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Indonesia – Island of the Gods

The timeless rural scenes of Bali have fascinated generations of people around the world. On an island where natural beauty intermingles with the ancient religious belief of the local Balinese, you find yourself enveloped and overcome with deep serenity and balance.

Captain’s Log by Captain Cilian Budarlaigh

Indonesia is an archipelagic country that straddles the Equator and has a geographical size similar to the whole Mediterranean Sea. Many regions are primitive, with little facilities for yachts beyond pristine beaches, untouched rainforest, remote villages, and spectacular scuba diving. The 17,500 islands offer vast cultural diversity; along with 60% of the Coral Triangle. April to October is the Dry season (less humid) with SE winds and November to March is the Wet season with NW winds. Temperatures typically range between 28 to 34 C all year round but local variations arise from mountain ranges and island size.

A 2011 Presidential Regulation has eased restrictions for visiting yachts although the paperwork may still seem daunting to some. Indo Yacht Support and the Indonesia Superyacht Association have continued lobbying to ensure consistent interpretation of the regulations. There are now 18 designated yacht entry/exit Ports: Sabang; Medan; Padang; Batam; Bintan; Belitung; Kumai; Jakarta; Bali; Nunukan; Tarakan; Bitung; Kupang; Ambon; Sorong; Tual; Saumlaki; Biak.

West Papua
West Papua’s reefs are endowed with nourishing currents and abundant habitats which have produced the most bio-diverse reef systems on the planet, right at the center of the Coral Triangle. Usually cruises start at Sorong (Lat 00°50’ S Long 131°50’ E) and take in the Raja Ampat islands near the Equator or south to Triton Bay (Lat 03°52’ S Long 134°05’ E). Some more adventurous yachts are starting to explore the “evolutionary cauldron” of Cenderawasih Bay (Lat 02°00’ S Long 135°00’ E) on the North coast of the “Bird’s Head” (as the mainland is known).

Terrestrial diversity ranges from unusual orchids to tree kangaroos to birds of paradise. The tribal people live as one with nature and are very shy. However you may be lucky enough to experience a traditional welcome dance and feast.

The fabled home of the Spice Islands, stretching from Ternate & Tidore in the north to Seram & Run in the south Banda Sea. Ambon (Lat 03°42’.25 S Long 128°09’.4 E) is at the heart of this region and provides full CIQ both by sea and air. History, culture, land & sea natural sights. Visit nutmeg plantations, purchase pepper direct from the farm, or go diving on spectacular drop-offs near to remote islands.

Northern Sulawesi
A “drop-in” area from Malaysian Borneo, the Philippines or Palau. Clearing at Bitung (Lat 01°27’.4 N Long 125°14’.3 E good anchorage) places you immediately in the Lembeth Straight (home of muck diving). There are a few resorts here but they collectively manage the dive sites to ensure limited numbers of divers each day. Easy access by air via Manado international airport, just 45 minutes by road from Bitung.

Eastern Sulawesi
“As we approached a small island, a loud bang could be heard at intervals; dynamite fishing we thought, with sinking hearts. We rounded the east point as the sun was setting, and there before us was a scene reminiscent of Dante’s inferno; every 20 mins a loud explosion was followed by a spurt of lava shooting stars into the night sky, before cascading into the sea around us. Backing off a safe distance of a mile or so, we enjoyed the show and a fresh fish dinner on the aft deck.” Dick Beaumont; S.Y.Moonshadow.

Fabled “Island of the Gods”. Benoa is a large sheltered commercial harbour (Sea Buoy: Lat 8°45’ 14 S Long 115°14’ 55 E ) with limited Superyacht alongside or stern-to berthing (at the Big Boat Quay; 7m MLWS). Smaller yachts up to 30m and less than 3m draft can tie alongside the Bali Marina; which is rather run down. There is also a busy anchorage at Serangan island (tricky entrance from 08°43’ 52 S 115°16’ 4 E, involving transits) with 7m depths.

Bali has very good provisioning, easy access via the international airport, plenty of high end hotels & restaurants, and offers many shore based delights, from temple tours to spas to lively nightlife. Dive to see Mola Mola, luxuriate on private beaches attached to chill out clubs, or head up to Ubud, the sacred monkey forest.

Bali to Komodo
Indonesian equivalent of the Monaco to St Tropez “Milk Run” – although covering 300 nm. Lombok and Sumbawa have great fishing & scuba diving along their northern shores. Surfers will relish the southern route. Komodo, home of the legendary dragons, takes you back into prehistoric times.

“The best cruising sailing I have ever done…”

Owner; S.Y. Bristolian.
International clearance in/out can be done at Kupang if coming from or going to Darwin, Australia, but there is not much cruising near Kupang, as far as I am aware.

Western Indonesia
As most Superyachts travel from either Phuket or Langkawi when coming from the West, it is usual to bypass Sumatra. However a visit to the Mentawai islands is a must for surf aficionados. Clearances can be done at either Sabang, Banda Aceh or Padang, W. Sumatra.
Yachts departing Singapore may wish to visit Riau or Anambas island groups (note that separate permits apply) which have become a favorite playground for Singapore based yachtsmen. There is a marina at Nongsa Point that can cater CIQP clearances but most Superyachts are too large to fit inside.

Kumai can be interesting for it’s river cruise through the jungle (by small local craft) up to the Orangutan sanctuary.

Jakarta has three marinas (mostly too shallow for Superyachts) but some vessels have anchored off Batavia Marina when a trip to the nation’s capital was required.

In General
The people of the world’s 4th most populated country are generally very friendly and welcoming; the kids are wide eyed and curious. In remote areas it is customary to seek the Village Head’s permission to visit & dive; in developed places there are often local by-laws to follow. Flaunting wealth will generate the same jealousy as in other poor parts of the world, and is to be avoided.

In bygone days, piracy was a real threat but this seems to have been reduced and managed by cooperation between Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia (at least for the Malacca Straights). The Indonesia Superyacht Association report that in seven years of members operations, they have not heard of Superyachts being pirated in Indonesian waters.

It is becoming easier to solo cruise Indonesia but the services of a dedicated Superyacht agency such as www.indoyachtsupport.com will ensure you make the most of this huge playground. IYS also organize targeted charity donations to remote primary schools along the littoral; which visiting Superyachts can assist by taking the requested supplies on-board and delivering to the appropriate schools.