by Pete Green
Trans Atlantic yacht delivery planning: things to do before you go.
Halcyon Yachts move sailing and motor yachts to hundreds of destinations each year. Whilst some yacht deliveries are UK based, many are to European destinations and further afield. Across The Pacific and Atlantic Oceans for example. In this article, we describe the pre-delivery, shore-based preparations involved before a west-to-east Trans-Atlantic yacht delivery from St Lucia to Barcelona.
Traveling to the Caribbean from the UK can be expensive with flights in April 2023 averaging circa £1000. We therefore look carefully at various travel options including split flights. For example, a stopover in the US (Atlanta is viable) can reduce costs. Visa requirements must be checked well in advance. An ESTA is needed to leave a US airport. At the time of writing, no visas were required to enter St Lucia using a direct flight from London. Local travel once on the islands is subject to constant change and a flexible approach and an open frame of mind is needed! Find out as much as you can before you land and be prepared to negotiate prices. If several crew members can arrange to meet up and journey together, the costs can be reduced.
Crew introductions and kit checklist
If possible, it is a good idea to select crew members who have a range of expertise. Ideally there would be a person on board who is a competent mechanic/engineer. Someone who is a keen navigator with an eye for meteorology. A crew member who understands electronics and someone who is proficient at managing the ship’s stores. The size of the crew will vary from boat to boat. For this passage in a 44ft yacht; there will be 4 crew members.
It is often not possible to physically meet your shipmates before you travel to the yacht. Building relationships prior to leaving via online platforms can be a very successful way of getting to know each other. Discussions can be started about what personal kit to take, dietary requirements and ideas for entertainment. During a long yacht delivery, maintaining your spirits is vital so shared tasks such as celestial navigation, learning a few phrases of a language or new card games can be good for morale alongside personal interests.
During an ocean passage medical help is not readily available so try to sort out any niggling ailments or dentistry beforehand and order any medication that you need well in advance. Check that your medical insurance covers you for the areas in which you will be sailing. Another helpful thing crew can do before traveling is to buy a local SIM card online that can be used as soon as you arrive.
Liaising with the owner
It is always helpful to build a good working relationship with the owner of the yacht. When a crew arrives at a new boat they will spend several hours familiarising themselves with its rig, systems and equipment. Usually the owner of the boat will know her inside and out, so making contact with them before travel is very useful.
Important information to find out includes the boat’s fuel and water capacities (is there a water maker?). What spare canisters are on-board? The general condition of the rig, sails and engine. What tools and spare parts are available? If you can find out the year that the boat was built and the model the crew can look at the general layout of the boat online. The skipper needs to liaise with the owner to ensure that all the ship’s papers are on-board. These include the ship’s registration, insurance certificate, the original VAT invoice and the ship’s radio licence.
Prior to traveling careful consideration can be given to which methods of communication will be used during the passage. There are a lot of options from satellite devices to personal trackers. Finding a system that suits the skipper and crew needs careful thought. Things to consider include the ease with which the equipment can be used, its reliability and its cost. If possible pre-arrange shore-based support too. Someone who can follow your progress and provide additional weather updates and advice. The passages of all ocean yacht deliveries are carefully monitored by the Halcyon Yachts shore team.
There have been lots of articles written about crossing The Atlantic from the Caribbean to Europe. Whilst it would be time-consuming to read them all, searching for a few key pieces allows you to get a general impression of the routes that have traditionally been taken. It is also important to look at primary sources of knowledge, for example, Jimmy Cornell’s ‘Ocean Atlas’. This depicts the currents and average wind directions for each month of the year.
Imray’s chart 100 ‘The North Atlantic Ocean passage chart’ has been another key source of information as it includes data on excessive wave height contours, the distribution of gales month by month and the distances between key destinations along the North, Middle and Southern routes.
We also recommend talking to skippers and crews who have already sailed the passage and learning from their experiences.
Apps such as Noonsite and Navily provide excellent local information about marinas, anchorages, official customs regulations and travel advice.
Provisioning a boat for a long-distance passage can seem daunting as it is such an important aspect of the delivery. Food not only provides the crew with their daily nourishment but it is also a great morale booster. Cooking provides entertainment, an occupation and a point of conversation. A lot of the preparation and planning for provisioning can be achieved prior to leaving home. We have been planning menus that offer good variety and nutrition. We are considering which fresh fruit and veg will be good to take, the quantities of the store room staples that are required along with a few treats that we can look forward to during difficult times.
There is a lot of pre-delivery planning that can be done prior to leaving the comfort of your home. Preparation helps you to anticipate and foresee any difficulties that may arise; it builds confidence and a sense of inclusion in the crew. Thorough planning also provides the owner with a clear view of the yacht delivery process. An organised skipper will make sure that everyone has realistic expectations of what is involved in a Trans-Atlantic passage.
Imray: North Atlantic Passage Ocean Chart 100
Jimmy Cornell: ‘Ocean Atlas’
With highly qualified and experienced crew, Halcyon Yachts Ltd offers a dedicated international yacht delivery service. For more information or to see details of their recent deliveries please visit: