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 Andaman Islands - Profile

Location

The Andaman Islands lie about 450nm northwest of Phuket in the Bay of Bengal. It is a popular destination for boats from Thailand, especially those on their way to the Red Sea.

However, yachts visiting the area have reported "extreme bureaucracy" including having to report in via radio each day. Most yachts stop here on their way to Sri Lanka or India and onto the Maldives etc.

Care should be taken if snorkelling or diving here as tourists have been mauled by crocodiles in recent years.

The best time to visit these islands is between December and February when the weather is most stable.

Note: The WGS84 datum is out by half a mile in this area and, due to the 2004 Tsunami, depths in the middle and south islands are 2m deeper.

Position 11° 41.31'N, 092° 42.72'E (Prefered Port Blair anchorage)

Clearance

See India Formalities for full details of clearing into India.

Yachts must not stop anywhere else before completing formalities at Port Blair (South Andaman).

Important Note: It is illegal to use any type of satellite phone while in the Andaman Sea and in Indian territorial waters. Such communications are monitored and can result in severe penalties, even imprisonment.

Cruisers report that using an agent here for clearance is straightforward and simple. Cost approx. US$200. Whilst it is possible to manage without an agent, the paperwork is lengthy and a printer/scanner on board is essential.

See Noonsite's India/Clearance Agents page for a list of agents.

On Arrival
Call the port authorities on VHF ch 16 a few hours before arrival (if possible) and advise them of your ETA.

A recommended place to anchor for clearing in is 11°41.18'N, 92°43.38'E in 3m at LW. Call again on arrival with information of where you are anchored so that they can inform Customs and Immigration. It is best to arrive during the morning as clearance can take some time.

The Coastguard will visit the yacht with their own boat; Customs and Immigration officials must be collected in your dinghy. A full list of stores and equipment (with serial numbers!) will be required. Remember to list your depth sounder as a 'fish finder'

Finally, a visit must be paid ashore to the Harbour Master at the Port Management Board (PMB) to lodge a written itinerary of the all places you are intending to visit. Be sure to take all the paperwork you have been given by Customs and Immigration.

The HM should supply data on the radio times and frequencies (via SSB radio) for your required daily radio check-ins. If you only have a VHF radio, then your visit will be very restricted. For more details, see below.

See Report from S/V Mokisha in April 2014 and Visit by SV Ocelot in 2011 for very useful details on the paperwork.

It is essential that you have up to 8 copies of ALL your documents (including Departure documents from your previous port) and the required letters. An embossed boat stamp will also be necessary to impress!

Immigration
You must have a valid Indian visa, and if you wish to take advantage of the maximum 30 days' stay, ensure your Indian visa does not expire before this time.

Indian visas can be obtained from Indian Embassies in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, or Bangkok (note, that in order to obtain an Indian visa from Thailand you must first have a Thailand Non O or Non B visa, or a work permit or residence there). These visas are generally for 6 months and apply to the whole of India and start from date of issue, not arrival in the country. Do not request the 15 day "Andaman Endorsement" or mention your visit when applying for your visa, as on arrival at Port Blair you will be granted the full 30 days permitted stay.

After obtaining the visa, before departure for the Andamans, as a courtesy, Immigration have requested that you fax a crew list with passport details, reason for visit is tourism, yacht's name, home port, and approximate arrival date to the Chief Secretary, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Port Blair, Tel. 91-3192-234087, Fax: 91-3192-232656, Email: cs@and.nic.in

Procedure on Departure
The departure procedure has been simplified. Visit the Port Captain's office to pay your dues, then Immigration. When ready to leave, call Port Control with your clearance number.

Notify Port Control in advance of your expected time of departure.

A useful and informative website is http://www.and.nic.in/tourism/foreigners.php.

STANDARD OPERATION PROCEDURE FOR FOREIGN YACHTS VISITING A & N ISLANDS (INDIA)

(a) Obtain clearance/permit from the Indian High Commission/Embassy prior to departure from last port of call and intimate the following particulars to the Indian High Commission/embassy.

    (i)     Purpose of visit
    (ii)    Port of registration
    (iii)   Last port of call
    (iv)    Next port of call
    (v)     Name of local agent  (if any)
    (vi)    Particulars of the owner and crew
    (vii)   Itinerary of the vessel

(b) Clearance to be obtained from Port Management Board, Port Blair 48 hours prior to entering Indian Territorial waters.

CALL Port Blair Port Radio, Location 11°10’28" N 92°44’56" E

FREQUENCY HFTR 2182 8294 6224. TELEPHONE (091) 03192 33688, (091) 03192 33690, (091) 03192 33674. TELEX 625-218 PORT IN. FAX (091) 03192 36069.

(c) Immigration clearance will be given at Port Blair on arrival/departure. On arrival yachts will be inspected by Navy, Customs and Immigration for clearance.

(d) Visit permit is issued by the Immigration Officer for a period of thirty days. The conditions laid down to in the permit are to be strictly adhered to by the permit holder

(e) No deviation from the pre-drawn itinerary would be permitted.

(f) Yachts are to be fitted with HFRF sets for communication failing which their visit will be restricted to VHF range.

(g) Yachts when in Indian waters are to inform their location twice a day at 08:00 hrs and 20:00 hrs to Port Management Board Control Room at the above frequencies.

(h) No diving equipment is to be carried on board. The vessel can obtain the diving equipment locally from approved diving agencies.

Recent reports are that diving is now permitted by foreign vessels, with a permit, no longer having to hire equipment locally.

(i) The yacht will not be permitted to pick up commercial passengers, Indian or foreigners on board during the permitted cruise. However yachts will be allowed to carry passengers to and from Port Blair who have been cleared by Immigration authorities.

(j) Equipment capable of sea and mapping is not to be carried aboard

(k) No arms and ammunitions are to be carried aboard the yacht. Arms if carried for self protection are to be declared on arrival

(l) Yachts visiting the islands may have an authorized agent at Port Blair.

(m) Clearance of Customs, Port Management Board and Immigration is necessary before departure.

Note - No extension to the permitted 30 day stay will be allowed whatever the reason (weather, boat problems etc).

Havelock Island

Take your paperwork in with you the first time you visit as you may be asked for it and add it to a book at the main gate for the ferry terminal.

Last updated October 2016.

Port Blair Harbour Master
Fax:+91 3192 233647 ,VHF Channel HF 8,294.0 Khz at 8am and 5pm only
Email letter of 'Intent to Visit'. HF information is for reporting requirement.

Docking

Port Blair
Yachts can no longer anchor behind Chatham Island to wait for and collect the officials. The new anchorage is about a quarter of a mile away from the small harbour behind Chatham Island; the dinghy can be left there in the care of a "boat boy".

Cruisers report that the anchorage on the East of Chatham Island is good (mud, sheltered from anywhere) and that the boat boy there is efficient.

Other Islands
Havelock and surrounding islands
Henry Lawrence and Inglis islands
Button Islands
Maya Bandar. This is the administration centre for the middle and northern islands. Report to the Harbourmaster on VHF channel 16 on approach and report to his office on arrival.

Andaman Islands Cruising Information - Sources

The best information on these islands can be found on www.southeastasiapilot.com

Andaman Islands, India, Yacht Cruising Guide
https://www.boat-yacht-charters.com/andaman-islands/andaman-islands-yacht-charter-guide/andaman-islands-yacht-charter-guide.php
Free online cruising guide (2016) by Paul Johnson, who wrote the Andaman section for the latest edition of the South East Asia Pilot.

S/V Ocelot, who cruised here in 2011, also have a lot of very useful information on their blog - http://svocelot.com/ as do Colleen Wilson of S/V Mokisha who visited in February 2014. See the Andannam Islands report.

Last updated November 2016.

LaChica
LaChica says:
Apr 13, 2017 03:22 PM

Visited Andamans sailing from Phuket in March 2017. Took advice from this site and used services of Rathnam from Andaman Holidays. He provided an absolutely perfect service, we were checked in in 2 hours of our arrival. All we needed to do is prepare ahead all the paperwork based on detailed instructions and files provided by him.
During the stay service was quick and efficient with any of our requests and questions reacted to immediately. Check out was even quicker.
Would recommend him to anyone sailing to Andamans.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Apr 20, 2016 12:50 PM

Posted on behalf of SY Solstice:
Andaman Holidays Agency in Port Blair is a very reputable and honest business. Although we did not use an agent for checking in, it took us almost three days to complete the process. I think this is unusual but that is what happened to us. Also, we were trying to get online visas for Sri Lanka and were not able to complete the process with the Internet. The Andaman Islands has the slowest, most unreliable Internet of any country we have visited. We sat inside Andaman Holiday's office for three days and tried to complete the online Sri Lankan Visa Forms without success. R. Rathnam and his secretary, Sushma, provided us with the name of an agent in Sri Lanka and emailed all the necessary forms for them to get the visa as a third party". We offered to pay them for this service but the agency would accept no money.

As of March 2016, Andaman Holidays charges about $200 US (12,000) Indian Rupees to handle all the clearance procedures. Additionally, they will take care of any other matters including: spares in transit, tour packages, hotel reservations, air charter, air tickets, etc. They have a taxi driver named VJ that is honest and reliable. In March 2016, he charged 250 Indian rupees per hour for his services.

For yachts using their dinghys to access the public dock, there is a "yacht boy" that takes your dinghy and looks after it. He seems to be at the dock from early morning until you arrive in the late afternoon. He charges 200 Indian Rupees per day for this service.

Here are the details for the Andaman Holiday Agency: rathnam@andamanholidays.com or yachtagency@andamanholidays.com Mobile +91 99320 89595. The complete address is: E-237 Pongy Kyuang, (Behind Anand Offset Press), Port Blair. Pin-744 101. Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India Phone: +91 3192 239595. Tele-Fax: +91 3192 234924

One can find them on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/andamanholidays

Hope this helps,
Donald Turbeville
S/Y Solstice

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Nov 04, 2015 12:58 PM

Posted on behalf of James Coolbaugh, SY Asylum (USA):
As we are interested sailing from Thailand to the Andaman Islands, we contacted Emotion Travel in Phuket, which other posts have recommended, to inquire about an Indian visa. We were told by the owner that the law has changed recently, and that her agency can now only issue visas to persons with Thai residency or work permits. The Indian embassy in Bangkok refers visa questions to http://www.indiavisathai.com/. Looks like the visa has to be applied for in person in Bangkok.

johnwahoo
johnwahoo says:
Mar 11, 2015 10:57 AM

Over the past 10 years i have visited the Anadamans many times.I have always used an agent as it is the best and quickest way to complete formalities. I always use Rathnam at Andaman Holidays as his service is the best on the Island,fast efficient gets my fuel on time clearance on time and all my cruising needs. Vijay the taxi driver is the best i call him he is there gets all my stores that i need and has helped me immensely. The Islands are fantastic the people are fantastic and so is the food. Enjoy your stay there.
M.Y Mari Timo

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jun 30, 2014 12:24 PM

Posted on behalf of SY INTI
After visiting the Andamans would like to add the following.

Was easy to check in /out if organised, all officials were courteous and diligent. We used an agent, Island Travels,(+913192233358 Islandtravels@yahoo.com ) for $200 USD in and out. Ashraf who has excellent English, met us at the pier, filled in our forms and had us checked in inside one afternoon and checked out in less than an hour. He took care of forestry dept for us and we just paid him what was owed, and also lent us a phone simcard which we added credit to and found very useful.
We never saw taxi driver Ravi. We didn't like what Vijay charged, so we used an excellent, honest and much cheaper tuk tuk driver, Baba,(+919933298669) who knows every shop in Port Blair and speaks English. Initially you would have to ring him and he will meet you at the pier. Vijay is very insistent otherwise.

A fantastic but no longer remote destination.

Regards Connie and Graeme SY INTI

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