Cruising Resources: Southeast Asia

The incidence rate of piracy in SE Asia remains low. The IMB cautioned that while the frequency of attacks has declined off Sabah, Malaysia after local authorities increased patrols, the threat still exists, and two kidnappings (from merchant vessels) have occurred in the region so far in 2019.


Both the US and the UK governments have advised against all travel to south-west Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago due to the high risk of kidnapping of international travelers and the increased threat of maritime kidnappings against small boats.

There are persistent rumors about the danger of pirates in the south of Mindanao and the Sulu Sea and yachts generally avoid this area. General advice seems to be to stay away from the Southern PI, including South Palawan and be careful heading between PI and Malaysia.

A well-known marina on Samal Island near Davao in the southern Philippines was stormed by armed men in September 2015 and four yachties were kidnapped. Two of the captives were executed and two were released.

A German cruising couple were abducted by the same terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf, in Sulu from their yacht in November 2016. Jurgen and his partner, Sabine Merz, were attacked resulting in Sabine being killed and Jurgen taken hostage for ransom demands. Jurgen was held for 3 months and executed in February 2017 when the ransom demands were not met.

For more details see the Philippines Security section.

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