Since Rach gets sick on boats and Maura is a mama-to-be, when the offer came round for a 5-day sailing trip in Phuket, it was up to me to make sure The Sail Spin got the Sassy stamp of approval!
WHAT IS IT
The Sail Spin is a new company offering a different spin (pun intended!) on your typical tropical holiday. Instead of your usual hotel or beach resort, you stay on a yacht with up to eight other people, spending your days sailing around rarely visited islands and beaches, and your nights eating and socialising. All yachts include a skipper, so no sailing experience is needed!
The trip technically starts at Phuket’s chic Catch Beach Club, but since I could only catch a later flight, I was whisked straight to the marina; The Sail Spin arranges transportation to your yacht, so all you have to do is cross your fingers that your luggage didn’t get mislaid!
Our new floating home looked absolutely amazing – but The Sail Spin weren’t kidding when they said pack light! The good news is there are a lot of nooks and crannies in your cabin that you can put clothes in… Still, other than swimsuits, tanks and shorts, you really won’t need much else! The Sail Spin also has a handy Pinterest board listing everything you should and shouldn’t bring, plus they’ll also send you a logbook pre-trip so you can see the places you’ll be visiting. Remember though that since you’re at the mercy of the weather gods, there is a chance there’ll be minor deviations from the itinerary.
Since this is more of a social holiday, The Sail Spin makes a huge effort to make sure that all the yachts know each other – no cliques here! As there are around eight other yachts on each trip, you’ll never get bored ‘yacht hopping’ – there’s always something going on! Every night, you have dinner on shore with the rest of your fellow travellers; dinner is paid for, but you’ll have to buy drinks yourself so bring cash when you go on-shore at night.
Similarly, food on-board is also included in the cost and the pantry is stocked with everything you’d ever need – not just chips and soft drinks, but a surprising amount of fresh fruit and veg, cold-cuts, bread, pasta… they even had my fave brand of yoghurt! Don’t be shy and be sure to open every drawer and cupboard; I was too short to notice one of the higher cupboards and missed out on the muffins sneakily stashed inside!
There’s plenty of drinking water on board too and The Sail Spin also arrange for ice deliveries every morning (so don’t worry about sipping warm beer)! Note that alcohol isn’t included, so make sure you stock up using the alcohol order form given to you on the first night (be prepared to fend off other thirsty sailors who come to “borrow” your booze!) and bring enough cash to pay for everything.
WHAT TO DO
During the day, The Sail Spin took us around the most beautiful pristine beaches and waters I had ever seen. These are the beaches that tourists don’t normally go to; since you need to sail to get to them, they’re isolated and free of floating trash! I especially loved Phang Nga Bay, which boasted some crazy rock formations that you normally wouldn’t be able to see. Don’t forget to ask your skipper to take you to the “hongs” (lagoons surrounded by limestone cliffs) and if you’re feeling more adventurous, try snorkelling, cliff jumping or exploring the beaches on your own.
Dinner is different every night as you island-hop through Phuket. As hard as it is for me to pick just one favourite, our last dinner at Village Resort on Coconut Island was something special, a tucked-away resort that screams destination wedding, boasting a candlelit path through the beach to the private villa, complete with a sunken pool. The buffet had a pad thai station, hence making it the best buffet I’ve ever had. Yes, I became very close friends with those pad thai station cooks!
After you’re full, it’s time to party! You then usually have the option of going back to the boat or spending the night on the beach – just be sure to tell one of the staff what you decide so they don’t accidentally leave you behind the next day.
Once you’re back on-board, drag some cushions out and sleep on the deck – how often do you get to sleep under hundreds of stars and take in the ocean spray? I ditched any reservations I had about sleeping without shelter (the cabin itself gets a bit stuffy at night anyway); it was the best sleep I ever had and a total must-try for any Sail Spinner!
However, the best part of this sailing trip is that you don’t actually have to sail. Your skipper takes care of that and is more than willing to teach you a few sailing tricks if you want to learn. Who’d have thought I’d learn what a cleat is? Your skipper is also trained in first aid, which is handy if you happen to step on a pesky sea urchin (yep, that would be me)!
SASSY’S TOP SIX TIPS
1. As tempting as it is to “save food for later”, try and remember where you’re saving the food. The fridge is quite small, and food tends to go bad and make the entire cabin stink… especially if it’s left out in the Thai heat for five days!
2. Do take advantage of the alcohol ordering form – you’ll most likely be sharing your supplies with the other people on your yacht anyway, so there’s no such thing as “too much”!
3. Bring giant bottles of sunscreen. About three times more than you think you’ll need. You’ll be in the sun for the entire day and re-applying every hour… you do the math!
4. Hydrate. Need I say more?
5. Get an early flight in and a late flight out. By the end of it, you won’t want to leave so savour every last minute!
6. Don’t be shy and make friends! This is what makes The Sail Spin so special.
Despite the inevitable downsides (stepping on a sea urchin, narrowly escaping jellyfishes, awkward tan lines), The Sail Spin is something that I would definitely do again. This is a great alternative for your typical Phuket resort holiday, and fingers crossed that they’ll expand to other routes and destinations soon! So as they say on The Sail Spin, “Work like a Captain. Play like a Pirate!”
The Sail Spin is a 5-day sailing trip around Phuket, Thailand. Prices start from $1400 per person including yacht rental, skipper, meals, dinner, parties, water shuttle, fuel and more. Flights are not included.