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Popular Malaysian Anchorages: Sebana Cove or Danga Bay?

By Sandy Wise — last modified Jan 15, 2014 01:55 PM
Here Sandy Wise of SY Southern Wing compares the 2 popular Malaysian anchorages close to Singapore.

Published: 2014-01-15 00:00:00
Countries: Indonesia , Malaysia , Singapore

Popular Malaysian Anchorages: Sebana Cove or Danga Bay?

Danga Bay Marina: © SY Southern Wing

Sebana Cove

The scuttlebutt amongst the cruising fraternity is that Sebana Cove is no longer the place to go. I had heard it was not being maintained and the ferry to Singapore no longer goes there. We have a catamaran so we don’t go into marina’s anyway but we thought we would have a look and just take a break from the busy rally schedule we had just come from.

Our decision to go to Sebana Cove was based on a number of things.
1) We had just finished a fabulous 3-months sailing Indonesia and were very tired.
2) We did not feel like traversing the busy end of the Singapore straight to go to Danga Bay (our other choice) and Sebana Cove was only 20 nautical miles from Lagoi where we had cleared out of Indonesia.
3) Approximately 25 boats were leaving at the same time to go to Danga Bay and we thought it may be a bit crowded.
4) We had heard Danga Bay was noisy and busy with marine traffic; and
5) You can't anchor outside the Danga marina because of dredging being undertaken.

First of all, let me say that we did not stay in the marina at Sebana Cove but outside in the river, so I cannot comment on the workability of the marina utility facilities themselves. We stayed for two weeks and all information is as of the date of writing.

General

The Sungai Santi River up to the Sebana Cove marina is easy to traverse. The shallowest depth was 4 ½ meters at the mouth at a near to low tide. It is tree lined with a few fishing huts off to the side. There is no industry or housing. About half way up the river are overhead power lines; the charts and guides showing varying heights. Cmap says 46 meters. Our mast is 23 meters from the waterline and it looked like we had at least 20 meters more to spare. We anchored just down from the entrance to the marina and had a short dinghy ride to the end of the pontoon. Just a note, that if you are going to anchor in the river, there is a small bay dug into the bank of the river on the same side as the resort. Do not anchor in front of this as a small working ship comes there every day to load up and you will be in their way.

Malaysia_Sebana Cove_Resort PoolThe Resort

The resort is beautiful. There is little evidence that the communal buildings and grounds had not been maintained. I cannot comment on apartments but there was a lot of renovating going on while we were there. A Google search revealed, that the buildings are made out of rubble stone masonry and are beautiful. There are coconut palms everywhere and the grounds are tidy and presented well. The restrooms and restaurant were clean. There are two beautiful swimming pools, a gym and plenty of places to laze back and relax in a quiet, traditional Malaysian resort atmosphere. The restaurant has open verandahs overlooking the river and the marina, and has a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu with reasonable prices. Both local and western dishes are offered. A steak was priced at 30 ringgit (Rng) which is approximately A$10 and local dishes 15 Rng, though I cannot comment on how good the steaks were as we ate Malaysian foods while we were there.

Clearing In

You can clear in at Sebana Cove marina and this is included in the marina fee.  If you stay in the river you can still clear in at Sebana Cove marina but for a fee. Because we thought it would be cheaper, we cleared in at Pengelih with no cost and very little waiting. You have to go past Pengelih to get to Sebana Cove. If you decide to clear in at Pengelih then you can anchor temporarily just out from the entrance of the Pengelih local marina, but make sure you leave room for the ferry's to go back and forth.

Transport

A taxi to Johor Bahru central (I was told) will cost approximately 180 Rng return which shared among 2 couples is reasonable. If you intend going to Danga Marina then I would leave it until then. A ferry goes to Singapore once a week from Sebana Cove however, there are ferries and bum boats going across from Pengelih and Belungkor most days. You can catch a taxi to Pengelih or Belungkor (approx. 50 Rng) and then get a boat to Singapore any day except Friday which is the Muslim holiday. If you leave early, say 6.00 am, you strike the rush hour however, if you leave too late you may miss the boat.

There is a resort shuttle that goes Tuesdays and Thursdays into the local town called Sengai Ringit. The cost is 10 Rng per person one way if the bus is full. If you are the only person on the bus you will pay the full price of 40 Rng. A taxi will cost you around 40 Rng return and will wait for you for an extra 10 ringgit

Phone and Shops

There are local markets, two Banks/ATM’s, general stores and phone shops to sort out new sim cards. If you sign up with the phone carrier Celcom, the locals say you have better reception. However, I could not find the cheap prefix numbers that would work with Celcom. A prefix number can be added to the overseas number you want to call and will cut your call costs down by more than half depending if you call a mobile or landline. In the end I  had to buy a Hotlink sim card. A one hour call with Hotlink to a landline in Australia is approximately A$2.00 or 4 Rng.

Fuel

They do not have diesel or petrol at the marina, but it can be obtained by catching a taxi to the local Shell garage at Sengai Ringgit with no problems. Including this into your shopping trips makes it a cheap day. You cannot take fuel on the shuttle.

Malaysia_Sebana Cove_MarinaThe Marina

We arrived at the marina in our dinghy after anchoring down river. We pulled up at the end of the pontoon so we could check out the walk-way as we had been told that there were rotten boards and to be careful. Yes there are boards on the main walkway that are deteriorating, but nothing we came across that was dangerous. The weather has gotten into the ends of some of them and they are painted with a white X so I presume maintenance may be forthcoming. I did not check out every finger but have seen worse elsewhere. I cannot comment on the serviceability of the utilities.

Yachting Services

There are no haul-out facilities here. Wi Fi is free and we were able to connect out in the river. Laundry is 5 Rng per kilo and there is a golf course, gym, swimming pools, restaurant, and units. If you are staying at the marina the pool is inclusive however, because we were staying in the river it cost us 10 Rng to use the pool for the day. They may be open to negotiating a weekly rate.

Marina Fees

The Marina fees are comparable with most other marina's in the area other than Danga Bay.

Power and water are charged by consumption.

Catamarans and Trimarans are charged 40% extra however and if you anchor within the marina walls it is 30% off the berthing rate and 50% off if anchored in the river at the gazetted position. There is a 6% govt tax on all berthing rates.

The berth rates are based on LOA and some examples quoted from their price list for the year 2013 are as follows:

25.1 – 30.0 ft                         weekly            150      rng

30.01 – 35.0 ft                      weekly            182.50 rng

35.1 – 40 ft                             weekly            200      rng

40.01 – 50.0                          weekly              250      rng

50.01 to 60.0 ft                      weekly            282.50 rng

If you decide to stay downriver and dinghy it to the resort, you can use the restaurant, shuttle, pool, golf course and laundry service which all require cash payments. We thought the resort was great and had no complaints other than there were very few other yachty's to talk to. This marina provides an alternative to staying in the busier marinas especially for those who want a quieter time.

Danga Bay Marina

General

After resting up in Sebana Cove we became lonely and decided to go to Danga Bay Marina where a lot of our friends were. We were required to clear out of Pengelih first.

Popular Malaysian Anchorages: Sebana Cove or Danga Bay? You have to take the long way around to Danga Bay because of the causeway between Johor Bahru and Singapore. We left at daybreak to catch the tide around the Danga Bay side for 1.00 pm. It is worth timing your trip to coincide with the tides as going up the straight to Danga Bay against the current can be slow going. When going from Sebana Cove to Danga Bay you don't have to cross the shipping lane and can go on the edge of the Singapore border making it a reasonably pleasant motor/sail. It is compulsory to have an AIS if traveling in Singapore waters, so if you do not have one its best to stay on the edge of the international shipping lane.

The Management of Danga Bay Marina likes to know that you are coming so email them before arriving - Marina Manager, marina@dangabay.com or dangamarina@gmail.com. Office hours are Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm, Saturday 8.30am to 1.00pm, Sunday and Public Holidays they are closed. Once you arrive call VHF channel 74 and they will guide you in and have their staff take your ropes.

Clearing In

Customs, Immigration and Harbour Master clearance can be done here at no charge.

Transport

One of the reasons for staying at Danga Marina is that it is close to all the shops and convenient for getting boat parts as well as work done on your boat. It is only a 10 minute bus ride to KipMart the local fresh food and super market. The marina provides a daily shuttle to the local Danga Mall at no cost, leaving at 11.00am and coming back at 1.00pm. Make sure you put your name down the day before. Buses also leave regularly from outside the marina to Johor Bahru where you can get off at the City Plaza. From here it is a short walk to the older Chinese and Indian sectors of the city. The food is cheap and delicious, $A5.00 for two including a soft drink. There are plenty of Westernized malls within a short bus ride or taxi ride from the Marina. With a combination of buses and trains it is a 2 hour trip to Singapore central by the time you add in the passport checks at the boarder and this is very cheap but a lot of walking. However, for $30 Rng there and $10 (Singapore) back, in a shared taxi it is a lot less walking and a lot quicker. If you go to Singapore, your visa will be renewed for a further 3 months upon returing to Johor Bahru.

Fuel

There is no fuel at the marina. The best thing to do is to ask around at the marina for the contacts to get fuel. They change over time but you should have no problem. The manager can also advise you in this regard.

Shops/Hospitals

There are also a number of westernized supermarkets that you can get meat, cheese, milk etc. The marina provides an information list of where you can get most things. You can get bacon on the other side of Johor Bahru at Cold Storage Plaza, Pelangi. Catch the bus into Johor Bahru and walk to the head of the bus stop to catch another bus to Pelangi. It will cost about 15 ringget by taxi. I could not get bacon at Giant, Kip Mart or Danga Mall. Danga Mall is the place to go if you want any computer, telephone, camera or electrical equipment along those lines. Computer repairs can also be done here up on the third floor. For more specialized electrical bits and pieces for your boat there is a brilliant shop at 118, Jalan Keris, Taman Sri Tebrau on the other side of Johor Bahru call CW Electric. You will need to get a taxi there.

If you have any health issues the services in Johor Barhu Private Hospital are very cheap compared to Australian prices. For example, an xray costs approximately A$13.00 and a specialist visit cost approximately A$37.00. A look at the qualifications of the specialist shows that 95% of the specialists have done their specialty degrees overseas in places like Edinburgh, the USA, and Australia. I arrived there without an appointment and was in to see a specialist within one hour. It is an $8 Rng taxi ride to the hospital and $10 Rng back to Danga Marina.

The MarinaPopular Malaysian Anchorages: Sebana Cove or Danga Bay?Malaysia_Danga Bay_Yachty Area

The management and staff in the marina are friendly and helpful. There is an air conditioned library/chart room, laundry service, free wi fi, shower and toilet. Power is on top of the weekly rate but water is free. Unfortunately, there is a night club at the marina which starts around 11.00 pm and finishes at 3.30 am so pack your earplugs although, some parts of the marina are not as noisy as others.

Marina Fees

For any size yacht - 100 Rng per week (approx A$33) live on-board. Off-board is 150.00 Rng per week and there is plenty of room for Catamarans. Of course, it is worth checking before arriving.

Services

There are no haul out facilities here but it is a good place to do small maintenance and repair jobs as it is close to the shops. A list of different shops and services is provided by the marina. Some yachts have replaced engines here.

Conclusion - Sebana Cove or Danga Bay?

Both marinas are very different from each other and depending on your needs could both warrant a stay. However, they both have their drawbacks as well as their positives.

If you want to just rest up for awhile then Sebana Cove is a nice quiet place to include in your itinerary and is an easy hop from Indonesia or arriving from Borneo. Sebana Cove Marina is beautiful and is a lovely peaceful setting to have a break. It is also a good base to tour the south eastern side of Johor Bahru. We found the main drawbacks were the necessity for a taxi each time you wanted to go to town and the full cost of the shuttle if no one else was going to town.  With very few cruising yachts there, it lacked the social contact that we like, however that may not be the case at other times of the year.

The main positives about Danga Bay is its convenience to many shops, hospitals and Johor Bahru and I don't know of any marina as cheap. So it's good for a long stay if inside and above deck maintenance is required. Its biggest drawbacks are the night club noise, water pollution and the public promenade going right past your boat depending on where you are in the marina.

I am glad we went to both places as they served two different purposes for us. We were happy we had the peace and quiet of Sebana Cove to recuperate from our busy time coming across Indonesia, but enjoyed the convenience of the shops and replenishment of spare parts at Danga Bay.

I hope you enjoy both places as much as we did.

SY Southern Wing

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