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Old 06-03-2008, 10:35 PM   #15
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 129

Nausikaa described very succintly that we do not travel by direct or even great circle routes. We travel by winds and currents. Ever wonder why Columbus discovered the Caribbean first and not North America even though he departed from a latitude near to Washington, D.C.?

For long distance or even medium distance cruising (anything over 24 hours) we look at winds and currents. For the Pacific you can download for free the Pilot Charts for the South Pacific -


select "publications" in left column

select <menu options:> Atlas of Pilot Charts

then the region of the world you are interested in.

- - - -

Then you page through the Pilot charts for the months of the year to determine the best historical months for heading in the direction you want. Turns out for the Cocunut run from Panama to Polnesia via the Galapagos the magic months are March / April for departing Panama. Other months, as shown on the pilot charts have major adverse winds and seas. Also you can see the historical ocean current values for each area. By choosing a routing with the most favorable winds (or least adverse winds) and favorable currents you get the standard routing that hundreds if not thousands have used over the years. Panama to the Galapagos then west to the Marquesas in the March/April months. Generally the run from the Galapagos to the Marquesas is in very light winds, but with the favorable current, you can make good miles per day. Some opt to head southwest to pick up the tradewinds and then turn back towards the Marquesas. 6 to one, 1/2 dozen the other as to which is better.

But in any Pacific adventure be sure to download "Penniped's Waypoints"


These are waypoints for all the points of interest to cruisers in the Pacific - - but most important of all are the Atlas Bouy waypoints and some of those bouys just so happen to be right on the rhumb line between the Galapagos and the Marquesas. A few cruisers in the dead of nights in the middle on "nowhere" have collided with these monsterous metal obstacles. So pay heed to the ones which are on or near your route. Also there are a lot of reefs and other obstacles in the listing that it seems are not shown on any nautical charts. Reason, no commercial ships or Captain Cook every went that way so they were never reported or entered into any "official charts."

Cruise the websites of others who have gone before you and you can graze on some good ideas and suggestions on how to proceed with minimal grief and unpleasant surprises.

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Old 07-15-2009, 12:02 PM   #16
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 14

Forget a waypoint every 24 hours - unless you are a powerboat you'll never follow them.

As previously said, for a sailboat the most important thing is to look at the prevailing winds, and to a lesser extent (unless your boat is very slow) the currents.

An excellent book is the one by Jimmy Cornell, called (from memory) World Cruising Routes, covering most of the major passages and discussing different route options for different times of year.

There is also a software tool, Virtual Passage Planner, which gives the pilot charts - but beware its routing calculations as the underlying maths and assumptions they use are decidedly dodgy.


timtwickham is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-15-2009, 01:03 PM   #17
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 3,067


Do you have link to the software ?

"There is also a software tool, Virtual Passage Planner, which gives the pilot charts - but beware its routing calculations as the underlying maths and assumptions they use are decidedly dodgy"
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Old 07-15-2009, 02:50 PM   #18
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 129

There is a HUGE CAUTION that is necessary and must be added to your planning and actual sailing - You are probably plotting waypoints off nautical charts that are decades if not centuries old. They are grossly out of date since the last real soundings and geographical positions were taken. Then add in the total absence of a lot of reefs, and other hazards that never were entered on to the charts because no commercial vessels ever transited the area. For instance, South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic was found to be 10nm away from its charted position.

Download "Penniped's Waypoints" and/or "South Pacific Waypoints" by Google-ing them to find the current download sites. These are about 17 pages of real GPS waypoints recorded by other cruising sailors of the locations of islands and reefs and other hazards. Of particular interest is the ATLAS weather bouys, 2 meters by 2 meters and 500 lbs of floating steel which dot the whole Pacific especially around the Equator. People have hit these things in the middle of the night thinking their boat was safety in the middle of "nowhere." Others have awakened to the sounds of crashing surf when nothing was on the charts. Pay particular attention to the waypoints for "Hazards" in each island group listed.

If you PM me I can email to you some other planning data for the South Pacific ...

Be safe and you will have a fabulous journey. . . Jim on OSIRIS

P.S. Sorry I jumped from thread beginning to end and missed my earlier post about this same subject. . . but it is very important!

Also be warned that VPP uses ancient Pilot Chart information for its calculations. You can get the most current Pilot Charts for the South Pacific at http://pollux.nss.nima.mil/pubs/pubs_j_apc_list.html - these are free pdf's. From them you can see by month the prevailing winds and currents for your routes.
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Old 07-15-2009, 07:21 PM   #19
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 129

Correction to my last post about Pinniped's Waypoints - The link I gave is dead but an alternate link to "Waypoints for the South Pacific" by Endurance and Pinniped is at: http://www.santotoday.com/gowestsf/waypoint.htm

I just found the Pinniped's waypoints again at: http://www.fantasia35.com/boatinfo-waypoints.htm

See also my forum entry http://www.cruiserlog.com/forums/ind...howtopic=12735

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