Ever thought of sailing around the world? Imagine going back to the old days of sail where there's nothing for hundreds of miles except you and your boat. For some, that's a prison but for many, it's freedom and paradise. Some determined folks out there sail around the world - but what does it entail? How can one sail all the way around the world and how long does it take?

Sailing is very different from the past. In the past, some of the myths and legends that the sailors had can be very surprising for people today. Of course, one could just be less ambitious and sail in the Meditteranean - like from Greece to Croatia.


How Long Does It Take To Sail Around The World?

This is a little complicated as it depends on what one is planning to do and in what vessel. Is the aim to just get around the world as fast as possible or take one's time with it all? According to Improvesailing.com, for most people it takes between 3 to 5 years (it's much quicker to fly) - this is at a fairly leisurely pace that allows for some sightseeing along the way.

But it can be done a lot quicker if all one wants to do is sail around the world. The world record is 40 days on a trimaran. If one would like to sail non-stop, it would typically take around 100 days.

  • 40 Days: World Record On a Trimaran
  • 100 Days: Rough Time Needed Non-Stop
  • 1 to 2 Years: Express - Fast-Paced Sailing With Some Short, Regular Breaks
  • 3.5 Years: Average For Some Sightseeing
  • 3 to 5 Years: Typical Duration

So the amount of time is not set and one can sail as much or as little as one likes. But it would be a shame to sail all the way around the world and not stop by scores of remote islands in the Pacific where few ever step foot. Some people take up to 10 years doing it.

Here are some resources for planning circumnavigation of the world:

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Related: Ready For A Cruise Down America's Mightiest River? What To Expect While Sailing The Mississippi

What To Know About Border Crossings by Sailboat

Crossing the border by boat is basically the same as crossing into a country by air or car. Only it is also longer and more complicated as customs are likely to check one's boat inside out. According to Followtheboat.com, these are some things one needs to be aware of:

  • Flag: On Hitting Territorial Waters, Hoist The Courtesy Flag For That Country and The Yellow Quarantine Flag Under it (An International Requirement For All Vessels)'
  • Official Port Of Entry: One Can Only Enter And Leave Through Official Ports Of Entry
  • Stay On The Boat: Once Arriving In Territorial Waters, Stay On The Boat Until Reaching An Official Port
  • Advanced Warning: Some Countries Want Advantanced Warning Of One's Arrival (Some Don't) - Japan e.g. is Very Strict About This

There is of course a bunch of paperwork that one will need while entering a country - and be sure to always have plenty of photocopies of everything. The paperwork includes:

  • Passport: With A Valid Visa If Required
  • Certificates: Boat Registration Certificate And Port Clearance Certificate
  • Insurance: Boat Insurance Policy - Normally including Third Party Liability, and Sometimes Personal Liability
  • Photos: Passport Size Photos Of Everyone Aboard (In Indonesia Also A Photo of The Boat)
  • Other: “Free Pratique”, Ship’s stamp (in some countries), And MMSI Number

There are many things to consider - remember some countries like New Zealand and Australia have extremely tight customs for biosecurity. Many things like woodworks and foodstuffs may be refused entry.

Think carefully about taking a pet - it may be difficult to impossible to bring a pet into Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Related: How Dare You Bring An Apple!? Welcome To Australian Customs

Some Other Things To Consider

There are plenty of things to consider if one is thinking about embarking on an expedition like this. Some of these are considering one's objective - why does one want to do it? Money is always a consideration.

One needs to plan the route and plan for the seasons - don't want to be stuck in the doldrums or in a hurricane. Boats are all different - and different boats have different hull speeds.

The size of the boat impacts everything as well. The smaller it is, the more often one will need to stop for provisioning and larger boats are more stable and can normally handle rougher weather.

There needs to be a lot of preparation in planning for a trip (as well as experience and navigational skills). Expect to have to stop for breakdowns and repairs - these tend to add a lot of time to the journey.

Next: Can Traveling By Cargo Ship Be Free? (& Other Useful Travel Tips)