Saturday, 7 July 2018

Check List for Cruising Indonesia

Bruce’s check list for cruising Indonesia.
The list was put together for several reasons, the first is because of the lack of factual information. For example the provisioning information we were feed prior to leaving Australia wasn’t at all times clear.  We also wanted to make a list with web links to make it easier for others, but before brandishing the web addresses around check them out as they do change regularly.

If your not an Australian or have an Australian vessel please check with your country for the correct details to obtain registration, MMSI, and register your EPIRB.

Off we go on an adventure of a life time.Adventure before dementia.
1. Australian Ships Registration.
Before an Australian yacht can check out of Australia and be sailed overseas it must be an Australian registered ship. Down load the info needed including the ships name register to check if your vessel name is available then fill out the forms.
Ship Registration at

Ships Registration
2. 406 MHz Distress Beacon registration AIS transceiver and MMSI Database.
Before heading offshore you will need a registered 406 MHz EPIRB.  One of the requirements for a yacht visiting South East Asia is to have a working AIS transceiver. This is definitely a requirement when traveling through Indonesia and Singapore, yachts have been stopped by the authorities if their AIS isn’t transmitting. We also know for sure you need an AIS transponder for Malaysia and Thailand, they run checks and see your progress.  To work (eg transmit) the AIS will need a valid MMSI number and yacht details programmed into it for it to be fully operational. If you have Digital Selective Calling (DSC) on your VHF or/and HF radio you will need your MMSI number programmed in for it to be fully DSC operational.
Register for a MMSI number and Beacon registration at

Registered EPIRB
3. Marine Radio Operators Certificate of Proficiency.
You have the gear now learn how to use it, courses for this certificate are run by the RYA and most sailing schools. We know a number of yachts that had radio problems and most have been simple fixes that could have been avoided by training the operator.

4. Apparatus License and Call sign (Maritime Ship)
Your HF will need to be registered, a lot of people are moving away from having a HF radio and leaning toward sat phones. While sat phones are a very effective form of communication, nothing beats a radio net when there are a number of yachts traveling in a group. Because it’s very rare for the pack to travel at the same speed the front runners are well and truly out of VHF range in the first couple of hours. You will also require a registered Call sign if you want to get a Sailmail or similar account to use the HF to send and receive email.
See licenses at

5. Passport and Visas
Your passport must be valid for at least six months from date of entry for any country so check expiry date. Remember if you’re tripping from one end of the Indonesian archipelago to the other it’s going to take time, so I would factor in having at least a year before it expires. That way you have time to organise a new Passport without the stress of a time line. Remember if the passport expires you need to start again it’s not a renewal it’s a fresh passport with all the checks and delays. So if you’re out of the country it could be a real pain trying to produce all the required documentation.

Visas, you will need a social visa to be in Indonesia for over a month. These can be obtained from the Indonesian Embassy in Australia (or other country) prior to traveling. This Visa can also be extended, this requires the process to be started 6 days prior to the expiry of the visa, if the process is not started and or the visa expired you will be fined for the number of days you are late. If you need to leave the country take your ships documents with you and apply for a visa on arrival when returning, this is not the tourist visa and is not free.

You can get a tourist visa on arrival and it is valid for 30 days, but cannot be extended and will require you to leave the country and re-enter if you require to stay longer. This option is good for fly in visitors and crew.

Checking into Indonesia, There is now a new system in place and the information needed to check in and journey through Indonesia is at Yacht’s Electronic Registration System (YachtERS). YachtERS is an electronic registration system for foreign yachts who will visit the territorial waters of the Republic of Indonesia.
Imigrasi Clearance Finished

YachtERS is an web-based application designed to help make it easier for foreign Yacht ship owners with online registration process which can be accessed with
Foreign yachts ONLY need clearances at first entry and last exit ports, domestic clearances are not necessary like they once were. The sailing permit/port clearance certificate issued by Harbor Master at first entry port covers all domestic travel up to your exit port. So make sure the exit port on your sailing permit is where you want to leave Indonesia from, not your next port of call after checking in. We didn’t check this and we needed to have a new permit issued because the next port of call was listed as our exit port. Foreign yachts are forbidden from commercial activity within Indonesian waters, no chartering.

Document folder to keep your papers together
6. Australian Customs & Quarantine.
We found the Customs people very helpful prior to our departure. When you depart Australia you be given a port clearance certificate, copy it then keep it safe, you will require this on arrival.
You can get a GST rebate on all items purchased over $300 one month prior to departure this includes medical supplies and boat equipment. Get an account at the chandlery or save up all your purchases so there is one bill. Also there is a Wet tax rebate on wine.
Customs House Thursday Island FNQ

When you fill up with diesel prior to departure keep your receipt as Customs will give you a claim form for a 20% excise refund from the ATO.
Australian Quarantine: the Quarantine people were very helpful. Contact the local office for an information package, the Cairns office is very helpful because of the bio security problems facing the north.  It’s good to know what you are required to do when returning after traveling north of Cairns.  They can also give you procedures to take before returning to Australia and what your obligations are when you travel in the Torres Strait area.
On the way to the fuel merchants Horn Island FNQ

7.  Foreign Currency
The Indonesian currency is the Rupiah. $1 = 10000 Rupiah. Exchange can be done anywhere in Australia prior to departure, we found Western Union had the best rates after we had already done an exchange at our bank. You will require about 5,000,000 Rupiah (yep 5 Million) ($500) to get you started, there are ATM’s in most large towns in Indonesia. We were told to also take a few thousand Australian dollars, not sure why there is a need to take AU$ we didn’t follow this advice but still took a couple of hundred that is now going mouldy in the wallet. Its way easier to find an ATM than a money changer in most towns we visited. Once we got to the western end of Flores we did notice money changers signs, but on the eastern end of the archipelago ATMs are your best bet. It will really be your call whether to take cash and exchange it, or use an ATM. The bank fees for using an ATM add up after a while. But factor in money changer fees and you may be better off, these guys are not doing the service for free. 

8. Charts, Publication
Some people we talked to do not use paper charts, we do however and were able to find second hand charts reasonably easy to get. We use standard official charts and usually travel with the current chart on the table for quick reference. We also run OpenCPN on a laptop and use the chart plotter in the cockpit on lower zoom scales.

There are lots of electronic chart options now on the market and we have found Cmap and Navionics can be lacking in detail, but after talking with others it appears to be an ongoing complaint with most electronic charts. Its little things missing like lights, beacons, rocks and reefs. But also some land masses are in the wrong position, for example several islands .25 of a mile east etc. It’s a pity these guys couldn’t at least adjust their charts with the aid of satellite photos.  The other thing that does annoy us is the depth inaccuracies, 5 metres on the chart 20 metres in the real world.  Shouldn’t complain about that I guess but it does make it hard when looking for upcoming anchorages, so plan for deeper water than marked on the chart. The reverse is also true keep a good eye on your depth when moving into anchorages, usually the shipping lanes are fine and depth fairly accurate, however this is not always the case in the less detailed anchorages.
On the left is an electronic chart display of reef system, the actual extent of the reef system from a Google Earth screen grab.
 To help overcome some of the inaccuracies in the charts we use OpenCPN with a google earth chart overlay, this works well when there is a lack of detail and the chart plotter is showing you anchoring quarter of a mile inland. If you have OpenCPN try and get your hands on a program called GE2KAP. The program GE2KAP is named for what it does, makes KAP files from Google Earth hence Google Earth to KAP.

OpenCPN is a handy chart plotter program and as I have said previously we have it running on a laptop computer sitting on the chart table while on passage. Simply connected to the GPS and AIS data streams, we zoom it out so we get a good idea of vessels and dangers around us. We leave the chart plotter in the cockpit zoomed in so we have better detail of what’s close around us and we constantly compare the two with the paper chart. Before heading out of an anchorage or better still before heading into any anchorage at a minimum look at Google Earth and create an overlay chart while you have an internet connection. While these are not always going to show all the dangers they are a great addition to the charts.

However we have found the discrepancies in the charts can also match the discrepancies in the Google Earth cloak or blanket or as we have named it the cone of silence, sometimes you may see half a reef and the rest is covered. But half a reef is better than not knowing there is a reef there at all.  

A large reef the top portion has been cloaked, you can also see only a small portion of the sea around the islands is clear of the cloak.

The extent of the reef with out the Cloak put in place as in most Google Earth displays, They must have missed this one
If you don’t have Opencpn don’t worry there is OvitalMap which is a free down load. You will however need a device with built in GPS. But be aware some (not all) IPad’s/tablets will not work because they don’t have built in satellite GPS receiver. A word of warning here, you will really need to check this out thoroughly before purchasing the device because we know several individuals who purchased IPads/Tablets on the assumption the unit had a satellite GPS receiver. They then found out later they had been duped by clever marketing talking about GPS, however this was not a satellite GPS receiver as we know it with satellite reception but GPS by triangulation with the phone towers and WIFI location. If your tablet/iPad required a sim or WiFi to make it active to find your location, most likely it doesn't have a GPS receiver.

OvitalMap is a cross-platform map browser developed by Beijing Ovital Software Co.,Ltd. based on Google API, supporting offline views of Google Map, satellite map and terrain map, remember as I said earlier the down side is the cloak or blanket Google Earth apply to ocean/sea areas.

Some people found iSailor very helpful and did fill in the chart blanks when others were lacking in detail. iSailor is a marine GPS navigation system intended for use on iPads, iPhones, Android smartphones and tablets. Usually available at the app stores for your favourite devices.

Navionics Electronic Charts or the App store for downloads for your device

If you would like KAP files that others have made, head over to Terrys Site

If you are not OpenCPN literate and are just starting to use this wonderful tool, Terrys site may be a bit confronting, but take it slowly and persist to get some great information.

You may also like to head off the here for additional information,
Lots of factual information from a family who has been cruising Asia for several years, and are real nice people. 

             Cruising the Coral Coast – Alan Lucas
           Australia Pilot NP15
            Cruising Guide to Indonesia – Andy Scott
             101 Anchorages within the Indonesian Archipelago
             Southeast Asia Pilot

Some of the guide books we used
We didn’t use the Australian Pilot much as its geared more toward large ships, however AMSA have great guides when traveling north of Cairns right down to planning chartlets. While mostly for bigger ships we did make great use of the Queensland Coastal Passage Plan (QCPP) guides and even the way points they have listed for traversing the reef

Cruising the Coral Coast was never far from hand while traveling north along the Australian east coast. Then when we started to travel the Indonesian Archipelago the other three books were a great source of information.
A few of the guide books we took, we also found some along the way at book exchanges cheap.

Lonely Planet Guide for Indonesia, Malaysia-Singapore and Thailand (you could try buying these on Ebay or the second hand book shops, they are much cheaper) However you will need to make up your own mind if some of the listed attractions live up to the best I have ever seen anywhere in the world tags. As we have found in our travels, yes it may be good but not the best we have ever seen, there have been times we have been very disappointed. 

9.  Flags
Let’s sort fact from fiction, we have read several times that when you visit Asia you’re going to need large courtesy flags. We were poorly informed that you will need a courtesy flag that is much larger than your vessels home flag. Not sure where this story started and think it has continued to spawn unchecked, this is only one of many untruths we were told or read about while preparing for our trip. What a pain in the neck this caused a lot of us looking for courtesy flags. As we all know flags are not cheap and the larger they are the more expensive they become. Our idea was to purchase a smaller home country flag and then find the largest courtesy flag we could lay your hands on and fly easily. The fact is that once we checked in, neither Customs or harbour master gave anyone a hard time or disapproved of the size of the standard courtesy flags flown. I am sure badly made, tatty or micro flags would meet with disapproval, from our experience the standard size courtesy flag for the visiting yacht is all that is needed.

             Red Ensign (your national flag) to fit your flag pole, not up on the spreader (check out flag lore on the internet)
             ‘Q’ Flag, Indonesian, Singapore, Malaysian, Thailand, Flags 450 x 300

We got the country flags on Ebay for a good price and they had free postage.
We did get our flags on Ebay, we got a good deal with combined postage, the flags were good for the price. Then once they started to look a bit tatty after they were up for a while we then looked around at markets or nick nack shops and were able to get replacement for very good prices.
Checked in Indonesian flag being hoisted.

10.          Communications
You will have mobile phone connection throughout Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand so all you need is an unlocked phone and or a 4G WiFi mobile modem. Purchase a sim card for both phone and modem and you should have good communications.  For a computer internet connection use an unlocked internet modem or you can also use your mobile phone as a hot spot to work with your laptop computer. If you get here and find your mobile is locked you can buy a cheap one easily, remember you get what you pay for, however phones on the outer islands may not be as smart as you need.  We purchased a 4G modem here for about AU$ 100 this gave us a backup internet connection if the phone went flat etc.  The 4G modem also seems to find the 4G signal quicker than the phone can, some mobile phones don’t have 4G functionality so sort this out before leaving.

To keep the cost down, buy a phone top up with the largest amount of internet data you can, then use internet communication apps that use VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), e.g. Facebook Messenger, Skype, Facetime,Whatsapp to name a few. You can turn off the video stream to conserve data and help maintain connection when the connection is limited.  The other reason to get into the habit of using the internet connection for communication is there are a lot of cafes hotels and bars that offer free WiFi so use it while you have a drink or snack.

If you need to communicate with your Australian carrier have the conversations now before leaving, those who didn’t have suffered a long drawn out process trying to suspend/close/maintain accounts. Be aware that those roaming charges from your Australian carrier that sound attractive if listed as a daily amount can become expensive if you don’t read the fine print.  The reality is the Australian carriers cannot or should that be will not come close as far as price is concerned.  

In Malaysia we use U mobile and have had great coverage everywhere we have been. In Thailand we purchase the dtac happy tourist sim and then top up later to the unlimited option. The rates in Thailand for phoning AU are fantastic if you follow the instructions on the pack your sim comes in.

We had to have one of our phones unlocked, after mucking around with the telco’s hit and miss service we found a company that can do the job quickly and professionally, just register submit a job and you can pay with PayPal.

Unlock It Codes

11 Other things

      Boat Stamp: You may need to get a boat stamp made for when clearing customs and immigration. It’s a simple stamp with your vessels name, home port, registration number and if you want MMSI. It is your vessels seal and like a signature keep it safe and don’t flash it around.
Here is how we got our boat stamp

b.      Boat card: This is like a business card only it has a photo of your boat on it and your contact details.

Boat stamp and boat cards.
c.    Get a scanner so you can make a copy of your documentation, a printer wouldn’t go astray but as usual the cartridge prices are a killer. Take the originals ashore and have several copies made at reasonable prices.

d.      File all your documentation for quick access in a weather resistant pouch for taking ashore when necessary.

12.          Fuel and Gas
Diesel and outboard fuel is available on shore or delivered to your boat via private carriers and you will require jerry cans. We carried 4 x 20 litre plastic cans for diesel (solar) and a couple of 10 litre cans for the petrol (benzene). There are no fuel docks as we know them.  
You will find that when you’re on the outer islands in Indonesia if you carry jerry cans to the local service station you will more than likely be barred entry and they will not fill your cans. While this may sound crazy, the problem is more to do with lack of supply. Check this out before heading to the service station jerry cans in hand.  There is non-subsidy fuel available for us (yachties) and if you rent a car truck or bus you can cart your own fuel and the pump price is less than the local supplier will quote. Keep in mind this quoted price is fuel delivered to your vessel, if you haul your own you need to factor in the car or truck rental, I think you will find the delivered fuel service will start to look attractive but you will need to judge this on the day.   If you want or need to stay with your cans for the service it may be a long time between fills. While we did receive the odd insect and small foreign bodies in our fuel, water did not appear to be a problem.

We have a good fuel filtration system for filling the tanks from the jerry cans. The first choice was a Baja filter, this has 3 gauze filters and water trap that is very effective in removing the foreign bodies and water. The other unit we have is a 12 volt fuel pump driven unit that filters fuel through a pleated paper filter and also has a water separating trap with viewing glass.  The unit can also do service as a fuel polisher should I need to clean the fuel in a tank. We purchased the parts to make the fuel polisher in Australia from Repco, I know Autopro and Bursons have the bits and pieces as well.  As it turned out the Baja filter was dirty to clean out after using it, with the electric unit we were able to dispose of the filter cleanly with little/no mess on board. 
Electric fuel cleaner used to pump fuel from the fuel cans into the tank, its used with a 700mm length of 8mm copper tube connected to the suction side of the pump and is inserted into the can.

Don't forget fuel filters for the polisher and motor

The Baja filter would have been ok if you were on shore or tied up at the dock and were able to dump the waste into a bin or waste oil point.
Get a good fuel treatment biocide to kill the fuel bugs. Look for a treatment that will not only kill the fuel bug but also break it up so it can pass through the fuel system. Very important to have this option, just in case we do get a fuel bug needing treatment. We use Fuel Doctor distributed in Australia by Castrol. We also made sure any fuel stored in jerry cans was treated even though it may have sat lashed on deck for a week or more.
Pack plenty of fuel filters and for those of us who use 10 Micron 2010 Racor filter elements Bretts Truck and filter in Australia have good price for these very expensive units.  02 43884994

Before and after, the fuel had already been filtered on fill up
There is no gas refill available through Indonesia so take enough for the trip up to Singapore, we took 3 x 4.5kg cylinders but should have taken four cylinders. Our locker can only fit 4.5Kg cylinders so those of you with space for 9Kg cylinders in the locker, it should be easy to take enough gas. While 3 cylinders doesn’t sound like a lot of gas we found it went a lot further then if we were coastal cruising in Australia.   For a start its surprising how many times you will eat out, then it’s a lot warmer here so slow cooking and use of the oven was greatly reduced.

If you do run out of gas, 3.5 Kg local cylinders are available for purchase for about 280,000 RP (AU$28) a regulator costs from 50 000 – 130,000 RP and could be plumbed in with the use of a 3/8 barb into your gas solenoid. It’s just a thought, and if you intend to be in Indonesia for a while it would be easier and safer than trying to go down the cylinder – cylinder equalisation route.

We did buy a local Malaysian cylinder and regulator. It’s a big bottle and took a bit of thinking about where we would put it. But 14Kg goes a long way, we did eventually get our Australian cylinders filled and they now are a backup should we be caught with an empty.

Here is how we fitted a Malaysian Gas Cylinder: 

13.          Equipment
Below is some of the equipment fitted on ‘Matilda’
             VHF Radio: DSC capable is great for calling friends and auto selecting the talk channel.
             HF radio – for weather reports and keeping in touch with other vessels and land bases outside VHF range.
             AIS must be transceiver type programmed with valid MMSI and vessel details.  
             Chart plotter with up to date electronic charts.
             Tablet with Chart plotter software with up to date electronic charts
             Auto Pilot a must for long passages.
             EPIRB 406 with built in GPS – must be registered to your vessel with AMSA (or your resident country).
             Inflatable life jackets with built in harness for each crew member.
             Jackstays, tethers
             Life raft.
             Water Maker but potable water is usually available it in 20 litre bottles, you will need to purchase and cart it
             Solar panels more is better with these
             Wind generator
             Good tool kit
             Tow line and sea anchor (drogue)
             Anchor Chain, nylon anchor rode
             Anchor drag alarm of some sort eg handheld GPS or GPS enabled smartphone with App
             Batteries: Make sure they are in good order
             Have good fans (One most likely won’t be enough) in each cabin
             Have quiet fans in the bed room one at the head and one at the foot of the bed.

Anchoring:  You will often anchor in 15 to 20m sometimes more, so you will need at least 80m chain, and have 100 metres of nylon anchor rope as backup, this can double as tow line and drogue line. Don’t beat you self-up here thinking you’re going to need heaps of chain due to the depth, depending on your anchor 3:1 scope works due to the wind dropping off of an evening.
Wind generator: verbatim I will quote what one person told us before coming into Asia” the wind generator is useless, useless I tell ya cause there is no wind”. Not sure about that, we have made excellent use of ours.

The sun in the tropics can be very strong so you need plenty of shade and also when it rains you want to be able to sit in the cockpit and leave hatches open. Small silver tarps also work as temporary shade where it’s needed.

We have a Spectra water maker that produces 55 litres per hour and we have had the odd problem over the last six years. If you plan to use a water maker but you are not using  it now and its pickled, un pickle it, get to know how it works, then use it on the warm trip up the coast. Get a spread sheet together and log the pressures, voltages, output and sea water temp and product quality every time you use it, so when things start to change you can see what’s normal and what’s not. You can also look back over your log and see gradual change or in the case of a failure a large change.

14.          Spares
This is a very simplified list, and really only highlights things we know people have needed.
             Rope for sheets and lines, shackles, rigging bits and pieces etc
             Globes and fuses
             Engine service kit. Engine oil, filters, belts, impellers at least two of each, Fuel filters x 10
             Fuel Hoses
             Raw (sea) water pump rebuild kit including all seals and bearings
             Motor circulation water pump
•             Spare propeller
             Outboard service kit, spare prop
             Alternator, Starter Motor, external regulator if used
             Domestic fresh water pump, filters
             Gas bottle regulator cannot use gas without.
             Bits and pieces for steering (hydraulic and cable fittings)
             Spare anchor

Just a small cross section of bits and pieces we carry
Here is a bit of a Blurb I wrote about spares and repairs underway: Spares and Repairs

16.          Provisioning
Let’s start with something none of us can do without. Water, Filtered treated drinking water is available in most of the towns you will visit. We did purchase water in 19 Litre containers (the round type used in an office water fountain called Gallons) when we didn’t feel the water was clean enough to run through the water maker. Some cruisers without a water maker didn’t have any problems keeping their water tanks full.

Just a small cross section of vendors at the local fruit and vegetable markets
There is a lot of information out there online about provisioning when in Indonesia that is just plain wrong, it may be written in blogs or in stories people have told about their journeys.  I can see how some may have come to certain conclusions. However with common sense you should know you are not going to resupply or get enough food and supplies for a month in a small fishing village on a remote part of the archipelago.   A note here; small fishing villages don’t usually have much in the way of produce for sale. This is not to say they won’t have something but you may find they only have fish, coconuts and bananas for sale or barter.   Head into some of the bigger towns and you will find it’s an easy thing to get supplies. We even read that it was almost impossible to get full bars of soap, bottles of shampoo deodorant and toilet paper. But you can, just don’t depend on a small store a metre square set up in front of a house in a remote village to make your unwashed crew of four smell pretty. However don’t over stock before heading offshore because you can purchase like or brand name products at half the price.  Someone who should have known better even told us we will need to get used to palm sugar because that is all you’re going to get. The same person also told us we will have trouble getting rice because it’s in such high demand. Really, what a load of drivel there is plenty of staple food supplies including sugar and rice available. You can even easily buy green coffee beans if want to roast your own.

Bread in the eastern part of Indonesia is slightly sweet, we didn’t mind the taste but it wasn’t much good with vegemite however toasted and covered with jam and honey it was very tasty. So if this sweet loaf idea doesn’t excite you then include lots of bread flour so you can make your own. There are supermarkets in larger towns that offer vast variety of foods, soft drinks, biscuits, crackers, powdered milk, butter and beer.  

Here is how we make our bread while on the go: Bruces No Need Bread

Head to the traditional markets where fruit and vegetables are usually cheap and easy to get, and the range isn’t much different from Australia. We didn’t know what to expect and as usual we were poorly advised yet again, we were lead to believe we would need to learn how cook a whole new range of foods. Well the good news is there isn’t much of a difference.  To name a few fruit and veggies available in most stops, potatoes, onions, shallot, spring onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, cucumber, beans, carrots, cabbage, eggplant, pumpkins, corn, chokos (Chayote), bok choy, pak choy, bananas, coconut, water melons, rock melons, mangoes, pineapples, apples, nashi pears, papaya, oranges, limes. At the local markets you can usually buy fresh eggs, take your own carry box. A small note on the eggs.  Take a powerful torch to look through your eggs before purchase to check for any spots. Rice, lentils and dry beans are available by the kilo in most markets.

You should be able to find most of what you need at the local markets, but perhaps not at just one stall so shop around.
The trip to Indonesia can take about three – seven days depending on your departure and arrival ports. So you’re not going to need a lot of supplies for the trip.  You will however need to think ahead and take supplies for the time you intend to be traveling through the archipelago. Keep in mind that there are great restaurants and cafĂ©’s when you get there.  You will need to decide if you’re going to cook on the boat or head into shore to find a restaurant. This will dictate how much meat you will take unless you have a freezer. If you have a freezer then you may like to take as much meat as you can, visit your butcher a couple of days before departure to allow time to cryovac and or freeze serves. Bacon and processed meat isn’t easy to get so if you like these products then you will need to stock up before leaving home.  Now the reality check, freezers will use a whole lot of power in the tropics, so you will need to weigh up the convenience of having a couple of steaks on board with the inconvenience of consistently chasing power to feed the freezer.  

Cheese, butter and milk (either powder or UHT) is available in limited range in the supermarkets before Bali, however they are expensive so stock up with about two months supply before leaving. We stocked up on the usual tin food, dried food, breakfast cereals, powdered milk, juice and toilet paper.

Beer (Bintang) in cans and bottles is available at most stops but it is not as ridiculously cheap as we were lead to believe, we can still home brew for a whole lot less. However when compared to what you would pay in Australia, the prices paid for drinks when eating out it is very cheap. As a heads up when ordering at the restaurant ask for “Bintang dingin sekali” which translates into a Bintang that’s glacial, frosty, ice cold.

If you like drinks mixed with tonic water take plenty of tonic water. Buy required quantity of duty free spirits and wine for three months because wine is hard (nearly impossible) to get east of Komodo. Then it’s available its very expensive, and keep in mind wine in bottles lasts better than in the cask. Some including us were half way through the trip to find their casks of wine had turned to vinegar, well come to think about it the wine was off at about the 4th or 5th stop. When coastal cruising we have our soda stream so we have a good supply of soda water on hand. So we thought great being a world-wide company we researched and found gas refills were available in Singapore. However the bad news is the bottle thread is not the same as fitted to the Australian gas cylinders. So you will either need to buy a new unit (very expensive) or purchase bottled soda water when available, a cheaper option but a pain to cart and store. One cruiser before he left Australia went off to the home brew shop and secured a CO2 bottle and adapter to make his soda stream go for a long time. We believe he was able to get the CO2 bottle refilled in Malaysia.

17.          First Aid
We recommend that the starting point of your first aid kit be equivalent to Category 1 without the prescription drugs.  Then go and have a talk with your doctor. We were going to load in the different narcotics and pain killers but didn’t. While it all sounds great to have these powerful drugs it could also cause problems because we have no medical training other than offshore first aid. We have friends who are nurses or have medical training and pick up the drug list and can say yep this is good and this is used if there is an over dose of this other etc etc. Well this is all well and good but we thought it would be safer if we don’t have the controlled substances on board. It’s hard to give an over dose if you don’t have the dose to start with.  The reality is there are doctors in Indonesia and if we need help it’s not weeks away.
Note: You will need a letter from doctor stating that narcotics and pain killers etc. have been dispensed for emergency use only during prolonged offshore cruising. That is of course if you can get your doctor to approve purchase of any of the more powerful drugs.

First Aid kit kept together in containers, this will be examined for out of date items on arrival.
18.          Personal Safety
Visit and have a good talk with your doctor well before departure and check that your immunizations are up to date. Well before departure means you should ideally start at least eight weeks or earlier before departure, some vaccines need a follow up so allow time to have the whole course. While at the doctor discuss what would be the best malaria protection for you to take. Some couples were taking the malaria protection from day one when they departed Australia, others like ourselves didn’t start until we were headed to Borneo. There are known hot spots that change with the seasons and your doctor has access to this up to date information.

While we didn’t take the malaria protection medication (until we went to Borneo) we were continually vigilant and wore light coloured clothing when going to afternoon functions that would roll over into the dark. We took good insect spray (the type with deet) and put it on before dusk. Our vessel had insect screens and we would burn a coil or use a 12 volt insect burner that took a small blue rectangle impregnated with insect repellent. A lot will depend on your anchorage. Some anchorages there will be very little insect movement but at others you will need to be careful.

We and others found the following helpful: Mosquito coils, screens, spray, mosquito nets to sleep under. Dont buy years of insect control chemicals including coils and the little blue cards for the electronic insect control pads, you can buy the same in Indonesia for a quarter of the cost.

While we went off to the doctor and either had or had boosters for the following, Rabies, Japanese encephalitis, Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid we know of others who didn’t so discuss this with your doctor and see what they recommend. Japanese encephalitis vaccine is used for high-risk or long-term travel in Asia, its spread via mosquitos and can be very nasty.  If travelling where rabies exists and animal exposure is possible, consider pre-exposure rabies vaccine, the threat in Indonesia is from dog’s cats and monkeys. From our experience when you go to the chemist in Queensland with a script from your doctor for rabies vaccine there is usually 2 doses in stock, but you will find they are different brands. When you get the shots keep a note of who had what brand so you can continue with the next booster.

Check the smart traveller web site for lots of good information on health and vaccinations.
Personal safety ashore, don’t be rude or raise you voice. If you don’t want a taxi (after being asked 20 times by different drivers) just say no thank you, the locals are not aggressive so please show some respect. If you feel uncomfortable remove yourself from the situation. Keep an eye on your personal items but I think you will find if you don’t flash around money or goods you won’t attract attention. I remember a comment one of the French cruisers said to us one evening that he had been able to relax and not have to guard his possessions like if here were in Europe on a trip, if he did what he was doing here in Indonesia they would have all been taken.

Lock your boat up when going ashore and put away loose items like torches and fishing rods, just be vigilant. If you are going ashore for a trip for a couple of days have someone in the anchorage look out for you vessel.  We paid a fisherman/fuel supplier a daily rate to look after our vessel when we went off on a trip for six days and he even picked us up and returned us to the vessel included in the price.   

19.          Trading and Gifts
Giving gifts, this is starting to become a problem. While it all sounds great to give things to those who we think (our perception) don’t have much. Think about the flow on effect after 3-4 vessels come in showering all with gifts, it quickly becomes the norm and if the next vessel cannot give as much or the same quality the scene can become tense. While we did get mobs of kids coming out to the vessel we know of one couple who were harassed on the beach by adults with demands for clothing, gifts and money to the point of them feeling uncomfortable. We had something simular happen when a pack of exercise books we were going to donate to the local school was noticed in our back pack by some kids playing in the street. In the matter of what seemed like seconds we were surrounded by dozens of children thinking we were giving books away, this was becoming a mob scene and we had to slip away quickly. So if you are headed to the local school to donate keep what you donating covered up on the way there. Bartering stuff - we traded exercise books and pencils with the children for we meet on our travels. Adults may bring fish, coconuts, bananas out to your boat so offer a fair price and negotiate a final price with them.

We have heard of people taking out of date medication to give away, why? if it’s not good enough for you why would you give it to someone else.  Be careful of what you’re giving away. If its medication take it to the hospital/town doctor don’t just hand it out. Most of the dosage instructions are in English so giving medication to people who don’t speak English is only asking for trouble. You may even find that during the check in process your medication will be checked, and out of date medication will be confiscated. Perhaps this was due to previous problems caused by cruisers thinking they were doing a good thing, but in reality we poisoning the local population.

Gifts for the children are better given to the school for distribution. Things like exercise books and pencils, eraser, sharpeners, tennis balls, soccer balls, volley balls, educational toys and games, if you giving away ball that needs a pump, supply the pump and show them how to use it, don’t ever ever give money.

Some of the things we learn:

Do not be confrontational, there is a code of saving face in Asia, so confrontation will not help any situation.

Change the menu at the restaurant at your own peril. Even though the waiter smiles and nods, in a lot of cases they have no idea what you just said and don't want appear unhelpful. They will possibly go back to the kitchen and say the lady at table wants some thing to do with spicy but I didn't understand.

Expect lost in translation moments, we ordered 6 cokes and was served 6 coconuts, turns out they didn't sell coke and we didn't read the menu fully. The coconuts were cool and delicious, and better for us than coke.
Keeping off the shore to stay away from fishing activity worked well for us on our journey. On our way to Tual we didn’t see any FADs (fish attracting device) until we got in the channel between the islands. So keeping to the centre of a channel or in deeper water can help, but it does require a good look out with a high powered spot light or torch regularly flashing it around to spot any upcoming hazards. During our run up between the Kia islands we kept on the two hundred metre contour and had a good run. We found a number of fishing huts are manned at night and when we approached, some would shine a powerful torch in our direction to get our attention then would flash the beam across the water over their net so we could steer away if necessary. Most of the time the nets would be laid from the platform/canoe/dingy/fishing boat to the shore and to make the end of the net float a little less visible to us they fly a black fag on the bamboo pole float.

A typical fisherman's hut built in the water

Small Indonesian fishing boat, coming close to have a look

Crew member taken on just before the start of an ocean passage wasn’t the smartest thing we could have done. While we have sailed together it was only short runs, if contemplating longer voyages have the candidate travel with you for a coastal leg to get sea legs. For us three hours on and three hours off during the evening was almost torture, once we went to two on and two off it went by in a flash and we seemed in better condition in the mornings.

The tide function on electronic charting apps (applications/programs) can be out by hours, while the app is showing it’s a rising tide in actual fact it may very well be a falling tide. Try and find a tide book or reference before moving into areas you need tidal information.

As strange as this may sound, relax, take in the sights and sounds, from our experience people coming to help you are not looking for handouts believe it or not they are just being friendly and helpful.
Stay away from the land. Yes we were either very lucky or got it right. We gave PNG a wide berth, fifty miles at all times. The incidence of long lines and drift nets is getting worse, it looks like the fishermen from a lot of different nations race into international waters and cause havoc as they don’t appear to follow any rules. Are they poachers, possibly but information of what you see needs to be reported to the authorities. 

The longer your painter the more tenders can use the one tie off point

Your going to need a long painter on your tender, yes the docks are small and there are usually a lot of tenders, this is a big dock, quarter the size of the dock and add another twenty tenders and you will get the idea.

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