Port Blair is the main town and the only Port of Entry in the Andaman Islands. It is a quaint, dirty, crowded and friendly Indian town that looks as though it has been ripped out of the colonial 1930s and dropped into the 21st century. Port Blair has an airport with daily connecting flights to Chennai and Kolkota.
Yachts are still an unusual sight in the Andaman Islands with only 30-40 visiting yachts each year. Port Blair is however a busy commercial and naval harbour – it has all of the facilities you are likely to need but you may have to look harder than usual to find them.
Your dinghy. You will need to leave your dinghy tied up at one of the jetties near Chatham Island. Theft from dingies or yachts is not an issue in Port Blair. A local entrepreneurial boy called Mupardee will magically appear and offer to look after your dinghy, move it around the ferries and fishing boats, make sure it is not chafing against the jetty, keep it clean and fetch and carry for you. He does a good job.
Provisioning. Aberdeen market has excellent fresh vegetables, herbs, spices and fruit. It also has very fresh (walking!) chicken and mutton. If you are used to supermarkets with pre-packaged goods the market will be quite an experience. Anumod Bakery has fresh bread, homemade biscuits, tinned goods and ice cream. It does not make sense to buy fish in the Andamans as it is so easy to catch. Alcohol is difficult to buy in Port Blair.
Good quality fresh water is available from barges or the dockside – enquire at the harbourmaster’s office. Diesel fuel can be brought by tanker to the dockside by prior arrangement with the harbour master. As this is remarkably complicated it is best to employ an agent to arrange this for you. Alternatively you can jerry can fuel by taxi from the India Oil station at Phoenix Bay. Fuel is relatively expensive in the Andaman Islands.
Port Blair has excellent boat repair facilities but no experience of yachts. Boats of up to 500 tons can be lifted, there are skilled mechanics, sandblasting and spraying facilities and fabricating workshops. Most spare parts can be flown in overnight from the Indian mainland by arrangement with “Agency House”.
Bay Island Hotel is the best in Port Blair with spectacular views of the harbour entrance and a good restaurant. The Gem Continental has great Tandoori in the evenings. TSG and Sinclair Hotel also have good restaurants but it takes hours for the food to arrive.
There are a variety of Internet cafes, GSM mobile coverage, GPRS and hundreds of manned phone booths with ISD/STD signs in Port Blair.
The Andamans is very bureaucratic and even the simplest thing requires reams of paperwork. Your visit is unlikely to change this.
Dress smartly and be polite and everything will go smoothly. If you turn up at a government office wearing shorts, sandals and a string vest and are rude and arrogant, then expect whatever you want to take several days to a week.
While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this book is accurate, the charts of anchorages are based on personal experience and satellite imagery and are intended as a guide only. They should not be used for navigation. Please refer to Official Hydrographic Charts of the respective countries.
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