I have quite a bit of experience planning long voyages. Last time I was thinking about the details for 1.5years. And than obviously we diverted from the plan. But plans are there to change them. I still strongly think this particular 1.5 years was actually necessary and well spent. You have to dive deep if you want to maximise the experience. 🙂 This is not any different at this time as well or even more true because of the sea passages and the complexity of the boat preparation.
It started right after the last trip … maybe even before we actually arrived home. I had a strong image in my head that I have to travel the other half of the world as well. So I started collecting data and was looking into interesting areas and routes. The original plan was to fly to Cuba with bikes, pedal a circle around, than fly to Costa Rica, head north first to Nicaragua than south again to Panama, cross to Columbia on a boat… and so on… eventually all the way to Bolivia… fly again to…. and here comes the tricky part as I wanted to visit several island on the south pacific – I had a list where I absolutely wanted to go. I have to admit I hit the wall with this part of the plan hard. You don’t really have too many options… fly… or … hail down a tanker or cargo-ship… which is a good option, a romantic one… but we already tried this once from Baku to Aktau and was not really working out. To fly… well you have to be rather rich… I remember me accidentally listening to a youtube video which was about crossing the pacific on a sailboat. This stuck to my mind. First I was just joking about it…. and more I joked more I managed to convince myself… In the meantime I moved to the UK right to the home of sailing.. you can guess there was no way back.. 🙂
But back to the plan… The first “Leg” will start from Brighton where Psyrema, my boat is at the moment and will end at the Cape Verdes. This part of the travel is all about sailing. The aim is to start out with small passages, daysails.. to gain some experience and confidence and than continue on with some more serious bits. First I will sail from Brighton to the Solent.. a route I did several times, than from the solent to Poole which is an easy passage as well. From here I will cross the English Chanel to Cherbourg, rest a bit do a 2-3 day sail to Brest from there continue on to the Bay of Biscay… a feared piece of water…. Obviously as I do not have a great experience I will plan to do it on the safe way: 1-2 day sails with a well planned diversion plan and following a carefully checked weather window. I strongly think that with patience and enough time to spend in the harbour or at the anchorage this notorious bit of ocean can be done easily. If I manage to arrive to A Coruna safely the plan is to fill up the tanks and buy all the food necessary and do a long passage to the southern tip of Portugal to Lagos.
This will be a good test for what is coming next… several week-long or even longer passages. If anything goes wrong I will still be very close to the land so I can divert and escape to shelter but if it is all going right, there will be no problem hopefully later on where escape plan will be harder to execute. Form Lagos a 3-4 day long passage is planned to Casablanca through the busy entrance of the Gibraltar Straight. Morocco will be the first place I visit on purpose. I have been there once around the Agadir region but I always wanted to see more. From here there is 2 possible way. First is the easy one, to sail to the Canary Islands and from there to the Cape Verses which is a bit of a longer offshore passage and most probably the first really offshore one I will ever do. 🙂 Or there is an alternative way of going still south visiting Western Sahara, Mauritania and from there straight to the Cape Verses. But it all depends on the Ebola crisis and the separatist bad boys trying to scare the shit out of the foreigners. I would be very sad actually about not visiting the Western Sahara.. but will see the situation when we will be closer.
Cape Verde is again a country I actually want to visit. So the plan is to spend there 4-5 weeks or so sail around the islands visit some people… And…. if everything is allright with the boat, everything is fine with me, well… we are already talking about Leg2 already so let’s come back to this point later in an other post.
Last but actually the most important topic is the weather and timing. There are 2 time gates here. First one is the Bay of Biscay where you have to be very patient if you want to avoid trouble. I think for the inexperienced sailor like me the only safe time to cross is the mid-summer but absolutely not later than mid-September. Of course you can do it anytime if you are experienced or you have unlimited time to spend but time in a France is expensive and will burning the tight budget I have. So ideally I have to start early August. Before you ask… yes… I am talking about August 2015 but being alone with the project means I have to take care of all the stuff still on the todo list so this maybe will change and as a worth case scenario, possibly I have wait one more year, but that would be a really disappointing one. The other time constrain is the Atlantic crossing time. One can do it let’s say from mid November to April to avoid the hurricane season. But later you start less time you can spend at the Carib area and the whole reason for the crossing is to be there 🙂 at least for me. So ideally I should arrive around early Nov. to the Cape Verdes and spend a few weeks there do the passage across the pond and arrive on the other side around new year or so.
Before everyone freaks out: As from the beginning the plan is still the same, if it’s not fun, too problematic or too dangerous constantly…. I will sell Psyrema and will continue on as it was planned originally. Obviously, I am more than confident that there will be no problem at all. 🙂