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Website of sailing yacht Tokomaru2's circumnavigation of the world

Crew: Nick Thomas and Liz Vernon

Malaysia cruising notes


Compiled by Nick Thomas of “Tokomaru 2” a Westerly Conway LOA 11m draft 1.8m

October 2005.



At you first port of call you need to visit immigration, port authority and customs. Most people receive a 3 month stamp in their passport. In theory you should vist customs in every port that has a customs office (As per Australia). In practice this did not seem to matter (despite the protestations in the pilot books) it you were staying only a week or so. In Penang we tried to see Customs and were politely told not to bother.


Sailing Directions

There are several books covering Malaysia. None of them are particularly wonderful by comparison to RCC pilotage foundation standards or Chris Doyle's publications in the Caribbean.

1) Malacca straits cruising guide 2000 Latitude one publishing. Out of print now but does describe some of the smaller anchorages and has some historical notes, if you can get hold of a copy. The chartlets are fairly basic and the sailing directions fair if not detailed.

Covers Singapore to Phuket.

2)  South East Asia cruising guide Volume 2   by Davies and Morgan published by Imray. Covers an enormous amount of ground From Papua New Guinea to Thailand. Only the larger or more important harbours and anchorages can therefore receive a mention. The chartlets and sailing directions are good. We found some of the best information in the corrections for this book. These are obtainable from the Imray web site (

3) Indian Ocean cruising guide. By Rod Heikel also published by Imray. This too covers a lot of ground and again only describes the more important locations. Corrections are available for this also but they are not as comprehensive as those for (2). The chartlets are good as are the sailing directions and accompanying photographs.

4) The Cruising Almanac 2005. Published by Cross Time Matrix Sdn Bhd Kuala Lumpur. This is only available locally. It also covers a lot ground from Burma to Honk Kong. It is not an almanac in the sense we would recognise. I doubt it will be an annual publication. Although it claims to have tide and current information this does not mean tide tables just a general and vague description of tidal regimes. It does have some useful Radio information and a list of lights. The sailing directions are reasonably good but a bit brief. The chartlets are good for identifying the location of anchorages but they do not contain detail. It has an extensive classified section.

5) Andaman sea pilot 2004. Written by O'Leary and Dowden and published by Image Asia Phuket Thailand. This covers the area Thailand to Cambodia, with the main emphasis on Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia which are the most popular cruising grounds in South East Asia. The chartlets are very good but the sailing directions are often laconic. It is prettily illustrated with a random selection of colour photos.



01°19’n, 103°26’e

This island is about 20 miles from Singapore. It is possible to anchor between the island and the shore in about 5 metres. There are fishing rafts closer to the village and many fish restaurants. Ferries go from here to Sumatra. Although there must be officials here it is not advertised as a port of entry. We did not go ashore and were not bothered. The marine police have a presence here.



Pulau Pisang

01°28’n, 103°15e

We found a reasonably calm anchorage Pulau Pisang and Pulau Kamudi. There is a major lighthouse on the island. It is possible to walk up to it.


Water Islands

We anchored on the south west side of Pulau Besar. This was reasonably comfortable in the NE monsoon. There is a defunct resort fronting the bay. There are a number of rocks and reefs in the vicinity of the water islands.

Port Dickson

The Admiral marina is a fine establishment with swimming pool and restaurants. The staff are very courteous and helpful. It helps to call on VHF 14 before arrival but their range is not great as they only have handhelds. At the moment there is plenty of space and rates are good especially for long term. Daily rate is approximately £7 for 11m per day. The marina will provide info for seeing the various officials in town. They do not arrange clearance. Internet is available near reception.

It is fairly easy to catch a taxi at the end of the marina drive to take you into town to visit immigration, port authority and customs. The town of PD is a bit run down but nevertheless has all the usual amenities including ATM, supermarkets and other shops. It is possible to take a bus to KL but we found it more convenient from Port Klang (see below).

Port Klang

This is the largest commercial harbour in Malaysia. There are extensive container ship docks.


The tide runs strongly in the channel up to the town. It also runs strongly in the vicinity of the RSYC. You can moor at the pontoons of the Royal Selangor Yacht Club. These are detached and on the opposite side of the river to the club. The cost is £7 per day including use of club facilities. These consist of bar, restaurant, swimming pool, showers. The club staff are very friendly and helpful. The club has an attached pontoon for short stays; water and diesel are available here. The club does not appear to monitor VHF the channel reported in the guides is used by the main port authority.

It is quite a long walk to town. Like PD it's a bit run down but it does have shops, ATMs, a supermarket, post office etc. The one big advantage of Port Klang is the railway station, 10 minutes walk from the club, with a frequent service to KL which takes about 1 hour. This is not mentioned in any of the guides.

The commercial quay near the club is busy with local traditional wooden trading craft from Sumatra. It is quite a sight to see them manoeuvring for a place on the dockside.

Kuala Sungai Selangor

Posn 03°18’n, 101°12’e.

This is a very pretty river with a traditional Chinese fishing village with many seafood restaurants on its banks. There is a small national park. Both the river and the park afford good viewing of the bird life including a variety of herons and egrets and also Brahminy kites.

The river is entered over a shallow bar. There is a beacon serving as an outer marker. The best time to enter is half flood when we found a depth of approximately 3.5 metres. The river becomes deeper further in and we anchored off the park, about 200m before the village on the left bank, in a depth of about 5m at low water. The range here at springs is nearly 5m. Kuala Selangor the town on the right bank has shops, banks, supermarkets etc. The town and fishing village are connected by a large bridge carrying the main road. Taxis are available. It is possible to take one to a village up stream to see fireflies. Currents in the river can be quite strong which could make returning to the boat by dinghy tricky in the dark.

Kuala Burnam

Posn 03°49’n, 100°46’e.

There is an open anchorage here near the safe water buoy in approximately 5m. It is possible to cross the bar and anchor in 4m further up the river. The river is used by quite a number of fishing boats.

These last 2 anchorages mean that it possible to day sail all the way from Singapore to Penang. The fishing boat activity is very extensive. We had no difficulty negotiating them and their nets in daylight; nightime would be another matter. Coast hopping also has the advantage of keeping clear of shipping.


The Lumut international yacht club marina is stated a few miles up the Dinding River just past the Malaysian naval base. The entrance channel between the mainland and Pangkor Island is well marked but busy with ferry traffic. Lumut is a pleasant little town which has not been allowed to decay like others further south. The town is a jumping off point for tourists going to Pangkor. The marina is quite small having only 40 places but there is usually room. Costs are low at £5 per night. There is a pool and restaurant both very lightly used. A current runs through the marina so care is needed when manoeuvring. It is possible to anchor off.

Shops, bistros, restaurants, banks with ATM, and internet are only a short walk away.

Pangkor Island

We only visited one anchorage of many on this island. This was the northernmost on the western side. Although we were there in the NE monsoon a brisk sea breeze always picked up in the afternoon making it a bit rolly. There is a small beach on the north side of the bay. There is a path which leads into the jungle. The resort apparently charges £7 if you go on the beach in front of it.

It's about 65 miles to Penang from here manageable as a day sail with an early start.


This is a fascinating culturally rich island almost as sophisticated as KL.

We stayed at the Port Authority marina - Batu Uban Jeti Jabatan Laut. It is stated just south of the bridge on the Penang side. It is entered by leaving the main channel just south of Pulau Jerejak then stay close to Jerejak for the next 3 miles. You will see the Komptar cylindrical tower block in the distance. You can't see the marina as it obscured by another jetty with a blue roof. Carry on mid channel until the marina is visible. The Port Authority - Jabatan Laut - use the marina to moor there own boats. It has space for about 25 visitors. It is very inexpensive; 2 RM per metre of waterline length per day or 30 RM per metre per month. Electricity is free and water is a standard chare of 10 RM per month or part thereof. For us this was £2.50 per day.

(In 2005 there were 7 RM, Malaysian Ringits, to £1 or 3.8 RM to US $1)

The downside to this mooring is that it is a long way from any where. The nearest bus stop is a 25 minute hot walk. However, Tesco supermarket is a 45 minute walk along the sea front towards Georgetown and there is usually a taxi to take you home for £2. Near the university, about 30 minutes walk, there are cheap eateries, internet, 7-11, and Makro.

In Georgetown there is a big shopping mall at Komptar. There are many hardware shops on Chulia Street which also has many cafes and internet.

The so called "Junk anchorage" no longer seems favoured by yachties although it would be closer to Georgetown. Getting ashore was apparently a big problem. In times past a "clan" bumboat took crews ashore to the clan jetty but this system did not operate when we were there. We only spent one night there. It is busy with local small commercial craft. Moorings have been laid in the most convenient position. It is not clear who owns them.

In March 2005 an "Inner city" marina was being built just south of the cruise ship dock, and just north of the ferry dock. It is said it will be complete by the end 2005. Hopefully it will not suffer the same fate as the Penang Yacht clubs pontoons which were damaged due to being built in a very exposed position.

Pulau Paya

Posn 06°03’n, 100°02’e

This small island is a national park. It is 43 miles from Georgetown and so makes a convenient stop on the way to Langkawi. There are moorings; they are disconcertingly close to the shore but worked for us. It is not clear if they are park moorings or dive boat moorings. We stayed one night and left at 10 next morning before the dive boats arrived. No one came to bother us. Apparently there is a 5 RM charge if you go ashore.

Pulau Langkawi

Posn 06°17’n, 99°51’e

The admiralty fathom chart is very out of date despite being recently corrected with a block.

Malaysia chart No.        which is metric and WGS 84 datum is much better. It can be obtained with some effort from Motion Smith in Singapore (expensive) or locally Cheaper (RM 75).

The depths through Selat Kuar into Bass harbour are great than the admiralty indicates we found nothing less than 5 metres.

The anchorage is very good. There is a good dinghy landing on some blue floating polypropylene pontoons in front of a large building where tourist maps indicate the tourist information office. The tourist office is in fact a smaller building nearby. If there is an onshore breeze getting back to the boat would be splashy. You can also take the dinghy into the RLYC marina there is an RM 8 charge for this.

Customs etc are to be found in the building which is part of the ferry terminal. We gave Cuatoms the clearance document we obtained in Port Dickson and they were happy with that. We checked out at Telaga harbour (see below)

There are two supermarkets in Kuar town. On the south side there is Langkawi fair which is next to the mauve building. And Teow Soon Hat on the North side of town past the Sea view (formerly Tiara) hotel. Also in town is a small cold storage shop and “Healthy and Tasty” which sell meat, cheese etc. SK Intertrade on the road to the City Bay view hotel sell charts and photocopies thereof.

The meeting place for yachties seems to be the Pier Restaurant. Next to this is a chandlery. The town is full of duty free grog shops. Prices are very good.

Telaga Harbour

This is one of the marinas damaged by the Tsunami. Most of the pontoons have been damaged so there is very limited room on the ones that remain. It is possible to anchor outside the marina. At the time of writing it was being fixed (Sept 2005). There are several restaurants here and a service station catering for both boats and car fuel. Car diesel is cheaper than boat diesel; some people therefore filled jerry cans at the car diesel pump. Only one 20litre can per day was allowed. Customs and immigration have offices here so it is possible to check in or out. Immigration will have to be summoned from the airport their phone number is on their door.

Website © Nick Thomas and Liz Vernon 2008