Pangkor and Penang, Lightning and Hospitality

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Tue 5 Dec 2023 10:11

The route to Pangkor passes Port Klang, the largest port in Malaysia. We had two choices of route; 

1. Up through the port between Pulau Klang and the mainland, then stop at an anchorage at the north end of the port to continue in daylight.

2. Go round the outside of the islands and keep going through the night to be off Pankor in the morning.

We decided that we would go overnight. As we reached Port Klang the tide was turning and we would probably have had to plug the tide for four hours through the harbour then anchored in deep water, so as to be able to negotiate the shallow water fishing boats the next day in daylight. Going round the outside meant less tide and a deep water passage, so less chance of unlit fishing boats to negotiate, most of the deep water fishing boats at least have lights, some have AIS too. We were also able to sail for a few hours, a rare opportunity so far on this trip.

As night fell we were sailing well as the daily storm reached us and in heavy rain with thunder and lightning all around us we dodged through the fishing fleet with fingers crossed.  During the Sail Indonesia Rally one boat was hit by lightning and they are still in Singapore having instruments and engine electronics replaced.

At Pangkor we anchored to the west of Pangkor Island for a couple of nights and then went into the Marina. We needed some provisions and wanted to look at the shops for boat maintenance bits, this is the first place with any chandlery available since Australia. We decided while in the marina that this is probably the best place to haul Serenity out when we fly home to UK for a few weeks next year.  There are paints, parts and tradesmen available and it’s duty free for the import of yacht parts. The marina also has a resort nearby with sensibly priced accommodation and they offer cheap car hire, winners all round.

Pankor marina and boatyard are run by James, one of the rally organisers and he is determined that we have a good time. Events planned for Pankor included a tour of Pankor Island with buffet lunch on the beach, Rally dinner with entertainment, shopping trip to the local mall and chandleries, barbecue. These were all free as was five nights in the marina! There was also an option of a day tour to Ipoh, a nearby city famed as the entrance to the Cameron Highlands but due to a lack of interest this was cancelled.

We don’t have many photos of Pankor as I’m sure pictures of meals would all look the same.

Large Mosque on Pangkor Island

Large fishing boats are built on beachside slipways on Pangkor Island using traditional methods.

On to Penang and the world heritage site of Georgetown. Pangkor to Penang is a one day sail. Starting at first light we made good progress motor sailing, staying in deep water to avoid some of the fishing boats and dodging the rest. We arrived toward the south end of Penang Island just as an electric storm came south toward us. Yachts already at the marina at the north of Penang were reporting strong winds and rough seas so we looked for shelter in the lee of Palau Rimau. The passage in wasn’t too bad, strong gusty winds, rain and lightning in the distance. Two boats behind us anchored to await the storms passing and unfortunately one was hit by lightning, taking out his radio and navigation instruments and starting one engine! He is now back in Pankor sorting it all out. Considering the regularity of electrical storms here it is surprising that only two boats have been hit.  We have taken to keeping as much electrical kit in the oven during storms as we believe this acts as a ‘faradays cage’ and offers protection.

Next day we finished the trip to the anchorage at the north end of Penang Island, passing under the two bridges that connect Pulau Penang to the mainland.

Penang is a Malaysian state with it’s capital at Georgetown on Penang Island, this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the main trading route through the Melaka Strait the city has developed with Chinese, Indian and Colonial architecture. We anchored at the north outside of Straits Quay Marina (we could have had a marina berth but due to its shallow entrance the time we could get in and out was too restricted) and went into the city by Grab. Looking first around the Chinese Clan Quays then walking  through the narrow streets past street art to the Komtar. This is the highest building in Penang and offers views across the city from a viewing level on the 66th floor and a glass walkway curving out above the city on its 68th floor. It also had a nice restaurant for a lunch stop.


Street Art in Penang.

68 floors up on the glass walkway.

We then wandered back through the city heading for the waterfront and happened to come across The National Dragon Dance Competition.

These dragons were dancing in front of a temple, next door in the Chinese Townhall was the main competition. Very gymnastic dancing by the two people inside, and the dragons changed facial expressions. They were accompanied by a drum band.

The first main event at Penang was a sail in convoy below the bridge, it is the first time that the rally has visited Penang since before the Covid pandemic and Sasli the organiser wanted some promotional photos. Eight boats took part, four of us sailed back south for it and the others had timed their arrival to take part.

23 metres clearance enough for us although it doesn’t feel like it as you approach.

In the evening was the Rally Dinner at The Lighthouse with entertainment and Tamil food by a top local chef. The lighthouse was built as a visitor centre and museum at the marina, this was the first event held there for a number of years. It also coincided with our Wedding Anniversary so thanks to the rally for another free dinner.

Dinner at The Lighthouse

Anniversary couple.

A number of boats left the next day for Langkawi but as we have time to spare we decided to stay and have another wander through this interesting city.



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