Sail Thailand Rally 2017

Our first stop in Thailand - Koh Lipe.
And here we go again, we joined the Sail Thailand rally for January 2017. A smaller rally and very well run considering it was the first time it was run. The rally had 10 boats: 4 mono hulls, 5 catamarans and 1 powercat. The rally started January 10 departing Langkawi and finished on January 24 at the Phuket Yacht Haven marina. In total the rally covered approximately 200 nautical miles depending on which way you moved around.

The program was simple:

  1. January 10 - Rebak Marina, Langkawi hosted our breakfast and it was a great opportunity for a meet and great of the fleet. 
  2. January 15 - Ao Chalong - Phuket Yacht Club hosted a lunch and we all checked in here.
  3. January 19 - Port Takola, Krabi where there was a tour and dinner
  4. January 24 - Phuket Yacht Haven, hosted a marine market day and farewell party. 
Rebak Marina - early morning mist in the trees.

STOP ONE - January 10, 2017 - Rebak Marina, Langkawi.
About half of the fleet made the most of a reduced rate for rally participants by taking a berth in Rebak Marina. We had already been enjoying the beautiful sailing grounds of Langkawi and decided to not take up the offer instead we dropped anchor at the mouth of the marina and took our tender in. Our latitude and longitude was: 06 17.404N & 99 41.629E in approximately 7 metres. Lucky for us the wind and swell was low and not from coming in from the South or Southwest as the anchorage is completely exposed to this angle.

It was the responsibility of all rally participants to check out of Malaysia on their own. 

Kuah, Langkawi. This is where you check in/out. You can take your tender and go to the building left of screen and around the corner a little bit.
Rebak Marina put on a fabulous breakfast for all those who attended. It was lovely to meet with Marieke who was our rally organizer and she addressed the fleet with bits of info, handed us our hats, goodie bag and a free copy of the Southeast Asia Pilot which was supplied courtesy of one of the rally supporters..

This is the pool at Rebak, it was our view over breakfast looking out towards Langkawi.
Once breakfast was over, the fleet departed. At this point our end destination was Ao Chalong, Thailand and there was no set itinerary from this point on. Some boats headed directly to Ao Chalong (this means overnight), some stopped at Koh Lipe and some went up the coast line to Koh Lanta.We opted for Koh Lipe, Koh Rok Nok, Phi Phi Don then over to Ao Chalong Bay to check in.

Important to make note here, you can not re fuel or have your gas bottle filled at Rebak. The best place to get fuel is a Telaga Harbour,its easy and loads of room to maneuver. Gas is a problem as the government at the time of us leaving had cracked down and shut all refilling of foreign gas bottles. We waited until we got to Thailand, as we knew this was easily done there.

The Oriental Pied Hornbill - Rebak Marina

Our journey to Ao Chalong took us 4 days. As mentioned above we stopped at Koh Lipe: 06 29.88N & 99 18.76E in 7 metres. We took 5 1/2 hours to sail the 27.9 nautical miles from Rebak. Its a great spot to to enter Thailand, but if you go ashore you will be asked for a NP (National Park) fee. You can also check in at Koh Lipe, but we have heard you will get the run around.

January 11, 2017 we sailed 53 nautical miles to Koh Rok Nok. A fantastic spot and we spent the next day here as well. It was the first time we had the opportunity to snorkel for about 6 months and it was great. We picked up a NP morning ball and as the sun was setting we where approached by NP authorities for their 400 Baht per person and 100 Baht for the vessel.

Sun rise over Koh Rok Nai to the right and Koh Rok Nok to the left. The full moon was still showing itself at 0600 in the morning as we left bound for Koh Phi Phi Don.
January 13, 2017 we sailed 40 nautical miles to Koh Phi Phi Don, via Koh Ha Yai, known as the 5 islands cluster, then puttered up to poke our head in at Koh Phi Phi Le for a look. We dropped anchor in 15 1/2 metres at 07 43.68N & 98 46.22E. All I can say here is that Phi Phi Don is insane. The tourism here must not be controlled or monitored and its complete chaos. The assault on our senses was almost too much to bear, and after reading that on average 2 tourists die here in this bay each year (Ton Sai Bay) we felt our fears where justified. 

Koh Ha Yai - 5 islands.
However, after sitting for the remainder of the afternoon in the cockpit trying to get a handle on how on earth we where going to take our tender ashore amongst the chaos and not get hit by either a fast boat, speed boat, long tail, ferry or barge, we couldn't believe the difference to the anchorage once all the tourists where back on land. Nearly all the boating movements stopped, with the exception of the night dive boats, which were very peaceful as they left the anchorage. This filled us with confidence and decided to tackle mainland Phi Phi Don in the morning.

Koh Phi Phi Le
The morning came, peaceful and then about 9am its like someone clicked the 'go' button. They where off and we were in our tender. Trying to keep as close to the limestone cliffs as possible so as to not to get hit - we made it ashore in one piece. We are so glad we went ashore as it is amazing, its busy but fantastic. Considering in 2004 the tsunami completely wiped out the entire place its thriving now. We really enjoyed a coffee first up to just sit and take in the place, then went for a walk and found a few supermarkets which stocked wonderful fresh produce. Some one offered to fill our gas bottles (we did not do this here). Then we sat for lunch and really enjoyed it. We walked to to the other side 'Ao Lohdalum' and it was so much calmer - tourist wise. We would definitely go back and brave the chaos again.

Interesting to note this is where we purchased our dtac Thai SIM. Its a tourist SIM which gives fantastic coverage.

Ao Lohdalhum Bay - Northern side of Koh Phi Phi Don.

Koh Phi Phi Don - The foreshore once life quietens down a bit. Long tails at rest.
STOP 2 - January 15, 2017 - Ao Chalong - Phuket Yacht Club.
We set off across the bay to Ao Chalong to meet up with the fleet and to check in. We took 6 hours to cover 27.2 nautical miles and anchored in 6.6 metres at 07 48.99N & 98 21.80E. We had heard some rather unpleasant things about this bay, mainly theft of tenders and many boats who drag if the wind picks up from the south.  We experience neither and we did have a decent storm from the south blow in.

Phuket Yacht Club welcoming lunch - Ao Chalong Bay.
The bay is massive and it also drys out a long way from the shore line making life reasonably difficult to getting ashore and leaving your tender in a safe place. Our first time ashore was at the Phuket Yacht Club, tying our tender to their plastic floating jetty which didn't float once the tide went out. As it turned out we were left high and dry by dinner time so we went off and had a lovely dinner at a local cafe to let the tide come in.

Once we where checked in which was made easier by the rally organizers using an agent so as we all didn't have to wait around, we all got loaded into a bus for a tour. It was fantastic. First stop was the Big Buddha, then we went to a very fancy place for a foot rub and then finished the afternoon off at a local rum distillery which was very interesting.

The Big Buddha - quite the sight.

While in Ao Chalong this is a good place to get supplies. You will see the jetty - its really long. You can leave your tender there just past the first concrete breakwater wall. Go in behind it and you will see the dock. Its not the most charming experience, and you will need to lock on your tender and outboard motor to something (we even locked our tender to our friends tender) but it is convenient. It is here you will see the offices to check in/out.

Once on the jetty, you can either walk or grab a bus to the end. When you reach the end (its really long) turn left and go right up the dog leg to the main road (you cant turn left at the dog leg). Once you reach the round about turn hard left and walk down about 1/2 hour and you will see Makro shopping centre.

On the way you will pass Supercheap shopping centre 24/7. We didn't like what we saw but do know people who love it here - its very cheap. Makro is a bit more expensive but I felt worth it. The store is air conditioned, the meat/seafood are in refrigerated trays and cabinets and they had most things. Easy to grab a tuk tuk back to the jetty for around 100 baht per person.

What you can't find in Makro, you will find at Villa Mart. You can also walk here, its up the same road to the round about, but turn right, cross the road at your own peril, and walk around the round about to the second right. Again cross the road at your own peril and walk about 8 minutes, you will see the complex with Villa Mart on your left.

Villa Mart is very expensive but you will be so glad you found it. Great for getting those items you couldnt find at Makro.

Our foot massage venue.

Chalong Rum Distillery - very well presented and quite unique.

Rum distillery.

STOP THREE - January 19, 2017 - Port Takola, Krabi
We didn't join the fleet over to Krabi. We stayed in Ao Chalong Bay for a few days doing a few repairs and tending to some private business. We heard that the stop to Krabi (pronounced Krrrrrabi,,,,not Crabe) was fabulous. All those who attended reported back that the stop was very well organised and loads of fun, especially the elephants. So bummed we missed them!

Even though we stayed in the bay we moved to the eastern side which was lovely and a very good anchorage. Turned out to be a bonus for us as we caught up with friends in a very groovy cafe on the beach front.

Beach front cafe.

Optional seating out the front of the cafe.

A storm approaching as we sat at anchor feeling very well protected.
STOP FOUR - January 24, 2017 - Phuket Yacht Haven Marina.
Making our way to meet the fleet at Phuket Yacht Haven, we stopped at Koh Yao Yai. We left on Friday 20, 2017, sailed 22 nautical miles and dropped anchor in 5 meters at 08 01.37N & 98 33.5E. This is one of the northern bays on the west side of Yao Yai. Very little tourist action here, so we stayed an extra day.

On the way into the anchorage we sailed past the impressive - Yao Yai Resort.

Very few tourists here, the beach was lovely and peaceful to walk on.
Sunday 22 January we up anchored and headed over to Phuket Yacht Haven and anchored in the basin beside the marina. It is an excellent anchorage if you do no wish to go in to the marina. We paid a small fee to anchor which gave us use off all the marina facilities and this included a gate key (which if you do this does not open the fuel gate after hours). We dropped anchor in 6.6 metres at 07 48.99N & 98 21.80E on mud and very good holding as we soon found out. Not long after we anchored a decent storm came in and we held fast.

Phuket Yacht Haven Marina. Home to some seriously large vessels.
The rally was treated to a marina market which was embraced by the local marine industry and then there was a bit of fun with lessons on how to make a poultice, how to fold your towels into swans and a free massage. The venue was fabulous and very modern. All the marina staff are very welcoming and more than happy to assist.

This is the deck area where we had our dinner and farewell party. 

The marina looking west.
Dinner was a delicious buffet, 4 free drinks per registered person and loads of dancing with live music. It was a relaxed and lovely to finish up the rally. We would highly recommend anyone considering sailing to Thailand in company to join in with next years rally.

For our travels we used:
  • Paper charts 
  • The Southeast Asia Pilot, written by Bill O'Leary & Andy Dowden
  • Open CPN
  • Navionics
Out of interest once your located at the Yacht Haven Marina, you are at the base of Phang Nga Bay. This area is not to be missed and well worth heading out and enjoying. Loads of anchorages and loads of safe places to go if the wind comes up (rare event, but it does happen).

We later in our travels downloaded a book from Amazon called The Hong Book written by Mike Riley. Its an excellent resource and well worth paying the couple of bucks for.

National Park (NP) fees. This was a concern to most of the fleet as all of Phang Nga Bay is NP. To be honest at the time of our visit it seemed a very hit and miss affair with paying fees. Either the NP people will buzz by your boat to collect fees or they will find you on the beach. For example: James Bond Island (Koh Phing Kan) is in tourist overload so the NP's will find you. If you pay the fee make sure you grab a receipt as it is good for 5 days. That way you can show the next lot you have paid your fees.

Fuel and Gas in this area. Fuel is readily available. We found it so easy to get on the fuel dock at Phuket Yacht Haven Marina. Yes its a few more cents dearer than say going via jerry can, but its matter of hiring a car, so we found the expense and time was well worth it. Gas bottles are also easily refilled at Phuket Yacht Haven.

Checking into and out of Thailand. You do not need an agent to do this and the cost to you will be little to zero. If you go to the long jetty, the Harbour Master, Immigration and Customs are all in the same round building. Just take in your documents and a smile.

Koh Sap. A wonderful example of 2 limestone krasts and a smaller one in front.

A storm brewing over Phang Nga Bay as seen from Koh Phanak, west side.

The supporters of this rally where:
  • The event organisation, the Sevenstar Phuket Cruisers Party and the hands-on activities at the Cruisers Market were sponsored by Sevenstar Yacht Transport
  • The Phuket Welcome Tour in Chalong was sponsored by East Marine  (
  • The South East Asia Pilot was donated by Bob Mott of Marineware-Asia  (
  • Mrs. Porntip of Porntip Logistics sponsored the service of checking the yachts and crew into Chalong
  • Leelawadee Massage, co-sponsored the Thai Herball Ball making session.
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand helped sponsor the Krabi Party and the entertainment at the Cruisers Party.
  • Port Takola sponsored the elephants and party in Krabi 
  • Yacht Haven Marina sponsored the events in Yacht Haven by hosting and making available their staff to run it, and gave free berthing as far as they had it.
A contact for future interest would be Marieke Derks is your contact.

A Facebook page is set up as well: 

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