How to Sail Around the World? – Safely

Sailing is one of the best ways you can travel the world. However, there are ways that can make this adventure dangerous if you are not careful. Sailing around the world is not something you can do last minute. There are ways to make this journey easier. Finding a crew to sail around the world with can be a great option as well.

To sail around the world safely, have a well-prepared route, a reliable sailboat, travel documents, proper safety equipment, and research of expected sailing situations. Sailing around the world is an achievable adventure with additional research and following safety measures.

Here are the ways you can sail around the world safely.

How to Sail Around the World Safely?

Use a life jacket or safety harness

Choose life jackets with a crotch strap and a spray hood, reflectors, and a light. For safety harnesses, choose a three-point harness with basic survival items and some provisions.

Be prepared for emergencies

It is important to rehearse some of the emergency situations that can happen while on the boat using the equipment you would have on hand for those emergencies. Looking up some of the emergencies that can happen and practicing what you would do in these situations can help you to be prepared for a sudden event.

Assemble a safety plan

It is important to set up a safety plan to be prepared for these events.

  • How you will manage accidents on and off the water
  • How you will communicate to emergency services when something goes wrong
  • Identifying where your medical forms are

Be aware

Be aware of how you feel riding with your crew. Know that you could be spending lots of time alone, or constantly in close contact with other people throughout the trip.

Take a sailing course

You should consider taking a sailing course if you are not familiar with navigating a boat. Nautilus is a company that offers sailing courses at different times of the year.

Look at my other article all about sailing certifications!

Always have at least one to two people with you

Having at least one other person accompanying you can make it easier to navigate the seas. It is also important to have another person with you in case of an emergency.

How Long Does It Take to Sail Around the World?

It takes one to three years to sail around the world. How long it takes to do so depends on the goals that you have. Although it usually takes this long, it can be done very quickly if desired.

The quickest someone has ever sailed the world was in 40 days. On average, it takes most people around three and a half years. This allows for plenty of time to go sightseeing.

There is no guaranteed set number of days you can expect your journey to take. Things always come up. You can take as long as you want to.

The most important decision you can make when sailing is whether to turn right or left at the beginning of your sailing trip.

How to estimate the destination

There are various different factors that determine the length of a sailing trip around the world. You can get a precise estimate by starting with different styles when sailing.

  1. Non-stop: This option takes roughly 100 days to complete. This leaves you no time to do anything except sail at 20 knots.
  2. Express: This journey takes roughly one to two years. This route includes fast sailing for the most part with regular, short breaks.
  3. Recreational: Takes anywhere from three to ten years. Smooth and comfortable sailing with long breaks.

Nonstop– sailing means planning on taking the least amount of stops on the way. You can maximize the number of days on the sea by only stopping for emergencies and provisions. This method would only make sense if you were in a race with someone else or own a ship that moves fast.

Express- sailing consists of planning on taking the least amount of stops that are necessary to get to the end. This route is popular for younger people who are planning on doing more with their lives once they come back. This kind of plan lets you rest for 1-2 days for each day at sea.

Recreational- slow pace allows you to sit for 10 days prior to each sea day. This gives you plenty of time to go sightseeing, see the culture and the food. This route is perfect for those who are retiring.

Other factors that impact the length

The style you choose depends on different factors. These are the most important factors that affect travel time.

  • Objective
  • Money (this could influence how long it will take, as well as how fast the ship is)
  • Planning (you will need to plan around different scenarios such as hurricane season)
  • Hull speed
  • Boat size (small boats stop more for provisioning than larger boats. Large boats tend to be safer to sail in heavier weather conditions)
  • Preparation (breakdowns and repairs will add more time to the journey)

Everything Needed to Sail Around the World

A well-prepared route

Sailboat, equipment, provisions, time, and crew are valuable in order to set up an effective route. The first step to sailing around the world is to plan the route you want to take. The route doesn’t have to be outlined in a way that defines every stop. Having a general route is a great way to start planning.

A reliable sailboat

You can either choose a small or large boat to sail. Larger boats tend to be faster and comfier for a long period of time. Your comfort levels and number of travelers coming with you can greatly determine whether you need a small or large boat.

How big should the boat be?

The ideal sailboat size to sail around the world is between 34 and 35 feet long. This length can ensure a high enough maximum hull speed, decent handling during high waves, and enough cargo capacity to carry multiple weeks worth of food and water.

Travel documents

When visiting multiple countries, you will need a passport and sometimes a valid visa. You will also need to register your boat. Having a boat insurance policy is necessary to travel to certain countries.

You may need your MMSI number and proof that you have AIS capabilities. Having a few copies of each document can help save you a lot of time and hassle.

What to Pack

It can be challenging to know what to pack for on a sailing trip. With limited space on the boat, it is essential to make every single item count. The goal is to try and fit everything in a 130 L duffel bag. I recommend this one. It has no wheels which makes it easier to store.

Travel bag

You should look for a bag that is soft and can easily be stashed under a bunk or stashed under a bunk that is packed down when not in use. Roller suitcases are not as suitable on a boat because it is bulky and takes up more space than a duffel bag.

If there are not any storage areas or compartments on the boat, you might opt to store your clothes in a bag. If you choose a backpack, it is better to choose one that zips in the front.

Protective equipment

Ask your captain if you will be provided with lifejackets, harnesses, or tethers for day-to-day use. The best equipment you can purchase is an auto-inflatable life jacket that has a built-in harness.

Pack a spare CO2 cartridge /re-arm kit. This kit should also hold a knife, whistle, and safety light. Choose a bag that includes compartments to hold these items.


Choose to wear ankle-high deck boots for maneuvering about the deck. This type of boot is available to purchase on Amazon. It’s a great option!

Barefoot is also an option if its summer time.

Sailing gloves

Choose fingerless sailing gloves for warm weather and long-finger thermal gloves for cold weather.


Have a headlamp for operating your boat at night. Invest in a high-lumen, water-sealed headlamp that has a red light and dimmable options.


Find a bottle that is double-walled and can be used for hot and cold beverages. Having a water bottle can prevent you from becoming dehydrated while on or off the boat.

Polarized sunglasses

Choose an ideal pair of polarized sunglasses at a cheap price. They don’t need to be expensive since they can easily get lost on or offshore, however, since you’ll constantly be in the sun, this isn’t an area where you’ll want to skimp out on a quality product because of the price.


Choose a floppy sun hat that can withstand the sun coming in from all directions.


You’re going to want a quality, water-resistant sunscreen. Look for at least 30 SPF, with a “broad spectrum” label to help keep you and your skin protected.


Bring any over-the-counter medications you might need while on the boat in the future. Make sure to provide yourself with sea-sickness medication. Special medications may not be replenishable during this journey. Having a supply for as long as you are sailing around the world can prevent you from running out of important medications.

For more sailing supplies check out my other article Sailing Gear!

Where Is It Not Safe To Sail?

It is not safe to sail in these areas.

Gulf of Guinea

The Gulf of Guinea has become one of the most dangerous locations to go sailing. The gulf is found on the most northeastern part of the gulf, near Cape Lopez in Gabon, and Cape Three Points in the Western Ghana region. There are pirates in the area. Cases of kidnapping for ransom are ever-increasing. Private security accompaniment is necessary to pass through the gulf.

Cape Horn

Cape Horn experiences harsh weather conditions that ultimately can jeopardize your sailing experience. It is also a place where the world’s most prestigious yacht races such as the Vendee Globe and Volvo Ocean Race require racers to sail through challenging conditions. There are gusts that strike with little to no warning, and harsh currents make it hard to sail.

The Gulf of Aden

The NATO Shipping Center recently issued a warning for yachts not to sail through the gulf. Pirates in the area target here for this reason. There is also a large transit fee that requires you to pay a few dozen bucks. This route has severe weather conditions as well.

Point Conception

Point Conception sits along the Pacific Coast of California where Santa Barbara merges with the Pacific Ocean. The rapidly changing weather in the area makes it dangerous to sail. The weather is so unpredictable that it can shift from calm winds to aggressive winds in seconds.

Straits of Malacca

This is located between the Indian island of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. Heavy traffic and floating debris make it not a great area to sail in.

Margarita Island

Margarita Island used to be a nice private getaway, but now it has been taken over by pirates who target tourists in yachts and sailboats.


There have been a few cases of disappearances in this area. Most sailors do not wish to travel here for these reasons. Tropical storms and hurricanes brush through this area, making it difficult to sail in these conditions.

How to Stay Safe When Sailing Around the World?

The safest sailing route around the world is to stay close to the equator as much as possible. These areas tend to have milder winds than further away from the equator. Sailing this route requires you to go through the Panama and Suez Canals, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, South Pacific, and the Atlantic.

Here are a few tips to stay safe while sailing around the world:

  • Stay off the water during times of storms or high wind periods.
  • Carry a flashlight on you when remaining on the water in the dark. Shine the light on your sail to warn others if you have no navigation lights or your navigation lights can not be seen from very far away.
  • Sailboats with an engine must have red, green, and white navigation lights.
  • The mast can be a conductor of lightning. Be aware of masthead clearance when passing under power lines or bridges.

Final Thoughts

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Sailing around the world is a dream I’m sure most of us have. It is the best way to see the world in my opinion. It can be dangerous sometimes so traveling with a buddy or significant other can really help keep everyone safe. Sailing by yourself at night is quite a chore. I highly recommend traveling with someone.

I hope you all get the chance to sail around the world. Cheers!


Boatlifehq owner and author/editor of this article.

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