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Unlike islands in the trade wind belts, the Azores can be reached from almost any direction. Yachts arrive from Britain and Northwest Europe, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Madeira, the South Atlantic, the Caribbean, Bermuda, the US East Coast and Canada. Departure is slightly more limited, with few yachts leaving the islands to head westwards though it is by no means unknown.

Note that recommended dates refer to departure rather than to the passage as a whole.

Possible routes with distances to nearest 50M

Falmouth to Ponta Delgada or Horta

1150M and 1200M respectively. May to August.

Keep as near the rhumb-line as conditions permit.

The current sets southeast and prevailing winds are between southwest and northwest.

Ponta Delgada or Horta to Falmouth

1250M and 1300M respectively. May to August.

Work north or north-northeast until approximately

47°N to make the best use of east-going currents and avoid Biscay. Prevailing winds are southwest through northwest. An alternative strategy is to break the passage in northwest Spain and pick one's weather for crossing the Bay.

Bayona or Lisbon to Ponta Delgada

800M. May to August. A rhumb-line course, allowing for south-going current and the likelihood of northerly winds, particularly in midsummer. The reverse leg should be similar.

Gibraltar to Ponta Delgada

1000M. May to August. Coastal or direct route to Cabo Sao Vicente, then as for Lisbon. Reverse leg similar.

The Republic Fiji Location Map
Routes to and from the Azores

Ponta Delgada to Madeira

500M. July to September. A rhumb-line course, with the current setting southwest and winds likely to be northwest to northeast - probably a very pleasant passage. The reverse leg is possible but likely to be hard on the wind throughout. South Atlantic to the Azores

Various distances. Pleasant passages from St Helena, Ascension Island or ports on the east coast of Brazil can be made leaving in April or May, especially if using the route recommended in Ocean Passages for the World. If followed closely this offers the shortest possible crossing of the inter-tropical convergence zone.

Antigua or Virgin Islands to Horta 2200M and 2300M respectively (if sailed direct). May to June. Yachts with considerable range under power may risk the Great Circle route with its attendant calms. Others would be wise to work well north to within 200-300M of Bermuda (see below) but should still carry all possible fuel and water. Bermuda to Horta

1800M. May to July. The accepted route is to head northeast to 38° or 40°N in order to pick up heavier winds and stronger currents before running down the latitude for the Azores. Smaller yachts may prefer the lighter winds and flatter seas of the Great Circle route, but should anticipate a slow passage and carry all possible fuel and water. New York to Horta

2150M. May to July. The rhumb-line course should enjoy prevailing southwesterly winds and a favourable current. Halifax to Horta

1600M. June to July. Definitely worth heading southeast to pick up a fair current around 40°N 57°W, then as for New York.

Routes to and from the Madeira Group

Most yachts arriving in the Madeiran group do so from the northeast, having come direct from mainland Europe, and continue south or southwest towards the Canaries or directly across the Atlantic. However the passage from the Azores to Madeira has much to recommend it and occasionally a few yachts returning northwards from the Canaries also call in.

Note that recommended dates refer to departure rather than to the passage as a whole.

Routes to and from the Madeira Group

Possible routes with distances to nearest 50M Falmouth to Madeira

1150M. May to August or September. Basically a rhumb-line course with some extra westing early on to clear Ushant and Fin isterre, but not keeping so far off the Iberian coast as to lose the Portuguese trades. There is an excellent chance of favourable winds and current once past the latitude of Finisterre. The reverse passage would be distinctly 'uphill' and probably best broken in Spain, Portugal or the Azores.

Lisbon to Madeira

550M. May to October. A direct course, allowing for the south-going current. Winds are generally northwest to northeast with occasional calm periods. The reverse passage would probably be to windward, with allowance for current necessary. Gibraltar to Madeira

600M. May to October. A rhumb-line course, allowing generously for the south-going current once outside the Strait. It is usually possible to lay the course without problem, though westerly or northwesterly winds sometimes blow later in the year.

Ponta Delgada to Madeira

500M. July to September. Again a rhumb-line course, with the current setting southwest and winds likely to be northwest to northeast - probably a very pleasant passage. The reverse leg is possible but likely to be hard on the wind throughout. Madeira to Gran Canaria

300M. All year. Another direct course with favourable wind and current. The reverse leg would almost certainly be to windward. Madeira to Ilha do Sal or Sao Vicente, Cape Verdes 1000 and 1050M respectively. Most likely to be sailed in October to March or April, though feasible at almost any season. A rhumb-line course, aided by the southwest-going current and prevailing winds between north and east. Attempting the reverse leg direct would be masochistic, though it might be possible via the West African coast. Madeira to the Lesser Antilles +2700M. November to May. It is always necessary to head well southwest before altering course for the Caribbean, but the best latitude at which to turn varies with the position of the trade wind belt. The "classic' turning point of 25°N 25°W is often successful, but some seasons it is much too far north and yachts may have to continue down to 20° or 18°N before finding good winds. A rhumb-line should then be possible, with favourable current and following winds.

Routes to and from the Canary Islands

Many yachts arrive in the Canaries from Madeira, others from mainland Europe or occasionally the Azores. The vast majority depart west or southwestwards across the Atlantic.

Note that recommended dates refer to departure rather than to the passage as a whole.

Possible routes with distances to nearest 50M

Falmouth to Gran Canaria

1400M. May to August or September. Basically a rhumb-line course with some extra westing early on to clear Ushant and Finisterre, but not keeping so far off the Iberian coast as to lose the Portuguese trades. There is an excellent chance of favourable winds and current once past the latitude of northwest Spain. The reverse passage would be distinctly 'uphill' and probably best broken in Spain, Portugal or the Azores.

Lisbon to Gran Canaria

750M. May to October. A direct course, allowing for the south-going current. Winds are generally northwest to northeast with occasional calm periods. The reverse passage would probably be to windward, with allowance for current necessary. Gibraltar to Gran Canaria

750M. May to October. A rhumb-line course, allowing generously for the south-going current once outside the Strait. It is usually possible to lay the course without problem, though westerly or northwesterly winds sometimes blow later in the year.

Madeira to Gran Canaria

300M. All year. Another direct course with favourable wind and current. The reverse leg would almost certainly be to windward. Gran Canaria to Ilha do Sal or Sao Vicente, Cape Verdes

800M and 850M respectively. Most likely to be sailed in October to March or April, though feasible at almost any season. A rhumb-line course, aided by the southwest-going current and prevailing winds between north and east. Gran Canaria to the Lesser Antilles +2600M. November to May. As for Funchal to Antigua, though in some years it will not be

Routes to and from the Canary Islands

necessary to sail very far southwest before picking up the trade winds.

Routes to and from the Cape Verdes

Lying squarely in the path of the northeast trades, the vast majority of yachts arriving in the archipelago do so from Madeira or the Canaries, with the occasional one from Gibraltar via West Africa. Equally, a very high proportion depart for the Caribbean or South America, though a few head south or southeast towards Africa.

Note that recommended dates refer to departure rather than to the passage as a whole.

Possible routes with distances to nearest 50M

Madeira to Ilha do Sal or Sao Vicente

1000 and 1050M respectively. Most likely to be sailed in October to March or April, though feasible at almost any season. A rhumb-line course, aided by the southwest-going current and prevailing winds between north and east.

Gran Canaria to Ilha do Sal or Sao Vicente

800M and 850M respectively. As for Madeira to

Ilha do Sal or Sao Vicente.

Dakar to Ilha do Sal

350M. October to April. Northerly winds near the African coast may free to give northeasterlies nearer the islands, but as allowance must be made for the south-going current it would be wise to keep well to windward. The reverse leg is similar, but with the possibility of freer winds. Sao Vicente or Santiago to Barbados 1950M and 2050M respectively. November to May. Without the need to search southwards for the trade winds, a rhumb-line is generally the best course for Barbados. With favourable winds and current this should be a fast and enjoyable passage. Sao Vicente or Santiago to the Lesser Antilles +2150M. November to May. As for Barbados.

Routes to and from the Cape Verde Islands
FRENCH, PORTUGUESE AND SPANISH WEATHER FORECAST AREAS

Extremely comprehensive details of all official weather forecasts worldwide will be found in the Admiralty List of Radio Signals, Volumes 3(1) and 3(2), the former covering Europe, Africa and Asia and the latter the rest of the world including the Americas. Thus, with the exception of one or two North American weatherfax transmissions, the Atlantic Islands are covered by Volume 3(1). Reprinted annually, they can be updated via the weekly Notices to Mariners, available online at www.ukho.gov.uk. The US equivalent is Worldwide Marine Weather Broadcasts, published by NOAA.

Perhaps more convenient for yachtsmen, particularly those with limited bookshelf space, are Maritime Communications — United Kingdom and the Mediterranean (NP289) and Maritime Communications — Caribbean (NP290), which also contain details of GMDSS and DSC procedures, Navtex and SafetyNet information, marina and port communications, satellite and radio telephone services, and global navigation satellite systems

(GPS). Unfortunately the Atlantic Islands are split between the two volumes, the Azores featuring in NP289 and Madeira, the Canaries and Cape Verde islands in NP290. Both books are reprinted biannually, with corrections appearing every four weeks in Notices to Mariners, available online at www.ukho.gov.uk.

It should be noted that times quoted for weather messages, navigational warnings and traffic lists are normally given in Universal Time (UT or, previously, GMT). This contrasts with harbour and marina radio schedules, which are generally governed by office hours and are therefore quoted in Local Time (LT).

English language

There are relatively few official forecasts for vessels in the eastern Atlantic in the English language, though the BBC Radio 4 shipping forecasts broadcast at 0048, 0535, 1201 and 1755 UK local time (BST in summer, UT in winter) on 198kHz (1515m) extend to 35°N and 15°W and are therefore relevant if sailing between mainland necessary to sail very far southwest before picking up the trade winds.

Routes to and from the Cape Verdes

Lying squarely in the path of the northeast trades, the vast majority of yachts arriving in the archipelago do so from Madeira or the Canaries, with the occasional one from Gibraltar via West Africa. Equally, a very high proportion depart for the Caribbean or South America, though a few head south or southeast towards Africa.

Note that recommended dates refer to departure rather than to the passage as a whole.

Possible routes with distances to nearest 50M

Madeira to Ilha do Sal or Sao Vicente

1000 and 1050M respectively. Most likely to be sailed in October to March or April, though feasible at almost any season. A rhumb-line course, aided by the southwest-going current and prevailing winds between north and east.

Gran Canaria to Ilha do Sal or Sao Vicente

800M and 850M respectively. As for Madeira to

Ilha do Sal or Sao Vicente.

Dakar to Ilha do Sal

350M. October to April. Northerly winds near the African coast may free to give northeasterlies nearer the islands, but as allowance must be made for the south-going current it would be wise to keep well to windward. The reverse leg is similar, but with the possibility of freer winds. Sao Vicente or Santiago to Barbados 1950M and 2050M respectively. November to May. Without the need to search southwards for the trade winds, a rhumb-line is generally the best course for Barbados. With favourable winds and current this should be a fast and enjoyable passage. Sao Vicente or Santiago to the Lesser Antilles +2150M. November to May. As for Barbados.

Map Himalayan Region Tibet
Routes to and from the Cape Verde Islands
FRENCH, PORTUGUESE AND SPANISH WEATHER FORECAST AREAS

International weather forecasts

Extremely comprehensive details of all official weather forecasts worldwide will be found in the Admiralty List of Radio Signals, Volumes 3(1) and 3(2), the former covering Europe, Africa and Asia and the latter the rest of the world including the Americas. Thus, with the exception of one or two North American weatherfax transmissions, the Atlantic Islands are covered by Volume 3(1). Reprinted annually, they can be updated via the weekly Notices to Mariners, available online at www.ukho.gov.uk. The US equivalent is Worldwide Marine Weather Broadcasts, published by NOAA.

Perhaps more convenient for yachtsmen, particularly those with limited bookshelf space, are Maritime Communications — United Kingdom and the Mediterranean (NP289) and Maritime Communications — Caribbean (NP290), which also contain details of GMDSS and DSC procedures, Navtex and SafetyNet information, marina and port communications, satellite and radio telephone services, and global navigation satellite systems

(GPS). Unfortunately the Atlantic Islands are split between the two volumes, the Azores featuring in NP289 and Madeira, the Canaries and Cape Verde islands in NP290. Both books are reprinted biannually, with corrections appearing every four weeks in Notices to Mariners, available online at www.ukho.gov.uk.

It should be noted that times quoted for weather messages, navigational warnings and traffic lists are normally given in Universal Time (UT or, previously, GMT). This contrasts with harbour and marina radio schedules, which are generally governed by office hours and are therefore quoted in Local Time (LT).

English language

There are relatively few official forecasts for vessels in the eastern Atlantic in the English language, though the BBC Radio 4 shipping forecasts broadcast at 0048, 0535, 1201 and 1755 UK local time (BST in summer, UT in winter) on 198kHz (1515m) extend to 35°N and 15°W and are therefore relevant if sailing between mainland

Europe and the Azores or Madeira.

If able to receive MF transmissions, the weather bulletin broadcast in Portuguese by Horta Radionaval on 2657kHz SSB at 0935 and 2135 is repeated in English, as is that broadcast by Porto Santo Radionaval on the same frequency at 0735 and 1935. In both cases bulletins broadcast on VHF are in Portuguese only.

If within VHF range of Tenerife, Tenerife (MR CC) broadcasts a weather bulletin for the western Canaries in Spanish and English on Ch 74 at 0015, 0415, 0815, 1215, 1615, 2015 - see page 214.

French language

Radio France Inter-national broadcasts gale warnings, synopsis and a 24 hour forecast at 1140 UT daily on the following AM (A3E) frequencies -6175, 15300, 15515, 17570 and 21645kHz. Frequency varies according to reception area, as does the area covered in the forecast.

The forecast is read clearly and at moderate pace, and those with limited French may find it helpful to record it for translation. The format is straightforward being gale warnings, synopsis, development and area forecasts. It is divided into a number of major forecast areas (see diagram above)

each of which may be further subdivided.

Portuguese and Spanish language Forecasts in Portuguese are broadcast on VHF from Flores, Faial and Sao Miguel in the Azores, and Porto Santo in the Madeira group. Forecasts in Spanish are broadcast on VHF by Coast Radio Stations throughout the Canaries. See individual harbour text for details.

Navtex

Two Navtex stations - Horta and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, both in NAVAREA 11 - currently operate within the area covered by this book, with transmissions in English on the standard frequency of 518kHz. Details of times and coverage will be found with the harbour details on pages 46 and 193 respectively. A Navtex station is planned for Porto Santo (see page 121) but it is not known when it may become operational. There is no Navtex coverage in the Cape Verde islands.

Mainland European stations which also cover Atlantic waters include La Coruna and Tarifa (Spain) and Monsanto (Portugal). The former transmit weather bulletins in English and Spanish at 0830 and 2030 (La Coruna) and 0900 and 2100 (Tarifa) for waters within 450M of the Spanish coast, relevant to many on passage south. The latter transmits weather bulletins in English on receipt and at 0250, 0650, 1050, 1450, 1850, 2250 for Portuguese forecast areas Charcot, Joséphine, Finisterre, Porto, Sao Vicente and Cadiz (see diagram).

Weatherfax

Four sources of weatherfax are relevant to the eastern North Atlantic - Northwood (UK), Offenbach (Germany), Boston (USA) and Halifax (Canada).

Northwood transmits on 2618 5, 4610, 8040 and 11086.5kHz, with schedules at 0236 and 1424, gale summaries at 0348, 0600, 0700, 1148, 1548 and 1900, and forecasts at 0524, 0800, 0848, 1000, 1300, 1600, 1700, 1736, 2000 and 2200. Further information, much of it useful, is transmitted at other times. Coverage extends south to 32°N and west to beyond 50°W. Offenbach transmits on 3855, 7880 and 13882. 5kHz, with a schedule at 1111, test chart at 1132, surface pressure analyses at 0525, 0743 and 1800 and weather charts at 0430, 1050, 1145, 1600 and 2200. Timing of forecasts varies according to the area covered, which may extend as far south as 16°S and westwards across the entire Atlantic. Boston transmits on 4235, 6340 5, 9108 and 12750kHz, with schedules in two parts - Part 1 at 0243 and 1405, and Part 2 at 0254 and 1420. A surface analysis for Part 1, the eastern North Atlantic, is transmitted at 0325, 0402, 0925, 1002, 1525, 1723, 2125 and 2202, with forecasts at 0805, 0855, 1905, 1955, 2045 and 2115. Further information, much of it useful, is transmitted at other times. The entire Atlantic to 15°N is covered. Halifax transmits on 122 5, 4271, 6496 4, 10536 and 13510, with a schedule at 1101, surface analyses at 0322, 0901, 1522 and 2101 and forecasts at 1201, 1222 and 1302. Coverage extends east to 20°W and south to around 30°N, so taking in the Azores but not the other three island groups. Full details of Northwood and Offenbach are given in both the Admiralty List of Radio Signals, Volume 3(1) and Maritime Communications - United Kingdom and the Mediterranean (NP289), while Boston and Halifax appear in the Admiralty List of Radio Signals, Volume 3 (2) and Maritime Communications - Caribbean (NP290).

Amateur forecasts

In addition to the official forecasts, several amateur or 'ham' nets transmit weather information for different parts of the Atlantic Ocean. Only licensed amateur operators may transmit, but all may listen and useful information can be obtained. All frequencies are USB (J3E). Nets come and go, but as of 2004 the two most relevant to yachts heading east towards the Azores or departing the Canaries or Cape Verde islands westward had both been established for several decades. They are: Herb's Net - Herb Hilgenberg, often referred to as South Bound II, callsign GX498, email [email protected], www3.sympatico.ca/hehilgen/vax498.htm, broadcasts daily on 12359kHz (occasionall

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