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Thailand has some of the best sailing in the world. Aside from perfect weather conditions, both sides of mainland Thailnad are blessed with clean seas uncongested by boat traffic. The numerous islands -- many of them uninhabited, some of them scenic beyond the average visitor's wildest imagination offer a wealth of other activities aside from the sailing. If you really want to maximize your pleasure, combine sailing, for example, with scuba diving or snorkelling.
What a rare combination: desert islands set in uncongested waters with extensive facilities readily available. Phuket is the base of operations for yachting in the Andaman; and it is no wonder the island has become a favourite layover for round-the-world yachtsmen. An island the size of Singapore, complete with a wealth of facilities and attractions, Phuket is within easy range of such ideal cruising waters as Phang Nga Bay and the Phi Phi, Racha, Surin, and Similan Islands.
From November till mid-May (and especially from late December through March), the weather is even better than it is in the Mediterranean. Off the western coast of the island the seas are flat, and the northeast monsoon season brings fair winds and dry air. (The wind normally rises to no more than about 15 knots. A maximum force of 2530 knots is unusual.) Aside from the weather, few places anywhere have scenery which can compete with the startling limestone cliffs, the brilliant beaches and lush greenery found in Phang Nga Bay, on Koh Phi Phi or the dozens of other islands in the waters around Phuket.
During the southwest monsoon season, May-October, heavy seas and squalls can make the western coastal waters unsuitable for sailing charters. At this time, anchorages are to be found in Chalong Bay, on the southeast coast of the island. Sailing is still good, as well, in Phang Nga Bay, just north of Phuket Island. This incredibly scenic area, with its 40 dramatically scenic islands set in 400 square kilometres of calm, shallow seas, is sheltered from both the northeast and the southwest monsoon seasons, and provides calm seas for cruising at any time of the year.
Bareboat charters. Whether you sail the Gulf or the Andaman, "bareboat" sailing is currently a boom industry. With bareboat yacht charters, you have the option of taking a boat with or without skipper or crew. Beginners may want to try a fully crewed cruise. More experienced sailors can opt for just a skipper, while real veterans can sim ply take the boat and go. As fast as the industry is expanding, yacht charters nevertheless tend to be fully booked a year in advance, so it's best if you plan your cruise well ahead.
King's Cup Regatta. Yacht racing is also very much in the air. The King's Cup Regatta, held in Phuket in early December, has been enormously successful, with both cruising and racing yachts coming from all over Asia to participate. This remarkable spectacle has proven a pleasure for spectators as well as for participants.
Sailing the Gulf of Thailand
The first base for sailing in Thailand, Pattaya, is still the centre for the Gulf. Together with neighbouring Jomtien Beach, Pattaya offers marinas and clubs which serve an active and ever-growing number of sailors. These moorings are secure 12 months of the year and sailing itself, locally, is a year-round sport. The area enjoys the added advantage of being so close to all the other attractions of both Pattaya and Bangkok, The area enjoys
the added advantage of being so close to all the other attractions of both Pattaya and Bangkok, which is only a couple of hours away by road. At the same time, there are uninhabited islands of splendid natural charm within a sailing daytrip - islands such as those of Ko Chang Marine National Park or Ang Thong National Park. Ko Samui is one more destination for sailing cruises in the Gulf. But the island has itself yet to develop as a sailing base, although that is almost certainly in the cards.

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