Planning Our Route

Planning Our Route

15. December 2019 Off By Søren

Circumnavigating the world. Not us! It has to be someone else we know…

The fact that we are going to circumnavigate the world is quite unreal most of the time, and yet becoming so real as time is ticking and our departure date moves closer – making us realize that yes, we are actually going to do it if nothing unexpected hits us (knock on wood).

One of the things we love as part of the planning is route planning, ie. which places we want to see. Being specific helps us taking in what we are about to do. And as we love this part, we thought we would share it with you.

“Travel as slow as you can”

This is an advice we have come across a few times. And we think we really get it. Sailing Carpe Diem home from Spain to Denmark was mostly transportation, trying to get as far as possible during the summer holidays (see All posts from the beginning). We have seen so many places we would never have seen if it wasn’t because we bought the boat and sailed it home – and sailed past even more places we should have love to see, promising each other that when sailing south again we would not just go passed these fantastic places.

Another advice: Don’t plan too detailed. Adventures can’t be planned, and you have to make room for flexibility to catalyze adventures to emerge, like going somewhere else than expected, or staying longer than expected. Furthermore, you are depending on weather and sea conditions, so make sure there is time in your schedule to have to stay put due to bad weather.

1000 Sailing Routes

World Cruising Routes
Jimmy Cornell’s World Cruising Routes

We can’t just sail where ever we want at any time we want. Each ocean or sea has its best times to sail it, and more importantly, times where you should not be there at all, because the risk of especially hurricanes are way too high. We are using Jimmy Cornell’s book “World Cruising Routes” to plan where we can be at certain times. The book has more than 1000 routes in all oceans of the world, specifying best time to sail the route, and when hurricane seasons sets in. To get an overview, we put this in an Excel spreadsheet with colorcodes for each month, doing this for all the legs a circumnavigation consists of. An example is shown below – wee need to stay within the “green” months.

Sailing seasons
An overview of which routes can be sailed at what time.

For the first half of the circumnavigation, which will bring us from Denmark to French Polynesia at the opposite side of the globe, the route is quite “mainstream”, with a few deviations. We have made no plans for the second part (French Polynesia back to Denmark) – the options we consider for this part is described later in this post.

Leg 1: Denmark – Canarie Islands

Danmark Kanarieøerne
København – Kielerkanalen – Stående masterute – Engelske kanal – Biscayen – Portugal – Marokko – Tenerife

When leaving Copenhagen on july 4th, we head south, going through the Kieler Canal, the shortcut to the North Sea. We plan to sail the Standing Mast Route in the Nederlands, which will take us through canals to Amsterdam. From there we will go into the busy English channel. Whether we will be at the English or French side is undecided so far. After the channel we will now be back in waters we have sailed before, however this time heading south. Crossing the Bay of Biscay will take us to Galicia in Spain, an area we will take our time to see, as we rushed by when sailing Carpe Diem home. Revisiting Porto and Lisbon is a must, before we leave Europe for a while and head to Rabat in Morocco. We have read only positive stories about Morocco so we look forward to this part, even though this will also be where we will get our first experiences with non-european rules, customs etc. We might take a detour to Madeira on our way to the Canarian islands, where we will probably head for Tenerife as the ARC is taking up all berths in Las Palma on Grand Canary. The plan is to be at the Canary Islands first or mid October.

Leg 2: Canarie Islands – Cap Verde – Tobago

We will stay in the Canary Islands for approximately a month. During this month, besides enjoying the islands, the boat will get the final preparation for crossing the Atlantic Ocean and we will do the provisioning as well. Mid November, we will head towards Cap Verde, which is approximately a week at sea. We will make a stop at Cap Verde. We would have to sail close by anyways to catch the trade winds, so why not make a stop and experience these islands as well. Another important reason to make a stop is that we will welcome 3 crew members for crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

Around 1st of December we will leave Cap Verde for crossing the Atlantic ocean. We expect around 20 days for this, so we should be able to make it for celebrating christmas at our destination, Man of War Bay in Tobago.

Kanarieøerne Tobago
Tenerife – Cap Verde – Tobago

Leg 3: Tobago – Panama

Now the plan starts to get a bit uncertain. We need to be in Panama before May, preferably in April. The map below shows to routes. One following the Lesser Antilles north and west, and then down to Panama, the other is the southern route to the ABC islands and Columbia (including San Blas). However, we need to keep a good distance to Venezuela to keep safe and lower the risk of piracy. This is also the reason we consider the northern route.

Tobago Panama
2 possible routes from Tobago to Panama.

Leg 4: Panama – (Costa Rica) – Galapagos

Panama Galapagos
Panama – possibly Costa Rica – Galapagos

Even though Galapagos is quite expensive, and has a lot of regulations when it comes to how clean the hull is under water and what we have onboard, it is a must for us to visit. It will take approximately a week to get to Galapagos. We are considering visiting Costa Rica before heading for Galapagos. Just before Galapagos we will cross equator with all the rituals involved.

Leg 5: Galapagos – Marquesas, French Polynesia

The map below is mainly blue. The pacific ocean is huge, and the leg from Galapagos to Marquesas islands will be the longest so far, with around 4 weeks at sea. Current plans are, that 2 of our friends are joining us for this leg. Right now 4 weeks without seeing anything but water, with no help nearby, can be a bit overwhelming, but just as our journey from Spain to Denmark moved our boundaries, we are sure that we at this point have moved them further, knowing what it takes.

Galapagos Marquesas
Galapagos – Marquesas Islands, the northeastern part of French Polynesia

French Polynesia

French Polynesia
French Polynesia and what we hope and look forward to experience.

We will arrive at the north eastern part of French Polynesia, the Marquesas Islands. During our stay in French Polynesia these islands will also be where we hide for the hurricane season, as they are close enough to equator for the hurricanes to stay away. We will definitely also sail to the more central part of French Polynesia with the coral atoll islands. And hopefully also to islands like Tonga in the western part of French Polynesia. Hopefully, because it might depend on what we will do after French Polynesia.

The mainroad is blocked.

French Polynesia is only half way around the world. We would love to go north of Australia through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean and home from there. But there is no way we will sail in high risk areas like The Gulf of Aden, so this route is not an option for us, and we don’t think things will have stabilized in 3 years time from now. We could put Carpe Diem on a freighter, but lets not plan with this yet.

The map below shows some other options. We can cross the Indian Ocean and go south of Africa – not an easy route to sail, and it might add a year to our circumnavigation. From South Africa, we would have to stay out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean up to Brazil and into the Caribbean Islands, then crossing the atlantic again back to Europe.

We can also sail north from French Polynesia. For example up to Hawaii, cross the north Pacific Ocean to USA, Canada or even Alaska (installing heater before doing so). Then follow the west coast down to Panama, into the Caribbean and cross the atlantic back home.

As said, nothing is planned for the second part. We are sure we will know what to do when the time comes.

Options for getting home
Some of the options for getting back home. The Suez Canal is not an option.