is there a website that estimates trip durations? - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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Old 05-11-2010
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is there a website that estimates trip durations?

My Google-fu has failed me. I'm looking for something like Google Maps, but for sailing. I don't want it to plot me an exact course, I realize that is difficult and will depend on the boat, weather, etc. I'm just trying to get a ballpark estimate of how long it would take to sail from one location to another. I'm new to sailing and I have no idea what places are in reach of me for a daysail or a long weekend or a vacation.

For example, I have not bought a boat yet but one of the ones I'm looking at is on lake champlain. I'd like a website that would estimate how long it would take to sail it to Boston, so I can decide if it would make more sense to sail it home or truck it home if I were to buy it.

Surely there must be a website somewhere that does this that I just can't find. Even if it's just as simple as showing me a map and letting me draw a rough course between two points, that would be immensely useful. Thanks.
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Old 05-11-2010
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Old 05-11-2010
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Even though it is great that you can plot a straight line on a "CHART", a sailing vessel may have to cover twice that distance if the port you desire is straight up wind of you.
But with the wind from close hauled to dead astern, you can figure an average of five to eight knots pending on the boat. Multi hulls vessels can be two to three times faster, but the wind factor is still there.
You need to talk to those that have sail that route you desire and find out what they average over all going from one point to another.
But most sailing vessels may be going from place to place, some faster than others, but it is the act of sailing that really is the reason to be on a sail boat. Making it a way of life for most of us.
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Old 05-11-2010
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Here is a really nice, "google maps like" site with nautical charts. I highly recommend it:

GeoGarage - Route Preparation
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Old 05-11-2010
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I'd point out that there are a lot more variables to sailing from point A to point B and I doubt that any website can give anything in the way of an accurate estimate. Wind direction, wind strength, current, boat design, etc. are all going to affect the time it takes to go from one point to the next.
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Old 05-12-2010
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What sort of a trip are you thinking about? Hopping from one harbor to another in one day? Or are you thinking of a multiday trip?

For a daysail coming up in the next couple of days, you can look at forecasts for wind and current and tide and use that to plan a route on something like Google Maps (I've used the Geogarage one too, and I find Google Maps to be a bit faster, plus you can save your routes). I will sometimes make zig-zag courses for legs I know to be upwind, or I'll leave it straight and multiply the time by 1.5.

You can do the same thing for a sail that's a couple of days long, but you should plan several routes in case the forecast turns out wrong. It helps to know the sailing area well.

If you're just dreaming, "Man, I'd love to sail to Hawai'i... wonder how long that would take?" You can do the same thing. Again it helps to know the weather patterns. Plan a route that keeps the wind on your quarter (often faster than a great circle route), and assume 100 nm per day (which you can modify depending on your boat, but that's a decent conservative estimate).

edit: sorry, guess I didn't fully read your post. I suspect river sailing might throw a wrench into the works. Are you thinking about sailing to the St. Laurence and then down the coast? Or what?
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Old 05-12-2010
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I still think old school is the best way. As much as I use electronic navigation on the fly, I still do a majority of my planning with a chart, dividers, and a pair of triangles. If you don't know how to use these items yet, put it on top of your to-do list! There are infinite resources out there for learning basic navigation, so I can't recommend one over another. With just a few basic skills, you'll have no problem planning trips quickly and efficiently.
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Old 05-12-2010
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One can easily measure an entire route using the Ruler tool in Google Earth. One can also select the units of measure--either statute miles, nautical miles, meters and kilometers or what have you. There is no particular reason why one needs actual distance over the ground due to tacking as what counts on up-wind legs is VMG which detemines trip time. If needed for academic purposes, however, you can calculate the potential distance of the upwind legs to account for tacking although, for most yachts, one can safely add 25% for up-wind legs and be in the ball-park.

For example, the distance from the south Tampa Bay Sea Bouy to Smith Shoal Light off Key West is about 180 miles. In a 12 knot southeastly we'd be beating on a port tack at about 35ş apparent making roughly 8-1/2 knots but with a VMG of about 7. Assuming no wind shifts (which is silly as the wind almost always goes east as one gets further south) it would take about 26 hours to cover the leg (the important number) during which we would have sailed roughly 220 miles over the ground or about 22% more than the actual distance.

FWIW...
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I'm mostly interested in the "dreaming" kind of planning. Just figuring out if it's even remotely possible for me to get somewhere in a reasonable period of time. I realize most people enjoy sailing for the act of sailing (and so do I; that is the primary reason I am getting a boat), but I do still want to take it places, not just sail around in a circle all day and go home. I like several of the options you guys have given me so far. I'll have to see about installing Google Earth on my computer... I run Linux, and last I checked (over a year ago), they didn't have a Linux version, but maybe they do now.

As for the trip home if I bought that boat I mentioned, I hadn't give it a whole lot of thought as I was looking for a tool to assist me. Initially I didn't think it was possible to get to the ocean from there, but my broker suggested I could go down the Hudson, out NYC and up the coast to Boston. Looking at the maps, I don't see a navigable connection between Lake Champlain and the Hudson, so I'm not sure what he was talking about... the St Lawrence might be the only option.
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Running Routes - WalkJogRun lets you plot a course, enter your speed, and it will give you a duration. Of course, speed is in mph, not knots, so you'll need to convert.
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