Frequently Asked Questions about the Odysseys
- Joining an Odyssey Rally
- Tracking the boats
- Safety Regulations & Equipment
- Travel & Formalities
- Routing & Marina facilities
Joining an Odyssey Rally
Is there any literature you can recommend for preparing a long sailing trip?
World Voyage Planner
Planning a voyage from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world
by Jimmy Cornell
What is the minimum and maximum LOA for the rallies?
(As stated in separate Event Rules and Regulations)
Atlantic, Caribbean and Islands Odyssey: the minimum LOA is 27 ft. (8.22m) and the maximum LOA of multihulls is 60 ft. (18.29 m)
Can I pay the fees via credit or debit card?
Yes. We will give more information on how to pay, using PayPal. There is a 5% surcharge for entry fees paid in this way, due to the fact that PayPal charge 5% for companies to use their services.
Can I get a place as a crew on a boat?
We do not deal with crew directly. Our crew finding partner is Crewseekers International.
You can visit their website: www.crewseekers.net
When is the best time to cross the Bay of Biscay?
“Southbound passages can expect reasonable sailing conditions throughout the summer months, with a high percentage of favourable winds south of the Bay of Biscay. Along the Iberian Peninsula the consistent northerly winds, known as the Portuguese trades, provide excellent sailing conditions, with northerly winds continuing to Madeira and the Canaries.
By September, weather conditions become less favourable, which is the main reason why anyone intending to cross the Atlantic later in the year would be well advised to plan arriving sooner in the Canaries.
This also applies to boats leaving for the Canaries from the Mediterranean as conditions in the Strait of Gibraltar tend to take a turn for the worse with the approach of autumn.”
Extract from Jimmy Cornell’s World Cruising Routes (7th edition)
When will you let us know about land excursions end events that will be included?
We will send out the program of events a few weeks before the start.
Is the Iridium Extreme (9575) phone, equipped with a GPS, combined with a GPS equipped iPad an acceptable solution for a portable GPS?
It is advised to have an old GPS to keep in your grab bag with batteries, in case of an emergency, fire or quick abandonment of boat etc. What to pack in a grab bag
Do you recommend a specific provider for Iridium?
There are many companies providing communications services, and it is your decision as to which you choose. For a buying guide to equipment the Mailasail website is useful: www.mailasail.com.
Is a SSB radio mandatory?
No, they are only recommended. The only firm requirement we have is that the boat must be able to send and receive emails at sea.
Will the rally run a SSB radio net?
If participants are interested in setting up a SSB radio net we will provide the information so they run a net during the crossing.
If I have a satellite phone with a docking station, is a spare battery required?
A satellite phone is not a requirement. It is only a recommendation that if you have a satellite phone, you should keep a charged spare battery in your grab bag.
Can participants follow the other boats that are participating whilst at sea and contact them?
The boats will be in contact with each other by SSB radio and will share their onboard email addresses. They will also be tracked by satellite and their location will be featured on our website ‘Track the Boats’ page. Participants can receive a daily summary of all the other boats positions via email.
We have a main mast mounted antenna and also a transom mounted antenna for the AIS. We also have 2 handheld VHF radios. Do we need another spare VHF aerial?
No, not if you have hand-held radios.
Do you provide weather information during the rally?
We send out a daily weather forecast by email to the boats. If people want additional information on the weather (e.g. grib files or synoptic charts) you would have to make your own arrangements.
Tracking the boats
Can Iridium be used for tracking?
Iridium Go and Iridium Extreme 9575 can be used as tracking devices for the rallies as an alternative to our own tracking device. We will provide instructions on how to do this.
If I can’t see my family member/friend on the tracking map, why is this?
Sometimes boats simply forget to activate their trackers, or the battery may be too weak. The boats are often in contact with each other and with us via the Rally Control team. If something serious happens, we would be alerted and would then contact the appropriate authorities.
Safety Regulations & Equipment
Do I need a hand-operated water-maker?
This is not mandatory, but recommended. You can also have some water containers ready to go.
What flares do I need?
Pyrotechnic flares are no longer listed as a recommendation and a set of flares are an acceptable substitute. However, it is recommended that boats carrying laser flares also have a minimum of in-date pyrotechnic flares: 2 parachute flares, 2 red flares, one yellow smoke, one white smoke.
How do you recommend marking the security equipment with the boat name and person name?
A permanent marker pen can be used to mark your safety equipment.
If the life raft has already been ‘packaged’, how do you write the boat name on it?
You can have the name written on it when you get the liferaft serviced. If it has already been serviced before your crossing and you can’t write it on, please make the name visible on the container.
For the two independent sets of navigation lights does it mean that they should be in place or as spare?
Yes we can accept a set of marine LED emergency lights (3 colours, green, red, white) for boats which don’t have mast lights and can’t or don’t want to make this costly installation.
Do you provide any overview charts of the Atlantic?
Small scale paper charts are required as a backup in case the electronic navigation system fails. We do not provide such charts. But we suggest that for example Imray 100, “North Atlantic” would be a minimum.
How much water do you recommend is carried in the event of a watermaker failure?
You should envisage needing 5 litres of water per person per day.
If you only use the water for drinking then 2.5 litres should be fine.
Propane or Butane? Which is readily available on the Route?
- Canaries: Butane is available for refill in the DISA plants in Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, and some European propane bottles can also be filled.
However some non-approved cylinders cannot be refilled, even with adapters. In this case, the alternative is to switch to Spanish containers or Camping Gaz with butane.
- Cape Verdes: Butane bottles can be filled in Mindelo (Sao Vincente) and in Praia (Santiago)
- In the Caribbean, butane is mostly used, but propane is also available especially in the English-speaking islands. Camping Gaz bottles have the advantage that they can be filled or exchanged in many places.
Travel & Formalities
How can I find out what immunisations I need?
You can receive up to date information on immunisations from:
We also suggest you have a consultation with your doctor before your trip.
How much medical equipment do you advice to carry?
We suggest you have a consultation with your doctor before your trip.
What about travel insurance?
Travel insurance is recommended and not mandatory. However, you are advised to have travel insurance as it usually covers medical emergencies and personal theft or loss.
Is there an insurance company you can recommend?
We cannot recommend any one company, as it your own personal choice. For an example of a company which provides bluewater insurance, look at www.topsailinsurance.com.
How do I get courtesy flags?
We recommend buying the courtesy flags before you arrive in each destination if you can.
Quite a few people sew their own courtesy flags, so if you have a creative crew member, this could be a project for them.
If travelling with children, what kind of problems do I have to envisage?
The following website provides lots of useful advice:
We are travelling with our dog onboard and wondered if Barbados has an issue with dogs landing?
The regulations have recently been changed in order to permit easier access for dogs to the island, with the application of the same pet passport system as exists in the UK.
This link from Barbados Ministry of Agriculture provides all of the information you will need to know: Ministry of Agriculture Barbados / Import Dogs & Cats
Routing & Marina facilities
What is the best way to ship parts to the Canaries?
The Canary Islands, whilst part of Spain, are classified economically as outside the VAT area. Products entering the islands are often subject to importation taxes and corresponding administrative costs which can also mean delays – courier companies being the worst offenders.
With enough time (count on at least two weeks from Europe) and for low value items, try registered post using the post office. For parts with a high value, we recommend using a customs agent who can also offer transport advice and recognize “Vessel in Transit” status.
Another option is to ask a crew member to personally bring it with them.
What guides for the Caribbean could you recommend?
Where is a good place to leave my boat in the Caribbean during the hurricane season after I finish the Odyssey?
You have several possibilities.
Within the hurricane zone, there are sheltered bays or marinas, but none that could provide 100% protection against a strong hurricane, and many are crowded so advance booking is advised if possible. Hauling the boat out is the safest solution, with a range of facilities to choose from including Martinique (Le Marin), St-Marteen (Simpson Bay), St Barth (Gustavia Harbor), Antigua (Falmouth and English Harbour), St. Lucia (Marigot Bay), Bahamas (Hurricane Hole marina, Atlantis Marina).
If you prefer to leave the hurricane zone, you can try Grenada (although the island can be hit sometimes), Trinidad, and further west the ABC islands, Colombia, and the Central American Caribbean coast.
Check your insurance also for any conditions relating to the hurricane season.
How much is it to ship a boat over the Atlantic back to Europe?
If you are thinking about shipping your boat back we would suggest looking at
They organize shipping back to Europe from the Caribbean in March, April and May.