Cruising Southeast Asia. Post-season thoughts.

It seems I'm not very good at posting to this blog frequently.  In my last article: "`Slow Delivery' Mission Complete. What's Next?" I told you that we had just flown around the world from North America to Indonesia, to join a new McConaghy 55 sailing catamaran.

Since then we cruised Saoirse from Batam to Belitung, said hello to a volcano in the Sunda Strait, and continued around the Indonesia's Indian Ocean islands west of Sumatra for the summer. Once guests departed from there we continued around the north end of Sumatra and parked Saoirse in Langkawi, Malaysia while we took some time to visit family in Canada.  Upon return in November we sailed up to Thailand for some boat work and training, and had the opportunity to do a bit of cruising while we are here.

Between the areas of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand that we've been to so far, Thailand's Phuket area by far offers the most for the cruising sailor. If you love snorkeling and diving, there are some great national park islands offshore and south of Phuket where there are plenty of opportunities for those activities. If you love exploring cool geologic formations, caves, secret lagoons and stunning views, then Pha Nga Bay is for you! If you enjoy wind sports like foil boarding and kitesurfing, then the southeast bays of Phuket Island are quite popular. And if you like inexpensive delicious food, or inexpensive massages, you pretty much can't go wrong anywhere you go in this region outside the national parks. There's no need to do overnight sails in this area due to the proximity of the many anchorage options, with sheltered waters to be found in both of southern Thailand's seasons. There can also be found a wide variety of good grocery options, local and imported, for provisioning, as well as yacht services and chandleries should one be in need of repairs and upgrades.

So far, from what we have seen at least in Indonesia, it is much more difficult to find supplies and provisions in other places in the region. Anchorages are deeper, less protected, and farther apart. We are still weighing options for our spring and summer itinerary, but it will involve heading back to Indonesia for most of 2024. We had another look at the Pilot Charts yesterday, which reminded us that December to March should provide reasonably good seasonal conditions to make one's way east along the corridor running south of Borneo and north of the west-east Indonesian island chain that includes Java, Bali, Komodo etc. We just need to decide where to stop. Do we head all the way to the oft-mentioned and hard-to-get-to Raja Ampat, or do we stop short at the equally frequently mentioned Komodo National Park area? We are informed that it can take three years of cruising Indonesia full-time to really get to explore most things, so we have accepted that we can not see everything in the two half-seasons that we have given ourselves. 

Also, we will be taking on some friends as crew at the end of January to help us in our passage making. For safety and to reduce fatigue on the many expected overnight and multiple day passages. What do you think? Should we try to head all the way to Raja Ampat?


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