How To Sail From California To New York

How To Sail From California To New York | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

November 15, 2022

Making sailing goals is one aspect of the sailing experience, such as how to sail from California to New York. This allows you to plan out your adventure.

Planning these types of trips is unique and something that you will remember forever. So how would you sail from California to New York?

You would need to make several stops while traveling nearly 6,210 nautical miles. For example, start out in San Francisco, and find ports in the North Pacific Ocean, Golfo De Panama Gulf, Panama Canal, Caribbean Sea, and the North Atlantic Ocean. For each of those stops, find what port works best.

There will be a lot of important decisions to make with navigating that you will encounter, such as the weather, freighters, and canals. This is something you will need to prepare for well in advance.

According to expert sailors, a trip this big means you need to account for every possibility while out on the water. Being safe is going to be most important, while sailing experience is also going to play a huge factor.


Table of contents

How to Get From California to New York

Depending on where you are in California, the destination could be shorter or longer to travel to New York. For this example, we are going to use San Francisco as the starting port to begin your journey.

This trip is estimated to be 6,210 nautical miles and it would take you roughly 26 days straight nonstop to travel if you had a perfect 10 knots. However, you can safely assume that it would take you over a month and a half.

San Francisco to Ports Around Mexico

When leaving California, you will need to head south to reach various ports in Mexico. There are plenty of beautiful locations to visit along the way, so do not get into any hurry.

Some locations to check while navigating the coast of Mexico would be in Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, and Zihuatanejo. Once you have made it that far, you would need to head to Costa Rica.

Costa Rica to Panama

After making your way through Mexico, it is time to check out Costa Rica. This will be another beautiful stop along the way that you cannot afford to miss.

Nicaragua will be along the way to Costa Rica, which has been volatile over the years for various crimes. These include petty theft and sometimes violent altercations, so you might want to research the area in depth before staying long.

If you have time along the way, you should consider the Gulf of Fonseca and then potentially the island of Utila in Honduras. This is a great opportunity to check out exotic sea life and maybe get your diving certification.

Once you have made it through Costa Rica, you need to be prepared to travel through the Panama Canal. The Pacific side of the Panama Canal is very safe, while the Caribbean side needs some caution due to other sailors and similarities like in Nicaragua.

Cuba to South Carolina

After passing through the Panama Canal, there are a few other locations to sail to. You could potentially travel to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, or the Bahamas.

In addition, you could look to stop in Miami or other parts of Florida once you make it back to the states. Once you have completed this part, check out South Carolina or other major cities along the coast.

South Carolina to New York

While the trip is coming to a close, there are other areas worth checking out. For example, Martha’s Vineyard is a great place to stop just before you enter New York.

Martha’s Vineyard is an excellent display of scenery with 19 beaches. It can only be accessed by boat or plane in Massachusetts, just south of Cape Cod.

Whenever you make your way to New York, just be sure you are watching carefully. The area has a large industrial port for shipping and receiving goods.

Tips for Sailing from California to New York

While any sailing adventure sounds promising, you need to make sure you have everything you need before you go. This includes gear, food, and proper boat maintenance. In addition, you have to have the right boat.


Your boat needs to be in the best shape possible before you plan any long-distance trip. That means making sure the sails are in good condition, no cracks in the bow, and everything is running as it should.

If you do not have a boat, then that is another issue at hand. An ideal boat size for someone traveling alone or a small group at this distance would be around 25 to 40 feet.

A good boat type to have would be a trawler since it has enough comfort inside and out. Another good boat type to handle all traveling conditions would be a sloop.

Plan Your Trip

While the example from San Francisco to New York is meant for educational purposes, your situation is going to be slightly different. This is why planning your trip is going to be another crucial aspect to your sailing journey.

You need to be able to avoid harsh weather conditions on both the east and west side of the United States. Ideal times to make a trip like this would be around April or May to avoid peak hurricane seasons.

On top of that, you have to make sure you have the right permits and visas for entering certain countries. These will take time to obtain and you do not want to rush. It is recommended that you plan a trip like this at least a year in advance.


It is recommended that you can travel around 450 miles before having to stop for fuel. This will allow you plenty of time between ports and save you the time and effort from having to park your boat or pay fees.

Having extra fuel on board, if you have the space for it, would be a great idea. There are some areas you might want to see that do not have any additional fueling opportunities.

Sailing Gear

You will have a laundry list of gear to take with you, if you do not already have most of these. Some are obvious, but necessary to repeat.

  • Navigational charts
  • GPS
  • VHF Radio
  • Dinghy
  • Appropriate clothing
  • Anchoring system

In the event that your GPS is not working, you will need to read reliable charts. Having a heavy-duty marine radio is crucial for emergencies or obtaining information.

You will be in sunny, wet, and windy conditions, so bring clothing to handle this. A good anchoring system is needed for when you cannot reach a marina for the night, or if you want to explore.

Food and Fresh Water

Since you will be moving about on the ocean for quite some time, the only time to obtain food and water would be when you park the boat at a location and buy them. It would be a good idea to pack plenty of canned goods and water to last you a month.

In addition, you might want to consider a heavy-duty water filter or buy a desalination device to turn salt water into clean water. This way you can always have clean water.

How To Sail From California To New York
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

Read more articles

by this author

Home /

How To Sail From California To New York

How To Sail From California To New York
7 Best Places To Liveaboard A Sailboat >>Can You Live On A Sailboat Year Round? >>

Most Recent

Important Legal Info

Similar Posts

Popular Posts

Get The Best Sailing Content

Welcome aboard! Check your email...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

(866) 342-SAIL

© 2024 Life of Sailing
Address: 11816 Inwood Rd #3024 Dallas, TX 75244
DisclaimerPrivacy Policy