The Best Time to Cross the Atlantic West to East

Waves in the Atlantic Ocean

It is much more of a challenge to cross the Atlantic from West to East in a sailing vessel than it is to take the traditional trade wind route in the opposite direction. If you wish to undertake this adventure then timing is key. It is important to choose the best times to do so.

Crossing the Atlantic From the Caribbean

The best time to cross the Atlantic west to east is May or early June, as this is the period when the weather is most settled across the Northern Atlantic. But it is important not to leave it too late in June, as the first hurricanes will begin to arrive around the end of the month.

Most yachtsmen will aim for the Gulf Stream. The track of the Gulf Stream varies considerably, but weather forecasters can provide a daily position. The Gulf stream tends to slacken off north of the Azores and so many sailing vessels will choose to put in there before continuing on to the Mediterranean, Northern Spain or the English Channel.

En route to the Azores, there tends to be a front around the latitude of the Bermuda-Azores line, with westerlies to the south and easterlies to the north. Pass close to Bermuda and stay south of the front in warm water, rounding up towards the Azores when it bears north east – this tends to be the least troublesome route in May or early June.

Crossing the North Atlantic

If you find that you need to make the crossing after mid-June then another and perhaps better option to consider is the more northerly route. The option further north is to pick up the edge of the Labrador currents which will push sailing vessels into the North Atlantic current.

On this route you will sail past Greenland, keep well south of Iceland, and head for north west Scotland. This is a more challenging route in general, with more spirited winds and more chop in general. But the Gulf Stream route can throw up some horrendous surprises after June and so this route may be a better option for experienced mariners later in the summer.

Any transatlantic route from West to East comes with its challenges – even when traveling at the best time of the year, in May. Even in the best conditions, traveling this way across the pond can be a real adventure – and not one that should be undertaken without proper preparation and planning. So if you are planning this adventure, make sure you have all the safety equipment and communication devices that you require, and have done your homework to make sure you have chosen the best route for a given year – as well as the best time.

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