Sail the Atlantic Ocean: USA to England
Sail the Atlantic Ocean from USA to England!Get ready for over 3000nm of sailing across the ocean as we head from the Florida Keys in the USA to the south coast of England. En route we will stop at the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Azores. This truly is a magical challenge. You will be on a 60' ocean going yacht and learning to live on the open ocean, where time seems to disappear, replaced by awesome sunsets, whales and long, slow Atlantic rollers. The weather will vary from light and variable winds to stronger weather, where the sails will be reefed and the yacht will be surging through the waves. All the time you will be under the expert guidance of our instructors, ensuring you are superbly trained and always encouraged to be fully involved.
We're navigating using just the Sun, Moon, stars and planets - and we'll teach you how!There are few things quite as spectacular as finding one's position using just the Sun and stars. Included in the trip price is a free two-day course in celestial navigation, where we will teach you this incredible art. We will then sail without the use of GPS and not only will you have sailed the Atlantic Ocean but you will have done so navigating only via the Sun, Moon, planets and stars!
Join for the full crossing or a half crossingCrew can join for Leg 1 from the USA to the Azores, for Leg 2 from the Azores to England, or for the full crossing.
Come and sail the Atlantic Ocean!
THIS IS A UNIQUE CHALLENGE AND THE SCHEDULE BELOW IS FOR GUIDANCE ONLY. PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU CAN JOIN FOR THE WHOLE CROSSING, OR JUST LEG 1 OR LEG 2.
Day 1: Joining day
Join the boat at 1800hrs on March 31 2020 in Key West, USA. Get your belongings packed away and meet the rest of the crew. There’s plenty of things to do in the future but right now it’s about relaxing and getting used to life aboard. There’s menu planning to be done, victualling, pre-departure checks and crucial on-deck skills and drills to revise.
Day 2-3: Pre departure celestial training course in Key West
The next two days will be spent getting intensive training in celestial navigation from our expert instructors. Accommodation and food is provided on board.
Day 4: Skills, drills and training in the Florida Keys
Before we set off from Key West, we will spend a day doing intensive sail training both at the dock and out on the water. This will enable all the crew, whatever their level, to get familiar with the boat and with the key manoeuvres required to sail the boat safely. Watch leaders will complete their passage plan and after a massive shop (!) for food, we will be all set for the start of this amazing voyage.
Days 5-6: Sail east to the Bahamas
We’ll sail 50nm east to Alice Town in the Bahamas. This is the ideal sail to help everyone get their sea legs, get used to life on the ocean and fine tune their celestial navigation. We should get to spend a few days taking in the wonderful Bahamian sun and culture, while looking out at the ocean and knowing that shortly we’ll be heading out into the vast Atlantic. We aim to have a good 36-48 hours here before we set sail again. This gives us time to prepare for the next, more involved stage of the challenge where we have to get our sextant work spot on.
Days 8-14: Out into the Atlantic Ocean to find Bermuda
Now we must use our sextants to locate Bermuda, just under 1000nm northeast. We can expect to take 5-6 days depending on the wind and weather.
As the Florida Keys disappear over the horizon, we will be all alone on the ocean. Navigating just by the sextant, we will soon be searching out the stars and planets to take a fix every morning and evening to check our course and progress. Big Atlantic waves will help power us along and the beautiful 60′ yacht will be in her absolute element. She was designed to charge across oceans and, with four full circumnavigations of the planet under her belt, she has an impeccable pedigree. This is the right boat to do an Atlantic crossing on. We’ll know our celestial navigation is working once we see the small archipelago of Bermuda appear over the horizon. The Sargasso Sea has warm, turquoise water, incredible beaches and reefs everywhere that make it one of the world’s top snorkelling and diving locations. We’ll hope to stop here for a couple of days for some amazing R&R, before the next huge challenge.
Days 15-28: Bermuda to the Azores
Any sailor should have a shiver of anticipation just thinking about the next sail coming up. This is big boat, big ocean sailing and the next two to three weeks will give you experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime. Trying to find the Azores 2000nm away in the middle of the Atlantic would have seemed like finding a needle in a haystack two weeks ago, but by now the crew need to be (and should be!) proficient with the sextant. You will settle into a watch system – most probably three hours on, six off, meaning that you get plenty of sailing but also plenty of rest. Sometimes you’ll be on watch during the day, other times at night. There is nothing quite like powering across an ocean at night, with millions of stars overhead and watching the sun rise the next morning as we sail onward, ever eastward. Finally, after around another 1900nm of open ocean and another 10-11 days without sight of land, the volcanic islands of the Azores will rise up over the horizon and the excitement and anticipation will be enormous as we close in on these famous islands.
Days 28 – 29: Still out in the Atlantic or cruising in the Azores
We can never fully predict weather and sea state on an ocean crossing and we may have encountered light winds or heavy weather or any one of a number of situations that can slow us down. In this case we have plenty of contingency built in to get to the Azores within our schedule. If we have made good time, then we have a wonderful end to the crossing with time to rest and recuperate in the western-most islands and then the added bonus to day sail and cruise east, exploring islands as we go until we finally pull into Horta and a huge celebration.
Day 30-31: Crew change for some as we prepare for the Azores to the UK
Some crew members will be leaving us in the Azores and there will be farewells and no doubt a few tears as new found friends part ways. An amazing bond builds up amongst a crew when undertaking such an incredible passage. Those lucky enough to be staying on for Leg 2 will be off washing clothes, having a cold beer or three and having some serious R&R and exploration time. Meanwhile, fresh faced crew will join and it’s a massive welcome and introduction to the boat and her ways and schedules. There’s maintenance, checks and re-victualling to do, along with more passage planning.
Crew joining in the Azores should join the boat at 1800hrs on April 30th.
Day 32 – Training for the start of Leg 2
We’ll go for another day of intensive training here, with new crew members helped to acclimatise to the yacht and learn all the key manoeuvres and evolutions. Those who have sailed from Key West will also benefit and everyone will quickly come together as a new crew and new team.
Day 33 – 40: the eastern Atlantic Ocean, the western approaches and south coast of England
Before we know it we’ll be back out into the majesty of the Atlantic. It’s amazing how quickly life on land can seem to become a little too crowded and there’s a wonderful peacefulness to being back out at sea. Our final challenge is to find the south western tip of England. Our exact route will be hugely weather-dependent and the spring weather can produce some real surprises which will test our sextant work to the maximum. We have more than 1000nm to sail. As we get toward the western approaches, our aim is to pass to the south of Ireland and then make landfall somewhere such as Falmouth in Cornwall.
Day 41 – 45: Cruising the south coast of the UK
As ever with ocean sailing, we can never be quite sure of how long the passage will have taken us, but all going well we will now have three days to sail our gentle way along the south coast of the UK. We could stop in the beautiful river Dart for a night, maybe spend a night in the iconic sailing town of Cowes and finally pull into Portsmouth.
Day 46: Debriefs, clean up and goodbyes
It’s always amazing how everyone has become firm friends and the boat and its routines seem so familiar. Yet it’s time to wrap it all up and head home. We’ll get the boat back to how we found it, sign logbooks, exchange emails and disembark by 1200hrs.
We can often find long haul flights at cheap prices. Ask us!
You should join the boat in Key West, USA (Leg 1) at 1800 hrs on March 31 2020 or Horta, Azores (Leg 2) at 0900 hrs May 01st 2020. We will ask you closer to the time to let us know your travel details.
You will disembark the boat in Horta, Azores at 0900 hrs on April 30 or Portsmouth, UK at 1200hrs on May 17th.
PLEASE NOTE: Sailing long distances on the ocean is very different from flying and our timings are subject to many factors, not least weather conditions. We build a very realistic schedule with lots of spare time but we strongly recommend that you book your fights home on arrival or book flexible flights.
Miami International Airport (IATA code: MIA) is well served by most airlines.
Horta airport (IATA code: HOR) is well served by Easyjet, TAP, Ryanair and others. Delta also flies there from the USA.
Portsmouth Harbour railway station is a 30-minute train ride from Southampton airport (IATA code: SOU) or a 90-minute train ride from London airports.
Miami to Key West – ferry
There are high-speed ferries that transport passengers from Miami to Key West in around 3.5 hours. Fast Cats Ferry Service, for example, sets sail at 7:30 a.m. Thursday through Sunday from Miami’s Sealine Marina, and the voyage takes three to four hours. One-way fares are well under $100
Miami to Key West – bus
A number of buses and shuttles run from Miami to Key West. For example, Greyhound makes the trip daily and you can usually score one-way tickets for under $20. Fares do vary depending on travel day and sometimes how far ahead you buy, though. Catch the bus at the Miami Main Bus Station at 3801 NW 21st St. and take it to the Key West Bus Station at 3535 S Roosevelt Blvd.
Rubicon 3 runs expedition yachts to remote locations and on serious ocean passages. They are tremendous fun to sail and the skipper and mate are real experts from whom you will learn a huge amount. The routes themselves are adventurous, unusual and, for the most part, far from the beaten track. You will be joining the yacht for a couple of weeks at some point on its 11-month long voyage. It is important that you understand that this is true ocean and expedition adventure sailing, not a sanitised charter sailing holiday. You will be a full part of the crew, helming, navigating, trimming sails and more. You will also be fully involved in cooking and keep the boat clean as we go. If the weather is strong you will be living life at an angle and may have waves landing on you while you work on deck. (Our foulies will keep you dry as much as possible and the boat is always warm down below.) Conversely in hot regions, you may be trying to keep cool and wishing for that wave! Adventure sailing and life at sea is far more basic than life at home. It is amazing, extraordinary and life affirming but you will be living in close quarters with the rest of the crew, need to be able to deal with the occasional discomfort or mishaps that inevitably come with being on the sea or in remote regions and should come with a ‘can do’ attitude. The boat itself is on a long voyage far from home and will always have certain jobs, maintenance and repairs being done on it. This is the reality of adventure sailing. The rewards though are beyond what you can imagine and you will have experiences, memories and new friendships that will last a lifetime.
AGE & EXPERIENCE
These adventure sailing holidays are open to everyone aged 18 years and over. If you are aged 70 or over, or have any concerns about your health, we ask that you get a doctor’s note before booking. This is just to make as certain as possible that you will be okay out on the water.
NO PREVIOUS SAILING EXPERIENCE IS REQUIRED
CLOTHING & EQUIPMENT
We provide the foul weather clothing, life-jackets and all other technical equipment you will need. We really urge you not to spend any extra money unless you are sure you want to! You need to bring a sleeping bag and some waterproof boots.
We are committed to helping as many people as possible have an amazing sailing holiday and experience the magic of the sea. Our skippers and mates have medical training and the boats have some medical supplies and equipment on board. However, the reality is that once on board access to professional medical assistance is going to be slower than if you were on land. If we are offshore it may be some days. For this reason we ask you to check through the medical disclosure form below before you book. If you answer yes to any of the questions, you should get in touch with us before you book. It will probably still be fine but it’s good to make sure. You will be asked to submit the form electronically 14 days before the start date, ensuring that we have the most up to date information.
- It is essential that you have adequate travel insurance in place for your sailing holiday.
- We strongly recommend that you arrange insurance that covers you for any medical mishaps in the build up to your holiday so that should you have to cancel, you can reclaim you fees.
- Please note we cannot refund your money or cancel your invoice due to medical issues.
- For our latest guidance on travel insurance, please read here.
TRIP CATEGORY: OCEAN SAILING
Extended periods offshore and greater possibility of encountering bad weather.
INCLUDED IN YOUR SAILING HOLIDAY
- Top quality foul weather clothing to keep you dry in any conditions.
- Fladen immersion suits. These will keep you warm in even the coldest, windiest conditions.
- Ocean-spec lifejackets. These are the best on the market.
- All on-board food and snacks.
- Daily sailing lessons and tuition from two highly experienced instructors.
- RYA sailing qualifications where applicable.
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- Your travel to and from the start and end points.
- Travel insurance (see our travel insurance page here)
- Any alcohol – but feel free to bring your own or buy some along the route.
- Any meals you eat ashore.
Everything’s included except for flights, travel insurance, a sleeping bag and some waterproof boots. There are no hidden extras.
- These expeditions have small numbers of people on board. When you book, you are committing to being a part of the crew.
- These are genuine adventure sailing holidays and you will be helping sail the boat, planning where we go, navigating, cooking and keeping the boat clean and tidy.
- When you book, the deposit is non refundable. It is possible to cancel subsequently, however you may still be liable for the balance of the invoice, depending on how close you are to the start date when you cancel.
- Please ensure you have read and agreed to the T&Cs and read the Trip Notes before booking.
- To be a watch leader on a Rubicon 3 ocean passage, we require you to have sufficient skills and experience to be able to approach the role meaningfully. This means you should have a minimum of RYA Coastal Skipper practical and theory. We accept international equivalents. After booking, you will be asked to provide evidence of your qualifications.
- On arrival, we will ask you to complete a short theory test to ensure that you are at the required level. If you are able to complete RYA Yachtmaster Coastal theory questions, you will be fine. If you are not at the required standard, we will downgrade you to a standard crew member.
WATCH LEADER TRAINING DAY
- On booking, you will receive a copy of the Rubicon 3 Watch Leader’s training manual. This is an invaluable resource and you should try to read as much of it as you can before joining.
- You should arrive at the boat the day before the advertised start time, being ready to start studying at 1000 hrs. You will spend a full day learning about passage planning, the yacht and helping prepare the yacht. You will be able to stay on the boat that night
- There is an additional fee of £150 to cover these extra training costs.
If you are planning to proceed to Yachtmaster Ocean, there are various requirements. Please read this guide carefully before boarding: Rubicon 3 Yachtmaster Ocean overview
DO I NEED PRIOR SAILING EXPERIENCE?
No. All of our trips are designed to be accessible by anyone, whatever their previous sailing background. We will train you in all the key skills you need, allowing you to be an active member of the crew from day 1.
DO PEOPLE COME ALONE?
Almost everyone comes alone. Couples and groups are very welcome and we do get them. On the whole, however, most crew join solo and so if you are coming alone, you will be one of the crowd!
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE ON BOARD
Except in exceptional circumstances, we limit the crew size to 9 (except for Atlantic crossings) plus two instructors. This means that there are enough people to sale the boat safely, but you will still have lots of time helming, navigating, trimming sails and such like.
IS THIS A SAILING HOLIDAY?
Absolutely. First and foremost, we are here to ensure everyone has an amazing time. Sailing is about having fun, experiencing nature at its most majestic and gently pushing yourself to try and learn new things. Rubicon 3 voyages are a unique mix of sailing and training, and you will get far more involvement and training than on any other sailing holiday you may try!
WHO ELSE JOINS?
We have a remarkably similar group of people who join all our trips. They come from all around the world, are an even mix of men and women and with an average age of 35-65. As we said above, most come alone and experience varies from none at all to Yachtmaster. Most of the crew would describe themselves as having a rusty Day Skipper.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO BOOK A PLACE?
Go the ‘BOOK NOW’ button near the top of the page. This will take you through to our booking system, and it will ask you for a deposit of £400. As soon as this is paid, your place is reserved. The balance of the trip must be paid by 60 days before departure.
ANY OTHER QUESTIONS? DON’T HESITATE TO CALL OR EMAIL US. WE ARE REALLY VERY HAPPY TO CHAT AWAY ABOUT THE TRIPS AND MAKE SURE THAT THEY ARE EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE AFTER