A different world
It turned out to be a calm voyage from Darwin to Indonesia. A little bit of wind in the beginning of the trip. The wind then eased of more and more as we came closer to Indonesia. The fishing lines trolled back the boat all the time, but we did not get even a single bite.
When we threw off from Darwin the plan was to head directly to the Indonesian island Bali for check-in. Under way we found that it might be less hassle to check in to Indonesia in Kupang on the island Timor (West Timor). Between sailors it had been discussed where could be the easiest place to do the check-in to Indonesia…
One issue is that we needed a cruising permission (CAIT) before entering Indonesian waters – we had applied for and obtained our CAIT when we were still in Australian water. Another issue is that the authorities and the individual officer have made their own rules – and have their own pockets to fill with money. We were exited to find out what was awaiting ashore when we anchored in Kupang.
Bali Marina, through which we had applied for the CAIT, told us that we could use their agent ”Mr. Napa” in Kupang to do the check-in – for the ”small” amount of 250US$. The crew on the Dutch yacht Moet tried to do the check-in in Kupang themselves. When we later departed from Kupang they were still working on that case. We used used Napa... For information; 250US$ is about one (or maybe two) month´s salary in Indonesia!
From civilised Australia...
Kupang was a totally different world than the one we were used to after staying some time in Australia. Even compared to Pacific island´s standard Kupang was a big change. The cultural differences are huge. As ”white” in Kupang it was impossible to be anonymous. The city was (luckily) not full of tourists.
After a short time we felt like being famous, when we walked the streets. Girls were calling: ”Hello, Eirik” from every street corner. A white young man (Eirik) with blond hear, was not an everyday view in Kupang. Sometimes local ladies almost grabbed Eirik because they wanted to hold him in their arms. We sometimes felt it was a bit too much...
That we are ”white” does not mean that we want to buy everything that is for sale in the shops or at the street – most of the sellers in Kupang (or Indonesia) thought so. That we are “white” does neither mean that we always will be fouled by tourist prices – which are about triple of the local price. For us that had been some time in Australia, the mentality was a bit too much. Luckily - if we got the chance to come a bit closer in on the local people, they were very nice as soon as they skipped their “bad habits”…
From Kupang we sailed west on the south side of the Indonesian chain of islands, that stretches westward from Papa New Guinea. One and a half days sail after leaving Kupang, we anchored in the bay south on Rindja Island, inside the smaller island Nusa Kode. The Comodo Dragon lives on Comodo Island and a few of its neighboring islands – among them Rindja Island. This is the only places in the world where the Comodo Dragon lives, except in numerous Zoo´s.
It was dark when we anchored inside Nusa Kode. Next morning we woke up to a Comodo walking on the beach. It was out looking for food – and found a dear about half way along the beach. The Comodo had probably bitten it the previous day.
The bacteria the Comodo carries in its mouth is usually enough to kill an animal in about 24 hours time. That was at least what we knew about the Comodo at that time. Later we red in a Norwegian magazine that new research shows that the Comodo has a few hollow teethe with poison.
We took the dinghy toward the beach to have a closer look at the Comodo and the dear. The tide was going out and soon the waves started to brake at the reef behind us. We decided to get Heidi and Eirik back onboard Empire, before the Captain headed back towards the beach. Eivind anchored the dinghy and sneaked closer to the eating Comodo. At the distance of 50 meter Eivind thought he was close enough. The dear had nice horns that Eivind wanted…
Later three local fishermen came by where we were anchored at Rindja. They were invited onboard, and we had some interesting trade. We got some nicely carved wooden Comodo Dragons and one of the fishermen got baby clothes to his newborn soon.
Bali = Indonesia
After weighing the anchor we headed for Bali. Under way we were hit by strong headwinds. Instead of sailing all night against the tide in headwinds, we sailed into a protected bay south on Sumbawa Island. It was dark when we slowly approached the planned anchorage. Suddenly someone pointed a strong light at us. Eivind was not sure what to do when he saw the two men dressed in balaclavas in the little boat, shining their light at us.
Heidi never got that scared, since one of the men had taken the balaclava off his head, by the time she saw them from Empire´s bow. Luckily the two men were guards – guarding the pearl farm in the bay we were planning to anchor. They wore balaclavas to be able to surprise possible pearl robbers (=local fishermen) without first being discovered themselves. The guards then guided us to the next bay where we anchored until next morning.
It was interesting to sail along and between the Indonesian islands. Often the tide and the waves did not show any regularity. Because of the narrow passages between some of the islands, the current and the wind sometimes make sudden waves and whirlpools.
Serengan and Royal Bali Yacht Club
At Serengan we again met the American yacht Bahati with captain Nat onboard. It was early morning when we sneaked toward the anchorage. As we passed Bahati Heidi tiptoed onboard waking the captain with a loud ”roar”. Despite that Nat thought it was nice to see us again.
Bali is a tourist island. Luckily the bay we anchored did not show many signs of tourist-Bali. It was a peaceful place in the backyard. Of course we saw some of the “must see things” – as Uluwatu, the monkey temple and a few other attractions. On the roads it was crowded with people, cars and small motorbikes.
The highest number of people we saw on a small motorbike was 6 – a mother and a father and four kids aged from baby and up plus one dog. Other small motorbikes were like a small shop– not to mention the small motorbike with 5 bales of hay on the back. It seemed to be no limits to what a small motorbike could carry.
We left Australia a bit late, so we only arranged for a one month visa to Indonesia. One month is of course not enough to see all Indonesia, consisting of more than 17000 islands and more than 17 million inhabitants. But we saw some of the country.
From Bali we sailed north. The current between Bali and the neighbor island Lombok is strong. We sailed north as close to the coast of Bali as we dared, to avoid the south flowing current. Instead we enjoyed the counter current close to the shore, sometimes giving us two knots of north flowing current – until we came had to let go of the coast, heading for the island of Kangean.
A local fishing boat was fishing near the entrance of the bay on the west side of Kangean. When we were well anchored, the fishing boat came alongside. After some small talk over the side, we invited the fisherman onboard Empire for a biscuit and a Coca Cola. We had an interesting ”chat” - the fisherman speaking Indonesian with a few English words and us speaking English with a few Indonesian words. We gave the fisherman some small gifts – but then he started to beg for more. In the end we had to tell the fisherman “in a nice way” to go back to his boat…
Next morning we weighed the anchor and headed north again. Some of the nights we sailed through huge fields of anchored well lit fishing boats. From far away we wondered if it was possible to sail through the fields of anchored vessels – or if we had to sail around. As we sailed closer we realized that it was impossible to sail around, more and more lights showed up in the horizon all the time. Sometimes unlit fishing vessels “popped” up. They probably had a generator problem. Among all the well lit fishing vessels the few dark ones were not easy to see - in time…
Meeting up with Aries Tor
After a three days sail we arrived at the island Bawean. We anchored in the bay and rested for a few days. Too bad the water also here was full of garbage, so we were not tempted to go for a swim. When the Canadian yacht Aries Tor with Kate and Rob onboard were about to pass, we join them on the way north. For some time it looked a bit like a regatta, but it turned out to be uneven odds when we hoisted our spinnaker. When they caught up with us we were safely tied up in Nongsa Point Marina at Batam Island.
On the way north from Bawean the original plan was to anchor a few places, but then we decided to sail a little further – and a little further, as the voyage went on. It was either nice sailing condition when we approached a possible anchorage, or it was dark and we were not tempted to arrive in a new place a night – so we continued north. In the end we were so close to Batam that we decided to head for our last stop in Indonesia.
On our way north we sailed across the magical circle– the equator – for the second time. Four years and three months – 25997nm – since we departed Oslo, Norway, the 3rd July 2005.
Indonesia from another angle
At Nongsa Point marina we met a different world – again. None of the officials were trying to charge extra money – and no one was “begging”. It was obvious that here they were used to a strait agenda – maybe not so strange when knowing that Singapore is nearby and that a major stream of tourists arrive in Indonesia via Nongsa Point/Batam. We were closing in on the end date on our visas and checked out of Indonesia at Nongsa Point. The very busy Singapore Strait was ahead of us...