Go Yachting in Malaysia
Prepared by Harold Stephens
Travel Correspondent for Thai Airways International
Malaysia has some fine cruising grounds for yachts. If you don't have your own yacht, you can rent or charter a boat at any of the major resort areas on the peninsula. But if it’s fancy, Monte Carlo type yacht clubs you are interested in, like some of those I wrote about in Singapore last week, you may be disappointed. Nevertheless, there are some fine yacht clubs and what Malaysia lacks in luxury yachting it makes up in variety.
Malaysia has two coasts, both good for cruising, and totally different from one another. The East Coast faces the South China Sea with blue water and some wonderful white sand beaches. The coast is also blessed with dozens of picturesque islands, ideal for cruising yachts, while West Coast follows along the Strait of Malacca. Here the waters are not so clear but the islands and ports along the coast have much to be seen. Sailing through the strait is like sailing through history.
The largest and oldest yacht club, which welcomes visitors, is the Royal Selangor Yacht Club in Port Klang. It was founded in 1969 when a group of boating and sailing enthusiasts were looking for a suitable location to establish a yacht club while the Anglo Oriental Company had just completed construction of a large dredge at the present Club site in Port Klang. Soon, with the co-operation and assistance from the Port Authority, the site was formed into a yacht club.
The Club was first registered as "Port Swettenham Yacht Club.” In the early years, club members invested in building a 20-ton slipway, serving hundreds of members and visiting yachts as well. In 1972, the Club's name was changed to "Selangor Yacht Club". Further investment was made on the pontoon system imported from Sweden, allowing members and their guests to board in comfort and safety.
On its 20th anniversary, March 1989, the "Royal Selangor Yacht Club" was officially opened and given its new name by the Patron, His Royal Highness the Sultan of Selangor. His Royal Highness was a frequent visitor to the Club with his family members, thus awarding the Club his warrant.
However, year 1992 witnessed a fire that spread from the adjacent commercial fuel jetty, destroying the Clubhouse. The staff managed to rescue the vital administrative records and continued in business in temporary offices in the present Yard Office whilst the new Clubhouse was being constructed. The new Clubhouse was completed and opened in 1996.
Today, with over 1,000 members, a moored fleet of 90 (30 keelboats and 60 powerboats), and a further 130 boats on the Club's hardstand, the RSYC is the largest and most active yacht club in the country. Members of any recognised yacht club worldwide are welcome to visit the Club and enjoy the facilities during their stay.
The Penang Yacht Club is located in George Town on Penang Island. All guests who moor there will have access to very basic services, such as water, electricity and fueling station. Its users may take advantage of its complete basic range of services. It is a marina with moderate capacity for super yacht size boats. It also has a travelift for boats up to 100 tons available for its customers. Well connected and not only accessible by sea, it is also close to the nearest airport.
Then we come to the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club. The club itself is situated on the southeast corner of Langkawi Island close to the island's main town, providing excellent access to duty-free shops and business facilities.
The club accommodates mega-yachts up to 60 metres and their close-to-shore pontoons have a low tide depth of 3 metres minimum. Pontoons have electricity, fuel and water supply and offer high-speed wi-fi Internet. Immigration and Customs are conveniently situated just a few minutes walk from RLYC marina.
Langkawi is a duty-free island off the northwest coast of Malaysia bordering Thailand. The archipelago comprises 104 beautiful jungle-covered islands of which only two are inhabited. The main island is home to some 80,000 residents and is a popular tourism destination throughout the year.
In times past, a club that I liked is the Lumut Yacht Club to the west of Pangkor Island. Located on a quiet river, it could hardly have been called a yacht club, where a Chinese family built a clubhouse and hung up a shingle and they were in business. But times have changed and it now calls itself Lumut International Yacht Club. The moorings for yachts are some of the best in Southeast Asia, and by that I mean they are well protected. The club is very cozy and informal. Clubhouse has a restaurant, bar, gym, reading room, indoor games, fax and telephone. Repairs and maintenance can be arranged, and there are accommodations consisting of four rooms.
We now move to the East Coast. Several rivers along the coast empty into the China Sea but the mouths of these rivers cannot be navigated due to silting up. Sailors of old who wanted to re-supply and fill their water casks had to turn to the islands, like Tioman Island that became vary popular for early Chinese traders.
There are no yacht clubs per se on the islands but most villages cater to yachts and visitors.
Rawa is a very pleasant coral island off the east coast of Johor, 16 km by boat from Mersing town. Tourists from Malaysia and Singapore come to enjoy its relatively unspoiled white sand beaches, snorkelling and scuba diving. Nearby islands include Pulau Harimau and Pulau Mensirip. There is a daily ferry service from Mersing.
Pulau Redang, situated 45km off the coast of Kuala Terengganu, is the largest of all Terengganu's islands. Pulau Redang is actually an archipelago that comprises eight other islands—Lima Island, Paku Besar Island, Paku Kecil Island, Kerengga Besar Island, Kerengga Kecil Island, Ekor Tebu Island, Ling Island and Pinang Island. From the very first glance, Pulau Redang enchants visitors with its compelling beauty. Its incredibly azure waters fringed by white sand, against the backdrop of verdant jungle-clad hills make picture-postcard views.
Finally, we have Tioman Island, located 32 km off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia in the state of Pahang. It is some 39 km long and 12 km wide. It has eight main villages, the largest and most populous being Kampung Tekek in the north. The densely forested island is sparsely inhabited, and is surrounded by numerous coral reefs, making it a popular scuba diving spot. There are also a lot of resorts and chalets around the island which has duty free status.
Its beaches were depicted in the 1958 movie, South Pacific, as Bali Hai. In the 1970s, TIME Magazine selected Tioman as one of the world's most beautiful islands.
Apart from its diverse marine life, the inland rainforest area, encompassing approximately 12,383 hectares, in Tioman is a strictly enforced nature reserve. There are several protected species of mammals on the island, including the Binturong, Long-tailed Macaque, Slow Loris, Black Giant Squirrel, Red Giant Flying Squirrel, Mouse deer, Brush-tailed Porcupine, and Common Palm Civet, from a total of 45 species of mammals and 138 species of birds, including the majestic Frigatebird. Moreover, Tioman has species that are endemic to its shores. The soft-shelled turtle and the Tioman walking catfish are both unique and can be seen on rainforest walks.
The island is served by ferries from the Malaysian mainland, and a propeller plane service by Berjaya Air from the Seletar Airport in Singapore and Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, Selangor.
There are boats for rent at most of the islands, and there is always a fishing boat that is willing to take visitors on tours.
E-mail: ROH Weekly Travel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Note: The article is the personal view of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the view of Thai Airways International Public Company Limited.
Malaysia has resorts on both coasts, and clubs
Some great yacht clubs but few boats
Small yacht clubs like this one in Lumut
A little rustic but fun
Penang has a fine yacht near the cannon
You can always go boating on