There are several things to consider when asking the question: “How far can a yacht journey?”
There are many different variables, including the type of yacht, the size of the fuel tank(s), the weather, and the amount of crew/gear aboard.
Not to mention the skill and experience of the captain.
How Far Can A Yacht Travel?
Generally, a motorized yacht about 35 feet in length can travel around 200 miles at approximately 25 knots in an 8 hour day. At 35 knots, they can travel close to 300 miles in a day. With enough fuel or fill-ups, you can go on for thousands of miles.
With the addition of sails, a yacht can travel even further, but it takes longer.
Here’s everything you need to know!
How Far Does the Average Yacht Travel?
This question is difficult to answer on its own.
However, on average, a 75-foot motorized yacht with a tank that can carry 11,000 liters of fuel can travel up to 1500 nautical miles.
If you are comparing your yacht to this average, make sure also to compare your tank size.
- A 95-foot yacht with a 9000-liter fuel tank can travel up to 1,200 nautical miles.
- A 40-foot yacht with a 5,000-liter fuel tank can travel up to 3,000 nautical miles.
Think of it this way: the bigger the boat, the bigger the fuel compartment.
The bigger the fuel tank (for the size of the boat,) the farther it can travel.
Other variables can affect those numbers, but these are the main factors you need to consider.
How Big is the Fuel Tank on a Yacht?
Different yachts have different sized gas tanks on board.
The size of the fuel tank has a lot to do with how far it can travel.
After all, no fuel = no travel, right?
For a motorized yacht, there are really only two things to consider when trying to determine the distance it can travel:
- The amount of fuel you have (or how big the tank is)
- How much of it is burned by the engines (which is affected by different factors)
Side note: generally speaking, it is a good idea to have about one and a half times the amount of fuel you will need for the trip you want to make.
Different weather conditions can affect how slow your trip is, as well. Yachts are slower in rough weather. If there are bad weather conditions, yachts won’t be able to travel as far. On the opposite side, a yacht can travel much further in optimum weather conditions, when the engines don’t have to fight against the wind and choppy waters.
On the other hand, sailing boats are powered by the winds on the sea.
Weather can be finicky, and, because of that, most sailing yachts have an alternative form of power.
Some of those include:
- Auxiliary engines, usually diesel-powered
- Wind generators or solar panels
- Diesel generators
How Far Can a Yacht Journey with a Full Fuel Tank?
Even superyachts come in different sizes and with different sized fuel tanks.
However, let’s say that you’re on a 130-foot yacht with a fuel tank of 22,420 liters.
If the yacht is cruising at around 20 knots, it can travel about 1500 nautical miles on that fuel tank.
To find how far you can go on one tank of fuel, you will have to:
- Clean your boat and ensure that everything is working properly (an unmaintained yacht uses more fuel per nautical mile)
- Refuel your boat and log your engine hours and start/stop times to find your fuel burn rate.
- Remember, it is important to measure your liters or gallons per hour of use instead of only using your fuel gauge (which might not be accurate over the full scale).
The fuel burn rate calculation is = fuel used / hours, resulting in liters or gallons per hour. The calculation for fuel efficiency is distance/fuel used, resulting in miles per gallon or liters.
The fuel burn rate and fuel efficiency (fuel mileage) are different at different speeds. If both are calculated at the vessel’s standard cruising speed, the fuel efficiency is the cruising speed divided by the fuel burn rate.
For example, a yacht cruising at 10 knots burning 2.5 gallons per hour has a fuel efficiency of 4 nautical miles per gallon (10 / 2.5).
How Many Days Can you Sail For?
Depending on the vessel, you can sail anywhere from one day (on a small sailing yacht) to a month, and some boats have sailed around the world without stopping.
You must account for:
- The number of people on your crew,
- what supplies you have on board,
- if you count for the times you dock for supplies or not, and
- the seaworthiness of your yacht
A 30-foot sailing yacht can carry enough supplies for someone to stay aboard for 90 days (or even longer).
There is a nonstop ocean sailing yacht race where some of the participants stay on their yachts from 110 to 160 days! Some even sail for 200 days!
Can a Yacht Cross the Pacific Ocean?
Cruising around the world is a big dream for several yacht enthusiasts.
Being able to leave their day-to-day lives and do an amazing adventure like “boating around the world” is a legacy you can leave with your family.
Generally speaking, it takes about 10 – 12 days to cross the Pacific Ocean on a large yacht.
However, not all yachts are capable of making the trip.
The following summary describes the capabilities of the four yacht design categories used in the EU and UK:
Category D Yachts:
Category D yachts are rated for sheltered coasts and inland boating.
This means you can use them in lakes, protected harbors, and rivers. They would be fine as long as the waves don’t reach 4 feet in height as a rule.
However, these boats wouldn’t be able to make the cross-ocean trip.
Category C Yachts:
Category C yachts are used inshore.
Inshore means that you can go away from the protected harbors for some distance, but these boats still can’t handle waves that reach up to 8 feet in height.
So, while they can move safely around large lakes and bays, they still wouldn’t be able to make the cross-ocean trip.
Category B Yachts:
Category B yachts are used offshore and can handle waves that reach up to 13 feet in height and strong winds.
However, you still wouldn’t want to take a category B yacht on the cross-ocean trip because it isn’t self-sustaining.
At least, not for the time it takes to cross the Pacific Ocean. Besides, it wouldn’t do well in rough weather.
Category A Yachts:
Category A yachts can handle waves up to 23 feet in height and wind over 47 knots.
They are also designed to be self-sustainable for long voyages.
In other words, they are explorer’s vessels.
Can a Yacht Cross the Atlantic Ocean?
To cross the Atlantic, an average motorized yacht would need a tank with a capacity of about 5000 liters of fuel at a fuel efficiency of 2.5 nautical miles per gallon.
This would be for a fuel use rate of 4 gallons per hour at 10 knots cruising speed. This is at cruising speed, of course. hey can’t be traveling at maximum speed for long periods of time (which would burn through the fuel faster).
At 10 knots, the trip (about 3,000 miles) would take 300 hours or 12.5 days.
Sailing yachts travel the Atlantic every year since the only fuel they need is for generators that power onboard appliances.
Though, some fuel may be used to power the boat when the weather isn’t cooperating.
It takes about 4 – 5 days to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a fast yacht going 25 knots. However, it would take longer in a sailing yacht (which also depends on the winds).
What is a Long-Range Expedition Yacht?
Long-range expedition yachts are yachts that are self-sustaining.
They are also built with long voyages in mind.
They normally feature:
- Adequate crew capacities, amenities, and storage
- Have a long cruising range, meaning large capacity fuel and water tanks
- Have a robust hull for the long trip
They have to withstand extreme weather conditions since they have to travel across large water bodies. They should be able to withstand the effects of sailing thousands of miles of traveling a year.
They must be easy to maintain and operate. This is due to the distance they must travel. After all, these yachts are often operated by a few laymen boaters (in addition to having a few experienced sailors with them).
Fishing trawlers (designed for many days at sea with cabins) are hearty and can travel the same distance (within range of their fuel tanks) as an expedition yacht but are typically not finished as a yacht.
They also have the appearance of a hearty, military-style craft with tall bows, broken sheers, and vertical or forward raking windshields.
If painted naval gray, they definitely fit the aesthetic of a military-grade vessel. But the reason for all of those features is because both expedition yachts and military vessels move long distances for extended periods of time.
The distance that a yacht can travel depends on the size of the fuel tank(s) and the fuel use rate.
A yacht with a large fuel tank or a sailing yacht (which only requires the wind and carries fuel for onboard generators) can travel much further than a small day cruiser yacht.
If you want to take a long voyage, make sure to take the right precautions first. When crossing either the Pacific or the Atlantic Ocean, you must make sure your boat is a category A yacht (or an expedition yacht). You must also ensure that your crew is experienced in crossing the ocean.
If you are on a yacht, it is never recommended to cross the ocean by yourself. While you may handle a smaller boat in waters closer to the shore, there is quite a bit of difference in a large yacht—especially when you are far from land.
You’ll also have to make sure you upgrade some amenities. Your water maker, power generation system, autopilot, and your freezer, just to name a few, are some of the systems which need to be in peak condition when making that long voyage.
In the end, the differences between having a boat that travels a short distance and a long one are:
- Made for Distance, and
Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.