Hitchsailing adventure in South East Asia

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On to plan B: find a sailing boat in South East Asia with whom I can explore, dream, discover the Asian seas. And learn, more about boats, coastal sailing, and the sea.

About plan A…
 
I landed my dreamjob to sail and change the world with Coboat. Well, in both the startup and boating industry nothing goes as planned. Coboat is an amazing project but once in Thailand (point of departure), it became clear that the boat is not near sailing stage yet. I have to change course.

So plan B. Find a boat!

Hitchsailing

I come to Asia to sail. I am going to sail. I still don’t have a boat and a budget (yet;)) but I do have some sailing experience by now. Let’s see if I can hitchsail a boat in this region. Hitch what? It’s like hitchhiking but then on boats. You don’t have to be a millionaire to sail the seas and explore remote places. Loads of yachties love to share the fun, and costs in most cases. You just have to make sure to find the right boat.

How to find a boat to crew in Thailand/Malaysia?

It’s a different game here in South East Asia. In the Canary Islands it’s full with marina’s, noticeboards and yachties. In Thailand there’s not that many facilities around. It looks like I have to find my luck online. I update my crew profiles on findacrewcrewbayfloatplan, and oceancrewlink. These are all free websites for crew searching for boats. I also check on the AIS (AIS means Automatic Identification System, boat localization that works over the radio) on marinetraffic to see what’s happening in the area. Mainly on Findacrew and Crewbay, I find some interesting options in Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and also some offshore opportunities to sail to Sri Lanka or Maldives. I’m not quite ready to sail out of South East Asia as I just arrived. I’m going with my gut feeling here. There’s a nice sounding boat/captain on Crewbay, Hakan with Candela around the world, who is sailing up to Thailand from Malaysia and welcomes me to sail the world. Boat and captain seems cool, safe, and has been going around the world since years. They have a nice facebookpage up and running. There’s more adventure people coming so this could be fun! I trust the situation. So off to Malaysia, 1 ferry ride away from where I am. Worse case scenario? I don’t like it and I go zip coconuts on a Malaysian beach.
Well, I LOVED it! The rest of the journey I’ll tell you in photos

Sailing time!

Selemat Datang Malaysia! The Royal Langkawi Yacht club is next to the Kuah ferry terminal. Perfect. I arrive just before sunset. Which boat would it be? I asked around and there it is, Candela around the world and crew! We have Felix from Canada, Erin from America and captain Hakan from Sweden. We all met each other as strangers today. They pour me a glass of red wine that was still in stock from OZ and dinner is served. What a welcome! Langkawi Yacht Club is by the way THE place to hang around if you’re looking for a boat to sail with (or a cheap boat to buy) in the region (OR Phuket). Mid januari Langkawi has a big regatta event going on which could be a good way to get into the boating world.
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Let’s prepare for sailing! We stock up and wash the fresh fruits and veggies we got from the local WETmarket (open until 11-ish). We don’t want pests onboard. Hitchsailing-SouthEastAsia - 1 of 1
Fresh fruit vegetables Wetmarket Langkawi

Yummm yum!

We all get along well. There’s a very relaxed vibe on board. I love it. Let’s throw off the bowlines! SO great to be back on a boat and sailing!
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Captain Hakan. Most relaxed captain ever! (And Rudy ;))
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.Next morning we woke up in this bay The only sounds are those of monkeys, birds and waves. The air is just fresh ocean air. The shower is the sea and for breakfast I chop a fresh papaya.
Screen Shot 2015-12-25 at 17.19.14Sailing around Pulau Dayang Buntung. Pulau means island in Bahasa Malaysia. Hundreds of Pulau’s to explore! So we do. Langkawi-anchorages
Here we enter Kilim Geopark Langkawi. Now this is a quite a harbour entrance! Felix and I take out the dingy to explore and take some photos of this setting. Nature at its best! It’s a big delta of rivers, karstformations and mangrove forests.
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We zigzag through the maze of rivers with the sailing boat and a local boy, having a floating restaurant, comes out to help us moored. Beautiful ‘anchorage’ which is used a lot as a longterm parking by yachties. Cheap and protected. In the eve we have dinner at his restaurant.

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Getting lost in the mangrove forrest.Hitchsailing-SouthEastAsia - 5 of 15

We have Erin making a painting, Felix building a website and Hakan designing small house interiors. I spend loads of time writing my book on hitchsailing the Atlantic. The sailing and scenary could not be more inspirational!
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In one week we have made a beautiful sailing trip around Langkawi. Time to head north. We have all sails up and should arrive in Thailand in the evening. Looking at the horizon now and I count at least 100 fishing boat boobytraps, many of them trawling with HUGE nets. I’m wondering if they catch more fish or trash these days.  They’re mainly after prawns, whatever is left of it. It damages the oceanfloor and gets a lot of bycatch. Not good. What to do? It’s not an easy topic. There’s about 10 fisherman working on each boat here and they all have a family to feed. But if they go on like this neither the fish, the families and no one will be ok. Fish stocks have already drastically declined here in the last 10 years. It’s a major issue and we have to tackle this! Locally and globally. What can we do? Educate ourselves. Make more people aware. And be aware about your own choices. We don’t need fish on our plate. We do need it alive to keep up the ecosystem. Luckily we have a choice. Should you stop eating fish? This trip was the last trip were I did. I can’t do it anymore. Not after what I have seen.
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We sail like a rocket to Thailand and wake up in Koh Lipe the next day. I jump in the sea for my morning shower. No swimming to shore yet, first we need to clear in at immigration. This happens just barefeet, on the beach. Island style as I like it.
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 Best about boating: to jump in the sea first thing in the morning. THE way to wake up fresh and then rock the day!Screen Shot 2015-12-25 at 17.16.50We have a new hitchsailor coming on board: Niki from New Zealand.
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We explore around Taratoa national marine park. It’s a protected site since ’74 and you notice that! Park rangers, business and community here are making a great effort to keep the 51 islands a paradise forever. I hope it stays like that. Be careful here with the dingy! Beautiful corals everywhere you really don’t want to destroy. On Koh lipe island you can refill your trashhero water bottle at the refill stations.
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Sunsets from the sea.
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Koh Rok island exploration with the crew. That’s S/Y Candela around the world anchored there in the background.
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Perhaps my highlight of the trip! I got Erin snorkeling. It was the first time she had a glimps below the surface – ever! She met nemo:). Priceless.DCIM104GOPROGOPR4370.
 Found nemoFinding nemo
Caves and coves around Phi Phi Island.
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Waking up at Maya Bay, the bay of the film the beach. You got to wake up early here before the hordes of tourist come to make selfies in this bay. I’ve hardly seen a tourist site that crowded. Be part of the solution, not the problem. Sailingtip: Charts are not clear. You got to moor here, not anchor. Hitchsailing-SouthEastAsia - 13 of 15
 Leaving Malaysia! This is Erin.
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Last lunch on board of Candela around the world!
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Thanks Hakan, Erin, Felix and Niki for this adventure! This were 12 very relaxed, adventurous and inspirational days. I’m fully motivated to get my hitchsailing book finished as soon as possible. So I can help you all explore the world like this as well! It’s the most amazing thing.
xxx Suzanne
Do you have any questions? Leave a comment and I do my best to help!
Suzanne-hitchsailing
<- this Photo & Cover Photocredits: Erin!

2 Comments on “Hitchsailing adventure in South East Asia

  1. Hi Suzanne
    Not easy to find a way in this digital world!Any way, good luck with your book!!
    Take care
    An old shool traveler…;)
    Fred
    (Belgium)

  2. Pingback: Dreams are meant to be pursued. Not postponed. - Destination Xploration

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