Penang marinas and anchorages update

A quick update on the marina situation here in Penang, Malaysia for those boats heading this way in the next few months.

Published 10 years ago, updated 4 years ago

Tanjong City Marina in the heart of World Heritage Listed Georgetown is no longer useable at all.  For quite a while now there have been a limited number of useable berths due to heavy silting and many of the fingers had broken up due to insufficient protection from boat traffic wash and strong currents.  Since about mid-July this year all of the berths are broken and the marina is closed to all boats.  It may be still possible to leave your dinghy there if you anchor nearby in the Junk Anchorage but when we motored past the old Tanjong City marina yesterday morning it even looked dubious (through binoculars) that there was anywhere left to tie a dinghy.  All the docks are completely broken up now. So sad!

The closure of this marina is a great loss to all those of us who love vibrant, fascinating Penang.

Straits Quays Marina on the north coast has a very limited number of available berths for visitors so advance booking is essential.

The tiny Jabatan Laut (Coast Guard) marina just south of the old (northernmost) bridge also has very few berths available and is extremely inconveniently located for sightseeing and shopping is a 15-minute bike ride to Queensbay Shopping Mall (and buses). The Jabatan Laut are charging 1RM per metre per day (short term) or 0.50RM per metre per day (monthly) even to anchor off the marina in order to use the marina for dinghy access.  NOTE:  The bridge in this area near the marina is NOT passable for yachts.  It has an air height of approximately 6  metres at high tide.

Some yachts have successfully anchored further south off Jerejak and managed to find shore access.  We have never been there so don’t know the details.

This pretty much leaves anchoring in the Junk Anchorage off the famous Chew Jetty (about 200 metres south of the car ferry terminal).  Be very sure that your anchor is set and holding well as the bottom there is known for it’s “junk” (i.e. large plastic bags etc.) which foul anchors.  We even pulled up part of an old iron bedstead once.  During Spring tides the current can run at 3 – 4 knots and an adverse afternoon breeze of up to 20 knots can create a nasty “wind against tide” situation whereby normal distances between anchored boats are not nearly enough.  Our boat was t-boned by another boat last year in just such a situation.  If possible choose to be there at Neaps. It’s necessary to check the tides when leaving your dinghy at the Chew Jetty too.

In the other anchorage near Tescos, the old marine police jetty no longer exists (nor the refuelling option in that area) as it’s totally taken over by the extensive land reclamation and building works.  It’s still possible to anchor out from Tescos, but once again, with no jetty, shore access is limited to a couple of hours either side of high water due to wide mud flats.  This brings you ashore next to a busy highway.  You’d probably be better off at Jerejak or the Junk anchorage, as other than Tescos there’s not much else in that area.

Because of the difficulties in obtaining a marina berth or safe anchorage now, you may choose to leave your boat in Langkawi and visit Penang by ferry – staying in one of the many cheap but decent hotels in Georgetown (e.g. Hotel Hong Ping in Chulia Street has doubles with ensuites for 75 RM/night and is neat and clean).  However you decide to visit Penang – don’t miss it!

Penang, and particularly the Georgetown area is such an interesting place and is a highlight of our time in Malaysia.

Safe cruising

Nick and Jan Wooller


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