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"Transatlantic crossing time? " Topic

9 Posts

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18th Century
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561 hits since 15 May 2018
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Comments or corrections?

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2018 10:38 a.m. PST

How long did it take for say a sloop or frigate to cross from Britain to North America during early/mid 19th century.

attilathepun4715 May 2018 10:51 a.m. PST

There is no cut-and-dried answer to this, as it mostly depended on wind and weather, as well as somewhat on the ship's sailing ability. With exceptionally favorable wind direction and weather, it might be done in as little as three or four weeks, but with bad luck it could be three or four months instead. Also remember that due to the strength of the Gulf Stream you could not sail anything like a direct course. It was necessary to first head well south before turning westward.

rmaker15 May 2018 11:13 a.m. PST

with bad luck it could be three or four months

or even six. If you made it at all.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2018 11:39 a.m. PST

As long as the ship didn't run into trouble, 3 to 4 weeks was the norm.

raylev315 May 2018 12:11 p.m. PST

generally speaking it took months for sailing ships to go from the UK to North America. The prevailing winds going west forced sailing ships to the south, and then north. The prevailing winds from NA to the UK was much shorter.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2018 12:45 p.m. PST
Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2018 3:05 p.m. PST

Thanks for the info.

Blutarski15 May 2018 3:14 p.m. PST

On average approximately thirty days west-bound to cross the ocean to the W&L islands, with average rate of progress about 100 miles per 24 hour day. Keep in mind that the route taken from England would have been south across the Bay of Biscay and down to the vicinity of the Canary Islands, the latitude of steady trade winds that would carry a ship westward. Landfall would typically be among the L&W Islands (there is a reason why Barbados was such an important British naval bastion). Reaching the Colonial New England ports would require a ship to pick up the Gulf Stream off the coast of Florida and follow it northward up the east coast of America – adding perhaps an additional month.

This did not operate on a "bus line schedule". Weather and season could vary passage time significantly, most often extending passage time


Blutarski15 May 2018 3:24 p.m. PST

Re-reading the OP, I failed to distinguish by ship type. , A frigate sailing independently would be likely (but not necessarily certain) to make a slightly faster passage with the difference being (SWAG here) 1 to 3 days or so. A sloop would be pretty close to the originally cited average; English ship-rigged sloops were not known for speed.


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