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Two years is a lot of time and still they are the absolute minimum for a circumnavigation, and many long-time sailors would consider this to be absolutely too short.

Fact is, for us this was not a lifestyle choice, we did not intend to become - at our age - full-time live-aboards, and we were looking forwards to quieter cruises and voyages after our return from the circumnavigation.

What we hoped was to fulfil an old "dream of a lifetime" while we still could, without completely overturn our lifestyle.

trade wind circumnavigation

We are not talking of performing a sporting enterprise, like circumnavigating the globe along the Roaring Forties, but rather to do a cruise along the classic trade-wind route, which is roughly comprised between the north and south tropics and benefits from mostly favourable winds (blowing from east to west) and mild weather conditions.

Problem is the exposure to tropical storms (which take place in the tropics during the summer season); to avoid them, it is necessary to carefully plan the voyage in order to be always in the hemisphere where it is winter, following a calendar which is roughly divided as follows:

- from mid-summer to December (hurricane season in the northern hemisphere):

- reach Gibraltar by late September-early October and from there sail to the Canary islands at the beginning of November, before the weather in Europe becomes too stormy (it's still the hurricane season in the northern hemisphere, but normally they don't hit these areas).

- around end November leave the Canaries, so that landfall in the Caribbean will be just before Christmas when the hurricane season should be over.

- between end-December and April (favourable season in the northern hemisphere): a couple of months around the Caribbean sea, sailing towards Panama, then crossing of the canal and subsequent passage to the Galapagos islands.

- from May to October (favourable season in the southern hemisphere): the longest passage of the whole voyage, bound for the Marquesas islands, and then island-hopping along the various archipelagos (Tuamotus, Society islands, Tonga, Fiji.....) to reach Australia for a stopover allowing some tourism and mid-voyage maintenance.

- November to March: back again in the northern hemisphere, visiting Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and then the jump to the Gulf of Aden giving access to the Red Sea and later to the Suez canal.

- April-May: eastern Mediterranean, and from there back to the respective home ports.

(an alternative to these last two legs is to run towards Cape Town, to be reached before Christmas, and from there along the trade-winds to Brazil and return to the Caribbean just in time for the Atlantic crossing towards Europe in May: this alternative avoids the potential danger of pirates in the Gulf of Aden, but is much longer!).



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Last Update: 11/11/2014

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