The 2nd Edition of the Andaman Sea Pilot
Not often am I enthused about reading through a pilot, generally they tend to be dry and technical - not much different to reading the instructions on how to re-calibrate a diesel high pressure pump for a 6 cylinder Mercedes engine - boringly accurate in its detail.
On receiving the 2008 edition of the Andaman Sea Pilot with its 200 odd pages of charts, GPS positions, hazards
and above all, the information on anchorages, my first thought was this would not be much more than a superficial look at South East Asia's cruising areas. How wrong! After reading just a few pages it became very obvious that this Pilot was not only different to the run of the mill , but that it was the result of many years of careful collective observation by the authors who are resident and active sailors in the region.
The information presented belies the enormous amount of effort that has gone into the development of this guide to one of our planet's very best cruising areas - here in South East Asia's back-yard.
I guess the title Andaman may lead some to think that the coverage of the pilot is limited to the Andaman sea - not so, this edition has brought in the Gulf of Thailand (Siam) , the Malacca Strait , Singapore, Eastern Malaysia's part of Borneo, Vietnam and a chapter on getting from Australia to Singapore.
Thailand with its tropical climate, pristine beaches on enumerable islands in the Andaman Sea takes more than half of the pilot with detailed descriptions of some 130 good tested anchorages selected from literally hundreds of bays on islands and its 1,000 miles of coastline.
What the authors have been able to do, is to describe each anchorage on its own merits, in terms of its suitability relative to each of the monsoon seasons where the prevailing wind will be either from the N.E or from the S.W. In terms of swell, in terms of overnighting potential, in terms of holding and hazards, in terms of scuba and snorkelling potential. In terms of getting to the beach by dinghy etc etc...
The Charts depicting the anchorages are very clear and easy to interpret - they provide the initial foundation for the anchorage frames, within which details are highlighted including symbols such as :-
Enhancing the topical cruising information many of the pilot's pages are provided with good photographs taken by the authors.
Therefore, from a reviewers point of view (one who has had the privilege of sailing these waters himself over many years) an excellent addition to our knowledge of cruising in S.E Asia. This is despite the mainly marine industry adverts that are carried - although these may be useful to cruisers for addresses and contact information. The introduction could have been enlarged to cover explanation of the charts, monsoons etc. One element missing is sufficient information regarding lift out/ haul out and repair facilities in the region, a few of the really useful ones have been omitted ( however, I understand that a full section devoted to this feature will be incorporated in the next edition). Not all the marina information is current, but I guess that development of these is of such a pace that it may not have been possible to include the latest.
All in all - a must for anyone who is contemplating cruising in the seas of S.E. Asia - or a book just to have when dreaming about magical places.
The Andaman Sea Pilot
Andy Dowden & Bill O'Leary
Published by Image Asia Events Co. Ltd.
The Reviewer has no interest whatsoever with either the authors or the publishers.
but, is happy to include one of his favourite pictures of a beach in the Andaman Sea :