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Old 11-12-2019, 13:09   #1
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Singapore to Phuket

Any tips?


Will be sailing with a friend for a few weeks after Christmas. I presume the Straits of Malacca are reasonably safe by now?


Any not to be missed stopovers on that route?


Anything to be careful of?
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Old 11-12-2019, 16:56   #2
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Re: Singapore to Phuket

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Any tips?


Will be sailing with a friend for a few weeks after Christmas. I presume the Straits of Malacca are reasonably safe by now?


Any not to be missed stopovers on that route?


Anything to be careful of?
You wont be sailing, you'll be motoring.

It's been 4 years since I've been there but its perfectly safe.

I always used to sit out on the edge of the shipping channel to avoid the many fishing nets further in.
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Old 11-12-2019, 18:05   #3
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Re: Singapore to Phuket

According to the intl agency that handles it, the waters off Singapore are second only to West Africa in reported piracy: https://www.icc-ccs.org/piracy-repor...ive-piracy-map
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Old 11-12-2019, 18:34   #4
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Re: Singapore to Phuket

Yachts are transiting on the Malaysia side all the time, theres few if ANY yacht pirate incidents, or at that was true for the years I was in Asia. Yachties dont hesitate to travel between Singapore and Phuket. Remember theres 2 large rallies that head up that straight (and down ,east Malaysia rally) every year.

I think you'll find it's more related to thefts of ship cargo etc, in absolutely no way is it comparable to the likes of Somali etc. Its a safe cruising area for yachts.

Personally the only reason to do it imho is to get to Langkawi, langkawi to Phuket is nice.
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Old 11-12-2019, 18:55   #5
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Re: Singapore to Phuket

lamut and penang are worth a stop as is langkawi for shopping and to check out from.
you can check in at koh phi phi as well as day sail and stop at many of the safe anchorages on the way to phuket.
sailing at night can be a bit of a nightmare due to the large fleets of ikan billis anchovie fishing boats and their nets.
winds can be quite strong as well from the NE in December once the monsoon starts,so rest stops from beating to windward also make the trip more pleasant.
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Old 11-12-2019, 19:09   #6
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Re: Singapore to Phuket

I thought you could only check in at Phuket or Krabi? It may of changed.
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lamut and penang are worth a stop as is langkawi for shopping and to check out from.
you can check in at koh phi phi as well as day sail and stop at many of the safe anchorages on the way to phuket.
sailing at night can be a bit of a nightmare due to the large fleets of ikan billis anchovie fishing boats and their nets.
winds can be quite strong as well from the NE in December once the monsoon starts,so rest stops from beating to windward also make the trip more pleasant.
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Old 11-12-2019, 19:10   #7
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Re: Singapore to Phuket

I thought you could only check in at Phuket or Krabi? It may of changed.

Penang is cool.

Quote:
Originally Posted by atoll View Post
lamut and penang are worth a stop as is langkawi for shopping and to check out from.
you can check in at koh phi phi as well as day sail and stop at many of the safe anchorages on the way to phuket.
sailing at night can be a bit of a nightmare due to the large fleets of ikan billis anchovie fishing boats and their nets.
winds can be quite strong as well from the NE in December once the monsoon starts,so rest stops from beating to windward also make the trip more pleasant.
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Old 11-12-2019, 19:12   #8
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Re: Singapore to Phuket

1. Strait of Malacca = Selatan Melaka

There's only one strait. The plural form is a hangover from the days when "Straits of Malacca and Singapore" was used as if the two straits were an identity that had to be sailed in series. That was of course because of the China trade, the procession of ships using the monsoon series (e.g. the NE monsoon to sail from Quanzhou with a load of tea and porcelain to India and on to Europe, with lay-over ports such as Sinkers, Penang, or Junk Ceylon aka Phuket to sit out a squally intermonsoon or a contrary monsoon).

2. Every passage of the strait is different.

Sometimes calm. Sometimes not. So dinnae believe anyone who says you'll always motor.

This current season (where season = monsoon) is a surprisingly strong NE monsoon.

A year in the Strait of Malacca is made of four monsoons, each named after the prevailing wind direction: NE monsoon; inter-monsoon; SW monsoon; inter-monsoon.

So late December-early January is in the NE monsoon. If the NE monsoon remains strong, you could expect fair NE gradient winds from Singapore up to about Malacca city (about 2 deg 25 min N); then a relatively calm stretch up to about 4 deg N; then variable winds up to about Penang Island (Pulau Pinang, around 5 deg N; and then fair NE gradient winds the rest of the way to Phuket.

The NE monsoon has been so strong in recent days that some races in the King's Cup Regatta in Phuket were cancelled and postponed. See: https://kingscup.com/


All of that can be modified by daily sea breeze generation and thunderstorm genesis (both of which depend on insolation, CAPE, and so on - ultimately quite chaotic).

Cyclogenesis in the NW Pacific, S China Sea, or even in Arafura Sea and off the NW coast of Aus can change the strength and direction of the wind.

3. Safety
The general rule is that the Malaysian coast is safer than the Indonesian coast. Opportunistic theft is always likely in ports and anchorages (but there is no rule that you must leave your Rolex watch on deck unattended). The Malaysian Royal Navy and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency are under-funded (only Singapore funds its met service and maritime enforcement thugs generously). The Thai navy boasts the best pocket aircraft carrier on the planet (you get big credit if you score a cap from the HTMS Chakri Naruebet (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTMS_Chakri_Naruebet). Organised piracy is largely a deal that is run out of shipping offices by employees. But your mileage can always vary.

4. Sailing zone
As Dale noted, you can think of the Strait (or at least the Malaysian side) divided into two or more zones: the shipping channels (marked well with Nippon-funded buoys and beacons - if you drop into Penang you can moor at the Jabatan Laut marina which was established in part to support the buoy tender vessels - and monitored particularly in the narrow S part by radar and VTS); and the inshore zone. In between is where cruising can be fun.

Across both those zones is considerable fishing effort. The fishing effort has diminished the fish biomass massively, perhaps by as much as 70% of pre-WW2 levels. The fishing effort comes in several forms: from trawlers and purse seine operators (on Pangkor Island you can see some of the fleet at anchor and even visit yards in which the boats are built); through stationary fishing platforms and FADs; to small scale fishers with gill nets.

In the past year or three, the use of massive lighting by fishing boats in the Strait has multiplied. Previously the use of massive green lights was common in the S China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. Now it's not uncommon in parts of the Strait.

In the inshore zone, the gill nets are not uncommon. Marked by a string of floats, with the net suspended 1 metre or more below. Sometimes with a buoy carrying a flag at one end. And sometimes with the fishing boat at the other end.

Very occasionally you can meet fields of debris - including after squalls and heavy rain on land. Worst I met was nigh on two decades back, when a small ship carrying logs from Indonesia had capsized, spilling its load.

5. Places to see etc
Depends on your schedule, how many port calls you're making, and your interests.

The Strait has been one of the major thorough-fares of civilisation, including maritime civilisation, for millenia. If that tweaks your interest, you start in Sinkers by doing rounds of the museums, including the Asian Civilisation M. Sinkers has only this year come to accept that its history did not start with Raffles and that Indian nations, such as the Chola, had been around donkeys' years before. In Kedah in MY, you can visit the Bujang Valley with clear evidence of iron works, not to mention more candi/chandi then you can poke a stick at on a sunny day. In Penang in MY, you can see what little remains of U-boot pens (now a shipyard on Pulau Jerjak, but there were also temporary pens on the N coast of Penang) of the Monsoon fleet (and sail over the spot where a U-boot was sunk as it approached Nippon-occupied Penang with a load of mercury). And in Penang, you can visit the Western Roads Cemetery carrying a bottle of local vodka, go to the memorial to the Жемчуг Zhemchug, read aloud from the memorial the list of sailors lost when the Emden sunk her, and then toast them and pour the rest of the bottle on the ground for the thirsty (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_cruiser_Zhemchug).

So Sinkers is a great place to start exploring everything from the contemporary political economy of the world (see: https://www.straitstimes.com/busines...-07-mas-survey) back to the Neolithic.

In Sinkers, you can do the rounds of the food courts to get a taste of what you might meet. Note the food stalls that advertise "famous Ipoh x" or "famous Penang x". And then you're equipped to wander the streets of any town in MY or TH, looking for good tucker (hint ... look for any food stall with a queue of customers). I'll bore you momentarily with the story of taking a Nipponese cruiser couple, who'd just ported in Penang, to the famous assam laksa food shop in Balik Pulau. I sat them down and ordered one bowl of assam laksa, one bowl of lemak laksa, and one bowl of half 'n half, plus nutmeg drinks, to share among the two of them. After we ate I paid and turned to leave, they looked at me and said 'baka', sat down again, and ordered a few more rounds of the same.

Most anywhere in TH you'll find better and less expensive food than what you get by provisioning, cooking, etc yourself.
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Old 11-12-2019, 19:31   #9
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Re: Singapore to Phuket

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Originally Posted by daletournier View Post
I thought you could only check in at Phuket or Krabi? It may of changed.
TH and individual TH immigration officers operate dynamic rule setting - meaning that nothing remained the same from day to day or year to year.

TH used to run the rule that you had to check in and check out from the same port. Meaning that if you ran up the Strait of Malacca from SG, you faced a quandry about at which port you checked in, because you had to return to it before continuing your voyage (which might have then been somewhere far to the W or S).

I've not ported in TH for a couple of years, so I'd suggest checking noonsite and other resources for current practice.
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Old 11-12-2019, 19:33   #10
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Re: Singapore to Phuket

Pangkor Laut will be a duty free island like Langkawi early next year

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malay...1-2020/1743715
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Old 11-12-2019, 19:38   #11
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Re: Singapore to Phuket

Wow, fantastic information! Thanks for all the great answers.


I've looked at 10 days of GFS gribs. They don't cover the period we'll be sailing, but as an example of the possible weather it looks like the Strait of Malacca is a wind dead zone all these 10 days without apparently a single day of sailing wind. Unless there are sea or land breezes not reflected in the model.



This doesn't look so good, plus I don't like the sound of all that fishing gear plus night sailing


Are there any better cruises which could be done in 2.5 to 3 weeks starting from Sing?


Alternatively, the same friend has a 100' motor vessel with pro crew we could use just to blast from port to port, skipping the night sailing. Might also be fun in its own way, for a change. If there's really no wind, we might as well be on an actual motor vessel instead of motoring a s/v.

He wants to leave on Christmas Eve and be in Phuket by New Year's -- that could be a lot of motoring on the sailing vessel, and nerve wracking at night with all the fishing gear.

On the other hand, if the NE monsoon sets in, as Alan described, could be some decent sailing.

What is that coast like? Are there interesting harbors or places to anchor, or does it get interesting only from Langkawi? Alan has given a mass of information which I am now working through. I don't know Malaysia at all; my only experience was a day trip out of Singapore, motorcycling in the jungle, a few years ago.
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Old 11-12-2019, 19:46   #12
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Re: Singapore to Phuket

Selat = Strait
Selatan = South

Be prepared for daily scattered thunderstorms usually afternoon.
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Old 11-12-2019, 19:46   #13
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Re: Singapore to Phuket

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Originally Posted by daletournier View Post
I thought you could only check in at Phuket or Krabi? It may of changed.
you are correct,though it is possible to minibus from koh lanta to krabi and check in,satun is also a possibility,though not really realistic if they are in a hurry.
weather of course might demand unscheduled stops
https://www.noonsite.com/place/thail...arance-section
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Old 11-12-2019, 19:59   #14
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Re: Singapore to Phuket

Hi Dh, if you stick on the edge of the shipping lane nets aren't a real problem. Also most nets are deeper than your keel, I ran over a couple accidentally with a 2m draft.
I know Alan says you can sail and of course theres times you can but in my experience mostly you motor. I've forgotten the name of the race they have heading north up the straight but it's very common for them to chase squalls to get wind and drop the anchor and wait for the tide to turn when there's no wind, yer sure if your very patient you could sail the straights, they of course used to , but winds are unreliable.

Malacca is also cool but not a great Anchorage.
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Old 11-12-2019, 20:06   #15
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Re: Singapore to Phuket

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Originally Posted by Alan Mighty View Post
TH and individual TH immigration officers operate dynamic rule setting - meaning that nothing remained the same from day to day or year to year.

TH used to run the rule that you had to check in and check out from the same port. Meaning that if you ran up the Strait of Malacca from SG, you faced a quandry about at which port you checked in, because you had to return to it before continuing your voyage (which might have then been somewhere far to the W or S).

I've not ported in TH for a couple of years, so I'd suggest checking noonsite and other resources for current practice.
With all due respect Alan I never experienced this. Checkout at Langkawi and checkin at Phuket, very straight forward. I experienced no dynamic rule setting in fact I found both Langkawi and Phuket professional and efficient. The only issue I ever had was the harbour master at Telaga harbour was a little unreliable regarding him being in his office, Kuah was always professional.

Dh squalls tend to dominate the local weather. Report back and let us no if you sailed or motored, you may get lucky.
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