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Voyage Planning

Armed with small-scale charts, a calendar, dividers, a calculator, itineraries of previous voyages, old log books and, perhaps most importantly, a big pot of coffee, we recently sat down to do some serious voyage planning. The itinerary has been set for almost a year now, but we wanted to work on confirming specific dates for leg changes along the voyage route.

Starting April 12, 2010, Picton Castle will embark on her fifth world circumnavigation voyage. This voyage is scheduled to be 14 months long, and will be divided into four legs. The ports that divide the legs are Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, the island of Bali in Indonesia, and Cape Town in South Africa. Being a circumnavigation voyage, the start and end point is the same, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Both the third and fourth world voyages were just over a year long – our idea in making this voyage 14 months is to visit about the same number of ports, but to build in a bit more time for sailing so we won’t have to motor quite as much. The mighty 690hp Burmeister & Wain Alpha diesel engine is nice to have, but we prefer to use it as little as necessary. By looking back at these voyages and figuring out the number of days for each passage, and then breaking down each passage into the number of days we were under sail and the number of days we were under motor, we were able to adjust the expected length of each passage on this upcoming voyage to allow for as much sailing as possible. We looked at the distances between ports and estimated our average speed of advance under sail for the wind and weather conditions in that particular part of the world, then calculated the number of days required to make the passage. Put the number of days for each passage together with the expected length of stay in each port, count it all out on a calendar, and there you have a voyage plan.

The main challenge for a sailing ship’s voyage plan is that it is so highly dependent on weather. There may be passages that go more quickly than anticipated, meaning we will be ahead of schedule, and there may also be passages where we have less wind than expected and we’ll be behind schedule. We used a fairly conservative estimate for speed of advance, and tried not to pack too much into one leg of the voyage in order to, hopefully, balance out in the end.

So, while bearing in mind that a sailing ship’s schedule is always subject to change, here are the leg dates for the World Voyage:

Leg 1
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada to Rarotonga, Cook Islands
April 12 to August 15

Leg 2
Rarotonga, Cook Islands to Bali, Indonesia
August 16 to November 12

Leg 3
Bali, Indonesia to Cape Town, South Africa
November 13 to February 3

Leg 4
Cape Town, South Africa to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada
February 4 to June 18

Maggie and Captain voyage planning

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