Incorporating the Andaman Sea, Gulf of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia… and more

Southeast Asia Pilot by Bill O’Leary & Andy Dowden

Vietnam Van Phong Bay

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To the north is the famous and unbelievable all-year playground of Van Phong Bay. A large, deep inland-sea area protected by two outer islands and the 17 km sand dune, with many channels and inlets to explore.

It is home to hundreds of fish and pearl farms. The fish farms tend to get moved around on a seasonal basis; what might be a nice quiet bay one week can be home to several farms the following week.

It is an excellent area to explore and find your own quiet anchorages. The huge sand dune that forms the northern end of the bay is also accessible by yacht. Although there are a few shallow spots, generally the water right up to the dune is 10-15 metres deep.

M HON GIANG 23 miles from Bao Dai Villa

HON GIANG. 12°29.78N, 109°17.7E

Anchor in 8 metres on sand on the north side of the island. This is a pleasant secluded spot on the island which is just offshore from the mainland shipyard zone.

N DOC LET BEACH 30 miles from Bao Dai Villa

DOC LET BEACH. 12°33.200N, 109°14.148E

Anchor in 7-10 metres on sand in the middle of this long powder-sand beach, which dominates the southern end of Van Phong Bay. The population of this peninsula has grown dramatically in recent years along with the nearby Hyundai Shipyards and fishing industries.

Toward the southern end of the beach is the Jungle Beach Resort and to the north of this, near the shallow rocky outcrop, is the large village of Dong Hai. The best landing is close to the long flight of steps, which lead up to the village main street, where there are several small supermarkets and frequent wet markets. The ice factory is easy to locate (follow a fisherman) as is a small Buddhist temple, whose monks seem happy to accept visitors. Leave some small change behind as tribute.

In the afternoons, the wind can blow strongly on shore and it may be prudent to move round to anchorage (O) to avoid being caught on a lee shore.

North of Dong Hai are the Paradise and Doc Let Resorts. Facilities ashore are good but the restaurants tend to close early in the evenings.

O FISH FARM BAY 32 miles from Bao Dai Villa

FISH FARM BAY. 12°34.51N, 109°12.44E

Anchor in the middle of the bay off the jetty in 5-7 metres on a muddy bottom. This bay is completely lined with fish farms and the only reason for indicating it as an anchorage is as a refuge from onshore winds in anchorage (N) further south.

P HON ONG (WHALE ISLAND) 36 miles from Bao Dai Villa

HON ONG. 12°39.465N, 109°23.768E

The easiest approach to Hon Ong is via the Lip Channel to the northeast of Hon Lon. The channel is five miles long, very deep and has several secluded anchorages on either side. Whale Island Resort is on the western side of Hon Ong and the anchorage is within a buoyed-off area in front of the beach.

Approach through the gap and anchor outside of a black marker buoy, as there is live coral and a few large submerged rocks within the bay.

This French-run resort is a real jewel in the cruising area, tucked away at the head of this deep-water channel; the collection of islands and beaches close by are worthy of at least two days exploring, using the resort as a base.

Started about 20 years ago as a base camp for a trekking company, it is now a well-equipped, inexpensive dive resort popular with tourists looking to escape from noisy Nha Trang town.

For the energetic, there is a walking trail right around the island and one to the large rock giving 360° outlook around the area.

A short dinghy ride to the north coast will take you to another idyllic snorkelling bay. The internationally used dive site is at the seaward end, ocean side, of the Lip Channel, through which you entered. Rainbow Dive has staff at Whale Island and their own wooden dive boat.

Dam Mon village jetty has water by prior arrangement but use lots of fenders to protect your topsides.

Almost every superyacht that has visited Vietnam stayed in this location in the past because it is deep and the isolation and privacy, let alone the pristine water for on and in-water activities, is spectacular.

Hazards

Van Phong Bay is a crowded crab fishing area, so look out for the numerous small polystyrene floats.

There is also a dangerous rock just west of Hon Mai!

Q R DAM MON VILLAGE 2 miles from hon ong

DAM MON VILLAGE. 12°40.25N, 109°24.26E

The best anchorage is off the fallow land east of the main village. Go north of the west cardinal mark and anchor in 15 metres on sand. This rustic fishing village is nestled on the side of one of the gigantic sand dunes just two miles north of Hon Ong.

Amazingly, the approach is deep all the way up to the village beach. In the village, you will find several supermarkets selling basic provisions, a pool hall/bar/Internet café and a small street market. It’s bustling with activity as fishermen set about repairing nets and boats. You’ll be a source of great curiosity to the village children.

To the west, directly facing Whale Island Resort is a more secluded anchorage (R).

Danang

Danang anchorage can be organised through special arrangements with Allan Goodman’s company (Thien Nhan Tour & Trading Co. Ltd.) and Bien Phong (Border Security) to use the wharf area, one of the intended sites for the new superyacht marina. Access by road to the ancient trading village of Hoi An can then be provided.

Boat access directly to the river at Hoi An is a future aim, which will be a lot easier once the marina is a reality.

Hon Dung and Hon Cau (Le Pyramid)

Northeast of Hon Tre, these steep islands rise up out of 60 metres of water and are riddled with fissures and caves which are home to tens of thousands of swallows.

Both islands are managed by a birds’ nest collecting agency and are jealously protected. It is safe to sail close by the islands and marvel at how the tiny shacks clinging to the cliff faces are actually someone’s home. Attempting to anchor here is not recommended. The guards have shotguns. Millions of dollars for the owners are at stake for these bird‘s nests, so do not go too close.

To the east of these islands, approximately five miles north of the Black Rocks Cardinal Mark (northeast of Hon Tre) is the Grand Bank Shallows. At high tide, there is no danger to yachts, but there is no good snorkelling and net fishing makes it an area to be avoided.

Passage making to and from Vietnam

Two islands off the coast of Vietnam are useful stopovers en route to the main cruising area.

Con Son (Con Dao Islands): 8°40.205N, 106°37.722E
Lying 120 miles due east of the southern tip of Vietnam, this small group of islands has an indented coastline and gives shelter from any wind direction. The largest island is about eight miles long. The main town is best accessed from the south bay, but there are good roads around the coast. The town is extremely basic but has an interesting museum in the old prison where political prisoners − and eventually American servicemen − were incarcerated during the Vietnam war. There is an airport and a few small resorts.

Phu Quoc: 10° 6.187N, 103°54.794E
Lying only 10 miles south of the Cambodian coast, this is a port of entry and the officials can be found in the main town on the northwest coast. There is an airport connecting to Ho Chi Minh City and the island is being developed as a tourist destination. On the southern tip is a large fishing port in a deep bay with good markets and provisioning. Fuel is available.

S MUI CO CO POINT 6 miles from Hon Ong

MUI CO CO POINT. 12°39.91N, 109°20.97E

Anchor in 5-6 metres in this well sheltered anchorage, which is off the main fishing routes. An ideal spot for night dining aboard; ashore and there are several footpaths leading up into the hills.

T SAND DUNE 13 miles from Hon Ong

SAND DUNE. 12°42.45N, 109°22.37E

Anchor in 12 metres on a sandy bottom close to the massive sand dune. Ashore you will find a small fishing and farming community. For a great view of the coastline north of the sailing area, scale to the top of the dune; take some water with you.

U HON TAI 14 miles from Hon Ong

HON TAI. 12°32.99N, 109°23.77E

This deep water anchorage on the northeast of the small islet of Hon Tai provides limited shelter but the water is clear and snorkelling is excellent.

V HON HEO 18 miles from Hon Ong

HON HEO. 12°29.86N, 109°19.38E

Anchor in the bay on the southwest side of Hon Heo in 5-8 metres. Hon Heo is approximately one mile east of Hon Giang. It’s a lunchtime stop only due to its exposed nature. To the south of the two islands, there are several shallow patches of coral.

While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this book is accurate, the charts of anchorages are based on personal experience and satellite imagery and are intended as a guide only. They should not be used for navigation. Please refer to Official Hydrographic Charts of the respective countries.

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