Thailand – Yacht Haven, Phuket
Of Phuket’s four marinas, Yacht Haven has the most down-home feel – and it’s the only one that handles mega yachts
Situated on Phuket’s northeastern tip, Yacht Haven Marina at first seems far removed from the action on Phuket. But then you notice the yachts. With alongside berthing space for yachts up to 80 metres and a draft in some places of seven metres, you are likely to see some of the world’s most famous white boats moored up. On a overcast day in July, there was Calisto, the sister ship to Calypso, the explorer-vessel used by famed French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. There was also Kalizma, the glamour yacht that was once owned by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Later this year, Red Dragon, the new release from Alloy Yachts, is due to arrive.
But if you think that Yacht Haven is just a marina for the big boys, you’d be wrong. Do a tour of the pontoons and you’ll see just about all manner of boat – from beat up 30-foot sailboats that have come from half way around the world, to luxurious 150-footers kitted out for day chartering. Indeed, you’re likely to find just about every type of boat imaginable at Yacht Haven. That suits the marina’s managers, Nick Wyatt and Zara Tremlett, perfectly.
A husband-and-wife team, they are highly regarded by the marina’s berth owners. The marina regularly enjoys occupancy rates over 90 percent, and many are in Yacht Haven for the long term. It’s not hard to see why. Both Nick and Zara are long-time yachties with plenty of experience at sea – they know what boaters are looking for in a marina. And the attention paid to Yacht Haven is growing. As Nick wistfully points out, “the busy season seems to be coming earlier and earlier.” Most boats start arriving in October, and many are making the journey up from New Zealand and Australia.
A noteworthy element is the large number of catamarans docked at Yacht Haven. Nick is usually able to offer alongside spaces to handle the cats and doesn’t charge more – a feature sure to keep multihull mavens in the area. Catamarans are a popular item around Phuket, with two companies already involved in their manufacture.
Yacht Haven’s 280 wet berths are served with potable water, and have 220-volt power supply. Fuel is delivered to visiting boats, and phone lines are available at selected docks. The docks and pontoons are very well made, having been constructed by Marine Services International to international standards as stipulated by Patterson and Britten, an Australian engineering firm specialising in marine structures.
If visiting boaters need any refit work done, Yacht Haven can certainly make it happen. At any one moment, there seems to be at least a dozens of boats in various states of repair and refit. Yachtsmen can arrange for woodworkers, mechanics, electricians and riggers, as well as caretakers and dayworkers for their boats. One new boat destined for local chartering, the sailing superyacht Asia, is having almost all of its finishing work done at Yacht Haven.
Location, location, location
Phuket is developing rapidly as a boater’s destination, with new facilities, clubs, and residential units popping up all over the island. While most traditional resort development has been happening in the south half, Nick is quick to point out that a lot luxury residential areas are springing up in the north. The south is certainly more lively, yet many boaters turning up at Yacht Haven will be pleased to find a more leisurely pace of relaxation.
However, for those wishing to explore Phuket, Yacht Haven can assist. A taxi service is in operation right next to the marina office, meaning new arrivals are never far from anywhere. For those basing their boats in Phuket, the busy little airport is just 15 minutes drive from Yacht Haven. A drive to the south end of the island might take just over and hour.
Shore-side accommodation is easily arranged, with the Laguna Holiday Residences close by. The Haven, a restaurant-bar that sits quietly at the end of a line of small shops and chartering operations, is well-known to locals as the place to go for a good bit of fun and excellent food. A coffee shop and grocery store are great places to stock up for trips into Phang Nga Bay, with its stunning limestone islands and green waters. A gymnasium and pool are also available, just a short walk up the hill from the docks.
But what suits some boaters perhaps, may be the fact that the waters around deep enough, clean and naturally sheltered. Yacht Haven Marina is actually situated on a channel that separates Phuket from the mainland. There is very little fetch between the surrounding hills and the marina, meaning good security without too much congestion.
For boaters approaching Yacht Haven, the best way is from the eastern channel, which is the deepest and easy to navigate. The western approach, which takes you under a bridge and the narrowest point in the channel, is best left to those with local knowledge.
The good folks at Yacht Haven Marina plan to build up their capacity to handle increased traffic and demands for more amenities. A 100-metre fuel dock, plus 20 additional berths, are to be built with IEE approval. A 40-tonne lift and ramp are also planned. In fact, the newly completed berths and superyacht extension at Yacht Haven constitute the second stage of a five-stage expansion programme. Nick and Zara, among their many existing duties, are also applying for certification in the Clean Marinas Programme.
The Thai family that owns Yacht Haven Marina, also owns another 300 acres or so right next to the marina site. The increasing traffic of superyachts on their docks may convince them to push forward with plans to increase the number of facilities immediately available to visiting boaters. Among them would be a boutique hotel and luxury villas.
At the moment, Yacht Haven remains a relatively simple affair, with much more focus on serving yachts than yachties. But it also happens to be a great place to unwind, knowing that your boat is being well looked after. And that is the definition of a haven, after all.