Indonesia – Nongsa Point Marina
After a long period of renovations, Nongsa Point Marina is a world-class destination just a couple of hours from Singapore and a great getaway idea in the Riau Archipelago
Singaporean boaters have a great way to get away for a weekend – or a few weeks – in the form of Nongsa Point Marina and Resort. Having finished a long period of renovations that have boosted both standards and appearances, Nongsa is ready to offer boaters easy access to the great cruising waters around the Riau Islands, a welcome break from the in-city sailing for yachtsmen. The renovations, which finished up in late 2008, with an official opening expected this spring, are far more than cosmetic.
A key element in this is in the extensive work that’s been done upgrading the pontoons and marina facilites. It began with a lengthening of the marina’s breakwater, which had been letting in too many waves, according to Michael Kelly, project manager for Nongsa. He notes that Nongsa Point brought in an oceanographer to do a wave study of the surrounding area before alterations to the breakwater were made, and that the new breakwater was built with this study in mind. “It’s real calm in there now,”, his emphasises.
The wave study was also done with an eye to a completely new set of pontoons. Nongsa’s previous pontoon system was a relatively spartan affair, with mooring cleats only. For the rebuilding work, Bellingham Marine, the contractor responsible for the pontoons at Marina at Keppel Bay, was recruited. The extended work on the breakwater thus had to guarantee standards of wave height, or lack thereof, before Bellingham would do the work. “They have pretty tight tolerances, and we had to meet these first,” says Kelly.
The standards were met and a completely new set of concrete pontoons were built. Each berth is fitted with a dedicated utility pedastal with electrical and water service. There are now 65 berths and room for further expansion. A central fuel jetty has been added, with service in diesel and petrol available. Further, a mobile sewage pump out system has been added that can be brought to each berth.
Dredging work has also been done and according to Kelly, the minimum draught at Nongsa is 3.5 metres at chart datum (the lowest possible tide depth). This opens up the possibility for superyachts to berth, and indeed, some have already done so, including boats up to 150 feet. Indeed, during a visit by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, gunboats of the Indonesian navy were able to dock at the Marina. Two exclusive berths have been set up for megayachts in particular.
On the inside
The renovations to the marina facilities have been matched in measure by a complete refurbishment to the hotel and the main clubhouse. The designers of the main building changed the appearance from a quasi-Mediterranean look to that of a post-colonial style. This fit better with the Indonesian styling of some of the guest chalets, and created a sense of local culture alongside cosmopolitan flair. The floors of the main building combine marble with Indonesian-style tiles, creating a look that could only be matched by carpet. Yet, the feel of cool stone on the feet during a warm day is certainly enticing.
The hotel was completely gutted to the bare structure and rebuilt – everything is new, including the layout of the rooms. Each upstairs hotel room has a balcony, while ground floor rooms open up onto a garden that faces the marina. The upstairs rooms also feature high ceilings and excellent sea views.
President Yudhoyono stayed in the presidential suite, naturally enough, and declared himself satisfied with the results. If ever a hotel wanted an endorsement on a presidential suite, surely a presidential endorsement would do.
In addition, new function rooms have been added, and Nongsa clearly hopes that Singaporean businesses will look to the refurbished marina as a retreat for weekend conferences and the like. These rooms are capable handling groups from 20 to 100 people, and all offer excellent views of the sea and marina.
Travellers and passers-by
Nongsa Point Marina banks on visitors from Singapore, and indeed, there’s much to acquit Nongsa as a weekend destination, or more. Most yachts do pass through rather than stay, though according to Michael Kelly, Nongsa is eager to change that and is encouraging boaters to stay. At the moment, Kelly estimates that berthing fees are roughly 25 percent lower than in Singapore, which does offer some competitive advantage.
But the real story for Singaporeans is the fact that they can cruise the Riau Islands and nearby destinations of Indonesia. One possible solution to the task of taking your boat out for a cruise is to berth at Nongsa for a longer period and make the short journey over by ferry. This puts the boater in immediate reach of beautiful scenery and clean waters without having to make a longer journey. For sailors tired of navigating through shipping lanes and looking at cargo ships and gas terminals, this is a good solution.
In addition to visiting superyachts and sailors on their way through from Australia into Southeast Asia, or vice versa, there have been such events as the Clipper Race, which moored its fleet of 68-footers at Nongsa Point. The Blue Water Rally, which has sailors running from Australia into Asia, also made the stopover. For foreign guests, there is a new Customs, Immigration and Quarantine station on site at the Marina. This facility has been redesigned to make the process of getting visas easier, though boaters bringing their yachts will have to secure cruising permits and their green book beforehand.
In the future
Of course, marinas are more than great facilities. What often puts a marina on the map is great events, and in this, the management of Nongsa Point have already hit the water running. Kelly confirms that the marina management already have plans for a rally that may take participants along various routes throughout the Riau Archipelago, and estimates that first one could be as early as April this year. Escorts may even be provided to make sure that first time visitor gets the most out of the beautiful cruising waters of Indonesia.
Nongsa is already popular for Singaporeans getting out of the city for a few days, and the resort area offers everything from tennis courts and swimming pools to wakeboarding, jungle treks and river cruises. With the addition of so many marina features catering to serious yachtsmen and their toys, Nongsa Point is sure to become a great boating destination in its own right.