Voyage planning tips a la carte

From Ocean Navigator #139
July/August 2004
In time you learn a few wrinkles. For example:

€. If you’re going to sail through an island group, it’s helpful to arrive at the windward end so you will have a free wind from island to island.

€. In the Tuamotus there are often extensive underwater reefs running far out from the south and southeast sides of the atolls. I am told that the coral grows toward its nutrients, which flow from the southeast trade wind, and a mariner is advised to sail around the north rather than the south side of an atoll. By all means purchase French charts for the islands and atolls of French Polynesia. Details at

€. You may wish to delay a passage through a hazardous area until you have a full moon to help you see at night.

€. In going northward from Rio de Janeiro against the Brazil Current, it may be wise to wait until the northeast monsoon (so-called locally) has eased. A week in port may be a week gained.

€. The weather systems around Vancouver Island come from the northwest or southeast. Depending on your direction of sailing, it will pay you to wait for a fair wind.

€. When sailing in the South Atlantic and heading to Cape Town from the north, work well south of the city before you head east. The prevailing winds are from the southeast and often blow very hard (“a black southeaster”), making it almost impossible to work to weather. But if you stay 30 to 40 miles south before you aim for the coast, you will have a fair wind.

And so on.

By Ocean Navigator