How Long Would It Take To Sail From The US To Australia? We Investigated

How Long Would It Take To Sail From The US To Australia?

Sailing is not only the most romantic way to get from one place to another. It’s also the most eco-friendly way to travel if you use real sails and the power of the wind to move your vessel. These days, they call “sailing” every other way to travel on the water, though.

So today we’ll be discussing how long it should take you to sail from the US to Australia. And we see so many different variations that it will take us some time to explain. Sorry for “a lot of words” but the topic is too interesting to answer the questions with just a couple of sentences.

So, here’s what you will learn today:

  1. What’s the distance and the optimal route to sail from the US to Australia.
  2. What kinds of transport can you use for sailing on this route?
  3. How many days will it take you to travel from US ports to Australian ones?
  4. What problems can you experience on the way?

Let’s get started!

Optimal routes and distances

You may know the US has two big shores on each side – Western and Eastern. In the East, the country has a huge shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean which is the worst place to start your journey to Australia on a boat. In the West, the US has a huge shoreline with the Pacific Ocean, and sailing from here will be much more comfortable.

But if you live in New York or Philadelphia, you aren’t likely to love the idea to travel through all the country to get to San Francisco or Los Angeles just to make your journey shorter. So today we’ll discuss both ways.

Also, it depends on whether you want to sail to Perth or Sydney. Perth will take you much more time to get to because it’s located in the southwest of Australia while Sydney is much closer to North America – it’s in the southeast of Australia.

Here are some possible routes you may want to use:

  • New York to Sydney. 9929 miles (directly) and around 11 000 nautical miles on the sea, through Panama.
  • Los Angeles to Sydney. 7505 miles – both direct and marine ways.
  • New York to Perth. 11 624 miles directly and a huge amount of miles on the sea.
  • Los Angeles to Perth – 9339 miles if you fly and over 11 000 nautical miles if you sail.

So, let’s assume that you will have to sail around 7500 nautical miles if you want to start from Los Angeles, and about 11 000 nautical miles if you start from New York. Also, you will have to arrange to cross the Panama channel if you start from NY, otherwise, you will need to make a little hook around South America which will make your journey longer for some weeks or even months.

So our choice is Los Angeles – Sydney if we were to choose the route.

By the way, the standard flying time from Los Angeles to Sydney is 15 hours. Planes from New York to Sydney will fly for around 23 hours.

What boats can you use?

To answer the question of how much time you need to sail from the US to Australia, we need to understand which kinds of transport you will use. It can be anything starting from a sailboat and finishing with a cruise ship (although it’s not actually sailing, many people can use this term to describe how they get from one city to another on a cruise ship).

So, here we investigated the average speed of all kinds of transport that can sail from the US to Australia:

  1. Average small sailboat. Well, hypothetically it can sail at around 5 knots (which is nautical miles per hour), but we don’t recommend you use this kind of transport for two reasons – you may get troubles in the Pacific Ocean (because it’s not as pacific as its name says) and you may get old when you finally get to Australia.
  2. Professional ocean-class sailboat. It can travel at a speed of 10 to 15 knots which isn’t that bad for a marine kind of transport. You will have to control everything and you will need some crew of course. This is an exhausting journey.
  3. High-speed sailing catamarans. These sailing yachts are made for sport, but let’s imagine you will use them to sail to Australia from the US. In this case, you may even sail at 50 knots speed, but your cruising speed will be around 35 knots.
  4. Personal superyacht. Here we start using the word “sailing” without actually sailing. These yachts are powered by very big motors with a very big emission rate. They can cruise between 20 and 30 knots.
  5. Cruise ships and big passenger ships. Most modern cruise ships have an average cruising speed of around 20 knots.

And now let’s finally count how much time you will need to sail from Los Angeles or from New York to Sydney.

Small sailing boat

Small sailing boat

A small sailing boat with an average speed of 5 knots will get you from Los Angeles to Sydney for about 63 days. Well, it’s only in the case if you don’t sleep during all these 63 days. Anyway, we don’t recommend you start this journey because it will be very exhausting and extremely dangerous. And it will take you two months! Better buy a plane ticket.

And by the way, if you start from New York, the best estimated time of your journey could be 92 days. Just three months and you are in Sydney!

Professional sailing boat

Professional sailing boat

Large ocean-class sailing boats will take you from Los Angeles to Sydney for about 21 days if nothing disturbs you much on the way. New York – Sydney route will take you 31 days.

It’s not that bad and you will see wonderful places in the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, there are barely any islands on your route, so a large amount of water will be the only thing to observe. You should make sure you aren’t seasick.

Racing sailing catamaran

Racing sailing catamaran

Well, this thing is fast, so it will get you from Los Angeles to Sydney in just 7 days if you keep sailing at the maximum possible speed day and night. New York – Sydney route will take you slightly more than 9 days which is still not bad.

Of course, it’s kind of a dream for a person to use this kind of transport and to achieve 50 knots speed at all times and at all weather conditions. But hypothetically, you can get there quite fast if you have such a catamaran.



We will consider that your superyacht is modern enough to show 30 knots of speed. In this case, it will take you 11 days to get from Los Angeles to Sydney, and about 15 days for getting from New York to Sydney.

One of the perks you will get is that you will be able to enjoy your life when getting to Sydney. Superyachts are all very comfortable and luxurious types of vessels and they are something we wish every our reader experiences at least once in their life.

Cruise ships

Cruise ships

We know one ship that travels from New York to Sydney and back. It’s called The Sea Princess and it will take you on a 38-day journey through Panama to Australia.

There are also 45-days cruises from Los Angeles to Sydney. But most of the time during your cruise you will spend onboard and the ship will be rushing much to keep up with the timetable.

Hypothetically, the modern cruise ships could get you from Los Angeles to Sydney for about 16 days. New York to Sydney route would take around 23 days with no stops at all.

What problems can you face when sailing from the US to Australia?

First of all, you will require the ocean-class boat that is designed for such journeys. The biggest mistake of those people who tried to sail through the Pacific Ocean is that they didn’t have a clue of what was waiting for them in the ocean. Pacific is not a very calm place. Huge storms are a rare thing there, but a small sailing boat doesn’t need a huge storm to get into trouble.

And the worst thing is that there is no place that you could get help from once you are halfway through your journey. You will be in some places that are so remote from any inhabited land that you will need to be ready for this.

If you don’t have something like a superyacht, or you aren’t a sailing enthusiast who has been cruising all over the world for years, we suggest you should get a ticket on a plane or on some cruise ship and let professionals navigate you through all those dangers.

Final words

Sailing long distances is not a simple thing. If you have little or no experience, you should start sailing along the shores so that you could get help if needed. Once you have more experience, it’s better to think about transatlantic journeys. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean is much easier as the distances are not as huge. And you have some stops on the islands on the way.

Transpacific journeys are much more dangerous and unpredictable, so you should be ready for this or you should just let people do the job for you and get you to Australia on a plane or on a commercial ship.