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Home » Weather and Routing » Phuket over Sumatra down to South Africa route.

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10/03/2011 04:19:35

Brian Waterman<br>Canada
Brian Waterman

Posts: 1
Since the Red Sea route is out for now. I am wondering what is the best route, and time, to go from Phuket Thailand, over the North end of Sumatra and then down to join up with the normal route Jimmy Cornell's book describes to Mauritius and South Africa? Is this passage around Sumatra reasonable for sailing? Thanks Brian
28/04/2011 22:27:18

Sue Richards<br>United Kingdom
Sue Richards
United Kingdom

Posts: 46
Three of us did this route March April 2008.
This is our experience along with 2 other yachts. 1 US, 1 Australian, 1 South African boat. All of us with our wives onboard. All of us had the same experiences though not always anchoring in the same places.
April, May is a good time to depart Thailand. Watch out for the shipping lanes. The AIS unit is a great plus here.
Be prepared to motor much of the way down Sumatra.
I recommend you stop in Sabang to clear in to Indonesia with or without a CAIT permit (we had a CAIT permit and are armed, 2 other yachts did not have CAITS) we were all treated the same. You will need to write a letter to the harbor master stating why you stopped. You will get about 48 hrs and must clear out and depart. Weapons need to be bonded in a secure locker onboard. All Officials were professional and helpful. You will be boarded and searched by about 8 men from various departments for clearance. All want hard liquor and a hint for a bribe plus clearing fees. Our cost was about 8 beers and fees of about $45 US plus $25 US to clear out. Ask for a man named Kamar on arrival as he was very helpful speaks good English and saved us some money.
After 2 days we cleared out for Padang. Best to depart running outside all the islands along the coast of Sumatra. You will be watched by the military patrol. Watch out for the tsunami sensor buoys!! they are about the size of a car, most are unmarked and not lit. We came close to 4 of them at various distance off the coast. They are not charted and plentiful. Radar at night is a must.
If you stop at any town you will have to go through clearance again. You may find hostility against no Muslims by locals. For safety it is best not to bring women ashore into any village. The surf resorts are a good place to stop if needed and safe for women in company of a man. It is not advisable to anchor more than 1 or 2 days at any location as you will be harassed for money or boarded by locals. Do not leave women by themselves. Lock up at night.
Our first stop was a surf resort at Hula Asu (00 deg 54'31.1 N, 97 deg 16'.848E). Safe resort and good anchorage. No diesel but good food and beer.
From there we took the inside route direct to Padang, anchored in port of Teluk Bayur. We were boarded by army and customs. You will need to go into the port and clear in with the harbor master and Customs. Then to Padang for Immigration. All official were professional and courteous. There is an ATM close by in the port and most locals are very helpful. Best to hire a taxi bike or cab for the day. Fuel barge is available to your yacht.
We cleared out for Mauritius then motor sailed to Pulau Utara and Macaronis Resort Surf resort ( It was destroyed with the last tsunami 2010. Beautiful resort and a safe anchorage. We anchored at approx. 02 deg 46'.73 S, 99 deg 59'.38 E, in the small bay at Macaronis Resort. Enter in daytime only as there is lots of surf. Locals will ask for anchor fees. You can stay there for a few days before officials will board you for new clearance papers.
While the three of us were anchored near the town at Pulau Pagai Utara not far from Maccas resort, midday we had 8 young Muslim men in 2 small boats boarding 2 of our yachts trying to get to the young wives who were alone onboard while all us men were on my boat. All of us were anchored next to each other.
After 4 days in the Mentawais islands we departed. Locals were getting too aggressive. Best to not stay in the area too long. Mid May we all departed at approx 240 deg true. Light winds at 180 deg. May need to motor sail some until you reach the SE trades at about 04 deg 50' S. From there you will see a large cross sea all the way with a fast passage on a reach to Mauritius and Reunion.
Yacht Westwind
edited by Sue Richards
United Kingdom on 28/04/2011
21/08/2011 19:14:59

fredrick roswold<br>United States
fredrick roswold
United States

Posts: 1
We sailed this route in 2010-2011, leaving Langkawi,Malaysia on September 4, 2010 andarriving in Mauritius on October 19. We stayed in Mauritius until April 2011and arrived in Richards Bay, SA, on April 16, 2010.

Brief notes here, for details, see links at bottom.

Langkawi to Sumatra: Ship traffic is heavy and AIS is benificial.Squalls from NW can be violent and long lasting (over 12 hours).

Sumatra: Sabang, Palau Weh, north end of Sumatra, isnot a “visa on arrival” port. If you aregoing to check into Indonesia there you need a visa ahead of time as well as acait. Most sailing yachts skip Sabang and sail to Sibolga to check in. We foundofficials professional and helpful but our lack of visa made it awkward. In the end they did not check us in butallowed us to stay briefly before proceeding.

Checked in at Sibolga, Lat 01.44N. Nice place, helpful and friendlypeople, no fees. Bought fuel prior to checking in at Seudu, Lat 05.22N.

Cruised West Coast of Sumatra for one month. Untouched wilderness. Number of perfect anchorages unlimited. Nohassels, no yachts, few people. Little sailing however due to lack of wind. Squalls, often at night, from NW, verydangerous (+50k). Looked for protection from NW at every stop.

Checked out at Pedang, Lat 01 S. Minimal facilities for yachts,landing was an adventure. Town is interesting, market is amazing. Provisionsavailable but need to look for them. Local knowledge (agent) is valuable butexpensive. Officials and agents got their “fees” which seemed high to us.

Departed from Tau Pajat in Mentawis, Lat 02S Lon 99.35E,another delightful town.

Throughout our stay in Sumatra we encountered nothing butnice places and beautiful and friendly people. Never any threat, rudeness, ordishonesty. Prices were low and goods plentiful. We tried to respect localIslamic customs but really had zero problems. There are few yachts here, only afew surfers on sailboats who come from Thailand or Malaysia every year. We never saw one but talked to them before leaving and weappreciated their suggestions.

Indian Ocean Crossing. Sailed SSW for six days when faced with headwinds,squalls, and rain. Kept looking for clearing skies and SE winds but every daymore tough, wet sailing with windon the starboard side ahead of the beam. Finally found SE Trades at Lat 13S Lon 88E andturned west. Sailed to Mauritius,skipping Rodriguez (a mistake, I think), due to schedule limitations in 18days, total passage. The trip was rough and fast. Plenty of wind but big wavesfrom the south made sailing uncomfortable. This trip is not for the unprepared,it is boisterous and there are few breaks or stops.

Mauritius. Easyentry and a painless check-in, there is a basic marina in Port Louis, no othermarina. Provisioning in Mauritius is excellent, the market in Port Louis isexcellent. Yacht services are minimal. Payattention to the visa and yacht clearance limitations if you plan to stay.

Mauritius to South Africa. Had a pleasant sail toReunion and had a nice hire-car tour of that island. Again, check-in waspainless, and provisioning excellent.

The passage to Richard’s Bay was rough and challenging. Wewere wet and tired when we arrived in Richards Bay after 10 days from Reunion. The warnings of big waves in the Alguhasduring southerlies is not to be ignored. We were fortunate for our arrival and missed that problem but boats arelost here every year. Pay attention to the weather. We arrived at end of the summer season andstayed over in Richards Bay until the following spring.

Fred Roswold, SV Wings, Richards Bay, SA

For narrative of this passage see our blog and lookin the archives for Sept-Oct 2010 and April 2011. For detail logbook entriesshowing dates, times, locations & conditions, see

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