A hitchhikers guide to the blue galaxy

It’s time to get ready for hitching a ride on a sailing yacht to the Maledives, Sri Lanka, Oman, Aden, the divers paradises of the Red Sea or even up to the Mediterranean Sea!

We’re writing November 7th on planet earth. In the North Indian Ocean, the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand the weather pattern is about to change. It’s the transition time from the SW-Monsoon to the NE-Monsoon season.
Circumnavigating sailing yachts are starting now to migrate from Singapore towards western Malaysia, especially the islands of Penang and Langkawi, and towards Phuket, in Thailand. The ones who are moving in a fast pace, like doing their way around the planet in a matter of only two or three years, will be the first ones coming up.
Why that?

People travelling on sailing yachts are very dependent on wind directions and ocean currents and these are quite predictable. Good conditions for coming up this way are lasting until April, but if someone likes to continue towards the Red Sea and further on to the Mediterranean, the weather window is a lot smaller. Ideal conditions for the leg until the gulf of Aden are only to be expected from January until March.
Since Phuket and Langkawi have become major hubs for the yachting industry and facilities and supplies are abundant, these are the places to get ready for the passage.

Of course, not only the fast moving yachts are getting ready now. All the others who are taking their pace and who have spent one or two seasons in the area are preparing to go.

Quite a few of them will look for some additional hands and eyes to share the work of passage making, since having a sharp look out for 24 hours a day can be quite straining for the usual crew of two. Most will ask for a contribution towards food or sharing the expenses during the passage which is more than reasonable regarding the real expenses of a ocean going sailing yacht.

But how to get aboard?yachts in Langkawi

First of all, you have to know where to find them. Like already mentioned, most of them will start from Langkawi and Phuket.
In Langkawi there are two hot spots, which are the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club Marina in Kuah and the much newer marina of Telaga, conveniently (for sailors) located on the NW-coast of Langkawi and which is somehow more popular with the cruising community.

Phuket now boasts 3 marinas. The probably most popular one with bluewater yachts being
Another spot worth while to pass by is Chalong Bay with Jimmys Lighthouse and it’s black board and the restaurant on the far end of Nai Harn Bay which are the most popular anchorages with cruising sailors.

Of course it’s not done with finding the yachts looking for crew – quite a few of them don’t even know if they should look for someone. Having the wrong people on the baot can be more straining than doing watches and I’ve seen “crews” who were not even able to prepare a simple cup of coffee, not to talk about being a reliable crew on a night watch.

To get a lift you have to meet the yacht owners and to convince them that they’re benefitting from taking you. You should be sociable and at least know about if you’re getting seasick easily. And, naturally it helps a lot to have sea time and some knowledge about sailing.

If you’re still a novice it probably would make sense to acquire some skills before attempting to hitch a ride on a yacht. Here in Thailand you can find several options to learn a bit about sailing up to being a certified skipper-for a price…

On Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand, there’s a company offering an “Ocean Hiker Course” which is based on the RYA Competent Crew Course but especially altered and disigned with crewing on ocean going sailing yachts in mind. And this for about half the price of the RYA course. Perhaps not a bad idea…

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