Nautical Expert

Motorboat magazine

How safe is it to sail around the world

Around the world on a motor yacht

Updated on April 5th, 2024

We all know from childhood that the open sea is dangerous. Of course, this is true, because from a biological point of view, despite the fact that our body is a large self-propelled drop of water, we have long since become terrestrial life forms, and the underwater world has ceased to be our home.

However, many yachtsmen do not agree with this. Many of us still have the deepest psychological connection with the ocean, and despite our clumsiness and complete insecurity underwater, we, like millions of years ago, consider ourselves part of the sea, and the sea is part of ourselves. But to be fair, we know a lot of yachtsmen who are madly in love with boats themselves and at the same time indifferent to the sea. This also happens.

The ocean is huge, harsh and has incredible power. It would seem that danger can lie in wait at every step. Nevertheless, circumnavigating the world is one of the safest ways to see the planet with your own eyes. Many will probably be surprised, but this is true. Naturally, the higher the level of your training (and, more importantly, the more experience), the more secure you are. A reliable seaworthy motor yacht and its technical equipment are also a guarantee of a safe crossing of the seas and oceans.

Suitable yacht types

In recent decades, the minimum size of motor yachts you can use to cross the Atlantic has become even smaller. This is due to new technologies that improve engine efficiency, as well as advanced means of navigation, rescue, stabilization, etc. However, you still need a large supply of fuel and its efficient consumption, as well as maximum seaworthiness, so in the vast majority of cases, for circumnavigation, yachtsmen choose trawler-type yachts or even motorsailers, in order to be even more secure, having a backup in the form of a sail in case of serious problems with the engine.

Another option that seems to be becoming increasingly popular is solar catamarans, which are understandably attracting a lot of attention from buyers looking to spend a lot of time on the water, especially in the tropics and subtropics. And while it is true that power catamarans, especially electric ones, can be very efficient, they also have several significant disadvantages that prevent them from being ideal ocean boats. Therefore, we will always prefer a multi-functional, strong and predictable monohull, especially when it comes to high latitudes and truly difficult weather conditions.

Storms and hurricanes

Scientists say that due to global warming, the strength and frequency of storms and hurricanes will increase. However, there are many yachtsmen who, in many years of sailing, have never been caught in a serious storm. But even if this happens, for a category A displacement motor yacht, a typical storm is not a problem if the captain does everything right. If your yacht is designed to cross the ocean without refueling, then you can be sure that it is already quite safe.

The size of a yacht is not always critical to its safety on the ocean, but in most cases, the larger the boat, the more comfortable you will feel. There are even extreme cases of transatlantic crossings on open boats with outboard motors. Although, of course, this is no longer safe at all, we do not recommend that anyone repeat this.

Diseases and injuries

There are no hospitals on the high seas and in other deserted corners of the planet, so first aid skills are required. On yachts with a professional crew, all members undergo mandatory training, including how to use sophisticated medical equipment. But for single sailors, everything depends only on themselves. Therefore, preparation here is no less important than for navigation.

Breakdowns and accidents

During the trip, you will inevitably encounter breakdowns of on-board equipment and banal wear and tear. But after a couple of repairs, you no longer perceive them as a disaster.

On a motor yacht, everything depends on the engines – they guarantee your safety. If a sailboat with a ballast keel does not experience a critical level of risk even if both sail and motor fail, if it is far from rocky shores, then on motor yachts, engine failure is a big problem during worsening weather.

Groundings and collisions with floating objects can have quite serious consequences. It all depends on the design, hull material and type of yacht. While you may all have heard horror stories of nighttime collisions with drifting shipping containers, the chances of this happening are extremely slim. And catastrophic groundings usually occur in coastal waters, within the reach of rescuers. But most groundings are not as dramatic as they might seem, and occur at least once in a lifetime for all captains. It’s just a matter of time.

Unlike most modern sailboats, whose ballast keel can easily break off when colliding with a reef, as a result of which the boat will almost immediately capsize and turn into a turtle, motor yachts, especially steel ones, risk much less, and even the propellers will not be damaged, if they are protected by a keel or located in the hull semi-tunnels.

However, we are not talking here about fast planing powerboats, for which any collision with a foreign object at full speed will in most cases be fatal. These boats have a very short range, they are not designed for long passages, they are absolutely not seaworthy, they are not safe in rough seas and are only suitable for coastal cruises.

Be that as it may, a yacht in good technical condition, having a variety of means of rescue, equipped with all modern navigation devices and a sensible captain is a reliable transport that will open you to an amazing world in another reality, the existence of which you may not have even suspected.

Sea pirates

Sometimes it’s not the ocean that brings the trouble, it’s the people. Piracy at sea remains a problem in the twenty-first century. The basins surrounding the poor and developing countries are too large to provide maritime patrols to protect yachtsmen and merchant ships from robbers. For such cases, superyachts often have armed guards on board, but the best advice that can be given here is not to plan a cruise in areas known for their pirate activity.

But none of that matters

When you leave the marina and go to sea, everything else ceases to matter. No breakdowns and storms will overshadow the happiness that yachting brings. In addition, although there is a chance of meeting a bad person at sea, in the vast majority of cases you will meet only a special type of people: unusually generous and ready to do anything to help another. They make cruising and sailing even safer.