Exploring Equator-Asia

West Borneo

The West Borneo cruise is designed to take yachts south along the west coast of Borneo, using the favourable NE/NW Monsoon at that time of year. 

Yachts can begin from Kota Kinabalu or Labuan to join the official start in Brunei - in North-West Borneo - to head south for stops in Miri, Bintulu and other centres along the west coast of Sarawak. This event involves two BIMP-EAGA nations - Brunei and Malaysia.

The West Borneo cruise starts in mid November each year, and finishes in Kuching by the 20th of December. 


Yachts can begin from their preferred preparation venue - either Sutera Harbour, Labuan marina, or from the Royal Brunei Yacht Club in Brunei. For those starting from Kota Kinabalu or Labuan, the initial stop will be Brunei for the official start of the cruise. The route will be mostly day hops, heading south along the coast to numerous venues and ports. 

A varied programme of shore activities and functions from Miri south is prepared by the Sarawak Tourism Association in conjunction with government tourism agencies, and tour operators. Participants can expect to enjoy dinners, excursions and activities that highlight established visitor experiences along with Community-Based Sustainable Ecotourism programmes being developed in line with the BIMP-EAGA Tourism Council's scheme. 

The finish is in Kuching, where the colonial buildings, adjacent wildlife sanctuaries and interior native communities provide numerous opportunities to explore and enjoy the natural and cultural heritage of BIMP-EAGA. 

For those yachts which choose to embark from Brunei, the pre-rally period  at Royal Brunei Yacht Club will give cruisers the opportunity to purchase less common imported food items from the well stocked supermarkets, and enjoy the hospitality, great food and functions at the Royal Brunei Yacht Club. 

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. 

Timing of the West Borneo cruise is designed to integrate with:

1. Arrival of the Equator Asia cruise from Darwin via Indonesia, Sabah, and Palawan in to Brunei in early November. Yachts in this Sail BIMP-EAGA cruise will spend a week or so in Brunei before starting the West Borneo cruise.  

Participation in the West Borneo cruise will give the Equator Asia yachts an introduction to the history, culture and environment of west Borneo, before crossing to Singapore and Peninsula Malaysia for the Christmas and New Year period. S

2. Favourable sailing conditions and wind directions. The NE/NW Monsoon, season along the west coast of Borneo brings a fresh breeze that typically blows at 15 to 20kts from the NW in the afternoon and evening. Although the wind is mostly NE in the Sulu Sea, and further west in the South China Sea,  along the west coast of Borneo, the wind bends to be onshore - NW - as the afternoon sea breeze, from about 1200 to 2000 each day.

Overnight, the normally light offshore breeze is supplemented by the dominant NE flow, to create some pre-dawn and early morning sailing in a steady 8 to 12kts, with minimal sea because of the nearby weather shore. 

The NE Monsoon is also the wet season for Borneo. This is characterised by heavy rainfall from evening and overnight storms which normally clear before  dawn, or occasionally early morning. Rainy days are not common. Coastal rivers have stronger outgoing water flows.

Options after the West Borneo cruise finish in Kuching:

1. Yachts planning to visit Singapore or to cruise the Malacca Straits will take advantage of the NE Monsoon to make a quick passage from Borneo to Singapore area.  A number of marinas and yacht clubs in Singapore provide an excellent base to explore this city state. Numerous yacht  maintenance yards are also available in Singapore. The duty free status of Singapore makes it an attractive place to receive spare parts sent from overseas.

Many cruisers also use lower cost marinas in adjacent Malaysia - just across the Straits of Jahor - as a base, and take public transport into Singapore.

Some owners might chose to leave yachts in marinas in Singapore - or adjacent Malaysia - to fly home for the Christmas/New Year holiday period, returning in January to explore along the Malacca Straits, or move quickly to Phuket to embark into the Andamans for the preferred - January to April - cruising season there.  

The Malaysian island of Langkawi - in the Malacca Straits, near the Thai border - is a popular vacation area. There are a number of marinas and boat repair yards.  Langkawi's duty ree status is great for resupplying wine & beer stocks, receiving shipments of boat parts or sails, buying antifouling, chandlery items and engine parts. Prices are cheaper than in Singapore, other parts of Malaysia, or Thailand. 

2. Yachts on a fast circumnavigation schedule, might complete the Equator Asia cruise, followed by the West Borneo cruise,  then use the fresh NE/NW Monsoon to sail to Singapore, and up the Malacca Straits to Phuket, to prepare for a January or February departure to the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. 


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. All of Borneo is below 10 degrees north and therefore free of Tropical Storms, although their presence may change the normal wind direction and strength for a few days.

3. Brunei is the preferred location to receive shipped boat parts, sails, chandlery, electronics etc on the west or north coasts of Borneo. Import of all boat parts - apart from batteries and spark plugs - is duty free into Brunei. Contact INTREPIDYACHTING for details.


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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