The island of Phuket lies in the balmy Andaman Sea just off the Thai peninsula and with an entourage of pristine tiny islands offers visitors some of the best yachting and sailing experiences in the world. This paradisiacal isle boasts beautiful bays and clear seas and not for nothing is it known as Thailand's premier tourist attraction for sailing, yachting, diving and snorkeling fun.
Yacht charter and rental is extremely big business on Phuket, and many first-rate local and international companies, like Sailing Thailand and Windward Islands, have been established to offer these services to the tens of thousands of tourists who visit the island every year.
The charters and rentals available are grouped according to factors like the size of the party, whether the party would require a crewed or un-crewed yacht, the size and type of yacht required and the length of the charter period. For un-crewed yacht charters, it is essential that at least one person in the tour group has a sailing qualification, and, in order to accommodate this, most of the charter companies also offer sailing courses.
The typical levels of yacht charter on offer at Phuket consist of the bareboat charter, the crewed charter and the luxury charter.
Bareboat charters are uncrewed, and the available boats and yachts would include monohulls, catamarans and motoryachts. A typical monohull would be the Bavaria 34, while catamarans and motoryachts like the Wharram 52 and the Grand Banks 57 respectively are also available.
The same types of yacht are available for crewed charters, the only difference being that a competent one, two or three person crew is included in the package. Luxury charters offer tourists the use of what are basically floating five-star hotels with top-notch facilities, crews of up to 36 people and amenities like speedboats and on-board jacuzzis.
Included in the price for the typical bareboat un-crewed charter would be things like a full tank of diesel fuel, fishing and snorkeling gear and a briefing about the boat and the sailing area. Bath towels, bed linen, a dinghy with an outboard motor, an extra supply of water and emergency provisions are usually also included.
It is usually also possible to upgrade an un-crewed charter to a crewed charter, as well as rent optional extras like kayaks and fishing rods. These yachts also come with built-in features like stoves, electric fridges, showers and hifi equipment.
Apart from the sailing courses that are offered by the yacht rental and charter companies, there are also courses offered by specialized sailing schools. Sail in Asia, for instance, is a typical Phuket sailing school and offers recreational sailing courses, professional sailing courses, IYT (International Yachtmaster Training) instructor courses as well as corporate teambuilding yachting events.
The recreational courses would be of most use to the casual tourist-cum-sailor, and these range from the basic "learn to sail" type courses to the fairly complex bareboat captain, radio operator and IYT yacht master courses.
Phuket is also home to two yacht clubs: the Ao Chalong Yacht Club and the Phuket Yacht Club. Both clubs are extremely tourist-friendly, and, while the ACYC invites guests to attend their daily clubhouse happy hour, the PYC offers small sailboats and dinghies for rent every Sunday. For those tourists who arrive with their own yachts, Phuket also has several marinas and safe harbors where yachts can be moored while their owners explore the island.