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How long does it take to sail around the world in a sailboat?

How long does it take to sail around the world in a sailboat?

Sailing around the world is a dream harbored by many. Unfortunately, most people do not have the courage to work on achieving their dream.

The fact that you’re trying to find out how long it takes to sail around in a sailboat indicates that you are one such courageous individual.

Today, we will not only answer this question but provide you with all the associated information which can help you sail around the world in a sailboat.

How long does it take to sail around the world in a sailboat?

Usually, it can take from 3 to 5 years to sail around the world. Sure enough, there are ways to sail around the world in a shorter time. The record is even below fifty days. However, it will take between 3 to 5 years because the conditions vary when sailing around the world.

You might be thinking, why did we provide such a long-range?

The reason is that the time it takes will be dependent on quite a few factors. These factors are covered below.

How to estimate the duration of sailing around the world?

Once you go through the list of these factors, you can tweak them to make your trip around the world faster or slower, depending on your requirement.

1. Speed:

The speed at which you move matters a lot. For example, if you’re sailing non-stop like a professional, it can take anywhere between 100 to 120 days to sail around the world. This is assuming you stick to an average speed of 20 kn. During such a trip, the stops will only be for provisioning and emergencies.

On the other hand, taking frequent breaks to explore the city will take you between 1 to 2 years, depending on the duration of the breaks you take. Usually, in this approach, you will be sailing for 2 to 3 days and docking for a single day to explore a city or conduct any repairs.

If you want to opt for a completely recreational sailing tour around the world, it can also take 3 to 4 years. At this speed, you can take long breaks at the port to explore the countries where you are anchoring your sailboat. It will be more like a world tour rather than just sailing your boat worldwide.

With this approach, you will sail for two days, followed by a two-day break to explore the port city where you dock.

This is the primary factor that will determine how long it takes to sail worldwide.

2. Route:

There are multiple routes to sail around the world. The route you take will depend on the port city you sail from and your final destination. While we will cover the different routes below, the one you take will determine the time it takes for you to sail around the world. That is because the distance of all the routes is not the same.

3. Boat size:

The boat size matters because it will determine how many provisions you can carry with you. Larger boats can carry more provisions, so you will make fewer stops. Not only that, larger ones are more stable, and therefore you can handle inclement weather in a much better way and continue sailing. Smaller boats on the other end have to make frequent stops, and sometimes you might have to dock at the port city to avoid bad weather.

4. Skills:

A lot depends on navigational skills. If you’re not familiar with sailing out in the ocean, you are more likely to get lost or stuck due to inclement weather. In that case, the time it will take you to sail around the world will be more. In such a case, getting an experienced sailor to gain extra experience under your belt is a much better idea before going for a trip around the world.

On the other hand, if you’re an experienced sailor, you will find your way around easily and navigate precisely to your next port city, resulting in a lot of time-saving.

5. Weather:

Bad weather is an eventuality when sailing around the world. Sooner than later, there will be a forecast of bad weather, due to which you will either have to navigate through a different route or dock your boat at the port city till the weather gets better.

No matter how well you plan your sailing trip around the world, you won’t be able to avoid bad weather altogether. Since none of us can control over the weather, this can happen once or multiple times when sailing around the world. Each such deviation or an extra day off will delay your trip significantly.

6. Access to funds:

Sailing around the world in a sailboat is not cheap. You must look after your sailboat, load up the provisions, get visas from various countries, and be ready for any emergency or eventuality. All this requires a lot of money. Once you calculate how much money you need to set aside, you must double it to deal with any eventuality.

Not only should you have access to such funds, but they should be accessible to you when you are sailing. If there is any delay in accessing the funds, you can waste a day or two in the port cities or the ocean. That is why; this is another factor determining your sailing speed.

These are the six factors on which the time of your sailing trip depends.

Now that you know the average duration, it is time to look at the shortest time it can take you if everything is perfect.

What is the shortest it will take you to sail around the world?

The shortest world record for sailing around the world currently stands at forty days. It is highly improbable that it will make you any less than that. Even coming close to the world record is pretty difficult.

For an average person, it will take around 3.5 years to sail around the world. The better your skills, the more time you can reduce from this estimate.

What are the common routes for sailing around the world?

There are essentially two rounds for sailing around the world.

1. Eastwood route:

This one navigates through the Mediterranean Sea from Gibraltar to the Suez Canal. In the North Atlantic, it goes from the Caribbean to Gibraltar. In the Indian Ocean, it moves from the Red Sea to the Maldives to Australia. In the South Pacific, it moves from Sydney to Tahiti, Panama Canal, and back to the Caribbean.

The length of this route is around 24,000 nautical miles.

2. Westward route:

The westward route covers the Mediterranean sea towards Gibraltar. The North Atlantic is covered from Gibraltar to the Caribbean to Australia and, after that, Maldives. From the Maldives, you will be sailing towards the Red Sea and then to Tahiti in the South Pacific. From there, you will sail to Sydney and the Caribbean through the Panama Canal.

In a way, both the routes are inverse of each other. However, when sailing eastwards, you are most likely to encounter favorable conditions, so you should take this route.

What type of boat is best for sailing around the world?

Of course, the sailboat you’re using matters a lot as well. It is essential to select the right boat if you want to complete your trip in a safe and timely fashion.

Sailing boats and yachts are your best option to sail around the world. The boat should be at least 39 feet in length. If you’re wondering about the hulls, they should preferably be made from aluminum so that they are durable but lightweight.

You can either aim to buy such a sailboat or rent one for a few years if you’re serious about navigating around the world.

Tips for sailing around the world:

Even with all the preparation and planning, it is not that easy to sail around the world. To help you out, we will share with you a handful of tips.

1. Familiarize yourself with the currents:

You might encounter many strong currents while sailing around the world. These include:

• North Brazilian Current

• South Atlantic Current

• The Gulfstream

• Agulhas current

While planning your routes, do consider these.

2. Be aware of the seasons:

You need to avoid tropical storms as far as possible. When sailing around the world, you must always be aware of the tropical season in different parts of the world. Being aware of the season ensures that you can plan so that you do not sail at all during the tropical season. That way, you won’t have to worry about hurricanes.

In most cases, when you are aware of the seasons, you can prepare for windy conditions easily. That is why it is essential to be aware of the seasons.

3. Always carry redundant equipment:

When sailing around the world, finding a boat mechanic is not easy. Most likely, you will have to repair various mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems yourself. To do so, you will need the right tools and equipment. You need to carry such equipment before embarking on the trip.

Apart from a tool kit, it is advisable to carry redundant communication equipment. That way, if a certain piece of equipment develops a snag, you will have another one to rely on.

The same is true for usual accessories like lights, appliances, navigational instruments, etc.

Load all these up before starting your trip so that you do not get stuck because of malfunctioning equipment.

4. Have a strong communication system:

VHF radio is the primary communication equipment when sailing. Before embarking on the trip, check the status of the VHF radio. If someone is accompanying you, they should also be familiar with the VHF radio.

Also, ensure that the EPIRB is also working on your boat. It will reveal your location to the authorities in case of an emergency.

5. Get the papers ready:

Did you know that a lot of paperwork is required for sailing worldwide?

For example, you will need boat insurance papers, VHF operator certificates, personal IDs, passports, etc.

You will need visas from the countries where you are planning to dock. You need to get all these papers ready before beginning your trip. Ideally, you should get these papers ready at least a couple of months before the beginning of the trip.

Not only that, you need to get a credit card that can work almost anywhere around the world. You need to get your hands on foreign currency like US dollars, euros, etc.

If your pets are accompanying you, make sure that you get the paperwork sorted for the pets as well.

Only when all this paperwork is ready can you start your trip.

6. Have some entertainment sources at hand:

Being in the ocean for such a long time is no fun. However, there are downtime periods, which you can do with some entertainment. For the same, it is good to pack up some entertainment sources. These can include:

• Laptops

• Board games

• Cards

• Books

• Portable CD players

• And so on

When you have multiple such entertainment sources, whether you’re stuck on a port or in your boat, you can easily entertain yourself to kill the monotony.

7. Conduct a safety check before departing:

A safety check is a must before you start sailing. However, rather than just taking the communication equipment, there are a few other things which you need to check as well. These include:

• First-aid Kit

• Fire extinguishers

• Radio equipment

• Stability of handrails

• Interior and Exterior lights

• Safety equipment manuals

• And so on

If you have fellow cruisers with you, make sure that you apprise them of all the safety equipment on board and how to use the same. You never know when one of them might need to use the equipment.

Only after conducting the safety checks can you proceed further.

8. Use the experience of other sailors:

It is a good idea to ask about the experience of fellow sailors who have completed such a trip. They will inform you about their favorite destinations, the dangers you need to avoid, how much money you need to carry, and so on. These practical tips are hardly found anywhere else. A small talk with a few such sailors will prepare you much better for navigating the world.

Also, the information you have about the roads, ports, and cities around the world might be outdated. Your fellow sailors might have up-to-date information that isn’t available in most manuals. They can alert you about the same to plan your trip better.

The best way to find such sailors is to attend trade shows or at the marina. That will certainly provide you with the knowledge you need to navigate the oceans.

9. Sail eastwards:

Most of the world records for sailing worldwide are set by the sailors sailing eastwards. That is because the conditions are more demanding when sailing west words. Thus, one of the simplest tips to follow is to take an east route.


How far can you travel by sailboat in a day?

Usually, you can cover a distance of 100 nautical miles or approximately 115 miles in one day. If you’re also using the engines, the distance can increase to 130 nautical miles. Of course, a lot depends on the conditions at Sea. Inclement weather conditions can slow you down significantly. The only condition is that there should be a downwind.

How fast can a 30 ft sailboat go?

A 30 feet sailboat can travel at 7.3 kn per hour or 8.4 miles per hour. Once again, this is under ideal conditions. Any weather element which is not conducive will slow you down.

How big of a sailboat do you need for the ocean?

At the least, you should have a sailboat that is 30 feet long. Of course, the longer a sailboat, the more stable it will be. However, you will also need more skills to navigate a longer sailboat. That is why you have to consider your skills and then choose the sailboat size.

Can you sleep while sailing?

Yes, you can sleep while sailing. Even when you’re sailing alone, you can catch a few hours of sleep and then check the equipment and the ship’s direction once again. If you have fellow sailors, you can, of course, take sleeping shifts. Most of the sailboats have cabins that you can use as sleeping quarters. When navigating around the world, sleep is a must since it will take a long time to cover the entire route.

Can you drop anchor anywhere?

While sailing around the world, you can drop anchor anywhere. The only caveat is that the anchor rope should be long enough that the anchor reaches the bottom. Most modern sailboats will come with built-in anchor systems; therefore, you won’t have to worry about integrating a separate anchor before sailing.

Do you require a license to sail around the world in a boat?

Usually, you do not need a license to sail around the world. However, if your sailboat is certified for safe use and you have all the boat documents we have highlighted, it becomes easier for you to sail around the world without any interruptions.


No longer your dream of sailing around the world in a sailboat needs to remain a dream. If up until now you were wondering how long does it take to sail around the world in a sailboat, the answer is around 3 to 5 years while indulging in recreational sailing. However, there is much more to sailing than just the time it takes. Simply follow our guide above, and you shouldn’t have a problem planning a sailing trip around the world.


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