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Penang Island

Marina Batu Uban and Penang Bridge
Marina Batu Uban (with Penang Bridge bottom left) | Photo by Bill O’Leary

Penang is the famous historical trading island just off the mainland. The Penang Channel is navigable and well marked with two bridges with an air draft of 30 metres connecting to the mainland.

The southern Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge, or ‘Penang 2nd Bridge’, is 24km; its many S-like curves help motorists keep their attention on the road while driving.

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Penang 2nd Bridge is the longest bridge in the world installed with High Damping Natural Rubber (HDNR) Bearing, an effective seismic isolation system that enables the bridge to withstand a 7.5 scale earthquake. The bridge is the first in Malaysia to be installed with seismic expansion joints, which allow for wild movements during a big shake. At 24 kilometres, it is also the longest bridge crossing in Southeast Asia.

Georgetown, north of the original Penang 1st Bridge, is a bustling town reminiscent of Singapore 30 years ago. The Chinese architecture is over a century old, with small narrow streets teeming with shophouses and noodle and roti shops. Similar to Malacca, many of the walls of the old buildings have been used by graffiti artists to paint interesting murals rather than anarchistic slogans. Well worth the stroll round.

The north and west coasts of Penang Island have pleasant sandy beaches and tourist developments. Ferries run many times daily to and from Langkawi, 80 miles north. The water is milky brown and the currents can run fast.

Penang International Airport is one of the busiest in the country and located at the southeast tip of the island. It has cheap regular flights back to KL and all other regional centres, including to Phuket eight times a week with Firefly and Airasia.

Penang Island chart
  • A


370 miles from Singapore

MARINA BATU UBAN. 5°21.343N, 100°18.912E

Just south of Penang’s 1st Bridge is the unpretentious Jabatan Laut (Marine Department) government-run public facility with 35 berths for vessels up to 12 metres.

Coming from the south, after the new bridge turn into the Pulau Jerejak channel and keep an eye for the Komptar cylindrical tower block in the distance. You won’t see the marina until you’re nearly on top of it because another jetty building with a blue roof obscures it.

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Marina Batu Uban is one of the few successful marinas built and operated by Malaysia’s Marine Department, but has very few available berths for visiting yachts. There is no breakwater so it’s open to wind, wave and vessel wake from the east.

Anchoring off in the channel in 8 metres is fine, but dinghy access to the docks does incur a small fee. Best to contact in advance for a berth or for approval to anchor off.

Just north, the 1st Penang Bridge has short air height of approximately 6 metres inshore, so passing this close inside to go north is not possible. Best to schlep back south around Pulau Jerejak then north, unless you time it for high tide. At any other tide best to trust someone with local knowledge to draw you a mud map to safely navigate the shallow banks between the marina and the highest span mid way.

Guaranteed safe depth across the mud banks close in near the bridge is debatable, even among the locals.


Click to view Malaysia photo gallery.

  • B


380 miles from Singapore

THE JUNK ANCHORAGE. 5°24.595N, 100°20.450E

Anchor anywhere north of, and inside, the shallow middle bank in 6-15 metres on a mud and rubbish-strewn bottom. This is known as the Junk Anchorage and is historically famous over the centuries where the Chinese cargo junks moored.

The area lies off the clan jetties along the shoreline (the New, Yeoh, Lee, Tan, Chew and Lim family jetties). Dinghies can no longer just tie up at the Chew Jetty wooden steps, but pick up and drop off is still permitted. Water taxis are now available and can be sought by standing on deck and waving your arms. Diesel fuel is usually available from a fuel barge moored nearby.

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A mile south at 5°23.983N, 100°20.074E is the Sungai Penang (Penang River) anchorage with the advantage of the dinghy navigable river right up to some floating pontoons, between two bridges. Both anchorages are exposed to weather from the north and east and holding is not the best. Some areas are completely foul. Use plenty of scope.

A half mile further south at 5°23.654N, 100°19.601E is the entrance to the rectangular 100 x 50m attenuated Fisherman’s Wharf Marina. At the time of writing, little is known about this small offshore potentially 20-berth marina fronting of the famous food court of the same name. The marina gate to the eatery is locked after 5pm so we suggest anchor just north or south of the structure in 5-10 metres and take your dinghy. There’s a prominent McDonalds, Starbucks and plenty of restaurants and shops on the waterfront promenade.


Click to view Malaysia photo gallery.

  • C


390 miles from Singapore

STRAITS QUAY MARINA. 5°27.504N, 100°18.840E

The Straits Quay Marina is the focal point for the multi-phased Siri Tanjung Pinang waterfront community development on the northeast coast.

The entrance channel and basin are 3 metres deep at low tide, although recent reports have the often-dredged channel silted up with fine mud to 1 metre at low tide. Best advice is to approach at high tide and motor through the fine mud over the high spots.

At time of writing dredging was happening again inside and on the entrance channel with new bridge piling works just east connecting to the 900-acre offshore E&O Seri Tanjang Pinang reclamation.

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If you’re very deep draft we suggest anchor out in the ‘ditch’ or channel and enter first by dinghy to check your bottom clearance.

Inside the compact rectangular basin are 40 full-facility wet berths for vessels up to 25 metres. Advance booking a berth is mandatory.

This is a condo retail complex where the marina was the catalyst for the entire development. There’s a Starbucks, Dome, Irish Pub and lots of high end shopping, restaurants and facilities.

The marina management office is located at the Boaters’ Centre on the ground floor. VHF Ch.71. +60 48906521 or +60123116058 for John Ferguson, the famous and hospitable marina manager.


Click to view Malaysia photo gallery.

Straits Quay Marina with pilings for Seri Tanjung Pinang Bridge
Straits Quay Marina with pilings for Seri Tanjung Pinang Bridge (top right) | Photo by Bill O’Leary
  • D


395 miles from Singapore


Anchoring is possible anywhere in 5-8 metres off the beaches from Batu Ferringhi to Teluk Bahang when conditions permit.

We recommend in front of the Hard Rock Hotel between their two beach nourishment concrete groins. At the northeast corner of the beach adjoining the headland is the Shangri La Resort for a good meal.

There are plenty of independent restaurants, shopping, a service station and facilities running along Jalan Batu Ferringhi just behind the hotels. It’s not suitable to anchor overnight anytime in the northeast monsoon.

Click to view Malaysia photo gallery.

  • E


395 miles from Singapore

BACK OF MONKEY BEACH. 5°27.895N, 100°10.797E

In a northeast monsoon, shelter can be found on the southwest side of Monkey Beach headland. Anchor in 5 metres on a sandy bottom. This is an ideal spot to take a rest overnight if you’d rather not check into Penang making your way north.

Click to view Malaysia photo gallery.

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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.

The copyright holders of all content, in print and digital editions, are: Published book © Phuket Publicity Services Ltd. Part. / Texts © Bill O’Leary, Andy Dowden & Grenville Fordham / Design, layout & charts © Grenville Fordham / Photography: © as indicated in photo credits. All rights reserved
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