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 Malacca town (Melaka)

Racer MarinaSailing Yacht AsiaIMAGE asia

Due to its strategic location on the strait that bears its name, Malacca was a rich trading port long before it became colonised by a succession of invaders. The Portuguese, the Dutch and the British all held sway here over the centuries.

Today the wealth and trade are a thing of the past but the legacy in the architecture and history makes it a key part of Malaysia's tourism industry. South of the river mouth the massive offshore Melaka Gateway reclamation development project was well underway at the time of writing. The entire complex plans for a cruise ship terminal, marina, boardwalk, retail, real estate and hotel components all due for completion in several phases up to 2025.

The superyacht marina is planned for inside the reclamation between the islands and eventually will cater for up to 350 berths. The Malacca Gateway project markets itself as a superyacht haven and will house a travel lift, hardstand and all the auxiliary marine service industries.

A few hundred metres north of the river mouth is a massive private residential reclamation project running three-quarters of a mile out to sea. Both projects provide plenty of shelter tucked between them in all but strong westerly winds.

There is a shoddily built 40-berth government-sponsored marina just outside the north bank entrance of the Melaka River. It was closed at the time of writing due to siltation and internal wave refraction.

It has a concrete ramp used to launch the Australian-made Airfish 8, a Wing In Ground Effect (WIG) flying ship parked frequently on the gated tarmac. This strange 12 metre sting-ray-looking craft uses the same ground-effect-lift energy as water birds fly effortlessly over water surfaces. It's economical and can reach speeds up to 120 knots - once it's flying.

Malacca marina, river entrance and CIQ building - Photo by Bill O'Leary
Malacca marina, river entrance and CIQ building - Photo by Bill O'Leary

A MALACCA 100 miles from Singapore

MALACCA. 2°11.114N, 102°14.418E

Until the Gateway Marina project opens in 2019 the safest place to anchor is just outside the west wall of the failed government marina on mud in 4-6 metres. The river entrance bridge height is around 10 metres, restricting all but the smallest sailing boats.

Inside the river on the left bank island is the new CIQ ferry terminal with daily ferries to Bengkalis, Dumai and Pekanbaru in Sumatra Indonesia. Take your tender to the main dock inside the marina or motor right up the river to the CIQ docks.

Immigration is available and you can request permission to ply the historic river with your own dinghy or join one of the many-scheduled Malacca River cruise boats. Opposite the CIQ on the south bank, the Flora de le Mar maritime museum and is worth a visit, as are the historic sites, forts and churches. Take one of the art-deco funky bicycle rickshaws to enjoy the best Malacca town has on offer. Jonker Street (walking street) is famous and well worth a stroll around sunset or after dark, and the local Mamak and Chinese street food is extraordinary.

B PULAU UPEH 102 miles from Singapore

PULAU UPEH. 2°11.639N, 102°12.379E

Two miles north of Malacca River entrance, and a half-mile offshore from the new reclamation, is the small island of Pulau Upeh. Anchor 150 metres off the jetty on sand in 2-3 metres.

Ashore a small resort welcomes yachts and offers a pool, restaurant and water sports. There's an ancient freshwater well and several relics from WWII scattered around the island. Pulau Upeh is also the local sanctuary for nesting hawksbills, one of the rare species of sea turtles in the region. Hundreds come on shore at night to make their nests on the main beach.

Malacca River artwork - Photo by Bill O'Leary
Malacca River artwork - Photo by Bill O'Leary

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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