Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Andamans? Or no Andamans?

We have struggled deciding whether to sail up to the Andaman Islands or not.   Someone we know sailed there 2 years ago and said it was the highlight of their entire circumnavigation.  The Andamans are a pristine environment (one of the very few left if this world).  Flora and fauna supposedly flourish.  The corals are supposed to be vibrant and still alive -- not dead and brown as in so many other parts of the oceans today.  An opportunity to visit the Andaman Islands should not be missed.

As long as you have plenty of time to deal with officialdom.

And we don't 

Bill has decided that any place that requires 2 days or more to clear in, plus 2 days or more to clear out, is not a place he wishes to visit.  And, as much as I would have enjoyed snorkeling in this remote and beautiful place, I must agree with Bill.  If we could be assured of being able to complete clearance formalities in one day and to be able to clear out in a few hours so that we could depart in morning light, then we would sail to the Andaman Islands for the10 days our schedule allows.  But since we have limited time to visit that area, the thought of wasting 2-3 days on the front end and 2-3 days on the exiting end is senseless.  It only makes sense to jump through these hoops if one can say in the Andaman Islands for a full month.

Here is a list of the forms required to visit the Andaman Islands:

India visa (supposed to be a special visa for just the Andamans, but normally a regular visa for Inda will suffice)

Advance Clearance Request  (must submit minimum 48 hours prior to arrival)
Advance Crew List   (must submit minimum 48 hours prior to arrival)
General Declaration Form (Arrival) 
Crew List Form (Arrival) 
Immigration Form (Arrival) 
Customs Appraisal Form (Arrival) 
Itinerary (Arrival) (must provide a list of dates and places you wish to visit)
Customs Clearance Request (Arrival) (and they do want a list of EVERYTHING on the boat, including model and serial numbers)
Customs Inventory & Declaration (Arrival)
Forestry Dept Request Letter (Arrival)
Customs Clearance Request (Departure.)
Harbour Clearance Request (Departure)
Immigration Clearance Request (Departure)
Harbour Fees Form (Departure)
General Declaration Form (Departure) 
Crew List Form (Departure)

Most of these forms must be completed in minimum of triplicate, some as many as 6 copies.  Additionally, each boat is required to report in via VHF or SSB radio twice daily and state their position.  Every movement is monitored.  Only 30 to 40 boats per year visit the Andaman Islands.  India is doing everything possible to limit the impact of outsiders on the environment and the tribal cultures of the Andamans.  

We applaud their efforts, but will pass on the opportunity to visit this special place because of the bureaucracy involved. 

BTW, here are a couple of photos of jellyfish floating by our boat in Ao Chalong Bay.  There is at least one jellyfish every 10 square yards.  These are not small!  We have never seen so many jellyfish in one area as we have seen in the Thai waters.  This is the reason we would never willingly get into the water around here and were looking forward to the more remote (and hopefully less jellyfish filled) waters of the Andamans.  Sorry we will miss it.


  1. To be fair, we sent a copy of this blog postings to the officials in the Andamans asking for a comment or correction..we will post any response.

  2. Wow, those jellyfish are huge! I'd hate to run into one of those. It does sound like a huge amount of paperwork to visit the Andamans. It's ashame that such pristine places are so rare.


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