Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sailing Pattaya--Royal Varuna Yacht Club

Tell your friends that you are off to Pattaya for the weekend and you run the risk of getting replies like "why?" or "sorry to hear that."

The view from Varuna
They don't know that nearby, beyond walking street, the beer bars and the peddlers with their cheap souvenirs, are hidden gems where visitors can find experiences that can challenge the mind and refresh the senses.

Sailing at Royal Varuna Yacht Club at the foot of Pratumnak Hill is one of those hidden gems. Sitting in the club house or on the private beach looking out over the sea toward Ko Larn, Ko Rin and Satthahip, gives the sense of being hundreds of miles from the hustle and bustle of any city or tourist town.

Beach catamarans are the most common boat found on the grassy hill at Varuna, but there are many dinghies as well including RS visions, Lasers and 29ers. There are club organized sailing events nearly every week and national and international sailing competitions. For sailors who want to kick back and relax, the islands nearby and Jomtien and Bang Saree beaches are great cruising destinations.

Ko Rin Campout
My favorite club event is the annual Ko Rin camping trip organized by the club. The club management secures permission from the Thai Navy who own the island for us to camp on the beach. A fishing boat carries supplies of food and drink while members sail out to the Island, about 20 kilometers off shore. Depending on the wind direction, the trip can be up to 40 kilometeres in total. Eating barbecue on the beach looking back at the lights on the distant shore, sleeping in the open under the stars and waking in the middle of the night to see the squid boats bobbing up and down with their huge lights like alien spacecraft is always a memorable experience.

Check out the Royal Varuna Yacht Club website for information about membership, events, accommodation and sailboat rental.

If you are a member of a sailing club, and you are visiting Thailand, you can purchase a temporary membership for as short a time period as a single day.

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