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Cruising the coast of Brunei and The Port of Muara

By Sue Richards last modified Aug 27, 2010 01:39 PM

Published: 2010-08-27 13:39:29
Countries: Brunei

We left Miri Marina (Malaysia), and headed out to deep water before turning North East again. Our destination was Kuala Belait that was listed as a Port Of Entry into Brunei.

Beware of the Oil Industry Support vessels returning to Port here as dusk approaches, we were nearly run down by one that refused to give way to us.

Kuala Belait

As dusk was approaching, we anchored in the South West corner of the quarantine anchorage, our hearts still beating fast from the near miss, to wait for the following morning. The flare, that helps mark the entrance, and is mentioned in the pilot book, was not lit at the time of our visit.

The nest morning I called Belait Port Control to request entry to the port. During the conversation with the Port official, I asked about the depth of water over the bar, as there is meant to be a dredged channel through it. The official replied that the channel had not been dredged, and a least depth of 0.7 metres existed over it at low water. At high water, there would be 2.1 metres least depth, which is too close to our draft of 2.0 metres! We decided to abandon booking into Belait and to press on to The Sultans Folly.

Jerudong - The Sultans Folly (Duck Pond)

The Sultans Folly (it’s local name, also locally known as the duck pond!) is a private marina built by one of the Princes of Brunei. It is situated at Jerudong, and appears on both CMap and Navionics Charts. The marina is huge, with stone and concrete sea walls, a walkway all the way round the top of the walls, and an island in the middle of it! It is ostensibly private, and yachts have been asked to move on in the past. There are no visible facilities inside.

There are two large marks outside that are unlit and therefore a hazard. The entrance and the marks both show up well on RADAR. I plotted the position of the two large marks on RADAR;

The north mark is at approximately (WGS 84) 04°57’.685 N, 114°48’.405 E

The south mark is at approximately (WGS 84) 04°57’.615 N, 114°48’.330 E.

A way point at approximately (WGS 84) 04°57’.6 N, 114°48’.5 E should put you clear of both. Eye ball navigation is the order of the day!

We anchored inside on the starboard side of the entrance at (WGS 84) 04°57’.20 N, 114°48’.53 E in 6.8 metres of water, the bottom being sticky mud. Good all round shelter due to the sea wall and the island.

We arrived at just past sunset, and left the next morning at sunrise, so as not to prejudice any future yachts that may want to use the very sheltered anchorage.

Our next port of call was Muara, the only major deep sea port in Brunei.


It has been mentioned before, but still a reminder may help jog the memory. Do not cut into the buoyed channel. Keep to the channel sides of all marks as the training wall to starboard is submerged until just before the Port Control Station and is a serious danger to shipping. There are mud flats to the port side. A yacht that cut into the channel over the submerged trailing wall was on shore at RBYC, the damage was not pretty!

The channel is well marked, the marks being lit at night, so a night entry would be possible. Upon entry, call up Port Control on VHF Channel 16, changing to Channel 12, the working channel when requested to do so. If you do not contact them, they will hail you.

The Port Control Officer will ask the usual questions, name of yacht, LOA, Beam, Draft, number of people on board, Nationality, Port of Registry etc.

Follow the buoyed channel into the river. Beware of the cross current just before the training wall emerges from the sea. There will also be up to 1.5 knots of current either in or out of the river depending on the state of the tide. Large vessels enter at slack water because of this cross current.

Keeping to the starboard side of the channel continue up into the port area. You will pass the Brunei Naval Base, the Shell depot with associated tank farm, various other installations including the main quay with two container handling cranes. The blue buildings in the starboard side, just before the cement off-loading quay, house the Port Offices, Customs and Immigration, inside the ferry terminal. The ferry terminal is obvious as it has two covered jetties.

Continue up the river until you see the moored yachts, moorings, etc. of the Royal Brunei Yacht Club (RBYC). This is on the starboard bank of the river, just past the main anchorage area.

Anchor outside the moored yachts, but away from the channel up the river. Do not venture too close inshore, as it shallows very quickly. For some reason it took two attempts to get our anchor to bite.


CIQ clearance is carried out at the ferry terminal which can be reached by land, but a fair hike, or by tender. Tie the tender to to small landing inside the ferry terminal, about half way down the central covered walkway.

The Port Authorities are just round the second turning, at the end of the walkway. Produce your previous port clearance etc. Fill in the arrival documents and give a copy of your crew list. The officer will tell you how much your light dues will be upon leaving, and will give you the outward clearance documents for completion prior to clearing out of Muara.

Next stop is Immigration, where we were given a 30 day visa. Customs next, giving them all the required paperwork and another crew list, and your in!

To get back to your tender, enter the departure lounge, walk through after having you newly issued visa checked, down the covered walkway to the extreme end, back on your self until adjacent to the tender landing area.

We checked out of Muara the day after, it being the reverse process of clearing in except that you need a health officers stamp before you get the application for Port Clearance from the Port Authority Officer. Again all officials were very friendly and helpful. Our light dues were B$ 3.40.

We were requested to call Port Control before leaving the anchorage, which took 30 minutes before we got a response! We left on the ebb, again seeing 1.5 knots of current.

Royal Brunei Yacht Club (RBYC)

RBYC is very welcoming, with excellent food at reasonable prices. They make a slight profit by charging B$25 for a B$20 book of tickets which you use to pay for everything within the club premises. The club is the only place in Brunei that you can still take your own alcohol to. Please do not abuse this fact by over indulging! Alcohol is totally banned in Brunei, and can only be imported on a very limited basis for consumption by non-Muslim locals and ex-pats. It is allegedly available in one or two up market hotels, and in the Mess at the Royal Brunei Training base, that uses British Army Instructors.

Getting to BSB can be a bit of a nightmare. The local bus, number 33, takes you to Muara. Then either number 37, 38 or 39 takes you to the central bus station in BSB. Each bus has a flat rate fare of B$1, irrespective of distance. If in doubt, ask the driver which bus you need, they are extremely helpful, this advice stands for all trips around BSB!

The number 33 bus is really a local taxi, and might not happen along the road where the RBYC is situated for quite some time, be prepared for a wait or try to get a lift into Muara. The buses stop in the central square. We dropped lucky and got a lift into BSB by a local ex-pat.

Muara Local Info.

If, like us, you have no Brunei Dollars, there is a money changer, at users rates, just outside the ferry port entrance to the extreme right of the ticket offices. Ringgit are changed willingly here. Note, the Brunei Dollar is linked to the Singapore Dollar and Singapore notes are frequently found in your change.

There is an excellent Apple Mackintosh, iPod, iPhone, etc. shop in Kiulap, a shopping centre just outside town. Take bus number 20. (They sorted out my iPod free of charge, while I waited!)

There is a chandler of sorts, Hai Hwang Trading Co. that is the sole distributor for Yamaha outboard motors (both 2 and 4 stroke) and supplier of parts. They are also authorised dealers for Garmin GPS and multi function displays and Richie Compasses. They carry a small stock of stainless steel fastenings, Kossan Marine paints, Morse type control cables, bilge pumps and fuel tanks, clear plastic for biminis, water proof canvas, epoxy adhesives etc. Very helpful people. It is just behind the central bus station at:

Hai Hwang Trading Co.No. 82 Jalan Roberta
Bandar Seri Begawan
BS 8711
Phone 673 222 9471

We took the number 39 bus back to Muara, which goes “the scenic route”, so don’t be alarmed if you are driven through an army camp! Number 33 was waiting in the square at Muara, and we were asked where we wanted to be dropped off! We did say it was more like a local taxi service!! A word of warning, the last number 33 bus leaves Muara at 18:00, and we didn’t see any taxis…..

Obtaining Philippines Visas

Our main purpose for visiting Brunei was to obtain Philippines Visas. The Embassy is situated in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan, locally known as BSB. For those wishing to obtain visas the address is:

Embassy of the Philippines,
No. 17 Simpang 126,
Km 2,
Jalan Tutong
BA 2111

Download the visa application forms in .pdf format, from their web site, before visiting the Embassy.

The Embassy is on bus route number 48 from the central bus station. Ask the conductress (yes, they even have “clippies”) to ask the driver to drop you off at the bottom of the road leading to the Embassy.

If by any chance neither know the location of the Embassy, the following may help. After leaving town, passing all the various government buildings, a medium sized mall will appear on your left hand side. This is easily spotted as one shop has nothing but huge electrical and electronic advertisements plastered over it. Just after this there is a footbridge over the main road. One stop after the footbridge is where the Embassy road is, but on the other side of the main road! There is a building with an extremely shiny stainless steel fence round it, just before the Embassy road. Walk up the road, the Embassy is on the left at the top.

Present all paperwork, application form, ‘photos, and B$ 68 for each person (August 2010) to the very helpful Embassy clerk. Tell them you are arriving in the Philippines by yacht. They will want a copy of the yacht’s registration document and a crew list.

We dropped all the paper work off in the morning and picked up the visas at 15:00 the same day. The clerk informed us that they would be faxing our port of entry (Porto Princessa) that we would be arriving and to expect us. The visa is for 59 days from date of entry, but is valid for a total of 3 months, thus giving us 1 month before we have to clear in.

Jerry & Caz
Yacht Mandarina