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Old 30-07-2014, 07:33   #1
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Advisability of sailing Borneo to Australia between early November and mid January

I have been invited to crew/sail on the following voyage but have very little informed info on the area. The proposal is to depart from Kota Kinabalu in Borneo, visit islands SW of Papua New Guinea, then check into Thursday Island before slowly cruising down the Great Barrier Reef to Cairns.

This will take place between early November and mid January. How safe weather-wise is it to sail in these areas at this time of year?

Any input or advice from people with 'local' knowledge would be particularly welcome.

Many thanks.
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Old 30-07-2014, 21:14   #2
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Re: Advisability of sailing Borneo to Australia between early November and mid Januar

First of all I have not done the passage but have been sailing in SEA for 8 years and living in Asia for 30.

I general you are transitioning into southern summer - this raises water temps and creates more weather.

I would say this is a late start but would not advise for or against. One of the real passage makes will show up and weigh in I am sure.

I would advise looking at the pilot charts from say August through December and compare what they say on a month to month basis. The link below has pilot charts. This is the first stage of planning and will tell you what you might expect based on history.

All weather is local and you should figure out how to get local forecasts that you can rely on.


Sailing Weather - Marine Weather Forecasts for Sailors and Adventurers - PassageWeather
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Old 30-07-2014, 22:23   #3
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Re: Advisability of sailing Borneo to Australia between early November and mid Januar

First part:
Sulu, Celebes,, Molucca, Banda Seas:
Should be good sailing from NW to SE, apart from the periodic calms and squalls that you will encounter.

Second part:
Arafura Sea, Torres Straits to Cairns.
Good: You are not beating into constant Sou' Easterlies at that time of the year.
Bad: You are in the cyclone belt in the middle of cyclone season. Not a good time for it and you will need to keep a close eye on the weather.

(By Islands SW of PNG, I presume you mean the Torres Strait islands. You will need to clear into Thursday Island before you visit any of the rest of them)
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Old 30-07-2014, 23:47   #4
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Re: Advisability of sailing Borneo to Australia between early November and mid Januar

Just be prepared and have communications/plan to deal with possible cyclones during late Dec/ January.

If no cyclones the GBR is great at that time of year.
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Old 31-07-2014, 01:33   #5
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Re: Advisability of sailing Borneo to Australia between early November and mid Januar

For 1st part of your trip Iíve done somewhat similar, though over PNG and under Borneo Ė Nov/Dec are transition months. You may get lucky with the shift, or end up with a slog, but if patient youíll be fine.
Are you aware of the issues N and NE of Borneo (Sulu Sea)? Itís an area with very dicey reputation from heavily armed thugs kidnapping tourists Ėsome killed. I donít know of direct attacks against yachties, but still many insurance companies exclude coverage in the area. Malaysian official have requirements for yachties transiting the area. Presumably the owners of the boat youíll be on know all of this.
If you go donít miss Raja Ampat (islands NW of New Guinea) Ė itís magic underwater. PM if you want info on the region.
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Old 31-07-2014, 02:06   #6
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Re: Advisability of sailing Borneo to Australia between early November and mid Januar

I have done it a few times and it is in general as StuM and Totem suggest.

Great cruising waters, but if it is more of a delivery, I would go a different route at that time of the year.

Wonderful waters to cruise
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Old 31-07-2014, 05:06   #7
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Re: Advisability of sailing Borneo to Australia between early November and mid Januar

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Shan.
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Old 31-07-2014, 05:52   #8
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Re: Advisability of sailing Borneo to Australia between early November and mid Januar

Quote:
Originally Posted by downunder View Post

If no cyclones the GBR is great at that time of year.
If there is a cyclone you are dead.

There is no where to run to, no place to be safe, no place to even abandon the boat and get on shore.

Sailing TI and GBR in cyclone season is insanity imho.

I know. I did it, was hit by a hurricane and we were nearly killed.



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Old 31-07-2014, 20:05   #9
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Re: Advisability of sailing Borneo to Australia between early November and mid Januar

My brother bought his ferro boat in Thailand in October, wanted to head straight back after buying and we planned this trip taking a look at the pilot charts - we didn't like going into hurricane season. He got late (prepping the boat) and he agreed to delay the trip for 6 months and he to get to know the boat in Thai waters.

That was 3 years ago. He is still living aboard in Thailand/Malaysia and has no real plan to take the boat to Oz any longer.
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Old 01-08-2014, 00:41   #10
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Re: Advisability of sailing Borneo to Australia between early November and mid Januar

Thanks so much for all your advice and input. These responses and a few other factors have helped me come to a decision.
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Old 01-08-2014, 16:32   #11
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Re: Advisability of sailing Borneo to Australia between early November and mid Januar

Shan,

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology website has a section in it about the Madden Julian Oscillation, and its effects on early cyclones.

In our sailing, we have had one form over us on 15 May, at Raoul Is. NE of New Zealand, and as early as October in New Caledonia.

The water is pretty warm this year, so I personally would not be surprised by early ones, but I am by no means a meteorologist.

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