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Safety of longtail boats (on Ko Tao...)

Posted by chaimdan on 26/4/2010 at 18:30


I'm wondering what you guys think, how safe are the long-tail boats?

The reason I ask is that last time I was in Ko Tao - August '07, I took a private long tail from Sairee Beach (Ko Tao Cabanas) to Nang Yuan... which is really a short trip, but about half way there we got some big waves, and for a while I thought the boat would tip....

I felt very uncomfortable and it was definitely a close call... we were 5 adults and our 1 year old baby (including the driver..)

Is this the way it usually is or was it bad weather?

We are heading back the beginning of July, and would like to travel around the entire Island... one suggestion is a long-tail, if the weather is good, would that be a safe choice? or are we better just taking the large boats?


#1 chaimdan has been a member since 12/6/2007. Posts: 17

Posted by busylizzy on 27/4/2010 at 04:17

It sounds like you must have just had a rough ride. The days that I have gone to Koh Nang Yuan have been fairly calm. Seasonal weather and tides will impact things I would imagine.

If you want to circumnavigate the island, I'm sure you can find a longboat with life jackets (I remember seeing jackets on boats in the Andamans - can't remember about Koh Tao).

There are day snorkle trips that go right around the island, and stop at Koh Nang Yuan for a few hours. You have the choice of a longboat (a few people) or a much larger boat that holds about 30 people. Cost was about 650baht each by memory, and includes lunch, coffee/tea and snorkle gear hire.

It's a nice way to get around the island, and you can snorkle at the different locations - Shark Bay, Ao Leuk, Hin Wang, Mango Bay and Koh Nang Yuan.

In answer to your original question - how safe are the long boats? Well, I've never had a problem, but I'm glad that I can swim! I woke up early one morning on Koh Ngai to find a sunken longboat on the beach, surrounded by various bits floating in the water. And that was one a calm night.

Are the bigger boats any safer? They will probably survive a storm better than a long boat - but I don't think any of the boats in Thailand come with guarantees ! I've never concerns when on the water, but as I said, I'm glad that I can swim! :-)

#2 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152
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Posted by tezza on 27/4/2010 at 08:10

Longtails are the most useless open sea boats in the world. Any time the swell or even chop gets above "*****" height they can't hack it. They are super expensive to buy, hideously noisy and expensive for passengers.

Don't post in about how great they are in navigating shallow reefs etc - Indo and the Philippines have thousands more reefs and islands than Thailand and their small praus with whisper quiet outboards do a much better job. And they handle chop and swell on the open sea way better.

Jeez I like a good rant! Anyway, the thing is that in the SW Monsoon season (which July and August is) even though Tao tends to be pretty dry, the winds get up around 15-20% of days from my experience - and it is on these days and the few following that the swell/chop gets "bigger". The rest of the time I've found sea conditions tend to be pretty good.

Now seeing you will probably be starting from the Sairee side which is the exposed side, you should be able to judge the wind/swell-chop on the day of your intended trip - note the other eastern side of the island is usually the lee coast in these months meaning calmer conditions even when its bumpy the other side.
Opposite can apply for people intending to visit from mid Nov thru to end of this month give or take.

#3 tezza has been a member since 13/4/2006. Posts: 1,345

Posted by tezza on 27/4/2010 at 08:15

WHOA!! Travelfish's inbuilt censor got me!!

"*****" was a term refers to scaredy cats. TF obviously don't like it because of its use in terms of the female anatomy. As if I'd intend that! - I try to avoid writing about things I don't know much about.

#4 tezza has been a member since 13/4/2006. Posts: 1,345

Posted by tezza on 27/4/2010 at 08:17

Oh yeah, I should be more specific - we are talking of swell/chop over about 0'6m, which is NOTHING in normal everyday sea situations.

#5 tezza has been a member since 13/4/2006. Posts: 1,345

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