Inspiring boat trips from around the world

21st April 2021

Boating is a fantastic hobby, which you can turn into a big adventure. There’s no harm in dreaming, right?

We share some of the most inspiring boat trips from around the world. Some are shorter, safer journeys you can undertake on a long holiday. 

Others are expeditions that will inspire you and give you an idea or two for your next boating holiday.

The ICW by powerboat

Sailing the ICW on a powerboat is a very popular cruise for Americans. It’s a 4,800 kilometre (3,000 miles) long waterway running from Virginia to Florida. It takes about three to four weeks to complete, so it’s an achievable distance to cover by powerboat on a long holiday. 

As you can dock and get off the boat every night, you can complete this trip on any size boat. Just make sure you carefully plan where you’ll sleep each night. Trawlers, power catamarans, and cabin cruisers alike embark on this adventure every year. 

Motoring the ICW can be a great way to explore the USA and stop off at lots of great breweries and villages. 

Kayaking across Europe

In April 2018, British girls Anna Blackwell and Kate Culverwell kayaked from London to the Black Sea. They covered 4,000km (2,485m) through 11 countries over five months. Anna and Kate completed the challenge to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer Action, in memory of Kate’s father.

This expedition is a little extreme for most keen kayakers, but you could pick any segment of this trip and cover a certain distance during your holidays. You could kayak on the Rhine, in the French canals, or through Vienna. The possibilities are endless. 

Beware: the girls had to portage their 500kg kayak at every lock in Belgium, so you may want to skip that.

Crossing the Atlantic on a SUP

Here’s a remarkable world record. In 2017, South African athlete Chris Bertish crossed the Atlantic Ocean solo, unassisted and unsupported, on a stand-up paddleboard. He paddle boarded 7,242km (4,500m) from Agadir, in Morocco, to English Harbour, Antigua. It took him 93 days.

He didn’t use a standard SUP, of course. His watercraft was 6.1 metres (20-foot) long and weighed 616kg (1,360lbs). It featured a tiny cabin and solar panels.

Bertish’s aim was to raise money to build five schools in South Africa. He’s a well-known big wave surfer who’s competed all over the world. 

This SUP trip is probably not one to attempt yourself, but it shows that you can definitely take your paddle boarding to the next level, if you wish. And there’s no need to go coastal - you can just stick to waterways, if that gives you more confidence.

Jet skiing from North America to Panama City

Have you ever considered taking a long trip on your jet ski? Well, this feat certainly demonstrates it’s possible. South Africans Adriaan Marais and Marinus de Plessis managed to jet ski from Wades Beach, New York, to Panama City in 2006. 

The trip was 17,266km (10,729m) long and took them 95 days to complete. They spent about 10 hours a day riding their PWCs, at an average of 64kmph (40mph). 

This world record is astounding. Some people ride their jet ski from Florida to the Bahamas every year. So you can definitely go on an adventure on your PWC in the USA, as long as you understand the Gulf Stream navigation well.

The Canal Du Midi by sailboat or motorboat

The Canal du Midi is a waterway that stretches across France for 240km (150m). It connects the Garonne to the Mediterranean Sea, so it’s a popular option for sailors and motorboaters who want to take their boat from Northern Europe to the Mediterranean, without doing a lot of offshore sailing.

The Canal features 63 locks and a number of marinas and docks where to spend the night, but you can stop off pretty much anywhere, as long as you have a way to tie the boat up and keep her secure. Most people take a few weeks to complete the journey, so they don’t have to stress too much about timing.

This boat trip is a fantastic way to explore the interior of France, tasting excellent wine and cheese along the way.  

Stand up paddleboarding across the UK

In 2017, Cal Major paddled from Land’s End, in Cornwall, to John O’Groats, in Scotland. At 1,609km (1,000m) long, this was the first solo stand up paddleboarding expedition the length of the UK. 

Cal wanted to raise awareness of plastic pollution, to show that wherever you are in the UK, you’re never too far from plastic.

The Brit took 59 days to complete the feat. It was a true test of endurance. She averaged about 48km (30m) a day. 

Cal’s favourite section of the whole journey was the north east coast of Scotland. So if you wanted to try a long-ish SUP trip in the UK, this is a good spot to go to.

Sailing alone around the world 

In 2010, American Reid Stowe completed his solo, non-stop sailing voyage around the world on a schooner. He built and designed Anne, his yacht, and spent 1,152 days on her, without ever dropping the anchor. 

He set off from New York, sailed towards the horn of Africa, then down and across the Southern Ocean, swinging by Australia and South America. He then sailed back up the Americas and ended his voyage on the Hudson River.

While Reid’s achievement requires a huge amount of commitment, you could use it as inspiration to do a longish sailing passage. Say crossing the Bay of Biscay, do a Transatlantic, or sailing across the Gulf Stream. 

Kayaking the Great Loop

Retired British Royal Navy sub-mariner Steve Chard kayaked the whole Great Loop in 2018 to raise money for charity. The waterway route runs from Chicago all the way down to the Gulf Of Mexico. It then circles back north via Mississippi, Illinois, and Michigan.

Steve left Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 1st June 2018 and he returned on August 16th. Other kayakers have cruised the Great Loop, but Steve was the only one who set off and returned to Halifax. 

So if you’d like to kayak some of the Great Loop, now you know it’ìs doable. Alternatively, you could sail it or motor it, like most “Loopers” do.

Sailing from the Black Sea to Holland

David Haigh recently completed his circumnavigation aboard Sahula, a steel Van De Stadt sloop. But his biggest achievement was becoming the first Australian to sail from the Black Sea to Holland via the Danube river. 

David took his sailboat from Turkey into the Black Sea and then up the Danube River. He sailed through Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria, over the Alps, and then down the Rhine through Germany and Holland. 

This is apparently one of David’s favourite segments of his circumnavigation. Sailing or motor boating the Danube is an excellent way to visit inland Europe by boat and it’s meant to offer amazing views. You don’t need to cover many miles to enjoy it.

Whatever you plan to do, don’t forget to study the area’s cruising guides and weather patterns. Make sure you are well prepared, share your plans with your loved ones, and carry a GPS device with you, in case you need help. These boat trips aren’t for newbies.