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Ambon: Gateway to Maluku (the Moluccas)

Ambon is the capital of the Maluku province (formerly called the Moluccas). From here the famous Spice Islands of Banda, as well as the Tanimbar, Kei and Aru groups can be explored. This rugged island has a wonderful deep natural harbour protected by two long peninsulas. Geologists speculate that these two peninsulas were once separate islands until the forces of the sea built up the tiny isthmus of land that now connects them.

The resulting waterway is Teluk Ambon, one of the best-protected natural harbours in Indonesia, if not the world. Approaching the head of the bay and the capital, the villages north and south seem to merge into long oceanfront suburban ribbons. Anchor just south of the town centre. Ashore you’ll find all the normal facilities of a major port town.

Poka-Galala Bridge across Ambon Bay, connecting both sides of Ambon City
Poka-Galala Bridge across Ambon Bay, connecting both sides of Ambon City
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600 miles from Darwin

AMBON. 3°43.509S, 128°08.614E

Ambon is a safe, deep harbour with approaching depths ranging mostly from 60-120 metres. Anchorage in reasonable depths for yachts is only available closer to shore on both sides until the other side of the bridge.

At our suggested anchorage, there is a quarter-acre narrow rising shallower strip that plateaus around 15-17 metres with reasonable holding fronting the Hotel Tirta Kencana on Amahusa Beach. Calling it a beach is a bit of an overstatement, but the rustic Kencana restaurant deck overlooks the anchorage where three concrete groins have created small steep broken coral and coarse sand patches in front. Past the groins and the small creek, 200 metres north, is a small jetty on the ring road where transport is easily available. The Hotel Tirta Kencana staff is wonderfully helpful and the food is fresh and excellent for this part of the world.

For superyachts and deeper draft vessels more swing room can be found two miles further east and around the small headland at 3°42S, 128°10E. A quarter mile offshore, this deep-draft anchorage is a half-acre shelf rising to plateau at 35-38 metres. Shallower draft vessels can nudge in much closer here on the 6-22 metre rise all around the notch. A small 3-metre spot really close in at 3°42.155S, 128°10.087E has good holding and room for one boat. This area is much more commercial and closer to town with plenty of options to tie your dinghy where it can be safely cared for.

Immigration, Customs and Harbour Master are all within easy access of both anchorages. Fuel is available through local agents, either by drum or barge. Restaurants, hotels and supermarkets abound within easy walking distance. A ring road runs the shore of the entire harbour and public transport is efficient. The long awaited and historic Poka-Galala Bridge finally connected the bay in March 2016, with new President Joko Widodo crowning it the longest in Eastern Indonesia. It enjoys an air draft of 34 metres.

A quieter, shallower and more secure anchorage is up past the bridge around the edges of the inner bay. Our favourite is in the east corner in front of the Citra Land jetty at 3°38.415S, 128°14.299E in 5-12 metres on more sand than mud. The Ambon museum is worth a visit and the airport is no more than half an hour from all three anchorages.

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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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