Travel Across the Atlantic by Sailboat | 10 tips for a happy and safe ocean adventure

a woman is taking a picture of the ocean from the deck of a sailboat.

Travelling an Atlantic Crossing on someone else’s sailing boat is not a straightforward endeavour and an adventure to be taken lightly. Finding a boat is one thing, finding the right boat, crew and captain match is what makes all the difference. There are some things to be mindful of.


Almost everyday we receive a message from someone who would like to sail across the Atlantic ocean as crew. We’ve created blogs, a book, resources, local provision contact, a story collection, and an active network you can tap into to make the Atlantic sailing dream real.


And there’s more coming! We’re stepping up our game to help you get out there! Join the Sailing across the Atlantic’ theme month this August on our member network. We also have an online sailboat travel & lifestyle crew course in the making to guide you on this adventure. And last but not least, this year for the first time we also organize a voyage across the Atlantic ocean that you can join!

Join the conversation this August about sailing the Atlantic. Many of our members have done it, and many are looking to do so. 


Perhaps the ocean nomads adventure to sail across the Atlantic that we organize doesn’t fit your timeline or budget. So here are some more waypoints to get you across the ocean, happy safe and meaningful. Above all, we like to make ocean adventure accessible, and memorable and impactful.


Five times our Suzy has sailed as crew across the Atlantic. In fact, she hitchhiked on +50 sailboats across the world. So many lessons learned. Here are a few of her tips to get your Atlantic sailing journey started. + Find dozens more tips and stories from Ocean Nomads network members who sailed across and shared their lessons learned on the network. 


Ten tips for crew looking to sail across the Atlantic Ocean.

1. Have your WHY clear

Do you want to gain sailing experience? Learn as much as you can about seamanship? Go from from A to B and reach a certain destination travelling by sail? Meet sailors living on sailboat to learn from? Just be away from all of it? Or simply chillax on anchor in pretty bays? Search accordingly. There is a huge variety of sailing vessels and styles of which only some will match what you’re looking for.

Share what you are looking for in the Ocean Nomads network and our community captains create personalized connections to people and resources that can help you further.

2. Be Confident or Start small

Be confident you’re ready for an ocean passage.  You owe it to yourself, captain, and fellow crew. If you’re not sure about the full Atlantic Crossing, start with a trip near shore or a shorter offshore passage to figure out if an ocean passage is for you. 

The upcoming autumn / winter we facilitate numerous offshore voyages shorter than an ocean crossing but long enough to dip your toes into offshore sailing and learn if it’s for you. Sail with us from the Netherlands to Madeira. Sail with us from Madeira to the Canary Islands. Or from Sail with us from the Azores to the Netherlands. Or jump on board with one of our 70 vessel members.

The voyages we organize are the fastest way we can facilitate a new heading in your life. Literally ;). You get to meet, live, sail with fellow ambitious ocean lovers and be introduced to ocean travel through experiencing it yourself. And all the connections, learnings, and next opportunities that come with it. Paula, Nadiem, Thomas, Pim, Sael, Anna, are a few of our example members we’re so proud of who joined us on a trip as one of their, if not their first sailing experiences, and then made their Atlantic Sailing dream happen.


3. Know the bearings

To be ready to expect the unexpected, careful investigation and preparation is essential for a happy and safe ocean passage. Learn about the Atlantic Ocean passage, seasons, distance, destinations, weather, costs, and tasks involved. This will help you find a ride at the right time and place. 


Explore the ‘Sailing across the Atlantic as Crew resource on our member hub for the basic bearings, ask your questions, and we do our best to pin point you in the right direction. This August 2022 we have our theme month about sailing across the Atlantic on our member hub. Join in to get ready for the Atlantic crossing.



Map of Atlantic Crossing Sailing Routes

4. Be flexible with time, place and money

Sailboats deal with seasons, routes, weather, breakage, and all sorts of variables. By thinking about scenarios in advance makes it easy to peacefully change course and comply with Captains’ calls.


That said, upcoming winter 2022 / 2023 we organize an expedition with Ocean Nomads across the Atlantic. The professionalism and nature of the collaborative vessel (+100 year old schooner!) allows for a certain schedule, as well as a beautiful space to unite a selected crew of impact driven ocean adventurers. Accelerate your Atlantic ocean sailing dream. Apply now to join!

5. Be 100 percent happy and confident on with whom you’re jumping on board


We’ve met too many people that thought to ‘just’ hop on a boat do an Atlantic Crossing. Unsurprisingly many of them did not succeed in having a pleasant experience. And that’s a pity. Because it should be a beautiful memorable experience to never forget. On the Atlantic ocean, you live, work, eat, leisure together for weeks. Non-stop. It’s like camping in the wild with a bunch of strangers. Only you can’t walk away… Inform yourself, research and prepare. It’s part of the fun! And essential for feeling and being as safe as you can.


Research the boat, captain, and crew carefully. The people you share the adventure with either make or break the experience. Realise that anyone can buy a boat without experience or license. Exchange loads of messages, ask questions, and talk to each other on the phone, preferably with video. Meet-up, fix things together and go for a test sail. Don’t let your eagerness to make a trip override your instinct and judgment. Be 100 percent sure and clear about expectations and intentions.


And network! Sailing the Atlantic is a big deal and big dream for many captains and boatowners. They would like to undertake this adventure with people they feel good with, people they know, or are referred to by others. We for example have one member, Wolfgang, who is now already selecting crew from the Ocean Nomads network for next year. Also we have a few Atlantic sailing crew opportunities for this year! He takes the time to get to know the potential crew. Have a foot in the door early so your chances are increased to be welcome on board. 

Find a safety and happiness assessment checklist and questions list in book Ocean Nomad and in our upcoming Sailing Across the Atlantic theme-month on our member hub.

Ocean Nomads Crew

We learned that at the end it’s all about the people you share the experience with. That’s a big reason we started Ocean Nomads, to connect more of the adventurous and conscious minded ocean explorers to each other. We have had more and more boat owners particularly reach out to Ocean Nomads because of the amount of ‘noise’ and unmatching crew requests via the many Facebook groups and crew websites. Ocean Nomads members are seen as serious and well-informed crew members. We want you to spent the least amount of time online ‘(re)searching and the most time adventuring out there! 


Throughout our expeditions we walk the extra mile to bring together a unique mix of inspirational individuals talents and knowledge on board. We release the power from the individual talents and knowledge into the group, for maximum learning experience. We select participants based on motivation, drive, and mindset. For legs of longer than 10 days we additionally interview on the phone to make sure expectations, mindset, and values are aligned.


“Expedition ON gave me everything I was looking for. It has opened up so many possibilities to meet new people with similar vibes, including connection, companionship, purpose and being one with nature.” – Cay Chandler Netherlands – Canary Islands ‘21

6. Feel and Be Safe

The ocean deserves our greatest respect. Sailing remotely is an endeavour not to be taken lightly. Especially when joining a smaller sailing vessel, when assessing the options and figuring out if a boat is a good match, talk to the captain, learn about the vessel, the miles sailed on the vessel, and other crew joining. Don’t let your eagerness to make the trip override your investigative spirit, instinct and judgement. Discover the strengths, weaknesses and interests of the captain, crew and boat. Put your critical hat on and do your homework. It’s not ‘just’ a ride. 


ON expedition ON with Schooner Twister we prioritize safety. Teaming up with Twister allows us to combine professionalism, safety, and adventure, impact and community facilitation. After three offshore collaborations, the only thing we broke were 2 plates. Many certificates are obtained and complied with to pass the safety checks and requirements to take people out offshore. This comes with a cost but the rewards are priceless. Offshore we keep contact and update relatives about the trip (Mum will be happy :)).


In doubt about a boat to join or not? Share it in our community. We’re happy to help assess and figure it out. 


7. Be clear on intentions, expectations, and agreements.

Know what the captain or organization is expecting from you. What are you expecting from the captain and the Atlantic crossing? It makes it easier for you to prepare, anticipate, and avoid misunderstandings. 

Team Bread Making on Expedition ON

Ocean Nomads expeditions are hands-on active expeditions, with next level participation in the offshore legs. We have a professional captain and crew who’ll be showing us the ropes. Everyone on board is expected to take part in the running of the ship, including helming, watchkeeping, cooking etc. It’s part of the fun, experience, development and epiphany moment creation. That said, we’ll be many hands on board so there’ll also plenty of room to chill, relax and simply BE.


8. Pack Light and Thoughtful

You don’t need much at sea. As a general rule, if you can live without it, leave it at home. Storage space is worth gold on board. If you have already committed to a boat (and are sure about it!) before leaving your home base, ask what’s already on board, so you don’t have to bring it. Less is more; less is more; less is more! 

Find an extensive ocean sailing packing checklist and considerations on the Ocean Nomads network.


9. Provision Consciously for offshore sailing

Captains usually have their hands full preparing the boat, so it’s likely that as crew you will be part of the provisioning team. A well-fed crew is a happy crew, so properly organise, plan and execute provisions for the boat. Your health and happiness for the next few weeks depends on it. A big part of your contribution (or destruction!) to a healthy ocean starts with the packing and provisioning preparation. Find a resource on happy and healthy provisioning, and ocean friendly vegetarian and vegan recipes on the Member Hub.


Provisioning on Expedition ON. As local and organic as we can find.

10. Give back to the ocean. Sail with positive impact. Make it Meaningful.

The ocean is the heart of the planet. Water covers more than two-thirds of the Earth’s surface. Ocean plants produce most of the oxygen we breathe, and the deep waters are home to wildlife and some of the biggest creatures on earth. It provides us with food, jobs, life, play, and sailing! It gives us everything; without it, we cannot survive. By experiencing the ocean first hand on a boat, you will be amazed by its beauty, gain a deep respect for its power, and also see its decline. Here’s a blog on why the ocean is so important.

Our trips are always vegetarian (mostly vegan). Don’t worry, we provision more than carrots 😉 But for sure lots of carrots!

As users of the ocean, it’s our responsibility to become part of the solution, not the problem. Lots of solutions are in the hands of governments, policymakers and corporations, but we don’t have time to wait for politicians to prioritise the ocean in their agenda. We can travel oceans, do good, save money, and have fun. When we plan, prepare and make conscious decisions, we can minimise our negative footprint and maximise the benefits for the place we visit and for the planet as a whole. All together we are responsible for the life that is depleting in the ocean. All together we can also bring it back! Collectively, our impact can be major. It’s our responsibility to become part of the solution, not the problem. Governments and businesses respond to the choices of the public. By making conscious decisions as a consumer, you can influence what will be on the market tomorrow.


The pursuit of a healthy ocean and lifestyle are one and the same. Connect to nature, prioritize play, say no to plastic, fix, create, simplify, use what you got, and only what you need, buy little and buy local, explore more, team-up, walk your talk, stay curious, stay wild, stay pure, eat plants, spread kindness, be aware of your privileges and act accordingly, use your superpowers, and have breakfast from the pan now and then. You’ll save some dishes. And water. And time. If we all try some of this, a little, every day, a healthier ocean and you is the way. 

Explore more and meet-up and team-up with fellow ocean nomads to contribute to a healthier ocean on our member network. Together we can!

“Our actions over the next ten years will determine the state of the ocean for the next 10,000 years.” – Sylvia Earle

Dolphins on the bow during Expedition ON

10. Bonus tip! Don’t book a return ticket 😉

An Atlantic Crossing goes hardly as planned. Avoid stressing the captain because you have a plane to catch. Above all, chances are you’ll be hooked and you want to keep going. Don’t book a return ticket, chances are you want to keep going. We’re here to help you continue and accelerate your ride towards a more sustainable ocean nomads lifestyle.

At the end sailing across the Atlantic as Crew is common sense, following your instinct and one big adventure! But being well informed and prepared is key for a happy, safe, and meaningful experience. That’s why we set up Ocean Nomads and now also organize a sailing adventure across the Atlantic ocean that you can join!  To connect more of you to the ocean, happy, safe and meaningfully! And to each other! 


Enjoy & Ahoy!

This content has partly been published in YachtingWorld.

Are you planning on Sailing across the Atlantic as crew? What questions do you have? Would you like us to help you decide if it’s a good match or not? Join our Sailing Across the Atlantic theme month this august on the Member hub! As a community we are here to support each other and make the dreams real.


ocean nomads alternative lifestyle sea community


“Last summer I had my first sailing experience on an Ocean Nomad Sailing Trip in Spain. I initially signed up for one week, but ended up staying 1,5 months, and sailed as part of the crew from Northern Spain to the Canaries Islands. On this trip, I met a lot of like-minded people with similar goals and dreams. I also realized that it is possible to learn sailing in a low-key, affordable way. After this trip, I got so inspired that I decided to buy my own sailboat. After some research, I decided to buy a previous sailboat of an Ocean Nomad friend that I just met, and together we sailed the boat from Ireland to Spain. Without Ocean Nomads this would not have been possible. So if you are slightly interested in sailing, the ocean, meeting like-minded people and perhaps want to join a sailing trip in the future, have a look into Ocean Nomads!” – Nadiem


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