Travel, Teach, Live in Asia
To be the only yacht in sight from horizon to horizon, anchored off a pristine, deserted, tropical island beach, may seem like a distant dream to most sailors – but sailing in Phuket it is everyday reality.
Unique, too, among cruising destinations is Phuket's climate. There is no winter; there are no hurricanes and no typhoons. Temperatures range between 25° and 32°C throughout the year, and the sea rarely varies from 28°C.
Located in the Andaman Sea (off Thailand’s southwest coast) Phuket is best known amongst regional sailors for the most advanced sailing infrastructure in Thailand. As a cruising base, Phuket is unbeatable. The mystical waters, islands and limestone karsts of Phang-nga Bay are just a few hours’ sail east from the major anchorages; the stunning Similan Islands are a day’s motor-sail to the west, while Myanmar’s practically unexplored Mergui Archipelago is easily accessible to the north.
To the south is the almost uninhabited Butang Group – part of the 51-island Hat Chao Mai National Park – teeming with an abundance of fascinating and unusual wildlife. A short sail east brings you to the mysterious unspoiled island of Tarutao, just 6 km (4 miles) from the Malaysian island of Langkawi, and just one day out of Phuket. A former penal colony, Tarutao abounds with interesting caves and hidden creeks leading into the mountainous interior; a primeval world where time stands still.
Phang-nga Bay itself, bounded by Phuket, Phang-nga and Krabi provinces – boasting over 100 islands and sheer-sided mountains rising vertically out of the sea – has produced some of Thailand’s most spectacular tourist images. As a result, it is a popular destination with day tours and kayakers exploring the bay’s islands and sea caves. Yet, despite its international renown, the bay is practically deserted by mid-afternoon.
For enthusiasts who prefer as much luxury and convenience as possible combined with their sailing, Phuket is already home to three international-standard marinas, The Yacht Haven Marina, Boat Lagoon Marina and the recently-opened Royal Phuket Marina, which was voted “The Best of the Best Marinas” by British Airways’ First Class in-flight magazine, First Life. Many more marinas are planned.
Yet, for those who prefer to sail away from civilisation, just a couple of hours sail from Phuket – will seem like a world away.
Boasting only one regatta until a few years ago, there is now a multitude of choice, in terms of time, style and location, for those who prefer to mix a touch of action with their sailing holiday in Thailand.
The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, now in its nineteenth year, attracts around 100 yachts and is held in early December. Phang-Nga Bay Regatta, bringing together up to 40 competitors for a more relaxed week, takes place at Chinese New Year, against what must be the most dramatic scenic background of any regatta in the world. Phuket Race Week in its second year also plays an important part in the regatta calendar, being staged in the windy month of July during the southwest monsoon.
Whilst the competitive fun of racing in tropical waters is why people take part in Phuket's regattas, they all leave with fond memories of the beachside regatta parties. These relaxed, informal parties have become a keynote feature of yachting events in the kingdom.
Whether racing in a tropical regatta or simply cruising among Phuket's pristine islands, the warm Thai welcome, superb cuisine and the cultural charm – that together make Phuket one of the world’s favourite cruising destinations – make for an unforgettable experience not to be missed