Even if the totality of your time spent on the water has been pretty close to home, you and every other sailor probably share the same dream. The desire to haul anchor and see the world from the comfort of a boat deck is so engrained into the lifestyle, many who embark often choose not to come back! But for those journeying into the open ocean for the first time, there’s a mountain of preparation and pressure involved, so to give you that first push from port here’s our best tips on how to plan an overseas sailing trip:
Calculating the costs
The undisputed biggest hurdle for globetrotting on a sailboat is really getting to grips with the expense. In many ways it’s less about how much money you’ll need, and more about knowing what individual things will cost the most. Things like energy/fuel/diesel, food, refrigeration, generators, GPS & navigational tools, engine servicing, plumbing, rigging, safety gear, medical expenses, marina/anchoring and even your laundry are just a handful of the essentials you’ll need to budget around.
This is why it’s quite common for people to embark on a round-the-world trip in later life (when they have a good stash of savings), but if you want to grab this journey while you’re young you can always try and gain sponsorship from a travel company if you’re some kind of writer, or work while traveling to help pay the costs. An overseas sailing trip carries a price tag ranging from $30,000 - $100,000 depending on how far you’re going, so choose the journey and way of paying for it that bests suits your current situation and future.
Planning the Route
As you probably guessed, there’s more to planning an overseas sailing trip than deciding where to go. Your route must take into account things like winds, ocean currents, and tropical storm systems – all best avoided when possible. We’ve written about this before, but for first timers on the world’s oceans, its best to stick to the most popular tried and tested routes, such as the transit of the Panama Canal, North America’s West Coast or going from the Canary Islands (located off the coast of North West Africa) leading on to the Caribbean. Take into the account the time of year you’ll be travelling too; fall is ideal, as it lets you totally skip the pitfalls of harsh winter weather, whilst if you’re in North America it’s recommended that you sit back until November, or even February, to avoid hurricane season.
Taking care of Documentation
No different than if you were flying or traversing by train, being in a foreign country throws up all sorts of legal ramifications that require essential research. The biggest is medical: what are the health laws of the countries you’ll be staying in, and what sort of certification will you require? Visas are also of paramount importance, as is insurance – any overseas sailing trip will be putting your life on the line, so covering your trip should offer the most peace of mind!