Sorong and Doom Island

Tue 25 Oct 2016 05:45
Doom Island water front.

Another big town, all bustle and action, another white tiled Harbour Master’s office to sit in whilst being asked for the same piece of paper three times, another taxi ride with the taxi man trying to charge you three times the going rate… but a little bit different. In the bay Phinisi sailing ships await their complement of tourists, the Papuan faces are fewer, there are Ambonese and Moluccan faces here and there in big 'coolie' hats, small groups of men hang out under the shade of trees, all looking down at something - playing a game maybe, or gambling. The roads are wider, just a little more people have a few words of English, the boats rarely have outriggers. We spent a morning in town sorting out the paperwork we needed for Raja Ampat, which was fun, drinking in the sights and sounds as we minibus-taxied around the place then we took an hour out to visit a cafe, just down from the Raja Ampat Tourist Office and clearly aiming at Western Clientele, and drank refreshing smoothies whilst sitting in the cool.

Phinisis in the harbour.

Once back on the boat we tackled the job of trying to get more diesel. There was a fuel barge nearby, that we’d seen a big motor boat go to, so that was the first stop. Phil got to remember some Spanish as the crew had very little English but one of them spoke Spanish. Unfortunately, the 300l we needed was too small an amount for them to sell us and their hose was much too big for our fittings. Phil had read on Noonsite that there was a man on Doom called John that had helped another yacht to get fuel. We tried calling the number but it didn’t work at all, so we headed ashore. Doom’s lovely. Ramshackle houses on stilts spilling over the water’s edge, a big clean market place, bicycle rickshaws, small shops selling lots of plastic goods but not much choice of foodstuffs, and smiling people, pleased to see us, kids wanting to follow us: the sort of environment we’d got used to! A young man named Geoffrey could speak some English and he tried to help us out. He didn’t know of ‘John’ but led us through a labyrinth of alley ways to a fuel shack. But there they only had petrol so, leaving us at the water taxi jetty to wait for him, he went to ask one of the Captains of the ships moored by the jetty. Whilst we were waiting I wandered in to the market to see what was there and, seeing a white lady in their midst, they directed me to a chap who could speak English, asking what I was wanting. I explained I was just looking but actually wanted Diesel, where upon it turned out that this was the ‘John’ we had been looking for! There are about 3,000 people living on Doom, we had some luck to find him, it also turned out that Geoffrey was his nephew, but John is a very common name and Geoffrey didn’t know we meant his uncle. 

John’s house is the blue one on the left, the next few all belong to his extended family so if you anchor nearby they’ll always be someone to keep an eye out on your boat for you.

John came back on board with us and we motored around to anchor outside his house (the blue one just West of the Northernmost tip of Doom, near the green harbour light). He then took our jerry cans to be filled, along with some containers of his own. In two trips we had topped up by the 300l we were after. Brilliant. Next day we visited John and his family for coffee. He’s a really nice chap, glad to help with any thing, and we’d recommend him to any boats following our wake (his phone number has changed to +6282183888884 or +6281344469498).

So, we’re all set now, we have our permits, we have port to port clearance, we’ve done our marketing, and tomorrow we’re off to the Four Kings, Raja Ampat, the crown of Indonesia. These islands are reputed to have the best diving and snorkelling of anywhere in the world, along with unique birds and animal life. It’ll be our main stop in Indonesia, a place to take dawdle in. We may be some time.

A typical local runabout.