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Planning a World Cruise

It's a very exciting time planning an upcoming cruise! Whether you are planning a summer cruise of a week or two, or planning something a little longer as we are… the planning stage should be a fun exercise as well as a chance to learn about your destinations and route.

In our case we're planning our first trip out into the Pacific Ocean to the Galapagos, Marquesas, French Polynesia and onwards. But first we will be back in the UK to collect our new Distant Shores III next spring, so our planning starts there.

The new boat will be ready in time to appear in the Dusseldorf Boat Show in January. Then she'll be back in the UK for final checks before splashing her in the Solent for our initial test-sailing in late March. Below is a section of the pilot chart for March in the North Atlantic. It shows winds around force 4-5 with a slight preponderance from the W-SW and only 2-3% of calms. The red "10" in the English channel indicates that 10% of the time the waves are greater than 12 feet high. The next red line indicates 20% so our sailing ground will be between 10-20 percent waves above 12 feet. The open channel is likely to be "perky" ;-)

You can follow the link for the US Government site to download the pilot charts yourself, which all include a handy section on how to read them.

Of course it's still cold in March so we won't be planning very long passages. The Solent is a protected body of water with many nice harbours and uncrowded anchorages (that time of year) so it should be fun cruising while we get to know Distant Shores III.

We will also plan some "open day" events then so if you'd like to come and see Distant Shores III there will be an opportunity as well.

Year 1

Looking forward to May with the weather becoming more pleasant we will be heading off on our first longer cruises. We'll cross the Channel to Guernsey in the Channel Islands and visit France as well. Then after one more trip back to the UK we'll set off on the big voyage.

The summer plan is to head south along France, then Spain and Portugal to Gibraltar. Way back in 2007 we sailed this coast in December (Yikes!) so are expecting a much warmer cruise with a chance to poke in some of the harbours we missed that time!

Next we'll sail across to the Caribbean in November - arriving in Antigua in December to complete 2018 with a Caribbean Christmas.

Here is our recent video Q&A on planning the world voyage.

Are you planning a cruise in the next 1-2 years?

Crossing an Ocean

I'll always remember the sense of accomplishment Sheryl and I felt as we came in to Horta in the Azores after crossing our first ocean. Wow! We were tired and ready for a real night's sleep. It had been an 18-day double-handed crossing with sleep in 3-4 hour stretches and included our biggest storm to date. Boy were we thrilled to have sailed across the Atlantic!
arriving-atlantic-crossing-azoresThat was way back in 1990 in our first year of cruising/living aboard. We've since spent hundreds of days at sea out of sight of land including 6 more Atlantic crossings but the thrill of that first one is still a life memory.

The Proper Yacht - Room for Crew

On that first ocean crossing we were aboard Two-step, a Sparkman & Stephens design, we built ourselves from a bare hull and deck. This 37-footer was a small boat inside and a wet boat with low freeboard, but we sailed her 68,000 miles and three times across the Atlantic before moving up to our next boat. (The second picture is our third boat, Distant Shores II, a Southerly 49, sailing downwind wing-and-wing. Much nicer!)
atlantic-crossing-wavesBut perhaps one of Two-Step's biggest shortcomings was that she was a bit too small for bringing along additional crew. Doing watches 3 to 4 hours-on-/3 to 4 hours-off gets tiring. Nowadays we prefer doing passages with additional crew. Even one more crew means you can reduce the watch schedule, 4 people total and it makes a much more pleasant passage where everyone gets much better sleep.

Our new boat, Distant Shores III, a Southerly 480, is being built from the ground up with the plan to accommodate extra crew on passages. Distant Shores II could only handle 4 people on offshore passages in comfort. Distant Shores 3 is designed to have 6 aboard (Sheryl & I plus 4 additional crew) and we are planning safe comfortable sea berths for all. Here is an interior plan… For Offshore we will have a maximum of 6 people total aboard including us, and crew can choose the best berths for the conditions and preferences.


What's it Like at Sea?

It's not all storms and excitement on the ocean, although we certainly expect some exciting squalls on this passage. The transatlantic trade wind crossing to the Caribbean from Europe is likely to be all downwind. We have had a few calm days on 3 of our 4 east-to-west crossings on this route, but mainly the trades blow 15-20 knots or more from the east. We set the sails and roll along downwind, sometimes not even adjusting the sails for days on end. Typically there are squalls that pass regularly bringing rain and winds gusting up to 30 or so.

Here is a video from our recent Atlantic crossing in 2015 as we are completing our crossing the Atlantic to St Lucia. Everyone is very excited!

Offshore Ocean Overnight

If you've never done an overnight passage on a sailboat the thought of crossing an ocean and spending perhaps 18 days out of sight of land might well be daunting. In that case we would recommend a shorter passage first - one or two nights just to see if you like it.

View Schedule - Legs - Availability - Click Here

Do You Want to Cross an Ocean?

This isn't a dream for everyone! It's a big adventure and requires a big commitment in time. But if you dream of crossing an ocean then the trade-winds crossing of the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean is certainly one of those dream passages. Setting off in cooler fall weather from the Canary Islands, we head south for a few days. Tradition says "sail south until the butter melts" but with modern weather routing software we can make a better plan than that! On our last crossing we stopped at the Cabo Verde Islands, and we plan to do this again on our next crossing too. The islands are dramatic and friendly and it's a nice way to get 850 miles under your belt, then take a few days rest before jumping off for the big transatlantic crossing.

Join us Aboard Distant Shores III

We have always enjoyed bringing people along with us through our television shows to share the ocean life. Now with Distant Shores III we have planned the boat so we can bring along 4 additional crew and share the lifestyle directly. We have planned some passages in our Sail Away Weeks schedule. The big one is crossing the Atlantic (via the Cabo Verde Islands). We have planned 25 days this for adventure with probably 16-18 days at sea. That gives us a week or so in the Canary Islands, Cabo Verde Islands and Antigua when we arrive to celebrate!

For a smaller sampler of offshore sailing we are doing a passage from Gibraltar to the Canary Islands. We plan a stop in Morocco either at Rabat or Agadir. Either stop means there will be a leg of a few hundred miles (2-3 days) at sea on passage before we arrive in the Canary Islands at Lanzarote.

View Schedule - Legs - Availability - Click Here

If you'd like to join us for a "virtual" ocean crossing then why to check out our recent videos on the Atlantic crossing…

Join us aboard Distant Shores for the adventure of a lifetime crossing the Atlantic


Discovery Test Sail & DS3 Plans

Here is a (nearly final) drawing of our new Distant Shores 48, being built by Discovery Yachts. We're currently working with Discovery on the new design and think she's a beauty! A mainsheet arch keeps the cockpit clear while moving the attachment point to the boom aft. This is because mid-boom sheeting means high loads and a heavier boom as well. We learned from experience here (see Youtube). The pilot house design means more comfortable passages/night-watches as well as protection from the elements. Plus great views from the saloon! We'll get some better quality drawings in a couple of weeks!


We also shot a Vlog style YouTube (below) on a Discovery test sail in England. We sailed on a Discovery 55 (not the new 48 that we're building). We also fly our new drone, visit southwestern Cornwall, meet horses on the highway in the New Forest, and look around the Discovery Yachts factory in Southampton.

Discovery Test Sail

Although we've been aboard various Discovery Yachts at boat shows over the years, this was the first time we had sailed aboard one. Cool breezes ruffled the flags but it was sunny as we pulled out of Lymington and into the Solent on England's south coast. Luckily the wind got up to about 10 knots so we could move along and get the feel of this brand new Discovery 55 - just being handed over to her new owners.

The Discovery 55 has a double headsail system with self-tacking jib and larger genoa ahead similar to the setup we had on our Southerly 49. Normally in light winds we would use the genoa, but in the narrow Solent waters between Lymington and the Isle of Wight we flew the self-tacking jib instead. This way everyone could just relax and enjoy the sail. Making a tack is as simple as calling "tacking" and spinning the wheel.

Most Discovery yachts are delivered with a Selden furling mast, and this one was the same, set up with standard Kemp Dacron sails. Some people recommend a high performance sail for in-mast furling units and I'm sorry we didn't have it to test. Nevertheless performance was quite acceptable and the boat pointed quite well with the self-tacker sheeted in.
Looking at the self-tacking track above, I liked how it is rigged with the sheet running across the track. This is different from the way Southerly rigged it, and appeared to moderate the tacking procedure, smoothly sliding the car across. Nice!

Down belowdecks the main saloon has magnificent views from the saloon table, and also a forward view for a helmsman in inclement weather. Our new 48 will have similar views.

Discovery Factory Visit

Buying a new boat is an exciting and (hopefully) enjoyable experience! Preplanning is essential for success. Changing something in the order stage, while its still on paper is MUCH cheaper than making changes later on. A company like Discovery is used to making changes to the yacht to insure it comes out as the owner wants. In many cases changes can be made from the standard specification for very little extra. But once production is underway, changes get much more expensive. In our case we will be making the first of the new 48s and there are so many choices to make. The deck mould will be produced in the next few weeks and we're working to make sure it's right.
discovery-yachts-customer-care-design - 1

Production Plans

Building a new boat takes a while! We are hopeful the new Distant Shores 48 by Discovery will be ready in time for the Dusseldorf Boat Show in January 2018. Better get back to work!