Sailing to Indonesia as first-timers and crossing the Strait of Malacca!
Yes, this is not only the first voyage we had with our beautiful sailboat ‘Sandrose‘, but it has also been the first time the both of us have ever sailed to Indonesia. We’ve been to Indo countless of times… but not on our own sailboat!
So why did we buy a boat? We had one mission in mind! And that is to sail to all the remote surf spots in Indonesia, anchor our boat in front of a wave and surf our brains out everyday! Simple!
Getting there is a different story! Of course it is much easier jumping onto a plane and booking yourselves into one of the surf resorts or charter boats. But this is what makes having your own sailboat so special. It is unique and you can take your boat where you feel like and what ever wave you feel like surfing. A surfers dream!
Sailing from Rebak Marina, Langkawi: 06°17.669’N 099°41.846’E Map It!
To Teluk Sabang, Pulau Whe: 05°52.259’N 095°18.623’E Map It!
The weather window was good so we cast-off and left Rebak Marina in Langkawi (Malaysia) at 18:00 on the 26 April. We were running late on a few small details but eventually decided to jump on board and head over to Indonesia. We had roughly 2 days of sailing ahead of us!
We have to cross the Strait of Malacca, which is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world in order to get ourselves to Indonesia. The Strait of Malacca is a narrow channel stretching between Malaysia and Indonesia and is the main shipping channel between the Indian & Pacific Ocean. It is a very busy channel with mainly super large cargo ships, tug boats, trawlers and fishing boats crossing zip zap through all directions, meaning we have to be on full alert at all times and changing course to avoid these monsters. This used to be the worlds hot spot zone for piracy. Luckily, now a days they have this pretty much under control.
We were three on board ‘Sandrose‘. One skipper and 2 crew and our shifts were divided into 3 hours each. The first shift started at 21:00 after we had fried rice for dinner. Meaning the other 2 got to take a 3 or 6 hour rest before it was their turn on watch. We had a small squall moving past us and lightning only a few meters away from the boat. Besides the squall, the traffic kept us pretty busy. We had to dodge numerous vessels from all directions at all times.
During the day we had our fishing rods out, catching some fish and enjoying the dolphins playing. We were so excited when we saw Indonesian land far in the distance. Getting closer to our destination, we motored into Teluk Sabang, anchored our boat and got all the admin sorted right away.
Immigration – check
Customs – check
Quarantine – check
Harbor master -check
We had our first crossing with our Sandrose and successfully checked into Indonesia.
Log Book Entries
Departure: 26 April 2014
Arrival: 28 April 2014
Total miles: 270nm
Time underway: 48hrs
Average speed: 5.kts
Average Wind: 8-13kts
Port of entry: Teluk Sabang,
Pulau Whe, Banda Aceh
Beautiful, nice and calm anchorage: 05’52’259N; 095’18’623E
We had a very successful passage crossing the Strait as first timers. We’ve heard some horrible stories from our fellow sailors who have been crossing the strait for several years already. I guess we could consider ourselves lucky? Our passage back to Malaysia on the other hand was a bit more challenging!
Things To Remember
Noonsite.com compiled some interesting things to keep in mind when crossing the Strait :
- “Vessels actively engaged in fishing have right of way.
- There are more fishing boats out there than you can see.
- By all means brush up on your vessel lighting before passaging, but take it with a pinch of salt, as the fishing fleet does!
- Have at least one pair of binoculars on hand in the cockpit.
- Have at least one strong spotlight in the cockpit.
- The VHF radio is virtually useless unless you speak Bahasa or Thai.
- Tune your radar properly to pick up small vessels, before your first night in the Straits.
- Don’t assume a fishing boat has someone on watch 100% of the time: their focus is their catch. Collision avoidance is largely up to you.
- Dive your prop/rudder as soon as you arrive, or at anchor, to see if you’ve picked up any flotsam: there’s a lot of it around in the Malacca Straits. “
For more information on sailing in Malaysia or Indonesia make sure to check out Noonsite.com They have relevant information regarding anchorages, entry ports, weather, immigration, forums and lots of other useful tips
On the 19th July we checked back into Malaysia and made it safely back to Rebak Marina!
We had the best time of our lives. So many good and unforgettable memories were made!
We also sailed from Phuket to Langkawi and will be posting about our sail and surf adventures in Indonesia soon.
We love making use of travel guides. Make sure to purchase any of these amazing guides from LonelyPlanet.com for more travel recommendations and information about Indonesia and Malaysia.
Have you ever sailed across the Strait of Malacca? What was your adventure like?