The Last Frontier...
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Indian Ocean, Andaman Islands,
one of the last paradise on heart, a really unique journey to one of the most remote spots on the planet!
As I'm going to explain in details on the Andaman laws section, due to the Andaman administration rules and the site geography, organize a Spear fishing trip in this area is not an easy to accomplish task .
On the market we can find some locals and international tour operators that organize rod fishing and scuba diving trips, nothing about Spear fishing, at the present time tour operators that organize Spear fishing trips to Andaman does not exist.
I'm one of the few people that had the privilege to Spear fishing those waters.
A wild land that has nothing in common even with the country that belongs to. The Andaman Islands alongside the Nicobar Islands, is a huge archipelago, a wild area mostly unexplored.
Andaman Islands where open to tourism 20 years ago about, since then only Indians could visit the area however, still today, we are not allowed to travel everywhere, there are certain spots still forbidden to us. Nicobar Archipelago on the contrary is still a total off-limits area, Westerners are not allowed to visit those islands.
A place unknown by the big touristic market because there are not infrastructures and comforts that attract the huge market. The strict Andaman laws and the area wild geography do the rest, it protects the archipelago that truly remains one of the last untamed paradise on heart.
India- Andaman Islands Visa:
2 kind of visa are required to enter Andaman Islands:
- The Indian visa, it could have multiple entry and different length of stay.
- A "special " visa for Indians restricted areas
You can apply for India Tourist visa to any consulate remembering that you must apply for visa on line first, fill the online request form and book an appointment to the nearest embassy or consulate.
India tourist visa allow Westerners for a 3 months length of stay.
Andaman Islands however have their own laws that sometime differ from those of the nation that they belong to. For Restricted Indian areas as Andamans Islands are, along side the "normal" Indian tourist Visa, we must apply for a "special visa" too. Andaman laws allow Westerners for a maximum period of 30 days even if our Indian tourist Visa allow us for a 3 months stay. Every 30 days then we must leave Andaman soil and then go back if we like for a maximum of 2 times. For our purposes indeed we are going to apply for an Indian tourist visa with one or double entry, valid for a period of 30 days.
For restricted areas "special" visa details check please the "Andaman Islands Law" Section
Indian Rupee (INR), exchange rate: 70 INR x 1 EUR, 54 Rupees x 1 USD $
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One of the most remote spots on the planet,
A journey to Andaman Islands takes 1400 Km from main land India, 1000 Km from the nearest Thailand.
Port Blair is the main city,
it' s reachable from main land by ferry, they leave 3 - 4 time a month from Calcutta,
Madras (Chennai) and Visakhapatnam, a journey that takes 3 to 4 days at sea, a trip that I don't recommend at all!!!
Andaman Islands are also connected to main land by daily and direct fly by Indian Airlines and Kingfisher Airlines, a couple of hours from Calcutta or Madras (Chennai).
My trips to Andaman Islands are done by boat, crossing the Indian Ocean from Thailand (Phuket- Ranong) to Port Blair, a journey that takes 2 to 4 fully days, it depends by boat cruising speed. With an engine capable of 10 nautical knots about we will be there in 50-60 hours about.
I'm going to explain in details why it is becomes necessary enter the Andaman waters by boat from another country, the nearest Thailand.
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Andaman and Nicobar Islands belong to India country and follows main land time zone rules.
Therefore as India main land, Andaman Islands time zone is +5.30 GMT, No daylight saving time is implemented.
Andaman Islands is not a dangerous zone,
no particular vaccination is needed, just an important precaution: drink clean water!
Avoid raw food, ice and fresh vegetable unless we are sure about its origin, as example eating in small restaurant in Port Blair. Contaminated water brings intestinal infections with obvious complications. Common hygiene precautions is what we need to keep us safe and healthy.
My charters to Andaman Islands are done by boat, crossing the Indian Ocean from Thailand (Phuket-Ranong) to Port Blair.
We must enter the Andaman waters by boat because the best Spear fishing spots are at open sea, from 50 to 200 nautical Miles from Port Blair.
Andaman law don't allow yachting boats under 20 mt in length registered in India go fa-rest than 12 nautical miles (1 nautical mile is 1853 mt) from Port Blair.
That explains why we can not fly to Andaman and, once there, rent a boat, unless we prefer Spear fishing only those areas close to Port Blair, or the economic matter is not a problem for our wallet.
Therefore, to reach the main fishing spots at open sea we need to enter the Andaman Islands waters by a boat registered in another country.
If you like to enjoy Andaman Islands waters you don't have much choice, or you can afford to pay all the expenses by yourself, at the same time solve the organization matters that I explained before or find out a right number of friends, organize and share the charter cost equally.
About Spear fishing no commercial tour operator organize trip to Andaman, still today, commercially speaking nobody organize such trip.
My charter to Andaman Islands takes 10 to 15 days, we decide how many days while planing the trip all together. 6 to 8 fisherman included my self plus the skipper and the crews, 3 to 5 seamen.
6 to 8 speros is the right number for a crew that is going to leave on the boat comfortably and, most important, is the right number to share equally the reasonable price that i can get; if you already have experience about Spear fishing and live-board charters generally speaking, you know how much is usually asked for such trip. Fell free to "Contact Me"
to have detailed info about the price and every unanswered questions that you may have.
The departure date from January to end of March will be
decided all together taking in consideration every speros need
and the moon phases of the chosen Month. As you know already, about pelagic and
Blue water Hunting in particular, the moon phases play an important role, if it is possible better to organize our trip as far as possible from the full moon of the chosen month.
On my web site "Web Links"
you are going to find useful links about worldwide forecast weather, winds, moon phases day by day, etc.
The fly ticket must be purchased 2 Months before the departure date, that will assure the place on the boat, it become necessary to book you place on the boat by buying the fly ticket because as told already, the good price that I can manage are referred to an exact number of speros, it will be shared equally between all the charter members. For Andaman we need a crew of 6 to 8 speros including myself, if we are less then 6-8 fellows it means that everybody can not go or pay a higher price. Because this reason and, as already told, all the matters that organize a trip like that involve, I ask you just one thing, this is the only rule that i implement and MUST be observed, buy the fly ticket at list 2 Months before leave, this will book automatically your place on the boat.
About every question that you would like to ask fell free to "Contact Me".
Geography, Weather, When:
Port Blair is the Andaman Capital, 1150 Km from Calcutta, the nearest main India land city,
Thailand is the closest main land, 1000 Km about
The archipelago is made by 600 islands: Andaman Islands on the North made by 4 main Islands, Nicobar Islands on the south.
We are talking about a
huge volcanic archipelago made by so many islands, some of them are not signed on the maps.
Nicobar Islands for us are off-limit, Westerners are not allowed to go there because these areas are inhabited by autochthonous population, natives that could be seriously harm by a simple influenza.
In reality a huge military base, nuclear U-boats, settles in Nicobar Islands, it must be protected from undesired eyes ...
The good season goes from middle of December until April, it is to dangerous go fishing there outside these months.
We are going to sail long distances in the Indian Ocean, a route outside commercial paths, where tourism is almost unknown, where the professional fishing is forbidden as I'm going to explain.
While we cross the sea from Thailand or, once there, sailing to a fishing spot to another, we will hardly see some other boat. We will live at open sea for many days, out there on the Bengal golf ocean, one of the most hostile area on heart well known about unpredictable storm, hurricane and typhoon.
Therefore Andaman season is just 4 months long, it will be to dangerous sail these waters in other period of the year.
The weather is hot, mild because we will be in winter time and at open sea, a live-board as boat trips like this are called, requires a few light clots, we don't need much; a 3 mm wet-suit will be the right choice, also at open sea water are always warm.
The 2004 underwater earthquake that brought devastating Tsunami
with unbelievable destruction to South West Asia and so many countries in a wide geographic area, brought to Andaman Islands doom and death that media did not mentioned at all.
They where to busy to tell news about "more important" touristic places such Thailand and Indonesia that where hit hard too.
Official estimation does not exist, rumors told about 3000 death body, number that also Wikipedia refers to.
Due to the remote location help arrived many days late, friends in Port Blair told me that, especially in Nicobar areas, villagers refuse help trowing rocks and sticks to helicopters that try to land bringing first hide help.
Anyway nobody knows for sure how it really went...
Logistic and Organization:
We already sow why it is necessary go to Andaman Islands sailing there by boat from abroad.
Therefore our trip will be a so called "live-board" charter, we are going to live in a boat, crossing the Indian Ocean from Thailand (the nearest main land), then sailing thought the Spear fishing spots at open sea, far away from land.
Chose a proper boat and most of a reliable skipper with experience about these unique waters becomes a must, an objective not easy to achieve because we are talking about areas that don't interest the big touristic market.
After a very bad experience that I had in Andaman sea because an unreliable skipper, I learned a valuable lesson that taught me a lot. I look for and finally found a couple of capable skippers, captains that I can trust fully knowing that safety wont be a issue anymore.
Refer to "Boats and Skippers"
section where I' debating the subject in details.
Considering that most of the participants who join the trip don't have plenty of time, i use to organize my charters like that: fellows can decide what to do, feel free to fly over Port Blair, we will welcome you on board once there.
For guys that have few days holiday it will be a non sense meet the boat in Thailand, because that means adding 5 or more extra days to the trip.
Therefore I will let participants decide what ever they would like to do, fly to India and meet the boat in Port Blair or fly to Thailand and do the cross.
Therefore friends that can not count in many days of holiday, can save 5 days at list, 4 for the crossing (going and back), the 5th day due to the check-in that every boat enter the Andaman waters has to do.
Every foreign boat that enters Andaman Islands waters must go straight away to Port Blair as first. Boat can not leave until will be inspected by officers and all the proper procedures such immigrations, etc, will be cleared out. The check routine takes from half to a fully day as I'm going to explain in details on the "Andaman Islands Law" section.
Indeed I try to organize my charters in a manner that it is up to the participants decide what to do, especially for who does not have much time, better to fly to Port Blair and meet the boat once there.
Andaman Islands Law:
Andaman district has his own special laws that makes the charter organization really tricky.
First of, the commercial foreigner tour operators that offer holiday solutions to Andaman Islands waters as fishing, diving trip and live-board, are forbidden by law. Such trip can be organized by Indian commercial tour operators ONLY or private people as my self, by the law indeed organize fishing trips to Andaman Islands it can not be done for profit!
Probably a law made to help Indian tour operators, protecting them against foreign competition.
In reality there are a lot of foreign tour operators that work for profit in Andaman waters, everybody know and nobody say anything about anyway that is what the law says and it is better to know it!
In order to enter Andaman territory an Indian tourist visa in required as we already sow, along side another kind of visa is required, such visa for Indian restricted areas, the Andaman permit for stay there, sail and play sports activities. It cost 100 USA $ about, it could be done only in Andaman territory, Indian Embassy worldwide are not allowed to issue the permit. Who had such experience before knows very well what deal with Indian bureaucracy means! Nobody knows when the document requested will be issued, one , two days, one week? And obviously we don't have much time to spare!
Much better spend a few backs more then relay to services of local offices specialize in these kind of documents, buy their services, let tem apply for our "special visa".
I have a contact in Port Blair, my friend Rotman who owns a tourist office "Andaman Holidays"
specialized in this kind of matter.
With a cost of 150 USA $ x person we will get the restricted area visa in a few working days.
Every participant is going to fill the proper application form that I can provide.
A week or so before leaving I will send all the filled forms to Rotman then we will find our documents ready to go once we will arrive to Port Blair without loosing any precious time.
Perhaps, most of the tour operators that work in Andaman waters relay to Rotman services to do the restricted area visa. Therefore who is going to join my trip has to apply for his Indian tourist visa, I will take care after the restricted area visa application that will be ready waiting for us once we will arrive in Port Blair.
Some species that belong to Serranids Family as Giant, Goliath Grouper, etc , as well species that belong to Labridae and Scaridae Family such Napoleon Wrasse and Green Humphead Parrot fish, (refer to "Reef Species Chart")
are protected species and could not be hunt.
Laws about Spear fishing are unclear, "Indian Wildlife Protection Act"
written in 1972, as protected wild life refers to the above mentioned species alongside some crustaceans and mammals as Dolphins, etc.
Commercial fishing by nets is totally forbidden, since 2010 long lines are allowed under a special permit hard to get and very expensive.
The above mentioned Indian Wildlife Act DO NOT mention any law referring to Spear fishing activities so, back in Port Blair I spoke with friends as Rotman as well cost guard officials, still today there are NOT any written law that regulates Spear fishing activity, again: since today there are NOT any written law that says that, in Andaman Islands, Spear fishing is forbidden.
Last time that I've been to Andaman Islands was January 2013, what I'm afraid of : sooner or later a written law that is going to ban Spear fishing within Andaman Islands territory will be implemented.
As soon as boat arrives
in Port Blair we will be welcome to my friend Rotman who is coming on board with the special area visas and all documents required. Boat as well all crew members will be inspected by 5 different departments:
Cost Guard, harbour Police, Immigration, etc, the procedures is very strict, it depends also how many boats are going to arrive alongside our boat, it could takes 5 to 8 hours about, unluckily we can not do any thing, we must clear all the documents first. Once done, our passport are stamp by immigration we will be free to go on land, refuel the boat with gas, water and ice go to the market to buy what we need. Assuming that we are going to arrive in Port Blair at morning time, the first day will be spent dealing in the above matter, we will be free to leave to the first fishing spot late in afternoon, sailing at night, we will be there early in the morning ready to jump in the water at dawn.
Boat must report its position every day. Fortunately, by boats and fly, cost guard is present and vigilant. We are talking about no touristic area where commercial fishing is almost forbidden, areas out side commercial root so we are going to spend many days at see without spotting any other boat!
Cost guard presence reassure that in case of danger despite the remote location, help is always near by.
About Games Landed:
Andaman waters are so rich,
the fish concentration
Spear fishing over there means get a lot of games, however the live-board and its logistical matters wont be a problem.
DO NOT waste any meet it is always a must!
Boats used are well equipped with many refrigerators, however they probably wont be enough.
We are going to enjoy delicious fresh fish suppers, sun and salt dry the meet that could not be ate nor stored on the refrigerators.
Anyway in a 10 to 15 days charter we have to go back to Port Blair or Havelock at list once for refuel, it depends how the trip will be organized because some of the main Spear fishing spots that we are going to visit are really far apart. We can organize the journey and sailing from a spot to another at night time, rearrange a clever schedule trip that brings us to Port Blair or Havelock when we have to refuel, buy ice, water, etc, without loosing valuable time in which we can Spear fishing Once at main land wont be a problem give the fish to people. You will see by your own eyes, so many people remember us because we gave fish already on past charters indeed our games wont be wasted, food for people that really need as you are going to clearly notice by yourself.
Sea- Geography and Fauna:
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On the picture table we can see the most common Andaman fish species with high Spear fishing value.
From March cetacean species cross Andaman waters on their migration root to South. It is possible to spot different species of whales and killer whale alongside the ever present dolphins. On the picture table I can not show the best periods of the year in which there is the most concentration pick for a given species because simply I don't know, nobody knows exact details about. As we sow the Andaman season is very short, just 4 months because that nobody build up jet a deep experience about games and Spear fishing those waters, especially pelagic species, and their behavior , still today nobody has enough experience to tell about.
If someone is selling himself as experienced guide, telling you about his knowledge on these waters, pelagic behavior, etc, we are talking about a guy crazy enough to sail for many years and often, trough a 12 months period and lucky enough to come back to tell about... most likely he is telling lies. That is the price to pay for Spear fishing unexplored and unknown areas, that means that no experienced guides are available to bring us over there, finding fish, etc. The matter don't interest reef species that can be always found, I am talking about pelagic species, do Blue water Hunting without knowing the spot is as finding a needle in a stack. No matter what we are talking about very rich water, plenty of life, to be honest anyway I would like to underline that on my trips no experienced guide about fish behavior in Andaman waters is guiding us because a guide with such skillful knowledge simply does not exist jet. I brought the subject to be fully honest, to inform as much as possible in the most fair way, making the point of the situation and its every aspects
Boats and Skipper:
I have 2 friends that i can rely on as experienced skippers:
My main point of reference is Stefano Fiori, a skillful skipper who is living in Thailand (Phuket) since many years.
Here his web site "The BigBlues"
where you can read about every boat details, about engine, etc. Feel free to "Contact Me"
if you have some specific questions or unanswered questions.
Stefano has build a solid experience about Andaman Islands and Andaman sea generally speaking, he knows very well those waters because he is sailing Andaman sea since many seasons driving there his boat crowd by rot fisherman groups.
From Thailand (Phuket) to Port Blair it takes 4 fully days by Stefano boat, 2 days going and other 2 to coming back at a sailing speed of 13 to 15 nautical knot.
The luxury motor boat allow very confortable trip for 8 speros, a valid crew member is going to take care the live board, cuking and providing all the help needed.
In recent year,
due to look for better and cheaper price,
I experienced the services of Mr. Kit from Ranong(Thailand), here Kit "Face Book Page"
Kit is a Thai captain with a huge sea experience who has build a solid reputation sailing around Andaman sea, mainly with rod fishing groups.
With Thai people, I know them well cause I'm living here in Thailand since 1994, we can manage cheaper price however the service wont be guaranteed as high standard level as we can find booking a more expensive boat owned and crowd by a foreigner.
Mr. Kit boat named "Chokanurat", you can see it on the photo and in his Face book page, is a classic Thai commercial fishing vessel, a very solid structure excellent for sail at open sea. A double engine can guarantee a speed cruise of 8 to 9 nautic miles x hour, from Ranong to Port Blair is going to take 60 hours about.
allows a comfortable trip for 8 fisherman, a huge room with air condition is working as a bad room.
The main boat used is always equipped with 2 or more small boats (dingy or fiberglass) with a 10 to 20 HP engine, the number depends on how many participants are going to join the trip.
I try to organize my charters with no more than 8 fellows per boat so a small boat every 4 fisherman that is going to bring us spear fishing around with the main boat always in sights.
As already told the boats, skippers and crews mentioned before are working mainly with rod fishing groups, they build a solid experience at see generally speaking however they do not know much about Spear fishing cause they where involved in Spear fishing charters just a few time, I'm the only one who uses their services for Spear fishing charter purposes, as already told, officially speaking, nobody organize Spear fishing charters to Andaman Islands.
Sea Fishing Grounds:
Miles and miles of untamed reef, pinnacles, banks and their drop-off at open see, truly amazing spots most of them still unexplored. It will take years and years to explore this huge archipelago, especially the almost unknown West Andaman Islands side, I never been there, I'm still stuck in the Est side, hehehe!!!!!
what a perfect name for a magic and unique place:
150 Miles from Port Blair, a small pinnacle hit by huge waves in the middle of no where.
On the bottom an enormous bank many km wide. A huge flat area with a dept of 10 mt about made by coral rocks and send, all surrounded by dizzy drop-off that fall to thousand mt abyss dept.
Cinque, Sister and Sentinel Islands
South, Southwest, 26 to 40 Km from Port Blair,
gorgeous uninhabited islands (except for North Sentinel Island inhabited by a small group of local indigenous) where wild life reigns superb.
The view above and below water is "breath taking", it makes understand how us, human being, we are so small, nothing compared to the awesome nature beauty and power. Alongside sharks those islands are home to salt water crocodiles. Watching from the boat and following their unmistakable trail in the send, we spotted those gorgeous animals sunbathing in the beach, lucky we never encounter them in the water...
it miss only the dinosaurs, find your self in a journey back on time to Jurassic era.
Barren is the last Andaman archipelago active volcano, it had last considerable eruption in 1991, it lasted six months and caused considerable damage. Further minor eruptions were recorded in 1994, 1995, 2005 and 2007.
Sailing to this small island 70 miles Northeast f from Port Blair and look at the depth finder, just that is an unrelieved experience that could come out in goose pimples the most skillful sailor. Due to volcano eruptions over the millennia, lava flows carve an unique sea bottom, a down and up bathymetric that, coming close to the island, from the abyss rises up and then down again over and over, sea mountains that go as a roller coaster track, alternating an unbelievable under sea environment.
The sea bottom on the island sides is characterized by black lava sand and rocks, Spear fishing in a pitch black environment highlighted by the shiny coral colors is an unique experience that must be lived to fully understand the felling that it gives, no words can tell about!
On the island South - West side, under the volcano and its main lava flow, the coast falls straight down to a very deep bottom. This is an unique environment for species as colorful Napoleon fish and huge Dog Tooth Tuna. Hunt Dog Tooth Tuna is a challenging task, it lives very deep coming to shallow water for hunting at dusk. Dogys have a delicious meet, alongside Wahoo the best fish that i ever tested, especially raw meet as sashimi!
another outstanding fishing ground North from Barren, 85 Miles Northeast far from Port Blair.
Narcondam Island holds the easternmost point of the Andaman Islands, it is a dormant volcano, another uninhabited paradise guarded by a small group of soldiers, rangers that are living in a small camp close to the beach.
Narcondam is a dormant volcano, the sea bottom is not "pitch-black", the other geographic characteristics are almost the same as Barren Island, the coast falls down to a very deep bottom home for many reef species , huge Giant trevally and Dog Thooth Tuna. Because
These are just a few examples about the spots where I already Spear fishing in, some of the best and know sightseeing on the archipelago Est side.
Especially to the West side, in front of Indian Continent, we can experience so many areas almost unknown by anybody, surely nobody has never do Spear fishing there! I use to organize my charters deciding before where I want to go, I have to do it also because, once the boat enter the Andaman border and it will be check-in, we must tell to the Coast Guard where we would like to go exactly, tell in details about all the sites that we are planning to visit. However, while planning the trip we can decide all together what to do, visit the very good spots already known or try to find out unknown areas.
The charter is a live-board type as told already; small inflated boat or fiberglass dingy with a 10-20 hp engine allow us to go fishing on the spot chosen in the area closed to our main boat.
As you can understand the fishing ground is so huge, spots are many miles far away. Before living we must choose a specific area to visit rearranging a "clever" trip, an itinerary that allow us to maximize and optimize the time that we have, try to sail at night time while Spear fishing during the day.
As already told I organize my charters in such manner that is up to the participants: fly directly to Port Blair or arrive to Thailand first and sail to Andaman Islands.
I will provide to you weights belt cause you must to fly over.
you must provide floats, gun, fin, etc.
About Spear fishing tools, check my "Gear" section where I am talking in details about Blue water Hunting equipment and, generally, about extreme spear fishing gears.
A 3 mm wet-suit will be the right choice, also in winter time Andaman waters are still mild, 26 to-28C.
Those are average water temperatures also at open see or deeper depth.
About every question that you would like to ask fell free to "Contact Me".