In an up-and-coming destination like Sri Lanka it’s easy to want to jump on the band wagon and create tourist activities, attractions and accommodation which will become fruitful businesses. But Pierre Pringiers wanted to go one step further, to create and promote a new and ecologically sustainable tourist activity in Sri Lanka. He decided that the mainland was already well developed, so instead he looked to an unused and forgotten asset, the Indian Ocean, and established Sail Lanka.
Sail Lanka setup in conjunction with ‘The Building A Future Foundation’ and their objective was to maximize the socio-economic returns and benefits to the nation and its people. The yachts operated by Sail Lanka are mainly designed and built in Sri Lanka and wind and solar power are the main sources of energy that power the boats.
Since launching just a couple of years ago they now operate a variety of day trips and sailing holidays (ranging from 2 to 6 nights) using their luxury catamarans. It has completely turned the whale watching experience on its head and we’re now proud to recommend it as a tourist activity. The alternative, which is still happening, is being squeezed onto an old boat filled with tourists, pumping out pollution as it chugs along to join other tourist boats, surrounding the whales or dolphins, fighting for a good spot to take a photo and then heading back to shore. Add in the combination of engine fumes and waves and you have a recipe for sea sickness! All in all, a pretty bad and unethical experience.
It’s not only the environment they care about, Sail Lanka employees are trained and educated in-house. They receive training in sailing skills, yacht maintenance, technical repair skills, sailing related sales and marketing, and operational and administration skills. They also facilitate local youth involvement to develop and improve their talents and skills in a number of sailing related activities while respecting and preserving their environment.
The result is a very special product. Each day-cruise has been well thought out, so whether you choose the morning whale watching, a BBQ lunch, a snorkelling trip or a sunset cruise you won’t be disappointed. On board, there is plenty of space on deck to find a seat or even lie down on the trampoline, close your eyes and listen to the splashing of the water underneath. Trip lengths vary from 5 to 7 hours so there is no rush, which means everything is done at a gentle ‘Sri Lankan’ pace. There’s time to have a drink, read a book or just look out across the Indian Ocean.
One of the highlights, for those lucky enough, is to see whales or dolphins in their natural habitat. It’s made all the more special because you have the time and space to enjoy the viewing and really take it all in. You’ll also have time to drop anchor in a quiet spot and do some snorkelling or SUP boarding.
For those wanting a slightly longer experience there are overnight sailing holidays, ranging from 1 night to 6 nights. The later only available on the east coast. The overnight catamaran’s, aka CEYCAT’s, are designed to accommodate 8 guests plus a captain, chef, and crew member for overnight cruises. And each of the four comfortable cabins contains a private bathroom and toilet. The outdoor living room and fully‑equipped kitchen provide everything a chef needs to prepare 5‑star meals at sea. Sunbeds are located throughout the boat and trampoline located in front is the perfect place to have a rest while sailing. And a covered area is available for dining.
The view from the upper deck is stunning. It’s the preferred spot for observing whales and dolphins and taking in the sunset. The swimming platform in the back is designed for convenience when entering and leaving the sea.
We highly recommend the overnight trips, especially the 2,3 or 6 nights trips where you can travel along the coast, stopping off and jumping out at small fishing villages, discovering old ruins, or dropping anchor and snorkelling in a place with no one else around.
It can easily be combined into a trip around the mainland and it gives a whole new perspective on visiting the Indian Ocean. It’s the final ingredient to a very special Sri Lankan cocktail.