The Yacht Week’s official motto is “It’s Nothing Like The Real World.”
After the week spent sailing around the gorgeous Andaman Sea in Thailand on a yacht with old and new friends from around the world, I couldn’t agree with their tagline more.
If you’re not familiar with the event, The Yacht Week (or TYW as the cool kids say) is a week long group sailing adventure, usually involving twenty or so yachts sailing on a pre-determined route together, stopping at various exotic locales for an official party each night, and crewed by a variety of partygoers from around the globe. It’s growing massively in popularity – in 2015 they claim to have booked over 1,550 yachts worldwide – and they offer routes in Croatia (the original), Turkey, Greece, Italy, Thailand and the BVIs.
Every morning, my crew and I stepped out onto the deck to admire the stunning scenery surrounding our yacht, which we nicknamed Tuk Tuk Goose. We went for a swim in the pristine turquoise waters off the back of the boat, then hauled up the anchor and set off to yet another gorgeous island, drinking Thai beer while our Skipper did all the navigating for us. Once we arrived, we headed to shore to explore the island and then danced the night away at the official Yacht Week party with dozens of other yachters enjoying the same slice of paradise.
It certainly was a surreal seven days living a life that only billionaires and heiresses are usually privy too. But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Partying in paradise comes at a price. Drinking and debauchery for seven days in a row with no sleep can wreak havoc on your body, as many (including me) discovered after their first TYW experience. Also, the disorganization of the TYW staff and the unsavory characters that this event attracts soured the experience more than a few times for my crew.
While I think many of our issues were related to Thailand being one of the newest routes TYW offers and the kinks are still being worked out, I still walked away from the whole thing scratching my head, unsure of what to think about it all. Not to mention, I felt like death for five days after I stepped off the boat, which clouded my judgment!
But now that it’s been over a week since disembarking and I’m finally feeling somewhat normal again, I’ve had time to process the complicated feelings I had about TYW Thailand and figure out what to write about it.
So without further ado, here’s my review of The Yacht Week Thailand – the good, the bad, and the really effing ugly.
Let’s start with the positive, shall we? This week was chock full of amazing experiences. Here were the highlights:
I was invited to Yacht Week from my friend Kate, one of the coolest chicks I know from working in TV in LA. Several of the other crew members were her friends I hadn’t met before, and then I invited my college friend Josh, who helped fill in the three remaining spots on the boat. It was an eclectic bunch with different backgrounds, and getting to know and party with these mother ‘effers for a week was fantastic.
We were lucky – some people on other boats didn’t have as much fun because they’d chosen the wrong people to go with (see bros & divas, in ‘The Bad’). If you’re considering doing TYW, I definitely recommend choosing laid back, open minded, roll-with-the-punches kind of people to go with. Remember, you’ll be stuck on a boat together for a week. You want crew members that you can party with, but also people who’ll pitch in with keeping the boat clean and will be there for you when you feel like shit, which you inevitably will at some point (keep reading for more on that).
It goes without saying that sailing around the Andaman between Phuket, Krabi, Koh Hong, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi offers some of the most gorgeous scenery in the world. From stunning beaches to steep limestone cliffs to crystal clear water, there is never a dull moment when sitting on the top deck, watching the world go by while the yacht was on the move.
To me, the most beautiful beach was Koh Lanta South and the best place we anchored for the night was off of Railay Beach, but everywhere we went was spectacular. We joked on the last day how we’d almost become accustomed to the beautiful surroundings – the first day we’d taken a million photos and now we were sailing back to Phuket barely giving the passing islands a second glance.
Our boat was skippered by Matko, an adorable 24-year-old Croatian dude that looked like Zac Efron and danced to techno music with more enthusiasm than I thought humanly possible. I don’t know how, but he partied every night, all night and then managed to wake up the next day and navigate us to our next spot with (seemingly) little to no effort. Oh, to be 24 again!
He also kept his cool at all times, even when TYW organizers didn’t have their shit together (see ‘The Bad’). Matko was the best and we would not have had the amazing time we did without him.
Swimming Off The Back of the Boat
I mean how often can you wake up in the morning and dive right into perfectly warm tropical waters seconds after your first yawn? We took as many dips as we liked – first thing in the morning, in the evening before our outdoor shower, and when we drunkenly returned to the boat in the middle of the night.
The best was trying to capture photos of our mid-air jumps. I managed to snap this one of me and Nemo, one of our inflatables. I love it!
Exploring Koh Lanta
As a group, most of us agreed our favorite day was when we arrived on Koh Lanta early and had time to explore the island in a songthaew (red passenger pick-up). We shopped in the old town, visited and fed a baby elephant, and hung off the back the truck while it sped down the island back roads, screaming at the top of our lungs.
I think a lot of us wished we’d had more time to explore the islands like we did that day, but if the trade off is more time hanging out on the yacht, I guess we’ll take it.
The Yacht Week Olympics
On the third day (I think?) Matko announced we’d be competing against the other boats in an Olympics, which included relay races, tug of war, volleyball and flip cup, among other events. We were ecstatic – as a group of mostly Type A personalities, many of whom work in the cut-throat world of TV, we are as competitive as they come. We set out with one purpose – to win.
And we did manage to win all but two of the events – relay racing (running in flippers and a mask is not our strong suit) and capture the flag (the other team cheated, simple as that). Not surprisingly, we DOMINATED at flip cup. We didn’t get first place overall but we got the spirit award, so clearly it was evident how much we wanted to win. And that’s what matters, I guess?
There was a bit of disorganization on the part of TYW officials in terms of the rules and moving the teams to and from each event, but it was their first ever Olympics I’m told, so I’ll cut them some slack. It was fun, friendly competition, and definitely differed from the rest of the official events, which were mostly centered around partying.
Speaking of partying, I have to say it: the Yacht Week peeps do throw a mighty fine party! Sure, there were some issues getting to and from these shindigs (see ‘Transportation’ in the ‘Ugly’) but the official Yacht Week events did not disappoint, once we managed to get to them.
The first night we drank vodka and Thai Redbulls at a rooftop beach bar in Phuket, the second we danced the night away in a hippy-dippy barefoot bar in Krabi. We had a raft party in the middle of a secluded bay on Koh Hong another day, and we spent New Year’s Eve watching the fireworks from a waterfront bar in Koh Phi Phi.
The best night, in my opinion, was the Glow Party, which followed up our awesome day in Koh Lanta. That night, we set off lanterns on the beach and closed down the bar dancing to EDM until all the glow paint melted off our faces. Then we threw an afterparty on our yacht that attracted a crowd from some of the neighboring boats, and I ended up not sleeping a wink that night.
It should be noted that I didn’t make it to all the parties – the third night and the last night I wasn’t feeling up to partying, much to my crew mates dismay. To put it simply, I needed a night to recover (or in the case of the last night, five days off). We also collectively skipped the pool party in Koh Phi Phi on New Years Day to go diving, so I can’t comment on that one either. But the ones we did go to were epic.
Every single night, we were rendered speechless by the sunset, confident we’d seen the best one we’d ever see for the rest of our lives.
Until the next night. When it would happen again.
Meeting Awesome People
One thing I was looking forward to the most about Yacht Week was meeting the people on other boats from all over the world. While I definitely didn’t meet as many cool people as I thought I would (see ‘Bros & Divas’ in ‘The Bad’), there were a few really awesome folks I did manage to get to know over the course of the week.
While most of the partygoers were made up of Americans, the skippers and much of TYW staff were from different countries all over the world, including Sweden, Switzerland, Colombia, South Africa, Australia, and Britain to name a few. I loved hearing about their lives spent working on the water and mingling with boozy travelers. These people party harder than you can ever imagine, and they had some hilarious stories to tell! Remind me to pitch a reality show about them when I get back to LA…..
The Last Sail
Despite how beat down and sick I felt on the last day of sailing, the few hours before sunset were some of the most magical of my life. Our crew was playing on the deck, filming funny bits for our epic Yacht Week video (stay tuned!) and enjoying our last day on the boat when we spotted another yacht ahead crewed by a friendly skipper.
We frantically filled water balloons and caught up with them, pelting the side of their yacht with balloons with as much strength as we could muster. They were great sports about it and we docked up next to them to make friends, deciding to sail back to Phuket together. Sailing under the pink and orange sky alongside them blasting our Yacht Week playlist was unreal, and we cherished it all the more because we knew it was our last night together.