GEORGE TOWN: Penang has many world-acclaimed attractions but one spot between the island and the mainland is noted only by mariners – Junk Anchorage.
This stretch, about 2.5km long and 400m wide, starts from near the clan jetties and ferry terminal and ends near Pulau Jerejak.
Any vessels from around the world can cast anchor after notifying the Marine Department and paying harbour charges to Penang Port Sdn Bhd.
Though visible to Penangites, Junk Anchorage gained attention only after The Star ran photos last month, showing Sungai Pinang’s pollution emptying out into the waters there.
In the comparison photos showing the river’s pollution in the months before and after the movement control order was imposed, a vessel could be seen anchored at almost the exact spot in Junk Anchorage, leading some to wonder if the photos were doctored.
That boat was, in fact, a cable-laying vessel that has been anchored there since 2015, according to Google Earth’s archived satellite photos of the area.
Penang Port chief executive officer Datuk Sasedharan Vasudevan said at present, 25 small vessels were tied up ashore and three boats out at sea in Junk Anchorage.
“The vessels can stay there as long as they like, having paid anchorage charges. The crew can come ashore for necessities.
“The anchorage charges are between RM20 and RM500 a day, depending on the size of the vessels, ” he said.
He reminded boat owners to update their status with Marine Department from time to time.
The Marine Department’s northern region director Mohd Hafiz Abdul Majid said boat owners at Junk Anchorage must submit the necessary documents.
“We will screen vessels that have not checked in for more than six months, ” he said.
Junk Anchorage is believed to have obtained its name as a result of Chinese junks (sailing ships) that packed the stretch in colonial days.
But some mariners highlighted in their Internet blogs about the abundance of rubbish at the seabed.
“Be sure to set your anchor well. Plastic bags don’t make for very good holding, ” wrote one sailor.
“The bottom is said to be littered with plastic bags, so ensure your anchor is dug in well, ” wrote another.