By Matt Claiborne
The classic circumnavigation route emphasizes safety and comfort, using favorable winds for downwind sailing. It typically starts in the Caribbean, travels west near the equator, and involves transiting the Panama Canal.
For those seeking speed over safety, the Southern Ocean Route from west to east is favored. This path, used in races like the Clipper Around the World and Vendee Globe, offers open expanses but entails harsh conditions, including bitter cold, treacherous gales, and the challenge of rounding Cape Horn through Drakes Passage.
This route has gained popularity as a summer-only circumnavigation route due to melting ice packs. It involves sailing from the UK to Greenland, traversing Canada's northern territories, and ending on Alaska's northern coast, before heading south along North America's mainland.