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Old 09-01-2007, 16:58   #1
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Seattle to Cambodia Route

So the date is set and I will be leaving the first week of June from Seattle to head to Cambodia. I need some route advice.

My plan now is to head to Hawaii, then west to the Marshall Islands and the Carolines. To this point the Wind is in my favor for the months I will be there.

From the Carolines there are several routes through the Phillipines. One through the Surigao Strait into the Sulu Sea and the other is heading south of Mindanao into the Celebes Sea into the Sulu Sea and out through the Balabac strait into the South China Sea. The wind on either of these routes is not ideal but is workable.

Has anyone out there Actually sailed this route? What can you tell me?

Please, with all due respect I would rather leave the discussion of piracy for another day and try to focus on the routing right now.

Thanks
Alan Perry
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Old 09-01-2007, 18:41   #2
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you didn't mention your exact time frame, but the South China Sea is very tricky for a good part of the year. There's really only a very small window where it is relatively safe, and it seems to have been narrowing in recent years. Basically any time between June and end of December is a no-go. In past years, November was the cutoff, but in recent years there have been typhoons well into December (I don't know, ask Al Gore). December-January/February is Winter monsoon, so you could be in for big water even if you avoid any late-late season typhoons. Unfortunately, then there's not much wind until June again - when typhoon season starts over again.

Having gone in early Nov. and run straight into a typhoon, I now believe I should have taken my second choice - March for a crossing.
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Old 09-01-2007, 23:08   #3
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Not that far west!

I'm nearly done with all the atlantic routes for the World ocean passages, but I've only touched on some of the Juan de Fuca routes. See these three for the large-scale passage descriptions.

The most direct route is not the scenic route which includes the Carolines. Instead, drop south below the Hawai'ian islands, then west between 15 N. and 20 N., being to the northward in the summer and to the southward in the winter. On reaching the meridian of 160 E., proceed as follows:

October to June: North route. Stand somewhat north to clear the northernmost of the Mariana islands, then pass through the Bashi channel, southwestward through China Sea. (I have no routes for Gulf of Thailand)

July to September: South route. Steer to cross 150 E. in 15 N. Thence, passing southward of Guam, stand directly for San Bernardino Strait or Isagua Strait (Leyte Gulf). Pass through the Philipines as directly as possible, then into the China Sea as above.

These are very crude, large-scale suggestions for courses, of course. You need to be aware that the entire region you'll be traveling through from before the Marianas and onward are susceptible to Tropical cyclones, Typhoons, which can form in every month of the year. Over this course they are most common from May to December, with the highest chance months June to September.

If you're not pushing to do this quickly, other routes would have more ports of call. This route will save time and money, but has at least two long legs (San Francisco to Hawaii, Hawaii to Guam or the CNMI)

I spent a few years in these waters curtesy of the Navy, and can't wait for a chance to sail there. Don't underestimate the Kurio Shio. Take advantage of the surface currents induced by the monsoons. You've probably heard any other advice I might have far too many times.
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Old 10-01-2007, 17:34   #4
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Amgine, My pilot charts say the wind will be with me on your route and I can see the advantages. But I have a question. My reason for going farther south and then through the Balabac strait was to limit my exposure in the S. China Sea. Given the fact that my basic calculations have me leaving the Phillipines in early September. Do you think the extra distance and time is worth that or should I try to get thru as quickly as possible? Also it seems that at that time of year most of the Typhoons go up through the Phillipines and out towards Vietnam or Hong Kong. Very few head directly west to the Gulf of Thailand.
Of Course I could still head south in the Sulu Sea and enter the SCS thru the Balabac strait on your routing too.

I think the currents on your route are more in more in my favor as well.

Of course then in September I am in the SW Monsoon with winds coming from the SW and W. this will make my route difficult as well if I end up with the wind on my nose.

My problem is this: I really need to be in Cambodia before the tourist season starts there in November. My leaving Seattle in June will accomplish this I figure. Of course I could put it off by a few months to depart in August which would put me in Cambodia in December. Which is not ideal but if that is what I have to do then so be it.

do you inow anyone who has sailed this route? especially the Hawaii to Phillipines leg? I'd love to talk to them.

Thanks for all your input

Alan Perry
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Old 10-01-2007, 18:01   #5
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sneuman, Yes the SCS can be difficult but I am hoping to limit my exposure there as much as possible. (See above post).

You list your location as Bangkok, do you actually keep your boat moored in the Chao Phraya at BKK? Or are you really tied up in Pattaya, Hua Hin or Prachuap Kiri Khan?

Do You know if there is a Yacht port of entry near Koh Chang? I beleive you can check in at Pattaya? Is that the closest Thai port of entry to Cambodia?

I ask this because I may want to traverse back and forth between the two now and then. By the way since my first post on Cambodia I have found out that you actually do not need a cruising permit to ENTER, but you do have to call 24-48 hours ahead to the ship brokers office to get clearance. I will have much more information in the next few weeks as I will be in Cambodia the month of Feb. I will pass it on when I return.

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Old 10-01-2007, 22:54   #6
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Several elements answered

Timing and exposure:
Don't sail to a schedule. There's really nothing more to be said. It would be nice if you get to Cambodia before the tourism season, but first concentrate on getting there alive and afloat, and hopefully still happy.

Your goal as navigator is to get to the destination in a timely, safe fashion, with the least exposure to bad weather reasonably possible. In this case, that mostly means making fast passages so you are on the water the shortest possible time. You can spend more time in port to adjust your arrival date; for example, if arriving during the SW monsoon, spend a couple extra days in Hawaii, and take a week or two in Guam (assuming the weather windows are favourable.) You'll be more rested for the hard slog down the China Sea.

Tropical cyclones do more generally travel up the Philipines at this time of year. But a look at the combined tracks of all cyclones over 20 years shows the entire region is susceptible to them, and voids any false sense of security. Typhoons are not that predictable; you simply have to determine whatever level of risk you're willing to take, and then act with all due diligence to minimize that risk.
Tactics for the China Sea in SW monsoon
You're estimating an arrival in the region in late September, so a late monsoon crossing. The description for the Manilla - Singapore passage may help. "For all season, steer to pass northward of the central dangers of the China sea for Pulau Sapatu; thence proceed direct to Pulau Aur and Singapore."

"Make for the passage between Palawan island and the off-lying reef, at a point in about 11 30' N. 118 30' E., and thence make south-westward through the Palawan Passage and then on a mean course roughly parallel to the coast of Borneo along the pecked line shown on the charts. [I'll see about uploading a crop of this.]"

"Pass through one of the passages through the South Natuna Islands, and stand acorss to the entrance to Singapore Strait..."

At about the same point you should be able to lay your course up into the Gulf of Thailand, or earlier, calculating for the strong northward monsoon current however (up to 2 knots.)

You will learn more as you approach the region, too. Ask other cruisers and networks that you find along the way. Never believe anything they say without verifying it independently, just for security.
People who've sailed this
Nope, I don't know anyone. This was a common commercial sailing route to Yokohoma, Manilla, China, etc. and very well covered. The Petersen's did some of this route in the China Sea, the northern part, but their passages were all in the shoulder to NW monsoon.

However, to find people who may have made that passage, contact yachtclubs in either Hawaii (1, 2, 3) or the Philipines (1, 2). You might also try Singapore clubs (1, 2, 3, 4) as they seem to have rather adventurous sorts. You may get some invitations for your trip through (bring extra burgees from your club. If you haven't joined a club, contact the Washington Yacht Club at the UofWA Seattle immediately; they're relatively inexpensive, easy to join, have some very relaxed attitudes, and my former club.)

Remember, though, that you have Sneuman here on the forum who knows a heck of a lot more than I do about the region, and he likely knows more people who're likely to have sailed to/from the Gulf.
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Old 11-01-2007, 01:09   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alanperry
sneuman, Yes the SCS can be difficult but I am hoping to limit my exposure there as much as possible. (See above post).

You list your location as Bangkok, do you actually keep your boat moored in the Chao Phraya at BKK? Or are you really tied up in Pattaya, Hua Hin or Prachuap Kiri Khan?

Do You know if there is a Yacht port of entry near Koh Chang? I beleive you can check in at Pattaya? Is that the closest Thai port of entry to Cambodia?

I ask this because I may want to traverse back and forth between the two now and then. By the way since my first post on Cambodia I have found out that you actually do not need a cruising permit to ENTER, but you do have to call 24-48 hours ahead to the ship brokers office to get clearance. I will have much more information in the next few weeks as I will be in Cambodia the month of Feb. I will pass it on when I return.

Alan Perry
Hi Alan, I think I have a lot of information that would be of use to you, including an ideal spot at Koh Chang. Why don't you email me directly?: scott_neuman@hotmail.com
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Old 11-01-2007, 09:45   #8
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Chart bit

Here's the crop of the chart of the South China Sea. You can see the usual courses down are in grey. In the SW monsoon to October the course is to cross the sea and hug the coast (which I think may actually not be what the text said that I posted above.) These courses are primarily to Singapore, rather than your destination, so you'll need to adapt them.


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Old 11-01-2007, 19:36   #9
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Amgine, Thanks for the chart and the routing. I have read all the Singapore routing in JCornells book and the Admiralty Ocean Passages, all have to be adapted for sailing into Cambodia. But your suggestions have been very helpful and thought provoking. My timing assumes a month ashore along the route. But my reasons for needing to be there are business related and a bit more pressing than just the average cruisers. Of course it is never wise to stick to a schedule just for the sake of the schedule. But the lack of a schedule can also put one in danger if you are trying to make good weather in certain areas and don't do whats necessary to get out of port on time. My experience on commercial vessels and my own boats between here and Alaska has convinced me of this.

This is one of my reasons for starting out in the first week of June. This gives me a 3 month cushion that will allow me to delay here or somewhere along the route, finally arriving in Sihanoukville in December, with still 2 months of the tourist season left...not ideal for me but better than not getting there at all or fighting some really bad weather.

The lesson is that there really is no great time to traverse this area only "less worse" times. Which brings up the question of Typhoon Shelters in the Phillipines?? Have you heard of any? They must exist for the huge fishing fleets there.

Also one of the reasons for the Marshalls/Carolines route was that it presented some nice ports along the way, closer than the haul all the way to Guam. Which brings up the question of Wake Island. Is it possible for private yachts to visit Wake??? I thought that it was off limits at one time. Of course this would mean leaving from the farthest north Hawaiian Island probably.???

Your thoughts and advice are much appreciated.

Alan Perry
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Old 12-01-2007, 00:17   #10
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Exposure again

Yes, where you're going you're looking at finding the least bad times and keeping an eye on the weather fax. I think you're balancing the weather issues as well as can be done considering your goals.

There are several Typhoon holes in Philipines, but you'll want to explore some of possibilities both by chart and by contacting people who are there. Subic Bay, for one, though I have no idea what the status of that port is now it is no longer a military base. I believe there were plans to develop the marina into a resort campus shortly after the lease was released. Local yacht clubs, the U.S. Consulate offices, and harbour officers could be contacted for further information.

Wake Island was evacuated in August 2006 ahead of Typhoon Loke, a cat 5 tropical cyclone. Air Force restored some functionality to the runway in September, but beyond that I don't know anything further, but an estimate of about 200 military contractors were on the island prior to the Typhoon. The NOAA weather station there is reporting at least some of the hours each day (about 8 hours). The lagoon of Wake Island does not (or at least did not before Loke) have an entrance, and there is no safe harbour or anchorage. (The previous information might not be quite accurate, as there appears to be a small hook between Wilkes and Wake islands of the atoll, but it may in fact be unusable; look at satellite images approximately 166 37' E. 19 17' N. and you'll see an artifical bay with one surfaced quay and a long dirt quay diking off the lagoon.)

(
There is a territorial claim by the Marshall Islands on Wake Island, as well as one by a group called the Kingdom of EnenKio, presumably from the Marshall Islands as the name for Wake Island in Marshallese is Enen-Kio.)


My thoughts regarding your cruise are that shipping a boat on its bottom is a very expensive way to get a vessel into place in Cambodia. It would be much cheaper to purchase a vessel in the region, probably in Singapore or Thailand as both of these seem to have markets of boats sailed to the region and the owners fly away, as well as local building industries. The second option would be to ship the yacht there, preferably a container-designed craft such as Perry's latest.

But assuming the goal of getting a boat to Cambodia on her bottom, for business purposes, then you should plan your trip to be as cheap as possible, with the least possible wear and tear on the vessel. That means avoiding the rally route, and the longest possible passages (you cannot spend money at sea.) It also means planning your trip around the resupply points.

Hawaii and Guam are both good resupply points. I'm told Saipan is a good place to get repair work done due to minimal labour regulations, but I haven't heard about its supplies. I believe all use US dollars, and English is dominant.

Altering the course to the southward to include the Carolines, etc., will increase the number of excellent ports available to you. It will also avoid the long exposure to Typhoons between the Marianas and the Philipines. I would conservatively estimate it would add 3 weeks to your passage time, not including time in port, and possibly longer depending on your luck in the doldrums (or your fuel tankage, which again increases costs.) Palau requires a cruising permit in advance of arrival, clearance permits for all crew and skipper, and contact with authorities before arrival with ETA. Keep in mind that coral islands are more dangerous than not. More boats are wrecked on them than getting to them.

Keeping it simple is more likely to be successful than complication. I don't know what your plans are, but I think you might want to list the primary measures of a successful trip and avoid everything that isn't on that list. (My list would be: Arrive Cambodia, ship and crew in good order
, on time.)
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Old 12-01-2007, 20:52   #11
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Amgine, Wake presents too many problems and no real return as a stopover. I had considered the benefits of the US territory Guam as a re-supply point on the way as everything will be available.

As for Shipping or sailing. I really would not trade the boat I have for another and frankly wouldn't miss the trip for the sake of shipping it. My next boat, if there is such a thing, may well come from that region. But this boat was purchased and prepared for this eventuality in any case.

I have based my timing on an average speed of 4 knts overall. I have used the World Ports Distance Web site for the following:

Seattle - Honolulu =
Distance = 2405 Nautical Miles
Time usage = 25 days 1 hours
Departure from SEATTLE
Port Code: USSEA
Country: USA - WASHINGTON
Longitude: 122°20'W
Latitude: 47°36'N
Date: 13-01-2007
Time: 00:00

Then: Honolulu - Guam
Distance = 3333 Nautical Miles
Time usage = 34 days 17 hour
( ignore the dates and times)

Guam - Manilla =
Distance = 1499 Nautical Miles
Time usage = 15 days 15 hours

Manila - Sihanoukville = (Saigon) I used Saigon as an estimate since the webswite does not list Sihanoukville)
Distance = 907 Nautical Miles
Time usage = 9 days 11 hours

This is a total of 3 months just sailing. I added 1 month shore time for the duration of the trip for a total of 4 months. Of course I know all the things that can change this in either direction. especially course made good and weather and time in port for repairs etc. But you have to start somewhere. I thought 4 knts a reasonable average to use. What do you think?

I havnt figured the mileage thru the ports of Majuro and Truk yet so you may very well be right about the 3 weeks.

I have plenty of fuel and storage for food and water for the longest leg plus about 20%.

I like the idea of being out of the Typhoon belt by going thru the Marshalls and the Carolines...As alway there are many things to weigh and each decision will have to be revisited at each stop to see if the criteria are still valid. (as well as enroute)

I am not so sure about the weather. I will explore those typhoon shelters more in the Phillipines.

Thanks again for a great response.

Alan
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Old 13-01-2007, 01:17   #12
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Philippine Conditions

I offer the following from one who has traveled the Philippines extensivly over a few years, though not in charge of my own boat.
Winds through the Philippines are mostly light. I would have thought that your problem would be too little rather than too much wind.
It may be advisable to carry as much fuel as possible so that large distances can be covered under power.
Typhoons in the Philippines seem to move mostly to the North West with the vast majority passing to the north of Bohol.
You should be able to get some sense of this by viewing a few years on http://sharaku.eorc.jaxa.jp/cgi-bin/...lang=e&area=WP
Most of my travels have been in the Visayas and I would suggest that if there is no reason to go north then this may be the preferred region.
The safest port that I have seen in the Philippines for a yacht would have to be Port Bonbonon on the southern tip of Negros. I have visited the area and the port does appear to be protected from all but the strongest winds.
The area is very quiet (for the Philippines).
Dumaguette (and daily flights to Manilla) is about an hour and a half away.
Buses to Cebu City run past the turnoff to Port Bonbonon.
Nigel (Tongo Sail Inn Philippine Beach Resort) is the resident Aussie Boatbuilder and a friendly sort of fellow.
Those yachties that I saw on my visit there seemed to be happy enough.
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Old 13-01-2007, 11:38   #13
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Just briefly (running to store in a minute)

Every minute you're at sea you're increasing your chance of running into foul weather. But you're also adding thousands of load cycles to your fittings and equipment every day you're at sea. You might not think of it in quite this way, but every hour is literally equal to dollars and effort necessary to maintain, repair, replace your boat. So you must balance the extra time at sea, the longer route, against this cost as well as against your risk of dangerous weather.

I think your conservative estimate of 4 kts average, day in and day out, is a bit low for your vessel's waterline length. If your boat speed drops to 2-3 kts I would consider using the motor, again because the cost of wallowing with little or no wind is higher or nearly the same as motoring (assuming you have plenty of fuel, of course.) Good use of currents can add considerably to your daily average as well.

But one month in port is possibly optimistic, considering the length of some of the passages. The time necessary to reprovision and repair/maintain may surprise you. You won't have your car or other tools you normally use, and you'll likely need to find out where to get things and services. Again, contact the locals ahead of time to save yourself frustrations.
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Old 13-01-2007, 16:20   #14
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Amgine, this is true I think that 1 month might be a little low. As for transportation, I can rent cars in Hawaii and Guam with no problem and have my own transport and there will be 4 of us to do the work too.

Should I take the longer route the port of Manilla will be the first after Hawaii that will have major refit options at a reasonable price. The marshalls and Carolines will have slim pickin's I am willing to bet.

I also agree that 4 knts is low for my boat, but if I better it it will allow for more port time too. I feel confident I will average better overall.

Chris31415: Thanks for the port info. My original route I considered took me through the Surigao Strait and through the Mindanao Sea and out thru the Balabac Strait. Leaving the PP's thru the Balabac Strait puts me in a better position to cross the shortest distance of the SCS into the Gulf of Thailand. I think there are still advantages to this route. Amgine has offered some very good ideas and things to think about. I may in the end incorporate a little of both. I had heard the winds in the PP's are light and my boat carries 110 gals of diesel fuel and uses about 1/2 gal/hr so I should be ok to motor some of the way. Thanks for the links too.

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Old 14-01-2007, 01:07   #15
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Thriller in Manila...

If you have been to Manila and enjoyed the experience then it is the place for you.
Can't stand the place myself. Expensive, crowded and very rushed (and did I mention expensive).
The only place that I know of that you could stay (with any security) would be the Manila yacht club (http://www.manilayachtclub.org/). When I dropped by the welcome mat was not out. A good local contact would be esential.
Cebu is not too bad once you get your eye in.(http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/). The place is way too friendly for sailors.
Dumaguete has some strange habits but also has more woodworking, metalworking and repair workshops than you have ever seen in your life. Just make sure any wood has seasoned.
If you are staying for a month then you could fly to Manila evey week and still have change.
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