Discovering the Mergui archipelago aboard Calisto
The unique motor yacht CALISTO is currently cruising the Andaman Sea. Eager to discover more about this classic yacht and the cruising grounds of the Mergui Archipelago, Camper & Nicholsons charter broker Molly Browne flew to Phuket to put the superyacht and its crew to the test.
I've always thought CALISTO a fascinating yacht. Built during World War II for service as a minesweeper for the British Navy, she was transformed into a luxury superyacht by the Irish tycoon Thomas Loel Guinness in the 1950’s. When I heard she was cruising in the Mergui Archipelago (a relatively unchartered cruising ground) I jumped at the opportunity to discover more about this yacht and what Mergui has to offer charterers.
We met CALISTO in Ranong, the border town of Myanmar. As we approached CALISTO by tender I was struck by how elegant she looked in this exotic setting. We were given a warm welcome from the crew of CALISTO, each offered a beautiful flower garland by Anne, the Chief Stewardess and a refreshing towel. Philippe, the Captain of CALISTO then explained the cruising itinerary for the next few days. CALISTO has had her entire interior beautifully refitted, so she is very comfortable, but she still retains her classic style and grace. After a long day we feasted on delicious dishes made by Guillaume the chef who has been working for 10 years in Asia. Here we were joined by our local guide Nye-Nye, he had a wealth of knowledge about the area, it’s people and landscape, and many fascinating stories to tell.
A highlight was waking on the first morning to be met by sunshine and beautiful white sandy beaches where we enjoyed our first swim in the warm waters of Myanmar. Our next anchorage was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, between three islands, green with jungle and edged by inviting white sandy beaches. Some of the local Moken fisherman glided past the yacht in their dugout canoes, including a father with three sons catching lobster together. The CALISTO crew prepared a fantastic BBQ on one of the beaches for lunch, including a huge sea bass caught by the crew the evening before, grilled to perfection.
The Captain of CALISTO, Philippe, is a dive master with more than 20 years of experience in the region. He started his career as a captain on dive boats in Thailand. His favorite spots are in the Similan Islands, Surin Islands, Andaman Islands and also few incredible places in the Mergui Archipelago itself. CALISTO can cruise to all these areas and Philippe can show guests these wonderful dive sites.
On our last full day in Mergui we cruised towards the north-east side of Swinton Island and stepped ashore to one of the tiny fishing villages. We received a wonderful warm welcome ashore, Nye-Nye, the guide, took us on a short hike up the hill to the temple where we had a fantastic view of CALISTO as well as the Moken vessels in the bay. Afterwards we wandered through the tiny settlement, waving to the playing children and watching as the villagers came out with their daily offering of rice for the monks. The quiet simplicity and beauty of this village was a true privilege to see. The Mergui Archipelago is a place free of bars, restaurants and beach clubs, it is just you, the yacht, and nature. Back in the tender we cruised across the bay towards another island where I enjoyed an exhilarating tropical shower under a stunning waterfall on the beach. After an action-packed day of walking and water sports I had a wonderful Thai massage on the top deck before getting ready for our special final dinner. As we started our cruise back to the mainland we ventured on to the foredeck all captivated by the blanket of stars above our heads.
All my expectations have been exceeded by this unforgettable cruise to the Mergui Archipelago onboard CALISTO. Perfect for all adventurous charter guests, this is the ideal getaway for those wishing to explore nature's most beautiful and unspoilt surroundings.