A administrative delay with clearing out of Thailand, which required some cloak and dagger activity in a small coffee shop in the Main Street of Kawthaung and clearing in to Myanmar lost us some time for beginning our cruising time in the Mergui Archipelago. As part of the governmental control of tourism, we had to take a local guide with us for our 10 day itinerary – a quiet, helpful, always smiling and delightful 25 year old Burmese man called Arnoe, joined the Miss Tiggy crew. A part of his role was to liaise with the local fishermen (including negotiating on our behalf for fresh fish and squid at the cost of a number of cans of coke or a small flask of local whiskey). He pointed out some great dive sites and snorkelling spots as well as directing us to some of the most glorious anchorage locations for our overnight stays.
Our previous visit to Myanmar by plane did not have prepare us for the natural beauty of the south coast islands and the fact that our sails were more often than not the only ones on the horizon. We were possibly the only privately owned yacht in the area at the time although we shared several anchorages with local fishermen who did not approach us and we left them in peace. The cost involved in administrative work plus Arnoe is worth every dime!
Mergui Archipelago is a cruising and diving Mecca! Flat seas with consistent winds, stunning rock wall dives displaying healthy and colourful coral and fish life (and no plastic) and swathes of sandy beaches with fine white sand offering up small rays, coral and tropical fish to view close up with mask and fins. A small number of resorts dot the islands but most were closed. The Boulder Bay Eco-tourism resort did allow us to hike around the island with their appointed guide and enjoy a cold beer while we briefly logged on to their wifi, but this was the only contact we had with anyone!
In Phuket we shopped for some giveaways for the children of the islands. Pens, pencils, books, and boys and girls tee shirts. We visited several schools around the Archipelago but we most enjoyed this small classroom at a small fishing village which was attended by a small number of local kids before leaving for primary and high school in less remote and idyllic locations. Friendly and appreciative and so happy to greet us as were their parents!
So much of what is amazing about our journey is visual and so we have set up an Instagram account called yachtmisstiggy and with the assistance of Calum and his drone called Drona we are able to document some of the beauty of our sailing adventure.