Incorporating the Andaman Sea, Gulf of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia… and more

Southeast Asia Pilot by Bill O’Leary & Andy Dowden

Malaysia West Malaysia, West Coast Muar to Malacca (Melaka)

Racer MarinaSailing Yacht AsiaIMAGE asia

A SUNGAI MUAR - MUAR RIVER 80 miles from Singapore

SUNGAI MUAR - MUAR RIVER 2°03.335N, 102° 31.086E

Shoal draft vessels (under 2.5 metres) can find shelter up the wide river near the bridge in all conditions. Our anchorage is for deeper keelboats that should anchor 1.3NM miles outside the river mouth close to the port and starboard lateral marks in 3-4 metres.

Take your dinghy past the abandoned Government marina (see box) on the south bank of the river to provision or visit the slow-paced town. The ferry terminal on the south bank services ferries daily across the Straits to the Sumatran city of Bengkalis in Indonesia.

The town is of historic significance because the \'Battle of Muar\' was the last major battle of the Malayan Campaign in WWII. In January 1942, the 8th Australian Division was charged with stopping the advancing Japanese. Although their initial ambush was successful, the celebrations were short lived when the might of the Japanese army arrived. History records the defence of Muar and Bakri on the west coast a complete failure resulting in the invasion of the remainder of the peninsula and then Singapore.

B PULAU BESAR - WATER ISLANDS GROUP 95 miles from Singapore


This small group of islands known, as the Water Islands Group, lies seven miles south of Malacca River and 3 miles west of Anjung Batu Jetty where regular ferries run. Anchor off the long concrete jetty on the northeast of the main island Pulau Besar on sand in 2-3 metres. Keep east of the shallow reef and west of the drying rocks off the small island. Deeper drafts can anchor in 4-6 metres on sand further south at 2° 06.111N, 102° 20.520E.

This is one of the most strange and interesting islands in the Malacca Strait. Indian muslims (Mamak) consider this ghost-town-like island, a few miles south of the Malacca River entrance, to be a very spiritual place. Visitors are advised to abstain from consuming pork on the eve of their visit and throughout their entire stay here. Ashore there is a small museum showcasing the island's culture, history and spiritual significance - in particular its past role as a resting place for sailors between China and Europe.

Follow the paved road from the jetty uphill to the highest point. Here a large boulder split down the middle named 'Batu Belah' is the favourite destination for local spiritual pilgrims. There is a cave said to have been the favourite meditation place of a famous Mamak Wali named Yusof and his footprint is supposedly imprinted on the boulder.

In 1997 the Malaysian government labeled spiritual practices on Pulau Besar as deviant. They tore down many buildings that were erected around the mausoleum and a luxury hotel and golf course was built. This caused uproar in the Indian Muslim communities. In 2006, a hall was constructed with private funding from Indian muslim businessmen. The luxury hotel fronting all three beaches was completed, then mysteriously abandoned. It remains vacant and decaying at the time of writing. The golf course is well maintained and has security guards.

Malaysian Government Marina Projects

Early in the 2000s, the government decided to support the development of Malaysia as a world-class cruising destination, whilst promoting the joys of recreational yachting to local populations.

A handful of marinas would be constructed at the best locations countrywide, complete with quality onshore facilities. All were to be managed, maintained and operated by the respective states' Jabatuan Luat (Maritime Departments). Many hundreds of million Ringgit and 16 years later, only four government-run marinas could be said to be properly open and operating.

They are mentioned in this chapter and located at Pulau Langkawi (Telagah Harbour), Pulau Tioman, Pulau Penang (Batu Uban) and Kuching (7 miles up the Sarawak River).

Finished but failed are several river mouth marinas located at Muah, Malacca and Kedah where siltation, floating debris and internal wave refraction have rendered them unusable at the time of writing. Penang's Tanjong City Marina broke up and silted over within the first three years. The Pulau Indah marina south of Port Klang is empty save the security guards and Pulau Metangor just north of Pangkor Laut outside Lumut is entirely abandoned.

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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