A Snake in the Sink and Other Fun at Danga Bay Johor Bahru

Sailing up the Johor Straits to Danga Bay Johor

Sailing up the western arm of the Johor Straits to Danga Bay Johor was an education in the stark contrasts between Malaysia to our port and Singapore to starboard.

Wonky stilt houses and untidy fish farms on one side, manicured parks and gardens on the other.

At one stage I remarked to the other captain it seemed they were blowing up the golf course on the Singapore side. Until I saw the sign identifying the Singapore armed forces site, warning us to stay clear as they practice using explosives there.

Steering clear of the invisible line

I made sure to steer well over the imaginary line delineating the border because we hadn’t cleared into Singapore and a Singapore customs boat plus two Sing police boats stalked us and kept a very very close eye on our progress.

Danga Bay Marina

The marina at Danga Bay Johor is now closed. It was built as a photo opportunity for the potential buyers of the condos planned for the site.

The marina at Danga Bay Johor.
Danga Bay Marina in May 2014. You can see the barges at work in the background. By October the wet area was all landfill.

An almighty thud

There were huge barges constantly filling in the Strait in readiness for construction.  One evening I heard some shouting from my boat.  Then an almighty thud.  A barge had bashed into our jetty. No people were hurt but the damage was extensive.

Damage to the jetty at the marina in Danga Bay Johor Bahru

A snake in the sink

Another of my more memorable experiences in the marina at Danga Bay Johor was when I discovered a snake in my galley sink.

I was on my own as the other captain had gone back to Australia to work. One morning I lifted the lid on my sink cover and saw a snake slithering round.  I immediately dropped the lid back down.  I’m pretty sure it was as surprised to see me as I was to see it.

And honestly I think it shat itself with the shock because it stunk seriously in there.  I peeked in one more time to check I wasn’t hallucinating before deciding to do the girlie thing and ask for help to get rid of it.

Asking for help

I asked some of the staff who were hanging out on one of the boats on my jetty, but they couldn’t help because they told me “We’re scared of snakes too”.
Then one of my neighbours, the Sultan of Darwin, offered to sort my problem. He came on board and calmly picked up the writhing snake with the multigrips he was using at the time.
I asked him to show the squirming monster to the staff. The staff were suitably scared.
The last I saw of my uninvited guest was when my obliging neighbour took it down below in his own boat to show his wife.

The Sultan of Johor

Speaking of Sultans, the Sultan of Johor Bahru’s residence is just over the road from the marina.  I walked past the grounds and the huge great blinking bling crown at the entrance regularly but was never tempted to trespass on account of the scary signage.

Sign outside the Sultan's residence, Danga Bay Johor
I guess the Sultan of Johor doesn’t want visitors

I have absolutely fallen in love with Johor Bahru.  After more than three years of resort islands its grittiness and purely unpretentious localness is incredibly refreshing.   But I couldn’t stay in Danga Bay Johor because the marina was closing down…


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I'm a sailing traveller floating around South East Asia on my boat Yana de Lys. I spend as much time as I can exploring the back streets and pretending to act like a local. Everything I talk about is simply based on my own experiences. (But hey - I'm open to sponsorship offers from five star hotels and stuff. Bring it on!) Get in touch with me on: +61 411 220 592 and +61 8 6255 5074 penny@sailingtravelblog.com

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