|10:09.34 S 123:34.67 E|
Friday, October 15, 2010
We arrived this morning without incident about 0400 in the morning. Fortunately, NAUTIBUOY TOO and ENCHANTRESS had left on their lights and AIS units on and we felt our way in to anchor in the dark.
After a few hours rest we were boarded by the Quarantine squad and managed to check in with Immigration at the bar on the beach. There we received the first indication that all was not right with the world and Blue Water Rallies in Indonesia.
Up until two years ago there was no customs fee or Temporary Import Tax for the previous six rallies who passed through. Unfortunately, two years ago three boats from Rally Indonesia decided to overstay their tourist visas and then tried to sell their boats without involving Indonesian Customs. This led to the impoundment of their boats and the creation of the aforementioned tax. Last time BWR reached Indonesia, each boat had to pay US$600.00 for the privilege of using their boats to pass through the country. This was in lieu of paying a percentage of the boat's value- supposedly to be collected upon departure. No one with any knowledge of the country's record of "refunding" money would ever essay this option. The import tax was probably originally intended for ex-pats importing their own vehicles from their home countries for use during the years of their stay in Indonesia. It was certainly not intended for small yachts staying only a few weeks in the country. However, it has turned out to be a good money-making scheme and has continued to be enforced.
Our rally directors, with good intentions and high hopes, essayed to negociate a lesser sum or even to obtain a complete waiver from the tax. However, they did not know that in Asia it is necessary to negociate BEFORE the event and quietly as the authorities cannot afford to lose face by being seen to back down. It was impossible to get anyone to stand surety for the rally in Kupang and it was too late to deal with anyone in Bali, as the previous rally did.
Richard spent hours in meetings while the rest of us explored Kupang and enjoyed socializing at the Beach Bar. One large group managed to rent motor scooters and headed out for nine hours of touring, accompanied by two local English students and a convoy of police escorts. They had a great day- if a very tiring one. Phyllis had a wonderful time until she was thrown from her scooter and joined us for sundowners looking like this.....
...however, she is still smiling and enjoying the male attention!
We had all been invited by the local officials to a dinner at a local wedding hall. The people were wonderful to us, offering us home-cooked food and presenting us each with a small ikat, a sample of the local weaving.
After dinner a group of adolescents invited us to join in a circle dance.
As you can see everyone had a lovely time.
Despite Richard's attempts, we were still personae non gratae in Indonesia, as the Customs people would not budge in their stand regarding the import tax and this delightful Welcome Party turned out to be our Farewell Party as well.
The next day Richard informed us at a briefing at the beach bar that we had now overstayed our time in Indonesia. We were now at risk of being imprisoned and going to jail. The alternative was to leave by first light and he would make arrangements with their former agent at Bali Marina to be our agent and check us in again in Bali.
Many concerned rally members receiving the bad news....
It seemed very ironic that we were being turned away at the very spot where Captain Bligh and the crew left with him after the mutiny on the Bounty, who rowed 3,000 miles in an open boat from Tahiti, at last found refuge!
We had all ordered t-shirts made up to be delivered the next day, but somehow it seemed more important to get away than to worry about the shirts!
Accordingly at 0500 the next morning the anchorage was deserted and we found ourselves in the midst of a mass exodus.......
Blue Water Rally beating a hasty retreat
We managed to get some good photos of other rally boats. Here are a couple of nice ones of ANGEL.....
ANGEL in flight
A couple of positives on the situation- it was the last time for weeks that we actually managed to SAIL and the t-shirts were NOT lost. ENCHANTRESS, ASPEN and LUCY ALICE received a phone call at midnight asking them to come over to the broken jetty. There, the t-shirt manufactureres tossed them the packages of finished shirts! They had worked all night to have them ready ahead of time. The people of Indonesia are wonderful!