Reflections on Sail Indonesia 2011

Post date: Feb 3, 2012 5:13:14 AM

The journey from Darwin to Belitung, our last destination in Indonesia, was an amazing experience, one we'd happily repeat.

Here are our reflections and recommendations for anyone choosing to go on the Sail Indonesia Rally in the future. We hope that you find this useful.


    • The organisation of C.A.I.T. (essential piece of paper for yacht) was seemlessly organised by Sail Indonesia.
    • We had no trouble with officials in any of the locations we visited. Most locations did not even want to see any paperwork. In only a few places they wanted a copy of the CAIT and copy of passport . We were only asked for money in one anchorage (not an official one)
    • We took our passports to the Indonesian Consulate in Darwin (20 Harry Chan Avenue)for our visas and they held them for 3-4 days.
    • Clearing out of Australia in Darwin was painless. It was all done at the Darwin Sailing Club at Fannie Bay the day before we left. Customs and Immigration were there to process us even though it was a public holiday.
    • As soon as we anchored in Kupang Customs (3 men) arrived in inflatable dinghy and inspected the boat – declare everything, but as ships stores – they did not seem to mind. One asked for a drink (implied alcoholic) gave them water. They were happy. We needed to supply a medications list for Customs but no-one actually kept a copy of it.
    • Clearing into Indonesia in Kupang was very time consuming (2 hours) but there were a lot of us arriving that day, and you need many copies of all documents. But they were set up in one building and we just went from table to table.
              • Passports
              • crew list
              • CAIT
              • clearing out papers (of Australia)
              • ships papers (Registration papers)
              • medications list
    • A ships stamp is very useful (Indonesians love stamps. We stamped all copies of our documents with our ships stamp)
    • Wear neat, tidy dress when doing official business. We found our “Sail Indonesia” T shirts were good for this. We sewed a badge with our boat name on it. Many yachts had shirts with their boat names on which they wore for all official business. (We will have a few made up next time and wear them everywhere). Wear clothing ashore that is respectful of the Muslim culture – keep shoulders and knees covered, be modest (especially girls)
    • Everyone – including officials were cheerful, polite, and welcoming. We never felt in the least uncomfortable, much less threatened wherever we explored.
    • Clearing out in Belitung was as easy as clearing in at Kupang. Again you need many copies of each document.
    • Our visa extension was organised efficiently by Raymond Lesmana and his wife, Dewi and we felt that our passports were safe with them – 3-4 days. (Lombok-Bali)
    • Raymond and Dewi were always there to help answer any questions we had about the rally or the organisation. (Raymond is the Indonesian co-ordinator of Sail 2 Indonesia Rally)
    • Make sure that you have a few things that you can give as gifts to people such as the Regent – or his representative if the need arises. ( tasteful souvenirs of your home country) Some participants of the rally found this useful, especially if they went to some of the places where events were held but not many boats arrived.

Wherever there were rally events organised there were people to meet us and organise fuel, laundry, water and tours, hire cars, motorbikes, drivers etc. There was always somewhere safe to put the dinghy. Sometimes there were dinghy boys who would carry our dinghy up and down the beach when we wanted it. (they even bailed them out when it rained in Belitung) In some places there were dinghy docks or jetties and a number of boys there to help tie up. Some times there was a minimal cost and we didn't mind helping out for all that they did for us. Everyone everywhere wanted us to have a good time and leave with a good impression of their village/ regency/ island/country.


Things that were readily available in Indonesia: (even in most of the smallest villages, although you might have to wait till market day in some)

    • fresh fruit and vegetables. The markets are the best places to get good fruit and vegetables at very reasonable prices. The best time to go is early in the morning when the produce is still fresh (no refrigeration). There is lots of variety.
    • Seasonal (we were there from August to end October) Fresh leafy greens – all can be cooked like spinach – (generally stirfried) and taste like it too – many different leaf shapes but all delicious. Carrots, pumkin, tomatoes, green beans, chokoes, onions (I found that the small red ones like french eschallots the best and most reliable) cucumber, cabbages, bananas (several different varieties) melons, papaya, pineapples, mangoes, ginger, garlic, tumeric root, spices, herbs (I must admit to not knowing what a lot of them were or how to use them). In the mountains of Bali there were wonderful mandarins. In some places the market is only in the morning, some places only once a week.
    • Most boaties washed fruit and veg when they returned to their boats with a very mild bleach solution to rid the produce of any insects or diseases (we don't know the conditions under which they were grown)
    • Fish was plentiful at most village markets, although the smell was something to behold - get there early!! Meat, other than fish was not always easily available. Occasionally we saw chickens but rarely beef (only in major supermarkets in big towns – then it was very expensive),
    • Biscuits, sweet and savoury, chips and nibbly things, noodles, rice, Asian condiments (chilli sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce), tinned fish, tinned corn, mushrooms, cooking oil (vegetable)
  • soft drink is readily available. coke, Fanta etc . . .
    • Some things that were harder to get were decent potatoes, especially in the smaller villages.
    • Some larger towns had imported apples, pears and oranges,
    • Toiletries and cleaning products were readily available even in small villages. Soap (solid and liquid), deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, toilet rolls (not great quality), tissues, serviettes, laundry detergent, fabric softener, cleaning products of all sorts, disinfectant, bleach, washing up liquid, (No tampons girls, just pads) disposable nappies, face/baby wipes, handclean gel, bug spray/cream
    • pots and pans and plastic ware for cooking and eating were easily available, buckets, bowls, mops, brooms,
    • Fuel We had no problems getting fuel (diesel and petrol) from most towns (the villages only have small supplies and, although we felt that they would get us some if they could we didn't want to deplete their supply – they often relied on diesel generators for electricity)
      • At event stops boat boys or organising committee would organise it for you, but sometimes the jerryjugs were not always full. Sometimes, though the service stations were quite a way from the anchorage (We did this in Alor and Labuanbajo, we found an efficient way to get fuel was to hail a friendly “bemo” driver and take our own drums to a service station and fill them ourselves, ensuring the quality and quantity. The drivers were only too happy to oblige in most cases. Fuel from the service stations was fresh and clean. From other sources we were never sure.
    • Clean, safe drinking water was also available in most towns in blue, sealed bottles (possibly 1 gallon). We didn't use these as we had enough water on board but I didn't hear of anyone who did who had health issues using them.
    • Don't expect to catch rain water to supplement you water storage. We had thought that our water catchment system on board would keep us in showering and washing water at least – we did not have rain between Queensland and Belitung, nearly 5 months – enough to fill a 20 l bottle anyway – only a few sprinkles. We needed lots of rain to wash tarps etc before we thought of capturing any. The air in Indonesia is dry, dusty and laden with smoke at this time of year.
    • Clothing and shoes available in markets at quite reasonable prices – but not great quality and sizes all small.


    • Alcohol is hard to get. In most towns beer (Bintang) is available in a few places. Wine is not. Arak (local spirit) is available in some places and in Bali and Lombok cocktails are made of this and are cheaper than using regular spirits, but you can never be sure of the quality.
    • If you are a wine drinker and use casks, buy them BEFORE you get to Darwin!! Only 2 litre casks are available there and are expensive. In some shops you can only buy 2 at a time. Bottles are OK but still quite expensive there. We recommend that you get all your wine before leaving Queensland, hide it away and don't drink it all before you get to Indonesia. Duty Free spirits and expensive wine can be ordered and there are Specials organised through Duty Free company in Darwin.and delivered to the Sailing Club the day you check out. (They have some very good deals)
    • Tinned goods like tomatoes are available but quite expensive, beetroot is almost impossible to get.
    • decent cereal is hard to get.. It is quite expensive too. Could only get Weet-bix in a few places.
    • Butter and margarine is not available everywhere, in some bigger towns we were able to get Meadowlea, Indonesian butter is sold in plastic bags and stays solid in 30° I am not sure how. It has a slightly strange taste but is OK for cooking.
    • Flour, especially Self raising flour is hard to find
    • Dark chocolate is not easy to find, milk chocolate is easier but still not everywhere.
    • Make sure you stock up on any boat parts you might need. They are hard to source in the parts of Indonesia we went to and the language difficulties trying to explain what you want makes it even harder, particularly consumables. It will always be the way that you will need what you do not have a spare of. (We had issues trying to get parts for alternator in Kupang)

TRADING or Give aways ( from our perspective)

The people in Indonesia, in general, are quite poor, t shirts and children's clothing were always well received.

Kids liked caps, tennis balls, soccer balls, lollies and lollipops were popular (but keep in mind that Ramadan is likely to be in progress during part of your visit, and they are not allowed to eat between sunrise and sunset),pencils and paper (although if these are given out to kids in dugouts they are not going to get home in one piece – we found it better to give this sort of stuff to schools which have very few resources).

Adults liked sunglasses, goggles/ masks for diving, hats English/Indonesian dictionaries (buy them in Indonesia for a few Rupiah but are like gold to people who are desperately trying to learn English. Adults liked these) tarps of all shapes and sizes ( they are used in buildings and for sails on fishing boats) rope, (The things we were asked most for were hats and sunglasses)

We did not have too much of an issue with people asking for stuff, - kids mostly – but they were often happy with a photo – you don't have to print it – just show them on the screen most of the time but if you can, print out and give them ( adults appreciate this more than kids do as you can imagine).We rarely saw the women but occasionally men and often children.

We found that if you have something to trade it was better than giving – others following you will appreciate it. They will often trade fish, coconuts, bananas – even if you don't keep them.

Near Komodo men in boats would come to the anchorages to sell carvings, pearls etc, They had notes of recommendation from other yachts saying they were good and fair salesmen and they like to bargain hard. We did buy some things – it is hard not to.

Bargain for things that do not have a price – especially in the markets, although things are so cheap and they are struggling, sometimes it is not worth it for a few cents. (We didn't bother for fresh produce especially if we knew we were getting local price) More expensive things – or if you feel that you are being “ripped off” by all means . . .crafts and souvenirs definitely – bargain away.


    • Participate in the Sail Indonesia events. They go to a lot of trouble to put these events on for us. The speeches are often long, but we are being welcomed into their country. Make the most of the opportunities available.
    • Spend time to “chill out” We found that we had sensory overload at times and needed time to just do nothing and have a day off – go for a swim, snorkel, dive, read a book, scrub decks whatever – just have time to yourselves. Even a day or so makes all the difference. Everyone in the rally felt they needed time to do this . . .
    • Visit villages that are not on the rally schedule. This is the “real Indonesia”
    • Make a visit to a school, village ones are small and the best fun. We enjoyed the school at Waimalung ( Anchorage the best. One of the teachers is a tour guide (Mr Paul) and is the English teacher as well – so his communication skills are better.


    • Taking care of yourself!! It is important that you clean any type of wound thoroughly – especially coral scratches or grazes! We knew of at least 4 members of the rally who were hospitalised due to infections of this sort.
    • We were careful not to drink the local water or ice, particularly in the more primitive areas. Cold drinks/bottled water were safer and we only ate in establishments we thought looked clean. Eat only freshly cooked food. We had no trouble with “Bali belly” not many people did. Just be careful of what and where you eat.
    • The water is generally safe to swim in most places away from the towns. We did end up wearing wetsuits because of clouds of little jellyfish that stung like midges, but didn't itch once you were out of the water..