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South Myanmar navigation description & map


Between Cape Negrais and the Sittang River, the Irrawaddy coast, the Bassein and the Yangon River, which include the ports are described first.

A description of the Tenasserim Coast then follows as far South as the Tavoy River and includes the port of Moulmein, Bentinck Sound, the Ye River, Heinze Chaung, and the off-lying Moscos Islands, Bentinck Sound provides some shelter.

The coast of Burma, between Tavoy Point and Victoria Point, is indented by many inlets of little or no commercial value to ocean shipping. Many mountain ranges parallel this coast. The only ports of any importance along this entire section of coast are Tavoy, Mergui and Kawthaung.

The Pakchan River forms the boundary between Myanmar and Thailand.

Victoria Point (9˚58'N., 98˚33'E.) lies on the N side of the entrance of this river.

The coast between the entrance of the Pakchan River and the entrance of Takua Pa Inlet, is mostly low, densely wooded, and intersected by many rivers and creeks. It has not been closely examined.

A range of mountains backs this coast. A number of islands, many surrounded by reefs, lie off this coast; others are joined to the mainland by sandbanks.

Takua Pa Inlet is formed by a large river which flows into the sea by way of four channels between the parallels of 9˚15'N and 8˚52'N.

The coast between the S entrance of the Takua Pa Inlet and the N entrance of Chong Pak Phra is regular and is fronted by the Similan Islands. Chong Pak Phra is the narrow strait between the coast and Ko Phuket, a large island to the S. The W coast of the latter island is indented by several open bays. The N part of this coast, with the exception of a small area, is low, wooded, and backed by hills of moderate elevation.

The S part rises steeply to a mountain range from about 262 to 518m high, densely wooded, and sloping gradually to the N and S.

The Mergui Archipelago,

which consists of approximately 800 islands ranging in size from mere hummocks of rock to King Island, the largest of the group, with an area of about 175 square miles, lies within the 95m curve. The archipelago extends from Tavoy Island, the N extremity of which is nearly 20 miles S of Tavoy Point, to the Similan Islands, a distance of about 285 miles.

South Myanmar Map
Myeik or Mergui City, river and islands, south Myanmar beaches and pictures.

The Great Western Torres Islands, the outer-most islands, lie about 70 miles off the mainland. Some of the islands have mountain peaks which attain a height of 762m. The outer islands are steep and wooded; the near shore islands are low and covered with jungle. There are no ports of significance, but there are many sheltered anchorages.

Winds & Weather

The climatic seasons of the Tenasserim Coast and the W coast of Thailand are based on two major wind systems, namely the Northeast Monsoon and the Southwest Monsoon, each with its own weather characteristics.

The Northeast Monsoon, which is associated with the Northern Hemisphere winter, extends from early December through late March.

This is the dry season, but a flow of warm moist air from across the South China Sea covers the before-mentioned coasts and causes somewhat higher cloudiness, occasional thunderstorms, higher temperatures, and humidity's than over the remaining areas. The greatest contrasts are in November, December, and January, when these coasts are hot, humid, and rainy.

Thunderstorms reach their lowest frequency during the Northeast Monsoon. Temperatures reach their lowest values, except at some stations along these coasts where all seasons are about equally warm and humid.

Cloudiness is at a minimum, with the lowest averages usually occurring in January. Visibilities are usually good, but there is some early morning fog. The picture shows Mergui or Myeik during monsoon.

The spring inter monsoon season, usually from mid-March to mid-May, is the period in which the dry NE winds give way to the moist SW winds. Weak and variable winds occur in April and May. There is a slight increase in rainfall in April and a big increase in May.

Thunderstorm frequencies rise sharply, and are most frequent during May. Temperatures reach their maximum values in April. Relative humidities and cloudiness increase. The Southwest Monsoon, which extends from mid-May through late September, is the rainy season. Daily intermittent light rain, interspersed with occasional heavy rainstorms or thunderstorms accompanied by torrential downpours, occur. Cloudiness reaches a maximum during the Southwest Monsoon. Maximum cloud cover reaches 80 to 95 per cent. Temperatures decrease slightly at most places due to the increased cloud cover. The average daily temperatures are in the upper 27˚ or low 32˚C; relative humidity reaches its highest values. Visibility is usually good. Poor visibility occurs mainly during heavy rain squalls.

Tavoy or Dawai
Tavoy or Dawai farmer
Tavoy or Dawai Girls working in the paddy fields
Tavoy or Dawai Girls working in the paddy fields
Myeik during monsoon
Myeik during monsoon
Southwest Monsoon at Tavoy or Dawai
Myanmar inter monsoon season

Inter monsoon season is normally limited to the months of October and November. During this period, the moist Southwester Monsoon is replaced by moist E winds over these coasts. Weak and variable winds, with land and sea breezes prevailing, occur until the Northeast Monsoon is established. Rainfall decreases, but thunderstorms increase slightly over these coasts. Temperatures and relative humidity remain high. Cloudiness decreases, except over the S of the Tenasserim coast and the W coast of Thailand. Periods of low visibilities are rare.

Tides & Currents

The current of the entrance of the Irrawaddy River is irregular in the fine weather season and varies with the direction of wind, here the current has no apparent connection with the rise and fall of the tide. During November, December, and January, little or no flood current is observed S of Alguada Reefs, except at springs.

The tides along the Tenasserim coast and along the W coast of Thailand are semidiurnal with a small diurnal inequality in both time and height. The tides approach these coasts from the SSW and progress N. The mean spring ranges increase from about 3m at the Burma-Thailand border to over 5.2m at Mergui.

The currents flow at an average rate of 0.4 knot, with a maximum of about 0.7 knot. The set and drift of the currents in local areas often varies from the patterns shown below. This is due to frequent storms. Near the coast, the tidal currents will also exert great influence and will either augment or deter the non-tidal currents.

The currents along the Tenasserim coast and along the W coast of Thailand usually set N in January and S in February. In March the water flowing N from the Strait of Malacca causes a N current to flow along these coasts. This flow continues through April. In May the currents set from S to SW, except for the extreme S part of this area where a N current still exists. The currents set S in June and July and N from August through December.

The tidal current movement is usually semidiurnal in character with some variations in the velocities and durations of the flows. The tidal currents, as a rule, set from ENE to NNW on the rising tide and from WSW to SSE on the falling tide. Considerable variation in set and drift is to be expected between the many islands off these coasts and in the confined areas and estuaries.

Tidal currents are strong along the entire coast between Tavoy Point and the Burma-Thailand border. Between Tavoy Point and Forrest Strait, the tidal currents usually set N on the rising tide and S on the falling tide at rates of 2 to 4 knots. The tidal currents attain a rate of 2.3 knots through Forrest Strait. In deeper water offshore, the tidal effect becomes negligible and the general circulation predominates. Tidal bores occur in the mouths of rivers and bays.

There is comparatively little reliable information concerning the tidal currents off the W coast of Thailand. These tidal cur-rents seldom exceed 2 to 3 knots and are seldom experienced over 8 miles offshore.

Cape Negrais to the Sittang River

Cape Negrais (16˚02'N., 94˚12'E.), the seaward extremity of a spur of the Arakan Yoma range, is fronted by conspicuous cliffs which rise about 0.8 mile inland to a high summit. The cape has been reported to be a good radar target up to 24 miles.

The coast of the Irrawaddy Delta is low along its entire length between the Bassein River and the Sittang River. The only high coastal ground lies on the W side of the mouth of the Bassein River.

Here the S extremity of the Arakan Yoma Range terminates in the vicinity of Maw Dengi. Between the Bassein River and the China Bakir River there are no landmarks and the navigational aids are few in number.


Between positions S of Purian Point and Baragua Point, the 20m curve lies about 10 to 20 miles offshore. The 10m curve roughly parallels the 20m curves at distances of about 2 to 8 miles within the latter curve. Shoal depths of 5.5m and less lie between the 11m curve and the shore.

The 20m curves lies about 18 miles SE and 21 miles E of Baragua Point and then extends E to the vicinity of Kalegauk Island, and approximates the outer limits of the Gulf of Martaban.

The 10m curve to the SE and E of Baragua Point lies only about 1 to 2 miles within the 20m curve, but to the ENE it lies between 8 and 30 miles offshore.

Those depths and dangers which lie within the 10m curve are described together with the principal description of that part of the coast which they front. A shoal, with a depth of 9.1m, was reported to lie about 46 miles S of Elephant Point.

Caution, vessels should not approach within a distance of 3 miles of the coast in the vicinity of Cape Negrais. A fringing reef and off-lying rocks make caution advisable even outside this distance.

The shallow bank, which fronts the delta shore between Purian Point and Baragua Point, should not be shoaled to depths of less than 18.3m.

In 1984, offshore drilling and survey ships were operating in the area S of Irawaddy up to 45 miles offshore. These vessels and platforms should be given a wide berth.

The coast between Cape Negrais and Maw Dengi, about 6 miles SSE, consists of a series of low, densely-wooded hills. In the vicinity of Maw Dengi these hills have some conspicuous, reddish slopes of driven sand which leave well-defined edges of dark foliage near their summits.

The coast between Cape Negrais and Maw Dengi is fringed by reefs and shoal patches which extend up to 1.3 miles off-shore in places.

Maw Dengi (Pagoda Point) (15˚57'N., 94˚15'E.), about 30m high and flat, terminates in a bare bluff. A pagoda lies on the point and is visible above the trees. A small 2.7m high obelisk lies on the reef on the SE extremity of Maw Dengi.

A shoal, with depths of 5.5m and less, lies up to 0.5 mile S and W respectively of the point. A detached 5.5m patch lies about 1 mile W of the point.

The Irrawaddy River Delta

The Irrawaddy River rises in the N part of Burma and generally flows to the S. Augmented by numerous tributaries, the Irrawaddy River flows into the Bay of Bengal by way of several channels through an extensive delta lying approximately between the meridians of 94˚15'E and 96˚50'E. This delta is being constantly extended seaward by the deposit of silt. Many low islands are formed near its seaward extremity by tidal backwaters and smaller cross channels which connect with the main channels.

The only channels through the Irrawaddy Delta used by ocean-going vessels are the Bassein River and the Rangoon River, the furthest W and E, respectively.

Approaches to the Bassein River

Maw Dengi, which lies on the NW side of the entrance of the Bassein (Pathein)River, has been previously described in paragraph 8.2.

Purian Point (15˚50'N., 94˚24'E.), low and backed by a group of trees 22.9m high, lies on the SE side of the entrance of the Bassein River. White sandstone low bluffs extend 1.5 miles NE from the point. Higher bluffs begin about 1 mile NNE of the point and extend to the N for about 1.3 miles.

Tides in the entrance of the Bassein River are semidiurnal.

The tidal currents set strongly across Phaeton Shoals; the flood current sets E and the ebb current sets W.
About 1 mile N of Thamihla Kyun the tidal currents are rotary during spring tides. At the beginning of the flood tide, the current sets 152˚ and changes through 090˚, so that at the end of the flood it sets about 057˚. With the commencement of the ebb tide, the current sets about 315˚ and changes through 270˚, setting at the end about 225˚. The greatest velocity, 1.5 knots, is attained during the second and third quarters of each tide.

Near the entrance bar, the flood current sets about E and the ebb current sets between SW and SSW at velocities of 1.5 to 3.5 knots during spring tides. At spring tides, during the rainy season, the ebb current may reach a velocity of 6 knots.
Depths—Limitations.—.Alguada Reef (15˚42'N., 94˚ 12'E.), almost awash at HWS, has detached sunken rocks extending a considerable distance from it. Hugh Rose Rock, which is awash, lies off the N end of the reef about 2.5 miles NNE of the light, which lies near the SW end of the reef. A 4.1m patch lies about 1.3 miles S of the light. Depths of 10.1m and less extend about 0.8 miles farther SW.

Alguada Reef Light bearing 092˚
Caution.—Less water than charted has been reported to lie in an area between 19 miles W and 18.5 miles SSW of Alguada Reef Light.

Several detached shoal patches, with depths of 5.5 to 14.6m, have been reported to lie within a 1 mile radius of a position about 17 miles WNW of Alguada Reef Light.

Phaeton Shoals (15˚47'N., 94˚14'E.), a group of shoal patches with a least depth of 4.3m and 2 miles in extent, lie centered about 10.3 miles S of Maw Dengi. Depths of 11 to 18.3m surround these shoals.

Thamihla Kyun (15˚52'N., 94˚17'E.), flat and wooded, lies about 5.5 miles SSE of Maw Dengi. Reefs and shoals extend about 2 miles SSW and 0.8 mile NE from the island. Rocky patches, with a least depth of 7.9m, extend about 0.8 mile W from the island. Thamihla Kyun has been reported to be a good radar target up to 18 miles.

Baroni Rock (15˚52'N., 94˚17'E.), with a least depth of 4.9m, lies about 0.5 mile NE of the N end of Thamihla Kyun.
Haing Gyi Shoal (15˚57'N., 94˚17'E.), with depths of 5.5m and less, extends about 5.5 miles S into the river entrance from the shore about 3.3 miles NE of Maw Dengi.

Depths in the channel between Thamihla Kyun and the shore bank extending about 6 miles WNW from Purian Point range from 6.1 to 9.1m. Depths in the approach to and within the entrance channel W and N of Thamihla Kyun range from 18.3 to 7.3m.

Pilotage, is compulsory. Pilots will board off the pilot station, located about 0.3 mile SE of Dalhousie Point.
During the Northeast Monsoon, if no pilot is readily avail-able, a vessel should proceed to the anchorage SE of Thamihla Kyun.
To avoid delay, the vessel’s ETA should be sent to the Port Officer at Bassein at least 48 hours prior to arrival.

Directions. Vessels approaching the entrance of the Bassein River from the S should not approach Alguada Light closer than 3 miles. The summit of Haing Gyi Kyun bearing 020˚, and well open E of Thamihla Kyun, leads about 0.5 mile E of the easternmost shoal depths of Alguada Reefs and Phaeton Shoals. Having passed Phaeton Shoals, course should be shaped for the anchorage SE of Thamihla Kyun. Care should be taken to allow for the tidal current.

A course of 350˚ should be steered to pass E of the two lighted buoys E of Thamihla Kyun, passing N of Broni Rock and then altering course to the NE, entering the river between Haing Gyi Shoal and Purian Bank. When 3 miles S of Rocky Point, alter course NNE and pass not less than 0.2 mile W of Burgess Rock. Having cleared that rock course should be altered to the NE and then proceed to the anchorage off the pilot station at Dalhousie Point.

Vessels approaching the entrance of the river from the W, if proceeding to the anchorage SE of Thamihla Kyun, should pass about 1 mile N of the island so as to clear the shoal depths N of Baroni Rock. When Thamihla Kyun Light bears 206˚, steer for the anchorage. This approach is not recommended during the Southwest Monsoon, when the vessel should proceed directly to the anchorage off the pilot station.

Anchorage. During the Northeast Monsoon, good anchor-age can be taken, in depths of 8.2 to 9.1m, about 1 mile SE of Thamihla Kyun. When anchored in this position, the summit on Haing Gyi Kyun should bear about 016˚ and the light structure on Thamihla Kyun about 322˚.

The Bassein River to Pathein

The Bassein River, the W of the channels leading through the Irrawaddy Delta, is the means of access for ocean going vessels calling at the port of Bassein, about 75 miles  

Bassein River or Pathein

above the river's entrance. The river entrance has been reported to be a good radar tar-get up to 15 miles.

Winds, Weather. The weather generally is hot and humid. The heavy rainfall, which sometimes exceeds 2,700mm annually, occurs during the Southwest Monsoon between June and September.

Storm and weather signals are displayed at Thamihla Kyun in accordance with the Indian Extended System. The Extended System is in use at Bassein; the port receives information but no signals are displayed.

Tides, Currents. Large diurnal inequalities and seasonal variations best describe the tides at Bassein.
Tidal currents at springs attain velocities of 1.5 to 2 knots during the flood and up to 3 knots during the ebb. During freshets the velocity may reach 5 knots.

A tide gauge lies on Ashby Rockys near the W bank of the river and just N of Panmawaddy Flat. A white cage topmark and red, black, and white plaques from the top downward, respectively, mark the tide gauge. Each plaque represents 0.3m; the lower edge of the topmost white plaque marks the 7.9m level.

Depths, Limitations. The least depth in the channel over the bar which lies across the entrance of the Bassein River is about 6.1m. The bar lies between the shallow flat close E of the Maw Dengi and the W and SW edges of Purian Bank. The channel over the bar leads between Purian Bank to the E and Haing Gyi Shoal to the W.
The controlling depth in the river channel between Thamihla Kyun and Bassein is the depth over Panmawaddy Flat. In 1964, the channel was dredged to 5.2m.

Changes in the channel are frequent and the navigational aids are scarce. This lack of navigational aids makes navigation at night impracticable. Due to the narrowness of the river at Bassein, single-screw vessels exceeding a length of 137m and twin-screw vessels exceeding a length of 145m are advised not to attempt the upriver passage.

Deep, draft vessels await HW in order to cross the entrance bar; HW is essential to cross Panmawaddy Flat. Successive periods of HW are usually required and the passage in both directions ordinarily takes more than a day.
In heavy weather, the best time to cross the bar is between half tide and 2 hours after HW at Thamihla Kyun. During the Southwest Monsoon, a clearance of at least 1.2m under the keel is considered necessary when crossing the entrance bar.
Haing Gyi Kyun (16˚00'N., 94˚19'E.), an island with a 135m hugh densely-wooded summit on its NE extremity, lies with Rocky Point, its S extremity, about 5 miles ENE of Maw Dengi. A 22m high tree on Southeast Point, about 0.3 mile NNE of Rocky Point, is a good mark.

Wolf Rock (15˚59'N., 94˚20'E.), with a depth of less than 1.8m, lies about 0.4 mile off the E side of Haing Gyi Kyun. Foul ground extends about 0.4 mile E and S from the rock.

The E bank of the river between Purian Point and Ward Point, about 10.8 miles to the N, forms the SE side of the river entrance.
Purian Bank (15˚53'N., 94˚22'E.) lies within the limits of the shore bank which extends about 6 miles NW and then 9.8 miles NE to Ward Point. Depths over this bank and shoal are less than 5.5m.

Burgess Rock (16˚00'N., 94˚22'E.), with a least depth of 5.5m, lies about in the middle of the main fairway, about 2.8 miles WSW of Ward Point.

Dalhousie Point, on the W bank about 2.5 miles N of Ward Point, is marked by several pagodas.
Long Sand (16˚04'N., 94˚28'E.), which consists of two is-lands lying on a long, narrow shoal, lies about 3 miles ENE of Ward Point. Shoal depths extend about 3 miles WSW and NNE from Long Sand.

Tazingyun (16˚09'N., 94˚32'E.), which consists of two is-lands close together, lies on the E side of the fairway about 4 miles above Long Sand.

Ransom Reach (16˚17'N., 94˚39'E.) is entered about 7.5 miles upriver from Tazingyun. Sesostris Rocks lie on the W side of the reach; two small islands lie on the E side of the reach.

Sinswe Kyun (16˚23'N., 94˚42'E.) lies in mid-channel at the N end of Ransom Reach. Alexander Rock, with a least depth of 4.6m, lies in mid-channel about 0.5 mile S of Sinswe Kyun. Pariah Rock, with a depth of less than 1.8m, lies about 1.8 miles N of Sinswe Kyun at the outer edge of Enterprise Flat.

Amazon Point (16˚29'N., 94˚41'E.), on the E bank of the river about 5.3 miles N of Sinswe Kyun, marks the S entrance point of the shallow Panmawaddy River. Panmawaddy Flat, with a least depth of 0.3m and surrounded by shoal depths of 5.5m and less, lies with its N end about 1.3 miles SW of Amazon Point.

Cockatoo Point (16˚30'N., 94˚40'E.), on the W bank of the river, lies 1.8 miles NW of Amazon Point. Ashby Rocks, marked by a beacon, lie close N of Cockatoo Point.

Elbow Point (16˚32'N., 94˚41'E.) lies about 2.8 miles NNW of Amazon Point. Elbow Shoal, as defined by the 6m curve, lies about 1 mile SSW of Elbow Point at the outer end of a spit extending from the shore.
Rangoon Creek, on the SE side of Junction Reach, flows into the Bassein River about 8.5 miles above the entrance of the Panmawaddy River. Two conspicuous masts support telegraph wires across its entrance.

Anchorage can be taken, in depths of 9.1 to 10.1m, about 1 mile E of Dalhousie Point.
Vessels suspected of or infected with yellow fever must anchor off Dalhousie Point, not less than 0.5 mile distant from the LW line. Vessels with plague or cholera on board may anchor off Takaing Pagoda on the W bank of the river about 2 miles below Bassein. Vessels with other diseases on board may anchor anywhere below the wharves.

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