Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Checking into Maumere with Aladin

For the afternoon sail from Pulau Besar to Maumere we changed roles. Ina became captain for the day and I was relegated to crew. Ina quickly developed a management style of her own. Gone was the gentle suggestive style of the former captain - "perhaps we could adjust the sails". Instead orders were issued with disconcerting authority and expected to be obeyed instantly. Still with the wind blowing from Maumere, Ina quickly adapted to windward sailing and appeared to be a natural as we tacked into the setting sun, while I while raced to keep the sails in trim.

We'd chosen Maumere to check into Indonesia as we'd heard reports of problems with corrupt customs officials at the more usual port of entry of Kupang. However we'd only heard that it was possible to complete the official paperwork in Maumere from another sailor in Darwin; noonsite makes no mention of it. Another cause for concern was our cruising permit. I'd applied for the cruising permit on arrival in Darwin. Weeks passed with promises of the permit arriving the following week, until we lost patience and set-off with the expectation that the permit would arrive prior to our check-in. We arrived in Maumere without the anticipated email attachment. Fortunately we'd taken the precaution of a little Photoshop work on a friend's permit, but felt uncomfortable using a forged permit, even if it was only a temporary measure.

Aladin was to be our contact ashore, acting as an yacht agent to help navigate through the official arrival process. As we dropped anchor I pondered our first problem, how to find Aladin in the bustling town before us. I need not have worried. He found us, paddling out to greet us in a leaky dug-out. With our provisions running low and looking forward to a change of scene, we'd promised ourselves a meal out. However Aladin insisted we should stay onboard until we checked-in but on seeing our disappointment organised a take-away of gado-gado, fried chicken and rice. Our first dug-out food delivery.

We were both up early the following morning to clean the boat, hide the remains of our local produce and make another futile email check for our cruising permit. By 8.30 Aladin arrived and sent me ashore to ferry the six officials back to the boat; two each from customs, immigration and quarantine. Despite what felt like loosing my body weight in sweat - it was hot and I wasn't looking forward to Indonesian jail - by the end of the morning we had stamps in our passports, had declared we had no monkeys on board and that no one had died on the recent passage and been "given" an impressive looking 50 page ship health book to note any deaths and quarantinable diseases. For the first time our ship's stamp was almost a requirement, adding legitimacy to the crew list, stores list, medicine list and disease list.

Finally we were free to head ashore for a celebratory meal and Bintag or two...

Maumere (1st September 17:00): S8°36.7' E122°13.1'

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