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Old 15-03-2012, 19:32   #1
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El Cheapo in Asia

Good evening,

Staring at a map of the world a naive, and somewhat stupid question entered my mind.
My name is Thorvald, I am 21 years old, and am preparing a round-the-world trip with a friend. Our goal is to travel "by fair means", and try and avoid as much as possible any motorized vehicule.

I was wondering if once in Asia, my friend and I would be able to buy a small sailboat (maybe a model the locals use) and take a stepping-stone course down to Australia where we plan to work on a farm. Being in no hurry whatsoever, we would navigate on good days only, seeking landings or safe moorings every night. We would be looking to spend 1500$ on the ship (can get a small sailboat for that in some European ports). It needs not to be big or mighty, just not sink (Just finished Mowat's book). I have enough knowledge to do some coastal navigation. A few years ago, with a friend we sailed for 10 days in a little sail dingy I was given (from a scrapyard) along a coast line. We would stop every night and camp (we ended up having the boat confiscated from us by the coast patrol, but will not get into that). That means we don't care about unconfort for a while - we plan to get to Asia by bike.

Would that adventure be possible or am I just an other dreamer with an impossible dream?
You will probably tell me to stick to my old sea tales in my books, but beyond scorning me tell me why!

I imagine that the mains problems would be: administration, piracy, and heavy sea traffic!

Looking forewards to hearing some answers,


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Old 15-03-2012, 19:45   #2
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Re: El Cheapo in Asia

i think you need to add another zero to the $1500 budget!

might be better off crewing on other peoples yachts!

try Yacht crew agency, yacht crew vacancy, sailing crew from Crewseekers

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Old 15-03-2012, 20:14   #3
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Re: El Cheapo in Asia

You know, when you're 21 years old and your name is Thor vald, nothing is impossible. But...
Being in no hurry whatsoever, we would navigate on good days only, seeking landings or safe moorings every night.
This may not be realistic. Although at first glance at a chart it appears that starting in, say, Singapore, you're never very far from land, some of these shores lack secure harbors. If you are serious about this, you have to plan it out on your own. Study charts, sailing directions, pilot charts, places to get supplies, and yes, administration, piracy, and heavy sea traffic should be of concern too.

People have done weirder stuff than that and lived to tell the tale, but many have not. To do it, you've got to be a raving lunatic, focused on your goal, determined to overcome obstacles, and have a good deal of luck. I don't think you'll find anyone on this forum crazy enough to attempt such a voyage, but check out Webb Chiles circumnavigation in an 18' open boat:

Good luck!
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Old 15-03-2012, 20:49   #4
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Re: El Cheapo in Asia

Harbor hopping isn't a very good strategy, lots of coasts have very little in the way of protected anchorages. Likewise, a number of places in SE Asia have unpleasant natives.

I'd say use half the money you have now to get a boat and learn to sail it where you are, then take it around the world.
A house is but a boat so poorly built and so firmly run aground no one would think to try and refloat it.
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Old 15-03-2012, 21:06   #5
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Re: El Cheapo in Asia

$1500 would apear to be a realistic budget
for a coffin
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Old 15-03-2012, 21:16   #6
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Re: El Cheapo in Asia

Of course its possible if you put your mind to it.

Take a look at a Philippine sailing Bangka as an option. Cheap, easy to maintain and stable.
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Old 16-03-2012, 08:36   #7
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Re: El Cheapo in Asia

Quite a few decades ago now, an Australia artist by the name of Ian Fairweather decided to see Bali. Not having any $$ he constructed a raft of 44 Gal drums and other salvaged material and paddled/sailed off from Darwin. He almost missed Bali but was picked up by some fishermen and taken to Bali where he lived and painted for many years. Eventually returned home to Australia and lived as a recluse on Bribie Island. Supported my many locals he lived an unusual but very creative life. Can find his paintings in National Gallery and elsewhere.
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Old 16-03-2012, 15:14   #8
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Rock on, dude!!!!!!!

Budget seems basic but could be doable. What you will really need in addition to the boat is some charts, a compass, fishing line, lots of rice, and enough soy sauce to call whatever you catch "sashimi". That'll keep you out of trouble.

I wouldnt worry much about pirates in the area of the world you plan to cruise. Besides, if you encounter some, and they get close enough to take a look at your setup, they'll probably end up giving you a gps out of pity and send you on your way!

ris-pet!!! Dont listen to the naysayers, just go for it!
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Old 17-03-2012, 07:03   #9
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Re: El Cheapo in Asia

Originally Posted by thorde View Post
Would that adventure be possible or am I just an other dreamer with an impossible dream?
1) No
2) Yes

But if you are truly an adventurer those are only minor technicalities

Main problem is the boat - messing around in boats is not a recreational activity in SE Asia, at least not for the massess - so those cheap boats are simply not available as they are in Europe. Probably looking at commercial boats, most of which nowadays will be powered by a motor of some sort and within your budget not exactly all weather rated - even if the locals use them that way. until they sink.

Second problem is that a lot of the coastline will not be hospitable - so IMO you really need a boat that could stand offshore in bad weather, even if you would prefer not to.

Given that you have not spent any time in that part of the world already, I would suggest treating your first trip as research only for a second adventure, involving a boat - plenty of fun to be had onland in that part of the world without making life difficult for yourself....really only limited by your imagination and there will be plenty of challenges to overcome!

But if are keen to go boaty, then I would look at crewing on someone else's - if you are willing to chip some beer into the pot and able to spend time getting to know folks then a leg or 2 by boat is perfectaly doable. The main problem being that will be pot luck on boat and skipper's capabilities / condition.

Anyway, have fun .
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Old 19-03-2012, 06:51   #10
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Re: El Cheapo in Asia

"Take a look at a Philippine sailing Bangka as an option. Cheap, easy to maintain and stable." ==> Note that most Philippine sailing 'bankas' - perhaps called a paraw, are open boats mainly used to sail tourists around such places as Boracay. One rarely sees a banka with a sail these days. The banka or its larger cousin, the pamboat/pumpboat, used by local fishermen is usually constructed of 1/4" plywood and painted - it is a narrow double ended boat with a flat bottom and bamboo outriggers (amas) held by a pair of cross beams (akas) which are often bamboo as well. The amas and akas are lashed together with nylon mono-filament line and also lashed to the boat. Bankas are normally paddled as they are very small often having only inches of freeboard although I have seen one occasionally with a sail. The pamboats typically have a small engine and are often rigged with a tarp for shade.

If you can ride a bicycle from the Baltic (?) to the Pacific coast of Asia, why not just put the bikes on a ferry (commonly done here on local ferries) and cross the water between the various islands that way. You can continue to ride to your destination, and it is likely something you will be really good at after riding across the Eurasian continent. Many locals ride bicycles here so you would not be out of place.
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Old 19-03-2012, 18:00   #11
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Go for it.

You are young, presumably fit and advenurous. My brother and his friend visited me and used my place for a base when did a cycling circumnavigation of West Malaysia. You have little money and a lot of time. Do the bike part to Singapore first. Spend time in Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. Take your time and figure out when you get here whether or not an open "native" boat is what you want to cross into Darwin with. Hell people show up in Australia on rafts all the time.

You might get in lots of trouble and it could be dangerous. But you are young and such matters are not in your streeam of consciousness.

If you decide to not do the boat part, no big deal. Throw the bikes on a plane and head to Aus.

My brother - pops on the forum - has worked western Australia cattle stations. There are lots of backpackers doing what you intend. Work on a station for a wage, boarding and food. Save up their kitty and then head out again. You might send him a PM for the name of the station he worked.

My only advice is to have a bail out plan. That is a parent that can send you a ticket if things dont work out, it gets too tough or you get hurt.

I wish I had taken a couple of years to take the road less traveled when I was 21...
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Old 19-03-2012, 19:04   #12
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Re: El Cheapo in Asia

Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
Likewise, a number of places in SE Asia have unpleasant natives.
Any more than other parts of the world?
Can you please list these places so I can avoid them
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Old 21-03-2012, 20:15   #13
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Re: El Cheapo in Asia

Thank you very much for this array of answers! And I didn't even get laughed at!

This question I posted in the forum was mainly to get a first piece of information concerning the feasibility of such a trip. I will then be looking into the possibilities more carefully and start precise planning. I personally think that adventure does not mean heading out without a plan, the more prepared we will be, the more chances we have in succeeding. People call me crazy sometimes, I would say more obstinate in my plans!

The sailing option is more attractive to me because of the idea of getting round the world in an unmotorized way that would be a fantastic goal to achieve.

After reading your different comments, it seems that I have 3 main options. The advantage is that if they turn out being impossible on the spot, we would have some backup plans:

1. It is possible to find a "vessel" in SE Asia and sail it across, with some conditions applying. I would need to plan the routes with nautical maps, pilot charts etc... A strong preparation with all the administrative documents would be necessary also. Find either a flat-bottom sailing boat that we could bring ashore in bad weather or a burlier boat that would stand a swell and try and "survive" in that. The fact of there being more engine propelled boats, could I not modify one to fit a mast? Maybe get some help and pay a local crafstman (though it would probably bring the price up a lot, we have time but not that much momey)?

2. Hop on someone else's boat, having met them in a harbor or found on internet (I am doing this this summer, so it will give me a good idea of how it works...). Problem of the bicycles, meaning that we would have to buy some more later on the trip. Not so much adventure, but a safe way of getting across!

3. Buy a boat in Europe and sail it to Australia - then back again. The problem is that with the budget we have, I'm not sure we would be able to have a correct boat and all the legal safety gear to sail across oceans and maintenance costs. Plus I'm not that keen on dying yet: island hopping isn't like bluewater sailing! We would also miss a great part of the continents comparatively to cycling (but I imagine, discover different places too).

The bike part is all planned out. Some friends of ours have just come back from a two year trip to Asia around it and back on bicycles.... fantastic!

We will also have a security sum of money on an account in case of emergency - and have some supportive families that would get us out of trouble if necessary. But we WILL succeed in this adventure, I have no doubt!

The hostile natives part made me smile - it makes me think of the "savages" the adventurers of the past centuries had to avoid!
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Old 21-03-2012, 20:25   #14
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Re: El Cheapo in Asia

what ever you do ,just remember if you do choose to go by boat,the only thing between you and swimming is the boat!

get a good one!
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Old 21-03-2012, 23:13   #15
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Re: El Cheapo in Asia

Has anyone addressed the paperwork and fees for visiting different countries in southeast Asia and the Pacific?

For example, Noonsite says about Indonesia:
"All yachts must obtain a cruising permit (CAIT) and security clearance in advance. The formalities for this must be done through an approved agent....
"For cruising sailors, access to this fascinating country is complicated by the need to have a cruising and security permit (CAIT), which must be obtained in advance." ... and ... ""Gifts" or bribes, are an every day way of life here. Arrive prepared that you are going to encounter these demands from almost everyone you deal with."

A recent voyager through Indonesia commented on noonsite, "A CAIT can be obtained from a number of reliable and efficient sources at a modest cost. A 2 month Social Visa was quickly obtained in Tawau when supported by the CAIT, a short letter explaining why the Visa was required and the usual forms and passport photos. During the 2011 voyage all yachts were asked for copies of passports or had papers examined at some stage by Police or Navy. All of this was managed politely and routinely and generally without requests for additional items or ‘gifts’. There was particular emphasis on whether we carried any weapons."

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