How To Sail From California To Thailand

How To Sail From California To Thailand | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

September 28, 2022

Crossing the Pacific Ocean is a unique sailing experience. Learning how to sail from California to Thailand means you need to take extra precautions.

Since an entire ocean separates those locations, a lot of planning has to be made. So how do you sail from California to Thailand?

If you decide to sail east, the trip is an estimated 17,850 miles. By sailing across the Pacific, you can cut that tremendously to around 7,000 nautical miles. This means making stops in Hawaii, Australia, and potentially Indonesia instead of sailing around the world to reach Thailand.

As with any long-distance trip, you need to plan accordingly and expect changes to be made. The weather will likely be the biggest concern of your entire trip, as typhoons are no joke.

According to sailing experts, the Pacific has excellent conditions to sail in. You likely want a decent amount of experience to handle a trip like this and you do not want to rush the journey.


Table of contents

How to Travel from California to Thailand

Your start and end ports from California to Thailand will likely be different depending on your situation. So it is important to make adjustments based on your sailing goals.

The trip is outlined from San Francisco, California to the Port of Bangkok in Thailand. This is estimated to be 7,000 nautical miles if you were to leave California and cross the Pacific Ocean.

If you had perfect weather, traveled on average around 10 knots, and did not stop, you can make the trip in 29 days. While this is a fun estimate, it is important to give yourself a timeframe between 35 and 60 days to safely cross the pacific and into certain areas.

San Francisco to Ports in Hawaii

As you embark on your journey from California to Thailand, there are only a few major stops along the way that you can make. Your first stop would likely be Hawaii.

Hawaii is home to the Volcanoes National Park, Hanauma Bay, and Na Pali Coast State Park. These are just a few beautiful changes in scenery that you can expect in Hawaii, as the environment is a paradise.

Now would also be a good opportunity to stock up on essentials and refuel. There are 35 marinas that offer services throughout Hawaii, so finding one should be easy.

Hawaii to Ports in New Zealand

Assuming you did not stop on any islands outside of New Zealand, this would be your next stop. Hawaii’s islands stretch about 1,500 miles on the pacific, so you could slowly navigate throughout the state’s coast.

New Zealand also has beautiful scenery just about everywhere you turn. You should check out Aoraki/Mount Cook mountain peak, Milford Sound/Piopiotahi fjord, and the Abel Tasman National Park.

Since the distance between Hawaii and New Zealand is roughly 3,700 nautical miles, this will be the bulk of the trip for going to Thailand. This is estimated to be over two weeks, so plan accordingly as you leave Hawaii.

New Zealand to Ports in Australia

Leaving New Zealand, you can travel along the coast of Australia to continue your journey. The distance between New Zealand and Australia is roughly 1,100 nautical miles, so this should be a nice stop between the two.

Other than the good food, you should look into visiting the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Opera House, and the Great Ocean Road. On your travels ashore, you will likely see many different types of wildlife not commonly found in the US, such as koalas and dingos.

If you have not done so upon arriving, you should look into refueling and stocking on essentials. While the bulk of the trip is mainly over, you still have just under half of the overall nautical miles remaining.

Australia to Ports in Indonesia

Since you have a few thousand nautical miles remaining in this trip, you should consider stopping in Indonesia. With a rich history and culture, there is plenty to see and do here.

For example, check out the Borobudur Temple, Gili Islands, and the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. You could even surf in Kuta or look at the volcano in Pulau Weh.

Indonesia to Ports in Malaysia

To break up the remainder of the trip, you could make stops along the coast of Malaysia. This will cut down the miles left and you can make adjustments for food and fuel along the way.

While you are there, you should look at the Batu Caves, Mount Kinabalu, and the Perhentian Islands. As you continue your travels along the coast, you can expect excellent weather and scenery to compliment the food.

Malaysia to Ports in Thailand

Leaving Malaysia, you will soon enter the Gulf of Thailand. Depending on which part of Thailand you wish to park your boat, you have a handful of options.

Thailand has many great attractions and places to eat. Some places of interest would be The Grand Palace, Wat Phra Chetuphon Buddhist temple, and Railay Beach.

Tips for Sailing from California to Thailand

Any long distance sailing requires thoughtful planning and preparation. You need to give yourself the proper amount of time in order to safely check everything off that you need to do.

Rushing any of the processes could result in issues with your boat and yourself. This could happen if you fail to check the sails, do an oil change on the engine, or pack the right gear.

Best Opportunity to Sail

From November to March, you will have desirable conditions to sail around Thailand. This will be during the cooler monsoon season and you can avoid issues with harsh weather. Since you have about four months of travel to play with from California to Thailand, you should be able to avoid any bad situations.

Condition and Style of Boat

At a minimum, you need a boat that is at least 25 feet. This should accommodate you and potentially a passenger, while also the right amount of storage for your gear.

Vessels such as a trawler, catamaran, or live aboard monohulls are good candidates. As for the preventative maintenance, make sure the sails are good, no cracks anywhere along the hull, and the engine has a recent oil change.

Acquiring Passport

From the US to Southeast Asia, you will encounter differences in customs or border entry. This means you need a passport to enter these locations. If you do not have one, you need to account for at least a minimum of six months to obtain it.

Various Gear

The climate will change from sunny California all the way to Thailand. While optimal sailing conditions will be present throughout the trip, you should plan for rain, moderate winds, and the sun's rays. If traveling later in the year, you might want to bring baselayers and potentially other cold weather gear.

Since you will be traveling long distances without making it to a port, a strong anchoring system will be needed. In addition, GPS, a heavy-duty VHF radio, and additional charts are also necessary.

Enough Food, Extra Fuel, and Water

If you are able to store food on your boat for a month at a time, this would be ideal to help in between stops. If you have the opportunity, you should attempt to restock at local grocery stores on your stops and coordinate until your next stop.

Every 450 miles or so, you should consider refueling somewhere leading up to that amount. If you have the storage capacity on board, you could look at having extra tanks for longer stops in between.

If you do not have one already, you will likely need a desalination device to transfer saltwater into potable water. Having cases of water bottles is an option, but this will take up space and add weight to your vessel.

How To Sail From California To Thailand
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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