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ADDITIONS TO THE BLOG as of April 2017: Shamal and her Crew being Mum and Dad are in the Cayman Islands * Should you want to contact us, you can do so by clicking on the Contact Us tab below. * PLEASE subscribe to the Blog, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox.



17 October 2009

Darwin to Kupang - West Timor in Indonesia

Hello Again

First a very big thank you to all of you who have sent us emails keeping us up to date with your news. We really do appreciate getting your emails and hearing what’s happening in your part of the world, so again a big thank you.

Our two weeks in Darwin passed very quickly with really only one day off for a little R & R. That was a site seeing walking trip around Darwin with Alec as the guide in temperatures in their mid to late 30s!! At one point he took us through a park where we were dive bombed by birds who must have been nesting very close by. That was a case of ‘run for it girls’. Oh yeah right - in this heat. That was a Sunday and we visited the Museum which had a nice restaurant overlooking Fannie Bay. We did take a cab there! Brigitte had joined us the day before so it was lovely to catch up with all her news. For our first couple of days we stayed anchored in Fannie Bay where we had Quarantine come to the boat and put a disinfectant into our salt water inlets to kill off any unwanted marine growth we may have picked up in our travels. This then allows one to use the marinas there. Then the following day we beached SHAMAL so Alec could change the sail drive oils in each engine and I gave both hulls a good scrub down. We had her grounded by 1100 and then waited till the tide receded enough to start work. I started while there was still water around the boat so had my eyes peeled in all directions as a croc had been sighted in the Bay about four days previous!! We worked like bees as we only had the hours of the low tide, so did not stop until we had finished which was as the water was lapping the hulls again on the incoming tide. We had time for dinner at the Fannie Bay Yacht Club watching the tide coming in, then just after 2100 SHAMAL was floating again – thank goodness.
A couple of days later we upped anchor – by hand – hopefully for the last time – and moved into the Bayview Marina, which was an interesting exercise. All the Marinas in this area have locks due to such variations between high and low tides. We were told it can be as much as 8mts. We passed into the lock with only about a foot clearance each side. Once in there we were guided to our berth which is on a water-ways system with lovely homes all around. Here Alec headed off for advice on how to fix the anchor system. Everyone had a different idea so in the end he took the thing to bits himself working only in the cool of the mornings as it is now getting into their hot humid silly season, he took it apart himself and worked on it till we hope, think, pray it is right!!!

We found we needed to hire a car for a few days to run around to find a few parts we wanted. It also made restocking our supplies much easier as carrying bags on buses was not an option here.

We moved out of the Marina after five days and back out onto anchor, this time just off the down town area in front of the old Port of Darwin which of course was bombed by the Japanese during World War 11. This was much cooler as we had more air flow in and around the boat. From here it was a short tender ride to a pontoon where we could then walk into town – past a wonderful wave pool which unfortunately we never got to use.

Darwin – a very interesting history with the film ‘Australia’ really putting it on the map. It has a compact centre with all the usual tourist activities available. We had no problems with finishing off our Indonesian paper work , and everyone was friendly and helpful. We were there for their first thunder storm prior to the wet season, and that was quite impressive. But we were ready to leave once we had Brigitte’s visa for Indonesia all sorted and some mail from home arrived.

So we upped anchor from Australian waters for the last time on Wednesday 7th October at 1530, motored past Peter and Irene on CATSPAW to say farewell, thank them for their company ‘across the top of Aussie’, and wish them all the best on their future adventures, sails up and we headed on out of Darwin on Leg 4, off to Indonesia for our next adventure.

The weather forecast was not too wonderful with regards to favourable winds. In fact winds did not really exist on the weather charts, but we had full diesel tanks and our extra jerry cans, and we did not want to wait around on the off chance that they might kick in, in a few days time. Brigitte was only coming as far as Bali so we needed to start moving so we were on our way. We motored sailed nearly all the way. Sometimes the sails only acting as a flapping sun shade and at other times actually driving us along. The first two mornings when the water was still like a mirror we saw plenty of sea snakes basking in the early morning sun. Also lots of small fish jumping. Australian Coast Watch would make their morning fly over then call us up and ask all our details. Day two Brigitte and I went over board for a swim with Alec on watch. Later that day he went in after tangling my fishing line around the prop!! I caught a lovely sail fish which Brigitte and I decided should go back. It was only a small one. The last 24 hours the winds did change and we had a lovely run with the MPS up only which was great. So 3 days and 19 hours later we dropped the anchor in the clear ( I did not say clean!!) waters off Kupang - West Timor. It was a Sunday and even though it is an Islamic country at large, we would not be checking in till the morning.

We had heard horror stories about the authorities asking for huge bonds and expecting bribes to check in here if one tries to do it one’s self, so Alec realising that we would have to part with some money, set a ceiling at what he was prepared to go up to or else you could be here forever!! Most people choose to come this way with the Indonesian Rally which takes all the hard work out of clearing in, but that leaves Darwin around July so we were way too late to join that. In fact we must have been among the last of the boats to head this way from Darwin before the cyclone season. Another reason to get moving!! We had only been anchored about an hour when a young man by the name of ‘On’ comes out in a dugout canoe to offer his help. He became our ‘tour guide’ with his so called experience gained on a trip from Timor to Ashmore Reef, Broome, Darwin then back to Timor – as one of the Timor Boat people! His English was quite good and gained on this two month trip of his!!!! He rings the Quarantine, and to our surprise a little man turns up that afternoon. Alec did have to take the tender ashore to pick him up. After that lot of paper work was completed in relative ease he asks for a Aust $50 fee!! We paid up a little too quickly on that one. He really was quite unpleasant and I wanted him off the boat ASAP. He had poked around and then started filming the boat with his mobile phone. When he pulled out a cigarette that was enough. I told Alec it was time to take him ashore again. That evening we went ashore for a quick look around. Oh my, this is not a place one really needs to find their Indonesian experience in – especially eating. It is scruffy, drab, dirty, bereft of any culture, in fact a place you really look forward to moving on quickly from. This was reinforced the next morning as ‘On’ boards us on to one of the many bemos we were to take that day. A bemo is like a minibus thing – like a vw van which you clamber aboard and take a seat, which run down either side. They all have this terrible bombastic sound system which nearly blasts you right out the door again. Then door stays open where a young man rides the step calling out for fares as you go. The driver just sits on the horn all the time. Our first stop is the bank, it was closed so we go find a money changer, then up to Immigration. That office was simple enough and only cost us Aust $10. Good we are doing well!! As we were close to the Museum we decided to have a quick look before we continued on. Alec was interested to see the display on Captain Bligh, who after being cast adrift by his mutinous crew off the Bounty in 1788 made land fall here at kupang after a 3,600 mile voyage in an open boat from Tonga. Sadly that display had been taken away so after a quick look around it was off to find Customs. This is where our fun and games started. The man there was not at all happy to see us without an Agent. We explained that we had emailed, phoned and even “On” had left a message to contact us but Mr Napa – the one and only agent in Kupang - did not turn up. We quickly discovered that we did not have to pay customs, but the Agent charges an arm and a leg and hands a sum on to Customs. So we were told to go away and that he would bring the Agent to the Boat later that afternoon. That became quite a drawn out episode partly because Alec went to the wrong beach to pick them up. With that sorted he came back with the Agent only. The one and only Mr Napa - Yacht Agent – extortionist - a Customs planted racketeer. Now ‘On’ had pre warned Alec that the last boat to clear had paid US300!! Mr Napa duly took a seat and Alec stands over him and asked the price. He thought for a minute and then said in a hushed voice US$150. During the negotiations we said we would go on to Bali to finish our paper work. After a good hour he agreed on Aust $150 and told us he would bring the paper work back at 6.00pm. He needed to clear Customs and the Harbour Master for us. He then opened his folder and we saw Customs had already been cleared!! Alec had upset him some, so he did not turn up till the following afternoon with the last of the papers. We can’t complain about their baksheesh as we were charged Aust $ 330 to clear Quarantine in Mackay. Indonesia remains one of the cheapest travel destinations in Asia. But very sadly as all this was taking time Brigitte had a call from Abu Dhabi calling her back. She had to fly out of Kupang and head home again.

Our other interesting experience was with our rubbish which one accumulates. The usual concern as to where to dispose of it once you arrive in a place like this. Well in Kupang it is not an issue. The locals will kindly take off your hand, sometimes for a small fee, but unfortunately it reappears about half an hour later floating past your boat!! As the sun was setting the Mosques do the usual call to prayers, but this time the Christian Church also starts up with loud singing and then to top it all off a bugle starts playing the last post!!

We have noticed that the climate and fauna is very similar to that of northern Australia. We were expecting lush jungle and all that goes with it but the landscape so far is very dry. Alec read up about a thing called the Wallace Line which marks a division between the Asian and Australasian fauna and it looks like we won’t see distinct changes till we reach Bali and then things should be more lush as we enter an area of higher rainfall.

Ok once again the Admiral and The Captain will sign out for this Posting

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