For a circumnavigation with small kids the barefoot route, or also called Trade wind route, is a good choice. You sail around the world in the pleasant trade winds. There is no tedious beating upwind for hours.
But why is it called a barefoot route? After a few months at sea we can already answer this question. On this route, the wind and water are so warm that you are sailing barefoot. Actually you always sail near the equator, mostly a bit on the winter side of the globe, because of the hurricanes. For us, the barefoot route started with the Atlantic crossing, which we did with ARC. Sailing was more comfortable compared to the west coast of Europe, where we were always needed a jacket and a cap. During the Atlantic and Pacific crossing, when it got really warm, we prepared two buckets with sea water for the boys to play with the water. The adults could enjoy a refreshing shower on the back of the deck.
Barefoot route map
The classic barefoot route runs from east to west along the equator. Lot’s of people sail from Europe over the Canary Islands, the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal over Galapagos, the South Pacific to Australia and New Zealand. Then they continue sailing over Indonesia, through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean and then back home. A part of the barefoot route is called coconut tour and goes from the Marquesas Islands via French Polynesia, Cook Island, Tonga and Fiji to New Zealand.
In last few years most cruisers avoid sailing through the Suez Canal because of piracy. Of course there are other ways to get back to Europe besides shipping the boat to the Mediterranean. You can also sail around the Cape of Good Hope and then directly north to Europe or across the Atlantic to Brazil, the Caribbean and return over the Azores to Europe.
The full barefoot route takes about three years. Since we have planned two years for our trip, we will only sail to New Zealand and sell our boat there.
On the barefoot route you will meet the same cruisers again and again. We met many family boats from France, Sweden, Norway, USA, New Zealand and Australia. About half of them have chosen a catamaran for the barefoot route. On the Galapagos a group of about eight family boats has formed. During the 3000 miles crossing to Marquesas we were all in contact over e-mail twice a day. You have the same goals, you follow the same route and you experience a lot together. There are new friendships you will never forget.