Difference/Similarities – Recently we have been asked if crossing the Pacific and the Atlantic were alike – Here are some of our impressions…
Please note that we are talking in both cases of crossings from East to West in tradewind conditions. Our reference crossings are Lanzarote, Canary Islands to Saint Martin, FWI for the Atlantic in May 2018 & Santa Cruz, Galápagos Islands to Nuku Hiva, Marqueses Islands for the Pacific in July 2020 [In both cases we were late in the way “traditional” sailing cruising routes] The crossing in August 2016 from New England to Brittany was quiet different [West to East] – here is the corresponding article.
The distances of both crossings are in the +/- 3000 nm range. The Pacific is about 10% longer in direct line. We had light tradewinds of 10 to 15knots during both crossings [at least for most of the trip]. Recently it look us 14 days to do 3365 nm during our Pacific crossing.
So the differences of the Pacific compared to the Atlantic that we have noticed the most are:
- Weather pattern are changing much faster
- Humidity & Temperatures, this might be due to late seasonal crossing
- Waves & Swell coming more from the beam [quiet rolly]
- The clouds move super fast here, within 10min from clear sky to fully covered
- The color of the water – both oceans are beautiful but fun to notice that they have the same deep blue
- The whales: we could not identify them properly. But they were definitely larger in the Pacific. Also cetacean in general tend to follow more the boat in the Atlantic than in the Pacific where they crossed pass us very fast. Maybe like us they are late and need to catch up with the rest of the fleet, so no time for a chat.
- The weather and wind forecasts were less accurate during the Pacific crossing – this might be caused by the recent lack of air traffic and data collection. See the following article
Here are some of the Similarities:
- Crossings are fun and it’s always great to be at sea
- From Spanish to French – Leaving Spanish speaking islands behind us and making landfall on a French speaking island. Even though we may be at the origin of this ones.
- Lots of zig zag and jibing as our destination was perfectly aligned with the tradewinds on the both crossing.
- At the beginning of each crossing and during the first week offshore: in the morning we find “jumping” squid on the deck and in the trampoline – those get replaced as we move further west by flying fish all over… and I mean all over!!! Of course the typical place like on deck and trampoline but some are more original and play hide and seek in the boom, the rope bags, the window and hatch grooves, aft and forward cockpit, behind the cockpit cooler… but the best of all, one flying fish went through the cockpit doors and landed in the galley sink!!!!
We have noticed that the flying fish do not look completely alike in the two oceans. The wings are more elliptic in the Atlantic and more triangular opening like a hand fan in the Pacific.
- Stars & Moon: amazing to watch the millions of stars during a clear night – no light pollution around. We had a full moon during the pacific crossing, amazing how bright the moon can be. And it is fun to spot and to learn to identify new constellations in the Southern Hemisphere. Also for us the moon seemed upside down as we were going south.
- Sunrises & Sunsets at sea are often magic
- Birds – even far from shore, not the same type of birds but surprisingly frequent. We did not get hitch hikers on the two crossing and they seem more comfortable in squatting the boat as you sail close to shore.
- An other more bothering fact – it seams like we are often just too fast to catch fish… we did catch one Mahi-Mahi in the Atlantic and only caught one Tuna during the Pacific Crossing and lost at least one other big tuna to a breaking line [and some lures].
- Squalls, not very active during both trips but still necessary to keep an eye out for them
- Ship traffic: In both cases we got some close encounters with fishing vessels during the first couple of days and crossed cargo ships in a distance all along the way
- No “cruising” buddies – both crossings we didn’t manage to see any sailing vessels but as we said before, in both case we were late on schedule.
To sum up: Downwind sailing is sooo nice onboard Moonwave – nice speeds, all doors and windows of the salon open but still protected from the sun – pure comfort & pleasure
Please find below some pictures from both crossings:
Please check out our other articles about our recent crossing of the Pacific Ocean – Darwin to Gauguin
Here are the previous articles of our Atlantic crossings: