We entered on a 6 month Indian Tourist Multiple Entry Visa with NO special endorsements for the Andaman Is. This was not a problem.
ER was similar to Thai TBH and costs were similar.
Best buy..Indian cotton!! Excellent quality for so little money. Bought enough to make up some bed sheets for about 8USD.
We used cash (USD). ER was same at bank as money changer, but latter was easier.
Time Zone +5 UTC
Port Blair Port Radio (PBPR) maintains 24 hour listening watch:
0700 – 1900 LMT HF 8294
1900 – 0700 LMT HF 6224
VHF Ch 16Weather forecast is available at 0930 and 1600 on HF 8294 (LMT)
0800 (LMT) Port Blair Port Radio has a sched.
Call PBPR when about 60nm out of Port Blair. Sometimes they take a while to answer. We finally got a response 40nm out and they gave us our ETA – had us on radar!
Entrance to Port Blair is very wide, marked and we found it to be free of fishing boats, which are few and far between. C-Map was accurate.
Anchorage opposite wharfs. You will be directed to an area called Ranger Flats at approx 11 41.2 N 92 42.6 E
PBPR will organize clearance on your boat. Coast Guard, Customs and Immigration all come out to the boat. (Coast Guard come in their own boat and are usually the first to visit. They think we are all nuts for sailing out in the wild blue yonder by choice!) Some times you have to go and get customs/immigration from the pier in the corner in between the north end of the wharf and Chatham Is. It was a little choppy when we were there and Peter wet them when he bought them to the boat. All the officials came out in the Coast Guard boat for the next yacht that came in! We did not give any bribes; neither did most of the other yachties.
Once cleared, ask PBPR to assist you in making an appointment with the Harbour Master ashore.
You are usually asked to submit your itinerary to the Harbour Master, but we did not have to give it in until we returned. A loose plan appeared to be ok as others adjusted theirs along the way.
Near where you collect officials from, someone will be waiting for you to direct you to where you can leave your dinghy. A boy usually looks after them and is very good – for a small fee around 1USD per day. (We paid in Rp)
Ask for a guy called Ravi, who will look after you re taxi and direct you to where you can get things. He is a good honest guy and looks after all the yachts. He often gets asked out for dinner on boats. He made us breakfast one morning for us to take out to the boat! He will tell you what normal price you can expect to pay for taxi into town. Many things can be fixed and Ravi knows the best places. We had a new part beautifully machined for our watermaker for such little cost.
We had light NE winds during or time there at the end of January. We stayed for 4 weeks.
Anchorages as follows:
Havelock # 7
This is supposed to be the best beach in Asia and the 6th best in the world (Time Mag last year). It is very beautiful and a great anchorage. There is a dugong that lives in the bay. The south end of the bay has some local food stalls and this is where you catch the local bus to visit the villages around the island. Well worth the tip. Very cheap! Village in centre of island has a great little shop which sells beautiful saris. Excellent value. Behind the trees at the north end of the beach is an Eco Tourist resort that welcomes yachties for meals. Great food! They also have an elephant that we swam with!
Anchored in sand 9m water. Could see the anchor! 11 58.8 N 092 56.9 E. Can get in closer to about 7m. Watch for swell on beach at times. Beach very flat and exposed at low tide.
Some good snorkeling around the corner towards Elephant Beach.
Havelock Village # 1
Very busy with ferries. A young girl makes and sells fantastic home made ice cream in a shop behind the jetty. Call Harbour Control on Ch 16. We anchored in 9m sand against Peel Is, opposite the jetty. 12 02.9N 092 58.9E
Henry Lawrence Is
Very isolated but peaceful. Very deep in middle. On the opposite side where the passage narrows there is meant to be good snorkeling, but we did not go.
Anchored in sand/mud in 12m. 12 06.9 N 093 02.9 E This is just off a creek, so bottom shallows more gradually.
North Button Is
Quite pretty but if you go ashore watch for the sand flies! Little or no protection if there is NE/E wind. Anchored in sand in 9m. 12 18.8N 093 03.9E
Anchored off jetty in 6m water, leaving space for the ferries. 12 22 N 092 54.9 E
Nice Island, good protection from NE.
There is a ferry which departs first thing in the morning to go up to Rangat Bay via the mangroves. It returns late afternoon. When you arrive at the jetty in the mangroves, catch a small tuk tuk into Rangat Bay. Some of the yachties hired a taxi to tour Middle Andaman Island and said it was a great day out.
Homfray St/ Andaman St
These straits circumnavigate Baratang Island and are not charted. Beautiful forest, noisy birds and basically a wilderness with a few villages. We thought it was one of the highlights! There had been reports of cables that cross the river, but these had been taken down in 2006. There are two car ferries that cross the river that are easily seen.
Tide appeared to Ebb West from both entrances towards the west coast of the Andamans.
We chose to enter on a falling tide as we knew we had enough water to get into the entrance and at low tide we thought it would be easier to see sand bars etc. Proved to be a good idea for us.
For no apparent reason, we entered Homfrey St (just around the corner from Long IS) and exited via Andaman St, to the south. We entered 2 hours after high tide on a 1.7m tide which gave us a minimum depth of 4.2m at the entrance. On the east side of the strait once inside, there was 6-7m depth.
Waypoint we used at entrance 12 18.5N 092 52.2 E .
From here we proceeded directly in. There is a reef which should be visible to Stb of the entrance.
Most of the strait was in excess of 15m depth.
As you come to the end of the narrow strait, before it opens out to a waterway which gives access to the west, there is a reef on your stb side. Keep the following waypoint on your stb side. 12 18.3 N 092 46 E
The passage we chose to go through becomes obvious. Keep the reefy shallow bits to stb.
Channel we used had a depth of 21m at approx 12 17.3 N 092 45. E
Island not chartered at 12 17.4 N 092 44.2E Very deep around island on west side – 40m!
We chose to head south. Sandbar and rocks leave to stb. Exposed at low tide in approx position 12 15.2 N 092 43.5 E. Depth 21m around bar.
We anchored in 6.5m sand. 12.13.4N 092 43.2E
Great area to explore by dingy. We ventured over to the little island on the west which opens to the sea. Dugongs and many fish!
From here we proceeded along the next strait which we believe to be Andaman St. We met some fishermen from a nearby village. You can anchor off this village and go and look at the cave. Local tourists (from India) come here by the boat load! There is a car ferry between Baratang and South Andaman Is.
Main channel becomes obvious as you float down the strait. Tidal currents are not strong. Many tourist long tails disappeared into the mangroves, so there must be many villages we cannot see. Usually a stick outside the mangroves indicated a village entrance.
We anchored inside the southern entrance to observe the reef and bar, in 8m of water.
12 04.3 N 092 45.3E
Departed strait on high tide of 2m. Rocks off the NE point were covered. No wind and tide was with us. Depth in the channel was 20m, then falls down to 4.5m – 5m.
Very important that when exiting the strait, leave the following waypoints to PORT. These waypoints keep you off the rocks.
12 03.6 N 092 45.75 E
12 03 52 N 092 45.94 E
Would not like to see entrance in strong NE wind against tide!
C-Map was accurate.
Havelock # 7
After checking out we stayed one night in Cinque Islands, but it was quite rolly with a 10 - 15 knot NE blowing during the day.
Rutland Island in the south is supposed to be worth while, but we did not want to have ot go back to Port Blair to check out and head south again.
We believe it is possible to head out to the western side of the islands via Homfray St. We did not have time to check it out in the dinghy when we were in the strait.