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Blue Water Sailing the Southern Oceans

Immense and diverse, the expanse of the Pacific offers some of the finest tradewinds cruising you’ll ever experience and a wealth of friendly cultures. Dan Bower explains how to prepare and where to sail

From Yachting World

You can lose a lot of friends when you’re sailing across the Pacific. After the first couple of photos you post posing next to giant tortoises, swimming with hammerhead sharks your popularity will wane. You’re in the Galapagos among the sea lions, enjoying the sun, while your friends are in the midst of a European winter. And that’s just the start of a voyage of a lifetime across the world’s largest ocean.
A cruising sailor’s blog, newsfeed or Instagram account from the Pacific is an onslaught of images and videos of every flavour of paradise from the green, dramatic and rugged landscape of the Marquesas with its huge waterfalls, the coral atolls and blue lagoons of the Tuamotus, to Tahiti and Bora Bora, the volcanic eruptions and cauldrons of lava in Vanuatu, the breaching whales of the Coral Sea… Enough already, as they say!

The Pacific Ocean is by far and away the most diverse for cruising. The scenery and culture varies between each country but everywhere there is a welcoming and genuine hospitality – and the sailing is excellent.

What to expect when sailing across the Pacific
When examining planning charts and contemplating sailing the Pacific Ocean, it looks huge. It is 8,000 nautical miles from Panama to Australia (you can cross the Atlantic in 2,200 miles) and, because of the scale of the charts and the size of the islands, it appears to have little land. But zoom in on the chartplotter and the islands and island groups are plentiful.

You must make one very long crossing, the 3,000 miles from the Galapagos Islands to the Marquesas, but this is usually fast sailing with a favourable current bringing the passage time down to one similar to a transatlantic crossing. We’ve made this Pacific passage three times, and we reckon it’s easier sailing than on an average ARC. There has been less swell, more regular winds and no squalls, and after you arrive in the Marquesas you’re rarely more than four days from your next destination.


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