From Phuket, Calisto Charts Course for Myanmar
Published: Thursday, 31 May 2012
After two years cruising the waters of the Andaman Sea off Phuket, Calisto is steering for the waters of Myanmar. From its port in Phuket, the 42-meter yacht expects to embark on its first trip to the Mergui Archipelago, just a few hours from Thailand’s Similan Islands, in the fall of 2012, and regularly thereafter as Myanmar emerges from decades of isolation.
The new itinerary charts a six-hour course from Phuket to the Similans, and another seven hours before the vessel cruises into Myanmar waters. Calisto will clear customs and immigration at Kawthaung (known to the colonial British as Victoria Point), not far from Ranong, Thailand. A government tour guide from Myanmar joins the cruise at that point, clearing the way to journeys among the archipelago’s 4,000 islands.
“These are the islands that people have been dreaming about for years,” said the boat’s skipper, Philippe Cathala. “Think of Phuket and Phi Phi before the tourists descended. That’s Mergui today.” Cathala has sailed to Myanmar on a number of occasions and says the appeal of the new destination is enhanced by the ability to travel to Myanmar in first-world accommodation.
Built in 1944 as a YMS-1 Class minesweeper, Calisto transitioned from wartime service in the British Navy to the ownership of Thomas Loel Guinness of the Irish brewing family. Meanwhile, a prestigious French family bought the Calisto from Guinness, maintaining the vessel for four decades before Merlin bought the boat in 2007. Today, the Calisto is renowned for its expansive sleeping quarters (seven cabins, as opposed to three or four in a typical yacht), its value-for-money and its waters.
For Cathala, the boat’s old world ambiance and classic detailing sets the tone for every voyage. The centrally air conditioned boat’s seven cabins sleep 12, including three rooms with king beds. Its galley is professionally equipped and the salon features a 32-inch plasma screen, a DVD and a library. Powered by two 500hp Caterpillar engines, the boat cruises at 11 knots. Cathala recently completed a journey of 1,050 miles in 15 days.