Mon 1 May 2023 19:15
24:31N 57:36W

Wind 12kts from SE, sog 7-8 knots. Calmer since Sunday but still good sailing speeds at 45cog towards 27north 55west, then turn more east, less north. 

So for everyone on this route after the boisterous early few days  - lots of ships appear. Eek! And if there’s THIS many ships all the way out here - how many through the whole trip? Lots, surely?  Eek, again. 

On a fleeting idea and after doing this trip a few times, I plotted the direct (Great Circle) route from Gibraltar to Panama. That GC route bisects Puerto Rico, and ships can’t go there. So they go W of Puerto Rico through the Mona Passage.

Gib-Panama shipping traffic goes as direct as possible to save fuel. It’s a motorway/freeway for ships.  The same applies further north to the direct route from Panama to the English Channel towards N Europe and Scandinavia. 

You can check these and similar routes - restricted and controlled at each end as a “shipping lane” or TSS (traffic separation scheme) on and similar: look for historical information and removing current shipping shows the well-used routes clearly. 

Pilot guides and ocean rally seminars don’t mention this, and I think they kinda should.  Brand new  information, sort of. 

Anyway, there’s lots of ships right on this line. Elsewhere there’s some, but nowhere near as much. 

I crossed the Gib-Panama line today and took a pic of the chartplotter display.  Right on cue - Ships following that route. Before and since that point - almost no ships. Phew.  I can go back to watching Netflix.