Careful planning is essential for safe cruising. The content below is intended to assist in making your journey as enjoyable as possible. We would stress, however, that any information contained in these guides should not be used for navigation purposes.
The west coast of Malaysia and Thailand is one of the few really unspoilt sailing destinations, with months of clear sunny weather in the winter and generally fine weather in the summer.
Discover your own secluded island or visit some of the popular resort locations, like Phuket and Langkawi for shopping and exciting nightlife. There is something for everyone in Asia.
One of the more exciting adventures is a cruise through the Andaman Sea to the Mergui Archipelago of Myanmar (formerly Burma).
Nongsa Point, Indonesia
Located on the North-East tip of Batam Island, only 14 miles across the Straits to Singapore, Nongsa sees a fantastic array of ships passing by every day, from the world's largest oil tankers and container ships, to cruise ships, fishing fleets and the odd yachtie. Nongsa is Batam island's most pleasant corner, boasting an integrated 'mega' resort that includes a marina, several golf courses and a direct ferry link to Singapore. The Tamarin Santana golf course was designed by Jack Nicholas.
The Riau Area requires a green book cruising permit and the latest we heard was that on top of charging for the aforementioned book/permit they now charge S$ 38/head for clearing.
The marina is the 'Gateway to the Riau Archipelago' as it is the designated port of entry/exit for pleasure craft wishing to visit this area of Indonesia. Full customs and immigration facilities are available in the marina. Long and short term berthing is available. Power, water and fuel pontoons are manned by friendly staff.
The approach channel runs North-South and is marked by 2 sets of port and starboard piled beacons rising to a height of 6m. Another marked channel runs parallel I00 m to the West. This is the ferry channel and is restricted. Make sure you enter the correct channel. Beware of very shallow areas on either side of the approach channel i.e. don't short cut the corners of the entrance! One of two isolated dangers outside the charted entrance is marked by a "stick". Give at least 50m clearance around the 'stick'.
Gem Island, Malaysia
A 16th Century Portuguese lighthouse is sited on the most prominent cape in all the Straits. From here, on a haze-less day, you can see Sumatra some 38km to the west and spot the swirling currents that indicate the strength of the tidal stream in the area. Although it is not a good spot to go for a swim, a number of 16th Century galleons have been discovered in the area, with more to come! The whole coast is shallow and suffers a strong tidal flow. Hence the number of sunken galleons that have lain undetected beneath the shallow murky waters.
Port Dickson is the weekend retreat for Kuala Lumpur residents. Although it appears that little has changed since the British departed, the traffic snarls that can happen are a modern phenomenon. Just about any sort of work can be done to small yachts with the services found in Admiral Marina and Seremban. Just 140nm from Singapore, the passage from Singapore does not present any real hardships except for the massive amount of commercial traffic in the Straits.
It is not really a tourist type of town. In her heyday, PD attracted some 600 ships a year and its importance as a port was established by colonial secretary Sir John Dickson who had a railway built to link PD and nearby Seremban. PD developed into an important oil terminal operated by Shell & Esso. Today the long jetty and the oil terminal are still operational and located at the northern end of town.
KLIA, the Malaysian capital's strikingly-styled airport, is about an hour's taxi ride away, as is the Sepang F1 Circuit.
Port Dickson is a shallow bay, but a decent enough anchorage can be made anywhere behind Pulau Arang in 2-7m of water. The holding is moderate as there is much broken coral behind the island. The best place to leave your dinghy on a visit to town is tied up to a laid up vessel next to the railway jetty from which you can get ashore to the main town area.
But the most sensible option is to stay in Admiral Marina.
Petronas Quay, Langkawi
Lies about 7km south of Port Dickson town and is probably the finest marina facility between Singapore and Langkawi. It boasts a number of slips available for visiting yachts and offers fresh water, electricity, waste disposal, food and beverage, a small haul-out facility, the best fueling jetty in the Straits and the Simpson Marine Sales and Service office.
Greg Yap, the Admiral Marina manager has upgraded the entrance lights with a 2-group flasher (red or green) at 2 second intervals and with a 5-mile visibility. Much better than the hit or miss that it used to be! Entertainment in the marina is dependent upon what boats are in – it’s really good when Bryce of Luna Nuova is there!
Two sand ridges run north-south in the bay from south of the marina to Pulau Arang. Vessels drawing more than 1.8m will find the sand during low tide.
This is not only one of the largest and busiest ports in Malaysia but is also the home of the Royal Selangor Yacht Club. The Raja Muda International Regatta, which is held in the last week of November each year, was founded by the Raja Muda of Selangor. An international event now in its 21st year, it is one of the three regattas that constitute the Southeast Asian Perpetual Cup Series.
A little luxury...
This is one of the most welcoming yacht clubs in the region for cruising yachtsmen. There is a daily rate for the use of the moorings, which we strongly recommend using, as the tides can exceed four knots in the Klang straits at Spring tides. Heavy rain can also be an issue. 'Jingo' or 'bum-boats' are used to ferry people to and from their moorings.
Designed by a commodore, the clubhouse shows forward thinking, as it is large, spacious and well-ventilated. There is a swimming pool among other facilities. The club is well known for its bar. The restaurant is also an institution having served consistently good and reasonable priced food. For the last few decades the club has operated a slipway where small to medium boats can slip for fair rates. Unfortunately the Port Klang River over which the Clubhouse stands is a filthy mess.
Diesel is available at the club pontoon as is fresh water. Water in Malaysia is good but at times heavily chlorinated. International telephone calls can be made from card phone booths. The Port Klang Post Office, about 1 km from the clubhouse, is open 0800-1700 hrs Mon-Fri. Yachts in transit may use the yacht club mailing address and faxes can be sent and received via the club.
The club also provides 24-hr security for the moorings, but gone are the days when a kerosene light used to be put on all yachts during the night and collected each morning.
Coming from Singapore, Port Klang is entered through the South Klang Straits. Coming from Pulau Pangkor, it will be through the North Klang Straits. Both are major shipping channels. Tidal range is over five meters and can exceed 4 knots. Both North and South Klang Straits are well-lit and well-buoyed, though due to numerous other lights, it can be confusing.
If approaching from South Klang Straits during ebb tides, or late at night or very tired, it is advisable to anchor as it is another 10nm to RSYC moorings.
Anchorage can be obtained off the southern tip or along the west coast of Pulau Cha Mat in 4-10 meters and also along the southeast area of Pulau Indah. In the North Klang Straits anchorage can be found between the two small islands that comprise Pulau Ansa or anywhere along the Ansa Bank. But don't forget the five-meter tidal range.
Sutera Harbour, Kota Kinabalu
A transit through Southeast Asia is not as foreboding as some people may have you think. The Indonesian Archipelago stretches from just north of Australia all the way up to Peninsular Malaysia encompassing some 16,500 islands or thereabouts. Southeast Asia is an intoxicating mix of culture, colour and exotic locations.
Customs formalities are well documented although each region has its own peculiarities. Simpson Marine has a chain of offices in strategic locations across the region allowing customers seamless assistance along the way.
Southeast Asia is governed by two predominant monsoons systems
The Northeast Monsoon covers the region from December to March. Conditions during this time are windy with average strengths of 18 - 24 knots. The Southwest Monsoon generally starts blowing from June to August. The annual system is punctuated by two Transition Periods between the monsoons and it is in the transition periods that squalls (known locally as Sumatras) make their appearance.
The area suffers strong tidal streams with tidal ranges of approximately 3.5 metres. The many flukes and channels around the islands are most often reef lined and warrant special vigilance when navigating.
Admiralty charts do exist for the entire region but pay particular notice as many of the charts covering the more remote regions have not been updated since they were first drafted. In some areas the rocks around the Indonesian Archipelago are out by as much as 250 metres.
Transiting from Australia to Thailand is very much possible. The most common points for transit after exiting Australia are Jakarta, Bali, Pulau Batam, Singapore, Malaysia and then into Thailand.
Most Most destinations in Indonesia are anchorages. This includes the popular island of Bali where Benoa Harbour is the most likely port of call. Pulau Batam lies at the northern end of the Indonesian chain and has a nice Med’ styled marina, a stones-throw from Singapore. Indonesia requires yachts to have valid cruising permits for various regions.
Singapore lies at the southern end of the Malacca Straits and has numerous marinas and most works and maintenance programs can be accomplished here.
From Singapore, yachts can choose to transit the East or West coasts of Malaysia. The East Coast is ideal for cruising during the SW Monsoon and is festooned with beaches, bays and islands. At its northern extreme, is the Gulf of Thailand. The West Coast contains the Malacca Straits, one of the busiest shipping lanes on the planet. The traffic separation zones are clearly demarcated and not as hazardous as one might imagine. More hazardous are the numerous coastal fishing boats that do not feature lights at night! The West Coast has most of the Malaysian marinas but is not as pretty as the East Coast.
Thailand’s cruising grounds can roughly be divided into the Gulf of Thailand to the east and the Andaman Sea area to the west. The Gulf contains Pattaya, Koh Samui and the Koh Chang group bordering Cambodia while the Andaman Sea holds the popular island destination of Phuket.
Here's a list of marinas spread across Southeast Asia:
Visit the Maldives in the north or venture south to the islands of Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius and the Comores.
The Maldives are a dazzling destination offering a pristine cruising ground of nearly 1200 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls. Likewise, the Seychelles - a renowned pirate 'base' during the 17th century - has spectacular cruising and an array of tourist resorts spread across nearly 100 islands.
For something different, visit the Spice Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba.
From the fabulous shopping, restaurants and entertainment of Monte Carlo and Cannes to the rugged beauty of the west coast of Corsica; the intimate harbour of Portofino; and the chic sophistication of Porto Cervo.
Today, popular destinations include Capri, the Amalfi Coast and the Croatian archipelago, as well as the stunning Ionian and Aegean waters of Greece.
The Mediterranean is a unique destination with a wide variety of destinations to enjoy.
To the north of the Caribbean are the Bahamas and the newly opened Cuba. With relatively short distances between Florida and Nassau, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, island-hopping is ideal for a private charter.
The Leeward and Windward Islands of the Caribbean offer isolated and beautiful beaches, and vibrant, cosmopolitan destinations.
From Copacabana to Rio, a South American private charter is a cultural experience to tempt the most adventurous traveller. It also presents an opportunity to explore the breathtaking southern latitudes of Cape Horn and Antarctica.
South America is an ideal destination for the adventurous sailor.