Exploring Equator-Asia


The Mindanao/Sabah-Indonesia cruise is designed to assist cruising yachts explore Mindanao - one of the least frequented areas of the Philippines, and Sabah - one of the most popular visitor regions on Borneo - then meet in Manado (Sulawesi) to cruise to Sorong (Irian Jaya) before dividing to travel either east - along the northern coast of Irian Jaya to Jayapura, or south through the Spice Islands to Saumlaki.

 This cruise gives yachts departing SE Asia to Australia, New Zealand or the South Pacific a journey of discovery through a number of diverse BIMP-EAGA regions, with the choice of departing Indonesia to the Solomons or to northern Australia.  

This cruise includes three BIMP-EAGA nations - the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.


The Mindanao branch starts in Dakak, at a new resort/marina development.  The approximately six week cruise around the coast of Mindanao includes  stops in Zamboanga and General Santos, plus numerous anchorages along the way where yachts will enjoy the hospitality of local communities and resorts. The selection of venues, visits and functions is co-ordinated by the Mindanao Tourism Council in conjunction with government agencies and local tour operators, venues and attractions. This cruise finishes at a new marina on Samal Island, adjacent to Davao city, where yachts can prepare for their departure from the Philippines.

The route from Davao to Manado involves hopping south along the chain of volcanic islands, with numerous opportunities for diving, snorkelling and shore excursions. 

The Sabah branch begins from Sandakan, where there are opportunities to explore inland to see the diverse wildlife of Borneo, including Orangutans and Proboscis Monkeys, sleep in a hammock at a jungle camp and enjoy a home-stay lifestyle experience. Coastal hopping around to Semporna brings yachts to some of the best dive sites in the world, including the wall at Sipidan Island.  

From Semporna the route goes to Tarakan (Indonesia) and the Sangalaki Island area for a few days, before heading east across the Celebes Sea to hop along the north coat of Sulawesi to Manado.

Manado provides opportunities for more island, diving and shore excursions/ It's also a major centre where yachts can restock and prepare for the next section to Ternate, the Halmaheras and Sorong. 

The eastern route from Sorong involves coastal cruising along the northern shore of Irain Jaya, to exit Indonesia from Jayapura. Most yachts then take a passage clear of the PNG shore through the Bismark Sea to New Ireland and south east to the Solomons.  A long port tack through the Coral Sea -in the dominant SE wind - should bring up the Australian coast near Gladstone.

The southern route from Sorong takes yachts through the Spice Islands - with stops at Ambon, the Banda and Tual Islands, to exit Indonesia at Saumlaki.

This Sail BIMP-EAGA cruise provides yachts with very interesting sailing and travel experiences as part of their exit route from SE Asia to Australia, New Zealand or the South Pacific.  The Mindanao/Sabah-Indonesia cruise gives a means to complete a circular programme through SE Asia for yachts from Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific which entered SE Asia via the traditional Darwin-Komodo-Bali-Kumai-Singapore route, and are now returning home after some years exploring the region. It's also an option for yachts which are circumnavigating from west to east; so they can experience Borneo and the southern Philippines and enjoy the broad range of cultures, biodiversity and beautiful cruising grounds.  

It is anticipated that participants will form small sub-group of two to four yachts for much of the programme, coming together with the entire fleet at organised Stops and Anchorages, at islands bays, where particular shore excursions and official events.  The many small islands and bays that provide spectacular anchorages and access to local communities, markets and beaches, suit small groups of yachts.

Each rally fleet will be limited to approximately 15 yachts and 50 crew, in order to facilitate access to smaller venues, environmentally sensitive locations, and to avoid overwhelming shore facilities. If required, there may be multiple rally fleets, travelling approximately two weeks apart. 

At key Stops and Anchorages, shore venues, shore activities and visits will be available with local tourism oriented businesses and local government, to highlight the particular area's attractions.  The local knowledge and experience of these contacts will be available to assist participants with information such as boat repairs, fuel supplies, local markets, CIQ formalities and great places to visit on route to the next key shore venue.

Timing of the Mindanao/Sabah-Indonesia cruise is designed to integrate with:

1. Favourable sailing conditions and wind directions.

The dominant wind around northern Borneo and the Sulu Sea from March/April to September/October is the SW Monsoon. This is the popular season for cruising the southern Philippines and northern Borneo.

The coast of Mindanao experiences a normally SW to SE wind flow from April/May to September/October.  These winds are generally in the 10 to 15kt range. There are numerous sheltered anchorages and beautiful white sandy beaches along this coast. Use of the GRIB weather charts (free via SailMail) with their wind/wave/rain predictions up to ten days ahead, will help yachts identify the best sailing opportunities between anchorages. 

Along the west coast of Sulawesi, yachts making passages south in August and September report mostly SE, E and even NE winds. The Sandaq Race for traditional Bugis Pinisi Schooners - runs from north (Majene) to south (Makassar) because the wind is favourable for a north to south event when it is staged - early August. A passage down the west coast of Sulawesi usually involves enjoying sheltered anchorages (off a weather shore) and trips ashore which checking the GRIB weather charts (free, via SailMail) for favourable E and NE wind periods.

In the Celebes Sea and off the northern coast of Irain Jaya, yachts making passages report principally south and SW winds.  These winds are mostly in the 6 to 15 kt range.

In the Molukka, Ceram and Banda seas, the predominantly SE winds have periods when the direction is more southerly.  These changes in wind direction present opportunities for yachts to make hops from island to island. Like the southerly passage on the west  coast of Sulawesi, a route from Manado to Saumlaki involves enjoying sheltered anchorages and activities ashore, while regularly checking the GRIB weather charts for opportunities to make the mostly day passages between islands and anchorages. A generous time schedule is important to make this route enjoyable. 

2. Build upon existing events in SE Asia.

For yachts which left Australia using the Darwin to Ambon race, or Sail Indonesia, the  Mindanao/Sabah-Indonesia cruise provides an alternate route home - to Australia, New Zealand or the South Pacific - potentially creating a circular programme of cruising and shore activities through SE Asia's most popular cruising areas.

The Sail Malaysia - Passage to the East - brings yachts from Peninsula Malaysia to the west coast of Borneo. Yachts have the option to proceed immediately to Semporna to begin the event, or explore North Borneo and start on the Borneo-Palawan cruise to begin their independent cruise through the Philippines to Dakak, to join the start of the Mindanao/Sabah-Indonesia cruise

Options before the Mindanao/Sabah-Indonesia cruise:  

1. Yachts cruising the Philippines, can use Sail BIMP-EAGA's  Borneo-Palawan cruise from the north-west coast of Borneo - departing December or January - to explore the west coast of Palawan till March, before cruising the southern Philippines - Puerto Galera YC, Boracay, Cebu areas - to arrive at Dakak in June prior to the start of the Mindanao coastal section of the Mindanao/Sabah-Indonesia cruise.  

The Philippines has an amazing diversity of lifestyles, cultures, traditions, topography and events. The creativity, flair for dance, music and song, and the desire to have fun and party, generates a long list of festivals, street parades, musical events and more. 

Some cruising yachts have ventured into the Philippines and never left!  Others spend a SW monsoon season cruising the highlights of the southern Philippines, and some stay for a couple of seasons, mixing shore travel, sailing, boat-works and periods back home in Europe, North America or Australia/NZ.

2. Yachts cruising the west and north coasts of Borneo, can use Sail Malaysia's Passage to the East programme, and the Borneo International Yacht Challenge - to enjoy the west coast of Borneo, before sailing around to Sandakan to start the Sabah branch of the Mindanao/Sabah-Indonesia cruise.

3. Yachts looking for maintenance works. The Philippines has a variety of low-cost boat maintenance options.  Key areas for haulout and maintenance services are Subic Bay and the Cebu.

Subic Bay has facilities previously developed for the large USA military presence, and staff with trade skills also developed for that past requirement. Cruising yachts report the standard of workmanship and skills with materials such as fibreglass, epoxy, aluminium etc are good. Some major repair and rebuilt works have been done for cruising yachts. The yard areas, cranes, hard standing etc are apparently impressive.

Cebu has some long-standing yacht maintenance and construction operations which utilise the traditional craftmanship and creativity of the Philippines. Numerous cruising yachts have used these facilities for haul-outs, antifouling, repainting and other works.

A number of yacht clubs and marina/resort facilities also have haulout and maintenance capabilities. These include Manilla Yacht Club and Maya Maya Yacht Club.

Options after the Mindanao/Sabah-Indonesia cruise finish in Jayapura and Saumlaki:

From Jayapura,
most yachts take a passage clear of the PNG shore through the Bismark Sea to New Ireland and south east to the Solomons.  A long port tack through the Coral Sea -in the dominant SE wind - should bring up the Australian coast near Gladstone.

The Louisiades is another optional destination. The Louisiades Rally travels from Cairns to this island group each September and the rally normally ends in mid October. Yachts from the Mindanao/Sabah-Indonesia cruise might aim to meet up with yachts in the Louisiades for company on the passage back to northern Australia.

From Saumlaki, yachts returning to Australia have the option to enter Australia at Darwin, Gove or Thursday Island. 


1. Equator Asia is the tourism destination brand name adopted by the BIMP-EAGA Tourism Cluster (BETC) following extensive work on the part of two key BIMP-EAGA supports - the Asian Development Bank and GTZ - and subsequent market research by BETC members.

2. The SW Monsoon period is the main cruising season in the southern Philippines. It is referred to as their wet season, and is also the Tropical Storm season. A number of Tropical Storms can be expected to start in the NW Pacific, west of Guam each season. Some of these can track west to cross the Philippines, or run parallel with the eastern coastline of the Philippines. While a considerable part of the southern Philippines cruising area is south of 10d N - the theoretical southerly limit of Tropical Storm activity - there will still be significant wind changes in these areas if a TS approaches or crosses the Philippines.

The Mindanao coast route of the Mindanao/Sabah-Indonesia cruise is below 10 degrees north, so is not in the path of Tropical Storms; but the region can be affected by winds and seas created by tropical storms to the north.  The  Philippines Tuna fishing operations are all located in Mindanao because it is not in Tropical Storm zone.

3. The Northern Australia Tropical Storm season is generally regarded to start from early December. Yachts normally plan to be down the east coast of Australia by late November.

Please return here to get further details
as the cruise schedule develops.

If you would like to add your contact details to our database to be updated with rally information, please email us for inquiries ....  

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