind direction. The bolder the arrow, the more constant the wind direction. Mean wind force on the Beaufort scale is equal of the number of strokes on the arrowhead: four strokes i.e force 4; green arrows are current in tenths of a knot; the red line represents the area with 10% more likely to have waves more than 3 meters; the red arrow direct NNE near Bermuda is the typical tracks of tropical cyclones, the number in the circle (0.1 not present in the figures) is the average number of tropical cyclones occurring in this month (May), then every 100 years there is some probability that a cyclone passes from Bermuda in May. The small black number at the bottom right of each rectangle is the percentage calms and the red on the left the percentage gales.

Weather Windows

The course would be the most suitable for the summer period in which the disturbances ranging from Bermuda to the Azores and over are less violent, if not absent. But the crews in the summer, and even before, they want to be already in the Mediterranean and the skippers also, because the season is the departures begin as early as March and continues throughout April and May. We also keep in mind that in May there is already some risk cyclone in the Caribbean, and in June the risk is higher and you have to be blown away already. So take your pick: I think May is the best time, and in July you are in Greece.


Add any navigation notes such approaches, dangers etc here. If this section does not apply remove it.


Also see World Cruiser's Nets

  • Herb's website - Just two words needed:- "Got Herb?" We crossed in May/June 2007 from Antigua to Lagos, Portugal with stopovers in Bermuda and The Azores. We crossed with the ARC Europe group. There were two classes of boats, those that followed Herb's weather routing and those that got battered. I can't recommend him highly enough. Alan Teed 10:56, 14 December 2007 (MST) Yacht Moonstruck

    2015....some time is passed .... now the GRIB are a highly recommended self-made-routing method. Naturally you must know about meteorology, but I think it is not possible, or better it is a lot dangerous, to make a transat without knowing it ....
  • A program to download GRIB but you must have an internet connection.
  • To download GRIB in navigation with Winlink and Airmail (free of charge but you must have the Ham license) or with Sailmail and Airmail (you must pay the service)
  • To download others meteo products (like meteofax, and other..) using e-mail

The Gale of may 6 2015 near the Azore Islands is a dramatical example where the metereology knowledgement and the download of the correct product in the correct time can be a powerful method to help for a safe navigation.

Possible Departure Points

If You sail to Bermude the best starting place is St.Martin, if You sail the direct route more or less it is the same to start from St.Martin or from Antigua.

Route/Suggested Stopovers

  1. Starting from:
    1. Marigot Bay, Saint Martin/wiki/Trans-Atlantic,_Caribbean_to_Europe_Passage#.5B.5BMarigot_Bay.2C_St._Martin.7CMarigot_Bay.5D.5D.2C__.5B.5BSt_Martin.7CSaint_Martin.5D.5DHarbour icon Marigot Bay, Saint Martin [[Trans-Atlantic, Caribbean to Europe Passage#Marigot Bay, Saint Martin|Marigot Bay, Saint Martin]] 18°04.1′N, 063°05.3′W or
    2. Jolly Harbour, Antigua/wiki/Trans-Atlantic,_Caribbean_to_Europe_Passage#.5B.5BJolly_Harbour.5D.5D.2C_.5B.5BAntigua.5D.5DHarbour icon Jolly Harbour, Antigua [[Trans-Atlantic, Caribbean to Europe Passage#Jolly Harbour, Antigua|Jolly Harbour, Antigua]] 17°04.254'N, 061°53.190'W
  2. xx nM to Stopover Point1/wiki/Trans-Atlantic,_Caribbean_to_Europe_Passage#.3Cspan_style.3D.22color:magenta_.22.3EStopover_Point1.3C.2Fspan.3EHarbour icon Stopover Point1 [[Trans-Atlantic, Caribbean to Europe Passage#Stopover Point1|Stopover Point1]] DD°N.m′N/S, DD°M.m′E/W
  3. etc.
  4. Finally you arrive at Faial Horta, Azores/wiki/Trans-Atlantic,_Caribbean_to_Europe_Passage#.5B.5BFaial.7CFaial_Horta.5D.5D.2C_.5B.5BAzores.5D.5DHarbour icon Faial Horta, Azores [[Trans-Atlantic, Caribbean to Europe Passage#Faial Horta, Azores|Faial Horta, Azores]] 38°34.6′N, 28°41.88′W

Possible Arrival Points

Distance & Duration

From St.Martin or Antigua to Faial Horta about 2250 nm with a small curve toward north passing to the point indicated above in the Pilot Chart image.

The duration depends a lot from wind and mean velocity of the boat so see the table:

For different average speed the miles per day sailed and the number of days to sail 2250 miles from Caribbean to Azores.
Mean speed 5 knots 6 knots 7 knots
Miles per day 120 144 168
Total days 18 16 13

For boats of 40 ft the average statistic time registered in Horta from the Marina is 19-20 days.


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)



  • (1) Rod Heikell and Andy O'Grady, OCEAN PASSAGE & LANDFALLS. Cruising routes of the world, Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson, ISBN 978-1846231551
  • (2) James Clarke, ATLANTIC PILOT ATLAS. Including the Caribbean & Mediterranean, Adlard Coles Nautical. London, ISBN 0-7136-7567-5 978-0-7136-7567-2


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  • May 2015 --Danbag Sailboat favicon.png LE CROCIERE DI SHAULA
    In the image sideaway I expline my transatlantic in May 2015, in 16 days and some hours from Antigua Jolly Harbour to Azores Faial Horta, 2269 total miles. In the image May-2 my route was NNE to contour the big High pressure in the right and into the trade winds. In the image May-6, this is the day of the Gale. I was in the lower side of the low and I had good winds about 25-30 knots, on a beam reach before and running after.

    In the image May-9 I follow the south margins of the depressions to have good wind but not excessive. In the image May-11 I am unfortunately in a disturbance, I could stay on hold in the south but having seen that the winds were expected to handle around 30 knots, have routed to Azores. After May 11, nothing to report, arrival to Faial with running winds and the last engine for 30 nm. To maintain the average speed and for taking the winds I wanted to get to take I used the engine for a total of 80 hours with a consumption of 200 l of fuel of a total onboard of 450lt. I use the engine as a safety factor, it is dangerous to proceed slowly at 2-3 knots, because you remain exposed to the danger for many more days. In this dangerous journey I always turned on the engine when the speed drop below 5 knots. In other situations, for example in the trade winds, where there is no danger I turn it on when the speed falls below 3 knots.
May 2
May 9
May 11

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Names: Alan Teed, Danbag

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