As a young man growing up in Romania, caged in by an iron curtain which separated me from the rest of the world, planning imaginary journeys was the only way I was allowed to travel. I relieved my frustrations by making dream voyages to exotic places, tracing my finger along the routes I would take on an old atlas of the world. Route planning fascinated me then and continued to do so, even after I obtained my freedom and the world lay before me. Routes across Europe became miraculously transformed into the reality of railroads and motorways, as later on pencil marks on charts were to become sailing tracks across the oceans.
As a voyage around the world passed from being a dream into a possibility, a finger tracing a line on a chart was no longer sufficient and I started planning my voyage in earnest. Trying to translate dreams into concrete plans was not so easy and although the shelves were full of books on almost every aspect of cruising under sail, I found very little on route planning aimed specifically at the small boat voyager. This gap, although annoying, was not enough to deter me from setting off, as so many others had also done. During a six year circumnavigation on Aventura with my wife Gwenda and our children Doina and Ivan, we visited some seventy countries in five continents and covered 60,000 miles, including some of the remotest areas of the world. During that long voyage, I retained my interest in routeing and collected information as I went along. Eventually that material was to form the basis of this book. The lessons learnt during my first circumnavigation were put to good use when my present yacht La Aventura joined 35 other yachts taking part in the first round the world rally.
This book attempts to fill a gap, which existed when I set off on my first circumnavigation, by pro viding essential information on winds, currents, regional and seasonal weather, as well as details of nearly 500 cruising routes. With the help of the information contained in this book, I hope to make it much easier for anyone who intends to undertake an ocean voyage to do all forward planning from the comfort of their home. Once the voyage has started the book will continue to be useful in suggesting alternatives or detours from the main itinerary.
World Cruising Routes is a guide to cruising routes not a comprehensive pilot for the entire world, and its users are urged to refer to the relevant sailing directions, pilot charts, and regional publications before undertaking a particular passage. Because of the vast area included in the book, only the basic data needed for planning an extensive cruise could be included, as it would have been physically impossible to include in one single volume detailed information about every route. I had to limit myself to giving only general directions on how to get from one destination to the next. These directions mention safe and dangerous seasons, prevailing winds, the kind of weather to be expected, as well as other factors that ought to be known by a small boat voyager. Whenever a particular aspect was debatable or variable, such as the beginning or end of a hurricane season, the strength of a particular current, or the frequency of gales in a specific area, I have preferred to err on the side of caution. For the same reason, I have concentrated on giving details for what is considered to be the safe cruising season and less on weather conditions during unfavourable seasons. I believe that cruising should be a pleasurable activity, and because many unpleasant conditions can be avoided with a little planning this aspect is emphasised throughout the book. Therefore the book concen-
trates more on the tropical regions of the world, where most sailors intend to cruise or dream of cruising one day, and less on how to prepare for a gale swept mid-winter crossing of the North Atlantic.
The primary aim of this book is to enable the reader to plan a voyage from beginning to end and the information needed to do this is fourfold: general offshore weather conditions, descriptions of actual routes, dangers to be avoided, and some brief landfall information including recommended ports of entry. Areas which are seldom visited by sailing boats have either been omitted or described briefly. The information concerning weather is only intended as a rough guide to what weather conditions can be expected in certain areas by those planning to sail there.
Every route mentions the best time for a passage to be made along that route and the season when tropical storms affect that particular region. The extent of the hurricane season is given for the entire route, even if the point of departure or that of arrival are not themselves subject to tropical storms, but when the threat of hurricanes does exist in some area along that route. Also given are the great circle distances between principal ports, but as these distances are only meant for guidance, they are approximate, especially when the suggested route is not direct. Also indicated at the beginning of each route are the charts and sailing directions (pilots) relevant to that part of the world. Although the sailing directions deal mainly with pilotage in coastal areas, and their use on ocean passages is limited, it is advisable to have on board pilots of areas adjacent to those that will be sailed through in case an emergency landfall has to be made in an area for which charts are not carried. Both American and British charts and publications are indicated because certain parts of the world are covered better by one or the other hydrographic office. As a general rule, British charts are better for areas which were once part of the former British Empire, whereas American charts tend to be more accurate in areas of prime US interest, such as the North Pacific. Although chart and pilot numbers were correct at the time of going to press, some numbers are changed occasionally and this should be borne in mind especially when order ing charts suggested at the beginning of each route.
For reasons of space, but also because certain well sailed areas of the world are already more than adequately covered by other publications, I have kept to a minimum the information on cruising routes within North America, Northern Europe, and the Mediterranean. The few routes mentioned for those areas are only meant for general guidance for outsiders who plan to cruise in those countries and not as a cruising guide once there. In a similar way, the book gives routes on how to get to a certain area, for example the Bahamas, but it is not a guide to cruising between islands within that area.
I hope to be forgiven if I have missed or overlooked some routes. Several times I have decided to omit a little frequented route when I knew, for instance, that there is rarely more than^one cruising boat per year sailing from Tuvalu to the Solomon Islands direct. In such cases I considered that there was sufficient information which could be taken from adjacent routes, where conditions are similar.
There are probably some people who expect a book of this kind to provide precise solutions for all their needs. Obviously this would be impossible, especially when dealing with something as inconsistent as winds and weather. Every so often freak weather occurs which can affect even the normally dependable routes. There is an infinite variety of circumstances which renders it impossible to lay down any fixed rule which can be followed to advantage at all times. Therefore, in those cases in which a certain course is pointed out to be the best to be pursued, but this proves impossible to accomplish, it is always better to follow one's instincts, even if it results in a detour or delay.
As well as drawing on a large variety of sources, much of the material included in the book was provided from my own voyaging. I have also received enormous help from my many sailing friends, particularly those who have ventured where I have not. In those areas, the faculty learnt in my youth of transposing myself to unknown places has served me in good stead. I am still tracing my finger along routes on charts, but this time with a little help from my friends.
Was this article helpful?