Sailing Guide

Strait of Malacca (East)

Strait of Malacca (East)



The Strait of Malacca is a narrow, 805 km stretch of water between the Malay Peninsula (Peninsular Malaysia) and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Singapore Strait is the area lying between the S coasts of Malaysia and Singapore Island on the N side and the coast of Sumatera on the S side.
The Strait of Malacca and Singapore Strait together form the main seaway connecting the Indian Ocean with the South China Sea. The straits offer the shortest route for tankers between the Persian Gulf and Japan.

The strait is the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, linking major Asian economies such as India, China, Japan and South Korea. Over 50,000  vessels pass through the strait per year carrying about one-quarter of the world's traded goods including oil, Chinese manufactures, and Indonesian coffee.

Malaccamax is a naval architecture term for the largest size of ship capable of fitting through the 25 metres (82 ft)-deep Strait of Malacca. 

Shipping hazards:

Piracy in the strait has risen in recent years. There were about 25 attacks on vessels in 1994, 220 in 2000, and just over 150 in 2003 (one-third of the global total). After attacks rose again in the first half of 2004, the Malaysian, Indonesian and Singaporean navies stepped up their patrols of the area in July 2004. Subsequently, attacks on ships in the Strait of Malacca dropped, to 79 in 2005 and 50 in 2006.

There are 34 shipwrecks, some dating to the 1880s, in the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS), the channel for commercial ships. These pose a collision hazard in the narrow and shallow Strait.

Another risk is the yearly haze caused by raging bush fires in Sumatra. It can reduce visibility to 200 metres (660 ft), forcing ships to slow down in the busy strait. Ships longer than 350 metres (1,150 ft) routinely use the strait.

Winds _ Weather:

Along the N coast of Sumatera, the Southwest Monsoon prevails from about April to November and the Northeast Monsoon from about November to April.
During the Southwest Monsoon the wind frequently holds both day and night near Ujung Raya, while farther E it is not so permanent.
In the strength of the Northeast Monsoon, the wind blows from E to NE from about 1000 to 1600, strengthening near the close. It then begins to drop and is usually calm about sundown; there is a land breeze during the night. In April, SW and W winds begin; the Southwest Monsoon is established in May.
Waterspouts are seen off the coast at times.
At the N and NE portion of Sumatra, during the Northeast Monsoon, there is generally a swell on the coast, which gives rise to a considerable sea in the afternoon, if accompanied by a stiff sea breeze. Both subside quickly, so that the water is generally smooth at night and in the forenoon.
At times, the monsoon blows strongly for some days, at which times communication with the shore is reported impracticable.
December and January, are usually the worst months.
The Southwest Monsoon is the best for landing on this portion of Sumatera.
Although the Strait of Malacca is within the limits of the NE and Southwest Monsoon of the Indian Ocean, on account of the high land on either of the strait, the winds are variable.
However, land and sea breezes are regular on both coasts.


In the Strait of Malacca to the W of the islands N of the N Sumatera coast, there is a current setting in a W direction, often attaining a rate of 1.5 to 2 knots, and inclining N or SW by the action of the prevailing monsoon.
Between these islands and the Nicobars, during the strength even of the Southwest Monsoon, there is frequently a current that sets directly into the monsoon at a rate of 2 knots.
At the same period there is said to be a strong current between Pulau Weh and 6°30'N, setting E as far as the meridian of Tanjung Jambuair. This current is said to continue all the year around, but with less strength during the Northeast Monsoon.
It is to be regarded as a countercurrent with reference to the W current along the coast from the Strait of Malacca.
Through the Strait of Malacca there is a constant NW set, but near the S, where the strait is considerably narrower, it is only felt by its action on the tidal current, decreasing the velocity of the flood current and almost overcoming it during neaps, and increasing that of the ebb to the same extent.

In the NW portion the same effect is produced near the shore on the tidal currents, but out in the middle of the strait it is fairly constant and strongest during the Northeast Monsoon; it finally makes its way seaward along the coast and affects the tidal current there, as above mentioned.
The tidal action is not appreciable beyond the distance of about 8 miles off the Pedir coast and about 40 miles off the E coast of Sumatera.
The flood sets E on the N coast of Sumatera and the ebb W, rarely exceeding 2 knots at spring; at neaps they are sometimes imperceptible, except at the points or over banks and narrow channels.
The currents are also affected by the constant current out of the Strait of Malacca, which takes a W direction along the N coast,  through the passages S of Pulau Weh, so that for the greater part of the year the ebb current is longer and stronger than the flood current.
The prevailing winds as a result of which, when the water is rising or falling during the Northeast Monsoon, there may be no E set for a day or more; conversely, the flood or E current runs long and stronger during the Southwest Monsoon.

The overall set in the strait is to the NW, but from May to September there is a tendency for SE sets to prevail in some N and central parts but the predominance is very slight. On the average, between 50 and 60 per cent of all current observations in the strait are 0.5 knot or less. A small portion of these observations exceed 2 knots.
In the N part of the strait, the general directions of the tidal currents are SE and NW. The SE stream reaches maximum rate about 1 hour prior to HW and the NW current reaches maximum rate about 1 hour before LW.
In the main fairway, the spring rates are about 1.5 knots, but may reach 2.5 to 3 knots in the more restricted channels and inshore waters.
The tidal currents in the S end of the Strait of Malacca set SE and NW to and from Selat Durian (1°00'N., 103°35'E.); they are not  necessarily associated with any particular currents and may meet or separate from the latter S of Tanjung Piai (1°16'N., 103°31'E.), the S extremity of the Malay Peninsula.


The depths in the Strait of Malacca are generally irregular and a considerable portion of the bottom is of sand wave formation. Depths in the main shipping channels vary from 14.9 to over 100m.
Dangerous sand banks which can restrict navigation are located in both traffic separation scheme lanes of One Fathom Bank (2°53'N., 100°59'E.) and Fair Channel Bank (1°28'N., 103°08'E.).
Areas NW of One Fathom Bank and SW of Tanjung Tuan (Cape Rachado) (2°24'N., 101°51'E.) are subject to sand wave formation. Deep-draft vessels should, therefore, take particular note of the latest depths over shoals lying in or near the fairway.

Navigational aids are often unreliable, especially in Indonesian waters. Risk of collision is appreciable due to heavy traffic using the through routes, frequent crossing traffic, and local fishing craft with nets.

Strait of Malacca (East)
Strait of Malacca
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Sites around Strait of Malacca (East)
Flying distances - Direct line

Tanjung Piandang to Port Kelang (Malaysia)

There is a practically continuous strip of mangrove forest, which varies in width from 0.5 mile to 8 miles between Tanjung Piandang and Tanjung Batu, about 41 miles S.
These mangroves are generally creeping seaward as the deposits from the muddy creeks increase.
Extensive mud ...
21 Dec 11

Tanjong Ru to Tanjong Piai (Malaysia)

The N coast of the Strait of Malacca between Tanjung Ru and Tanjung Piai, about 166 miles SE, is only slightly indented.
Most of the shoal areas which lie off this section of coast are contained within these bights N of a line drawn between the salient points.
Port Dickson and ...
28 Dec 11

Pulau Pinang (Malaysia)

Penang is a state in Malaysia and the name of its constituent island, located on the northwest coast of peninsular Malaysia by the strait of Malacca.
It is bordered by Kedah in the north and east, and Perak in the south.
Penang is the second smallest Malaysian state in area ...
27 Nov 11

Pulau Peunasoe (Nasi) (SE Breueh)

Pulau Nasi (Peunasoe or Aceh island), nearly joins the SE point of Pulau Breueh, being separated by Aroih Lam Puyang.
The coast line is rocky in places with sandy beaches chiefly on the W side.
11 Jan 12

Pulau Rangas (W Sumatra)

Pulau Rangas, lying about 2 miles SW of Ujung Baro, is a small rocky island 66m high, and covered with trees, which are visible for a considerable distance.
Two rocks above-water lie off its SE side, and a sunken rock, which always breaks, lies 91m off its NW side, all of which ...
3 Feb 12

Pulau Raya (W Sumatra)

Pulau Raja is densely wooded and about 53m high. A yellowish sandstone rock, about 0.9m high, lies on a reef which extends about 0.2 mile NW from the W extremity of the island.
The coast extending SE of Raja Bay is skirted by reefs and above-water rocks within 1 mile of the coast, ...
3 Feb 12

Pulau pulau Cikem (W Sumatra)

Cikem islands are located about 1,2 NM S of Ug Glumpang. The W island is steep-to on its seaward side.The islands are densely wooded and joined by a reef.Pulua-pulau Cikem is in a seismicly active area with most recent activity being an earthquake in Simeulue on Wednesday 01st of ...
3 Feb 12

Ujung Baro (W Sumatra)

Ujung Baro, the SW extremity of the peninsula within which is Teluk Rigaih, is a rocky headland rising steeply from the sea, covered with vegetation, and higher than the land within it. It is the N entrance point for Teluk Rigaih.
Gillis Reef, with a least depth of 3.4m, is about ...
3 Feb 12

Pulau Reusam (W Sumatra)

Pulau Reusam, the largest and highest of the four islands in Rigaih bay, is surrounded by a reef. Two shoals, with depths of 3.7 to 5.5m, lie about 0.1 mile W of Pulau Reusam.
A patch, with a depth of 5.9m, lies about 0.1 mile E of Pulau Reusam.
Vessels making any stay at Teluk ...
4 Feb 12

Pulau Pulau Peyaba (Pejaba) (W Sumatra)

Pejaba Islands, about 4 miles SSE of Pulau Keueh, consists of two wooded islands, with a low,rocky, barren islet, nearly always covered by surf, lying about 0.1 mile SW of the outer island.
A rock, nearly awash, lies 0.3 mile S of the inner island.
3 Feb 12

Teluk Rigaih (W Sumatra)

Teluk Rigaih is nearly 2 miles wide and about the same in length; the coast is for the most part composed of rocky cliffs, excepting the swampy portion on its NE side. The four islands which encumber it divide the bay into the N and S harbors.
There is always a heavy swell in Teluk ...
4 Feb 12

Pulau Keueh (W Sumatra)

Pulau Keueh, an island 69m high, lies about 4 miles SE of Ujung Gla and 0.5 mile offshore.
Its W side is steep-to, and may be approached closely, but the E and S sides have a coral reef 91m wide, with 11m close-to.
3 Feb 12

Ujung Glumpang (Gloempang) (W Sumatra)

Ujung Glumpang is a precipitous tongue of land crowned by a green hill with a few scattered trees on it.
A reef extends E from the point for about 0.1 mile and to a distance of 137m offshore. Foul ground extends about 0.3 mile S from Ujung Glumpang.
3 Feb 12

Ujung Gla (W Sumatra)

Ujung Gla, about 4 miles S of Lho Kroeet, is a sparsely wooded rocky point with precipitous sides and an above-water rock close off its N side.
The shore of the bay lying between Lho Kroeet and Ujung Gla consists of low, red-colored hills covered by coconut palms.
3 Feb 12

Teluk Raya (Raja Bay) (W Sumatra)

Raja Bay (Teluk Raya), entered between Ujung No and the N side of Pulau Raja, about 3 miles S, is one of the best anchorages on this coast; although it is open to the W, it has good holding ground, with depths of about 14.6m.
The head of the bay is fringed by a coral reef which ...
3 Feb 12

Ujung Sidagung (W Sumatra)

Ujung Sidagung is a steep-to and rocky point close N of Ujung Seudheuen; the latter point is the termination of a high and very noticeable promontory, joined to the mainland by an isthmus covered with coconut palms.
From Ujung Seudheuen to Raja Bay, about 14 miles SSE, the coast ...
3 Feb 12

Ujung Pudeng (Poedeng Lambaroh) (E Sumatra)

Ujung Pudeng lies about 6 miles SSE of Rusa. It is a low coastal point with a reef extending about 0.4 mile SE and 0.25 mile W.
There is a shoal with depths of 3.2m located about 0.6 mile S of Poedeng.
The sea usually breaks over this shoal.
2 Feb 12

Pulau Rusa

Pulau Rusa, 95m high, is a densely wooded island with a rugged coastline.
In heavy sea, the water for a considerable distance W of the island becomes a light green color and gives the impression of there being a reef in the vicinity.
1 Feb 12

Pulau Keureuse (SW Breueh)

Pulau Keureuse (Nasi Kecil) or pulau Teunom, lies about 0.6 mile off the SW end of Pulau Breueh.
A sand bank, with depths of less than 5.5m, extends NE for a distance of about 0.3 mile from the NE coast.
11 Jan 12

Pulau Bunta (S P Nasi)

Pulau Bunta (Pulau Boenta) lies between Aroih Raya and Aroih Cut (Aroih Tjoet).
Pulo Bunta is the least interesting of the bigger islands in Pulo Aceh. It has a light house and a few beaches, but difficult to swim due to the barrier reefs and strong currents. There are no people ...
19 Jan 12

Pulau Gepon (SW Breueh)

Pulau Gepon is a group of four islands 0.5 mile in length, lying about 0.5 mile off the S side ofPulau Keureuse. The area has not been closely surveyed.
The islands may be approached close-to as all the rocks dry and are located near the shore. The tidal currents are weak between ...
11 Jan 12

Ujung Ritieng (Lhonga - E Sumatra)

Ujung Ritieng is the S entrance point of Teluk Kruengraba. The point is a precipitous headland with a rock above-water close off it and depths of 18.3m just beyond.
1 Feb 12

Teluk Karang Raba (Kruengraba Kroeeng Raba) (E Sumatra)

Teluk Karang Raba, lying 2,5 miles S of Ujung Raya, is about 4 miles wide. The mountains on either side make it appear as a valley when being a considerable distance off, and it has been mistaken for Aroih Cut.There is a cement-handling pier in the bay. The pier is 125m long with ...
1 Feb 12

Aroith Keureuse (SW Breueh)

Aroih Keureuse is the passage between Pulau Breueh and Pulau Keureuse. The passage has a least depth of 12.8m with a least width of about 0.4 mile and is navigable. The tidal currents are strong, attaining a maximum velocity of 5 knots.
11 Jan 12
Local Area

Sumatra W coast (Indonesia)

On the W coast of Sumatera there is a high, rocky coast, or if there is a strip of sand by the sea, the land rises rapidly behind it to the neighboring hills.
Numerous small streams discharge their waters on the W coast, but most of them are barred and only navigable by small craft. ...
1 Feb 12

Sumatra (Indonesia)

Sumatra (Indonesian: Sumatera) is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands.
The longest axis of the island runs approximately 1,790 km (1,110 mi) northwest-southeast, crossing the equator near the centre. At its widest point the island spans ...
7 Jan 12

Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering about 20% of the Earth's water surface. It is bounded on the north by Asia (including the Indian subcontinent, after which it is named); on the west by Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, ...
6 Apr 12

Pulau pulau Kokos (W Sumatra)

The Kokos Islands are two low islands, lying about 24 miles W of the N extremity of Pulau Simeulue.
They may be seen from a distance of about 13 miles. The southernmost island is marked by a light.
Depths of from 9 to 16.5m exist on the NW end of the bank extending 19 miles ...
4 Feb 12

Pulau Simeulue (W Sumatra)

Pulau Simeulue, the northernmost of the large islands off 150 km of the W coast of Sumatera, lies about 65 miles from the coast.
It is hilly with Sibau, the highest peak being 625m high.
The coasts are mostly rocky, and there are many off-lying islands, islets, and reefs.
The ...
4 Feb 12

Pulau Banyak (Banjak) (W Sumatra)

The Banjak Islands, consisting of a group of islands more than 50 in number, extend from 13 miles NW to 38 miles W of Singkil. The three largest of the islands are Pulau Toeangkoe, Pulau Bangkaroe and Pulau Oedjoeng Batoe, besides which there are many islets with deepwater channels ...
4 Feb 12
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