circumnavigate a place, such as an island, a continent, or the Earth,
is to travel all the way around it by boat or ship. More recently, the
term has also been used to cover aerial round-the-world flights.
of a typical modern sailing circumnavigation, via the Suez
the Panama Canal is
shown in red; its antipodes are shown in yellow
basic definition of a world circumnavigation would be a route which covers
at least a great circle, and in particular one which passes through at
least one pair of points antipodal to each other. In practice, different
definitions of world circumnavigation are used, in order to accommodate
practical constraints depending on the method of circumnavigation.
map on the right shows, in red, a typical sailing circumnavigation of the
world by the trade winds and the Suez and Panama canals; overlaid in
yellow are the points antipodal to all points on the route. It can be seen
that the route roughly approximates a great circle, and passes through two
pairs of antipodal points. This is a route followed by many cruising
sailors; the use of the trade winds makes it a relatively easy sail,
although it passes through a number of zones of calms or light winds.
yacht racing, a round-the-world route approximating a great circle would
be quite impractical, particularly in a non-stop race where use of the
Panama and Suez Canals would be impossible. Yacht racing therefore defines
a world circumnavigation to be a passage of at least 21,600 nautical
miles (40,000 km)
in length which crosses the equator,
crosses every meridian in the same direction and finishes in the same port
as it starts. The map on the left shows the route of the Vendée
Globe round-the-world race in red; overlaid in yellow are the points
antipodal to all points on the route. It can be seen that the route does
not pass through any pairs of antipodal points. Since the winds in the
lower latitudes predominantly blow west-to-east it can be seen that there
is an easier route (west-to-east) and a harder route (east-to-west) when
circumnavigating by sail; this difficulty is magnified for square-rig
the advent of world cruises in 1922, by Cunard's
Lanconia, thousands of people have completed circumnavigations of
the globe at a more leisurely pace. Typically, these voyages begin in New
York City or Southampton,
and proceed westward. Routes vary, either travelling through the Caribbean
and then into the Pacific Ocean via the Panama Canal, or around Cape Horn.
From there ships usually make their way to Hawaii, the islands of the
South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, then northward to Hong Kong, South
East Asia, and India. At that point, again, routes may vary: one way is
through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean; the other is around the
Cape of Good Hope and then up the west coast of Africa. These cruises end
in the port where they began.
of a typical yacht racing circumnavigation shown in red; its antipodes in
records take account of the wind circulation patterns of the world; in
particular the jet streams, which circulate in the northern and southern
hemispheres without crossing the equator. There is therefore no
requirement to cross the equator, or to pass through two antipodal points,
in the course of setting a round-the-world aviation record. Thus, for
example, Steve Fosset's
global circumnavigation by balloon was entirely contained within the
powered aviation, the course of a round-the-world record must start and
finish at the same point and cross all meridians; the course must be at
least 36,787.559 kilometres (22,858.729 mi) long (which is the
length of the Tropic of Cancer). The course must include set control
points at latitudes outside the Arctic
ballooning, which is totally at the mercy of the winds, the requirements
are even more relaxed. The course must cross all meridians, and must
include a set of checkpoints which are all outside of two circles, chosen
by the pilot, having radii of 3,335.85 kilometres (2,072.80 mi)
and enclosing the poles (though not necessarily centred on them).
is one successful polar circumnavigation journey; tracing a great circle
around the globe 'vertically' i.e. through both poles. Sir Ranulph
Fiennes, Charles Burton and their team successfully completed the
Transglobe Expedition between 1979 and 1982. Transglobe was the first
polar circumnavigation by surface travel, touching two true antipodes: the
two poles of the Earth. They approximated the great circle passing through
Greenwich, covering 52,000 miles in the process. "To the Ends of the
Earth" is the classic book which describes this journey.
map below shows the proposed route of the Solar Navigator, a solar powered
electric boat in which it is hoped to set the first ever record for an electric
Navigator's - Sunshine Route
Stevens was the first person to circle the globe by bicycle.
The feat was accomplished between 1884 and 1886. While impressive at the
time, a good portion of the trip was by steamer due to technical and
date no one has completed a human powered circumnavigation according to
the guidelines set by Guinness
World Records. However, in 2006, Colin Angus and Julie Wafaei
completed a circumnavigation of the northern hemisphere entirely by human
power, although Julie was with him for only part of the trip as she
finished what Tim Harvey had started. Although Angus did not cross the
Geographic Adventure Magazine honored Angus' achievement in human
to his Expedition 360 website, Jason Lewis is on track to complete the
first antipodal circumnavigation by human power, but since his trip has
involved non human powered travel between legs it still does not qualify
under the Guinness rules as human powered circumnavigation.
global maritime circumnavigations
Magellan, 1511–1521 (multiple voyages). In 1511 he visited the
Moluccas (3°9′S 129°23′E). He returned to Portugal
and set out in 1519 to circumnavigate the globe. He discovered and
sailed through the Strait of Magellan and reached the Philippines
in 1521, where he was killed on Cebu (10°5′S 123°33′E).
It should be noted, however, that Magellan did not personally complete
a circumnavigation of the Earth, as was once often erroneously taught
to school children.
of Malacca, ?–1521, Magellan's interpreter (multiple voyages).
He was captured in Sumatra as a child and taken to the Moluccas where
he was sold to Magellan in 1511; he accompanied Magellan on his
circumnavigation and ended up on Cebu in the Philippines.
18 survivors of Ferdinand
Magellan's expedition (which began with 5 ships and 200 men),
1519–1522, in the Victoria. After Magellan died in the
Philippines in 1521, the circumnavigation was completed under the
command of the Basque seafarer Juan Sebastián Elcano who returned to
Seville on 8 September 1522 after a journey of 3 years and 1 month. They
were the first to circumnavigate the globe in a single expedition.
survivors of García Jofre de Loaysa's Spanish expedition,
1525–1536. None of Loaysa's seven ships completed the voyage, but Santa
María de la Victoria reached the Moluccas before being wrecked in
a Portuguese attack. Fernando de la Torre and eight survivors return
to Spain on a Portuguese ship.
de Urdaneta, another Basque, completed a nine-year journey
circumnavigating the globe in 1528.
Drake, 1577–1580, in Golden
Hind. Discovered the Drake Passage but entered the Pacific via
the Strait of Magellan.
Cavendish, 1586–1588, in Desire.
survivors of the expeditions of Jacques Mahu and Olivier van Noort,
1598–1601. Of Mahu's five and Van Noort's four ships only two
Schouten and Jacob Le Maire, 1615–1617 in Eendraght.
Discovered Cape Horn; the first expedition to enter the Pacific via
the Drake Passage.
l'Hermite and John Hugo Schapenham, 1623–1626.
Francesco Gemelli Carreri, 1693–1698. The first tourist to
circumnavigate the globe, paying his own way on multiple voyages,
crossing Mexico on land.
Dampier (English) 1679–1691; 1703–1707; and 1708–1711. First
person to circumnavigate the world twice.
Anson, 1st Baron Anson, 1740–1744, in HMS Centurion.
Byron, 1764–1766, in HMS Dolphin. First circumnavigation in
less than two years.
Wallis and Philip Carteret, 1766–1768, in Dolphin and HMS Swallow.
Carteret had served on Byron's expedition. Dolphin was the
first ship to survive two circumnavigations.
de Bougainville, 1766–1769 On board was Jeanne Baré, disguised as a
man, the first woman the circumnavigate the globe.
Cook, 1768–1771, in HMS Endeavour. The first
circumnavigation to lose no personnel to scurvy.
Furneaux, 1772–1774, in HMS Adventure. The first
circumnavigation from west to east. (Furneaux was a veteran of Byron's
expedition so he was also the first person to circumnavigate in both
Cook, 1772–1775 in HMS
Gray, 1787–1790, first American circumnavigation.
Johann von Krusenstern, 1803–1806 first Russian
Fitzroy, 1831–1836, in HMS
Beagle with Charles
first Galathea expedition, 1845–1847, first Danish
Méndez Núñez, 1865–1868, aboard Numancia, first ironclad
Slocum, 1895–1898, first single-handed circumnavigation.
Great White Fleet, 1907–1909, first fleet to circumnavigate the
Pidgeon, 1921–1925 1932–1937, second single-handed
circumnavigation, first person to circumnavigate solo twice.
Triton, 1960 first underwater circumnavigation.
Johnson, 1934–1958, sail training pioneer together with his wife
Electa "Exy" Johnson, circumnavigated the world 7 times with
Lee Graham, 1965-c. 1970, youngest at the time (at age 16-21) solo
circumnavigation aboard 24' sailboat Dove.
Chichester, 1966–1967, first single-handed circumnavigation with
just one port of call.
Knox-Johnston, 1968–1969, first single-handed non-stop
Blyth, 1971, first westwards single-handed non-stop
Chojnowska-Liskiewicz, 1976–1978, first woman to perform a
James, 1977–1978, first woman to perform a single-handed
circumnavigation via Cape Horn.
Creamer (USA), December 21, 1982 – May 17, 1984, only known person
to circumnavigate the globe by boat with no nautical aids, not even a
compass or watch .
Seymour, 1987, the first African-American to complete solo
single-handed circumnavigation, aboard sailboat Love Song.
Aebi, 1985–1987, American woman who completed a solo
circumnavigation by the age of 20, one 80 nautical mile stretch with
crew disqualified her from an official record.
Cottee, 1988, first woman to perform a solo non-stop circumnavigation.
Martin, 1999, youngest person (aged 17-18 years) to perform a solo
Peyron, 2005, set current windpowered circumnavigation record, 50
days, 16 hours, 20 minutes, aboard maxi catamaran Orange II.
Caffari, 2006, first woman to perform a solo westabout non-stop
circumnavigation, in 178 days.
notable maritime circumnavigations
expedition sent by Pharaoh Necho II, c. 600 BC, first circumnavigation
Governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola, c. 80, first circumnavigation of
Cartier, 1534–1535, first circumnavigation of Newfoundland.
de Nodal, 1619, first circumnavigation of Tierra del Fuego.
Cook, 1769–1770, first circumnavigation of New
Flinders, 1801–1803, first circumnavigation of Australia.
Erik Nordenskiöld, 1878–1879, first circumnavigation of Eurasia.
St Roch — first vessel to circumnavigate North America.
1940-1942, Vancouver to Halifax, Nova Scotia, via the Northwest
Passage. 1950, Halifax to Vancouver, via the Panama Canal.
Labrador, 1954, first vessel to circumnavigate North America in
a single voyage.
Peyron (French), January–March 2005, fastest circumnavigation 50
days 16 hours 20 minutes 4 seconds.
Luc van den Heede (French), 2004, fastest westward single-handed
circumnavigation, 122 days 14 hours 3 minutes 49 seconds.
Cahalan (Australian), February-March 2004, fastest woman to complete a
circumnavigation (crew of "Cheyenne") 58 days 9 hours 32
minutes 45 seconds
2004–2005, fastest single-handed 71 days 14 hours 18 minutes 33
Sanders holds the world record for completing a single-handed triple
RMS Queen Mary 2, at 148,528 gross tons, became the world's
largest passenger ship to circumnavigate the globe during her 2007
States Army Air Service, 1924, first aerial circumnavigation, 175
days, covering 44,360 kilometres (27,553 miles).
Graf Zeppelin, 1929, piloted by Hugo Eckener set a record for
the fastest aerial circumnavigation, 21 days, which was also the first
circumnavigation in an airship.
July 1, 1931, pilot Wiley Post and navigator Harold Gatty completed
their circumnavigation of the world in a Lockheed Vega aeroplane, Winnie
Mae, in 8 days, 15 hours and 51 minutes; the record for fastest
circumnavigation was once again held by an aeroplane.
1932 Wolfgang von Gronau flew around the World with a twin engine
Dornier seaplane, Gronland-Wal D-2053, in nearly four months,
making 44 stops en route. He was accompanied by co-pilot Gerth von
Roth, mechanic Franzl Hack, and radio operator Frtiz Albrecht.
1933 Wiley Post repeated his circumnavigation by aeroplane, but this
time solo, using an autopilot and radio direction finder. He made the
first solo aerial circumnavigation in a time one day faster than his
previous record: 7 days, 19 hours, 49 minutes, in which he covered
25,110 kilometres (15,596 mi).
1949 the United States Air Force B-50 Superfortress Lucky Lady II
made the first non-stop aerial circumnavigation in 94 hours and 1
minute. Four in-air refuelings were required for the flight, which
covered 37,743 kilometres (23,452 mi).
1961 Yuri Gagarin made the first human flight in space, and completed
the first orbit of the Earth, in Vostok 1.
Mock, 1964, first woman to complete a solo aerial circumnavigation.
Taylor, 1976, first general aviation circumnavigation by homebuilt
Rutan and Jeana Yeager, 1986, Voyager, first non-refueled
circumnavigation in an airplane, 9 days, 3 minutes and 44 seconds.
Piccard and Brian Jones, 1999, first non-stop balloon
circumnavigation in Breitling
Orbiter 3, 19 days, 1 hour and 49 minutes, covering 42,810
Vacher, 2001, in the smallest aircraft flown in a solo
circumnavigation by a woman, via Australia and the Pacific.
Fossett, 2 July 2002, first solo balloon circumnavigation.
Fossett, 3 March 2005, first non-stop, non-refueled solo
circumnavigation in an airplane, 67 hours, covering 37,000 kilometres.
Fossett, 11 February 2006, longest non-stop, non-refueled solo
flight (with circumnavigation) in an airplane, covering 42,469.5
kilometres (26,389.3 mi), in 76 hours and 45 minutes.
most famous circumnavigation never happened. This is the story told in
Jules Verne's 1872 science fiction novel, Around
the World in Eighty Days. Upper class Englishman Phileas Fogg and
his servant Passerpartou use a variety of transportation means and
ingenuity to accomplish the adventurous feat. The book was freely adapted
by Mike Todd into an Academy
Award winning movie of the same name in 1956, starring David Niven and
Cantinflas. The book (especially) and the movie are tributes to the new
transportation possibilities of the early Industrial Revolution, with the
coming of steamships, railways, etc. As this circumnavigation did not
cross the Equator or reach antipodal points, it would not have been
recognized by Guinness Records as an official circumnavigation (if such a
thing had existed at that time).
fictional circumnavigation is in the Kulo-Luna
novel by Jameson Hunter. In this story there is a race around the world by
solar powered boats, of which one boat, the SolarNavigator abandons the
race to try to save a humpback
whale in distress.
storm - Youtube
Ocean Race - Youtube
Chichester 1967 - Youtube
world race 1989
MacArthur preparations - Youtube
of a Circumnavigation
Sailing Speed Record Council Rules 2005-2008, sec. 26, Record
Sporting Code Section 2: Powered Aerodynes: Speed around the world
non-stop and non-refuelled
Sporting Code Section 1: Aerostats: Around-the-World Records
Angus, Beyond the Horizon: The Great Race to Finish the First
Human Powered Circumnavigation of the Planet; Toronto: Doubleday
Guidelines for Human Powered Circumnavigation
Mark. 1999. The Basque History of the World. Walker &
Company, New York. ISBN 0-8027-1349-1, p. 63
Mark. 1999. The Basque History of the World. Walker &
Company, New York. ISBN 0-8027-1349-1, p. 64
sailor back on UK soil, BBC News.
Flights, from WingNet.
flies to non-stop record, from BBC News.
lands as an uninvited guest!, from Virgin Global
Ocean Racing - Spirit of Weymouth Vendee
is to attempt
the world's first Autonomous
circumnavigation, set for 2012.
robot ship is ideal for anti-pirate patrols. Is is cost effective,
never needs to refuel
can carry the Scorpion
weapon system to disable pirate boats and more.