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Caribbean, St. Martin to Angra dos Reis, Brazil

By Sue Richards last modified Jun 27, 2008 07:12 PM

Published: 2008-06-27 19:12:26
Topics: Atlantic Ocean West
Countries: Brazil , St Martin

I'm planning a sailing trip from St.Martin in the Caribbean south to Angra dos Reis, Brazil. When would be the best time of the year, in your opinion, considering prevailing winds and currents? I know the current set is north from Cabo Sao Roque, is there a preferable time to do this passage when the current is less. I believe that south of this point the current is favourable, so I imagine that the timing of this passage is not so crucial. I would appreciate your view.

That route is not as easy as it sounds as you will have a very strong current against you. Much depends on the kind of boat you have, and how powerful an engine. Personally I would not do it and I do not know of anyone who had attempted that route, although I am sure that someone has actually done it. Look up a similar report as posted on noonsite:

Caribbean East to Southern Brazil


Jimmy Cornell noonsite

I have read the enquiry regarding the route S. Martin/Brasil and have some pertinent info to write.

Some Brazilian yachts have indeed made this passage, including myself in 2002 in a 45 cutter yacht. It took us 22 days with very little motoring. Another yacht, a 40 ft. sloop, made it recently in 20 days by the same route. Arrival point has been Natal, on the eastern most edge of the Brazil coast.

Strategy used has been the following:

Time of the year - early March. Wait in S. Martin until a depression shows up in the north Atlantic, creating northerly winds in the Caribbean. Leave the most eastward bound possible. We have sailed one tack this way almost 600 miles east, losing very little latitude!

When wind starts to veer from northeast to east, leave the course, round down southeast but continue to "strive" for east, having as reference a waypoint about 35Deg W / 5Deg N. degrees W.

The wind will continue to veer to east, then southeast. After that waypoint, as wind allows, start to head south to reach the coast not west of Natal. This is the part of the route which is most affected by the west setting current, so keep your eye on your destination so as not to be pushed west to Fortaleza!

It looks like the best time of the year is around March, as another attempt we made in June 2003 was disastrous, the wind has been east for weeks and we gave up!

An alternative route (which I have not tried) is leaving from southern ports of the Caribbean and motor sailing close to the South American coast. Some delivery skippers do so, tacking near the coast in depths of about 15 meters to minimize the effects of the current. In their description of these passages they reccomend starbord tack during the day, and port tack during the night, with mainsail up only and engine full time...not very pleasant!

Good luck!
Marçal Ceccon - Author of Cruising the Coast of Brazil