Gili Gede

Mon 9 Jan 2017 08:59
08:45.744S 115:55.803E

The Maritime Police never came back. We stayed all day, entertaining ourselves by snorkelling trips, walks ashore and by rescuing passing paddle boarders. The current rips through at 3 knots or more between the islands and unsuspecting holiday makers were being swept Northwards past us. They were very glad of a tow back behind our dinghy but I couldn’t help wondering how they managed when we weren’t there. The board hire places had no one watching. Perhaps there are sun burnt communities of paddle boarders on the small islands south of Kangean, scratching a living between the coconut palms, still clothed in the torn remains of board shorts and rash vests.

Next day we gave up waiting and forsook the bright lights for the quiet waters of the Southern Gilis. There are still resorts there but they are mostly small run down affairs, with no dance beat ‘till the small hours. There we were able to give our guests a taste of boat life: snorkel trips in the dinghy; kayak explorations in the bays; treks around the islands and plenty of reading in the hammocks under the foredeck awning.

It is very beautiful, with lovely reefs to explore and friendly local folk. We were amazed again to see how much the boat design changed in just a few miles down the coast. They still have double outriggers with a long tail onboard engine, but they also carry sails, with masts that fold down. Typically they would motor out in the mornings and sail home in the afternoons with the wind behind them. 

The sail furled and folded down. Wading ashore is rather unpleasant though. 

The pollution was still pretty bad. I thought there was less floating plastic but the shore lines told a tale of years of trash coming to land. It’s strange. The local folk will keep their yards scrupulously clean, sweeping it of rubbish and fallen leaves daily, yet seem content to live surrounded by plastic rubbish. If it’s next door they just don’t seem to see it and have no qualms about throwing plastic on the ground or in the sea when they are done with something. I remember speaking with kids in school back in the UK who had thrown rubbish down. Their explanation was that there was other rubbish around anyway, they felt their piece would make no difference. Perhaps that’s how the Indonesians feel.

Typical house with swept yard (and singer sewing machine on the porch).

It was good to see and hear more birds around us. The only place we’d seen them in North Lombok was when we visited the resort on the next peninsula. They had beautiful grounds which were a haven for the bird life as the villagers shoot any birds they find with air rifles. The other lovely feature was hearing the geckos in the bush in the evenings. They are called to-kay, after the sound they make which is exactly like the sound a squeaky toy makes when a dog is biting it. They seem to take a deep breath then go for it, managing five or six calls usually, but they are clearly running out of breath for the last couple of calls, sounding like the dog has punctured the toy. It’s considered very lucky to hear a to-kay call seven times in a row. Listen for yourself:

It was lovely time out, back being cruisers, after the stressful 1000 plus miles to get to a hospital and then being landlocked for a few weeks. However, all things must come to an end and this chill time did so sooner than we had expected. We were planning a slow circumnavigation of Lombok, exploring out of the way anchorages as we went but it wasn’t to be.

This last year Indonesia has been in a state of flux regarding cruisers. It is replacing the old CAIT cruising permits with Cruising Declarations, an easier on line method, but only for 19 ports. Having checked in at Jayapura we had come in under the old CAIT system, Jayapura not being on the list of 19 ports. But customs in Jayapura refused to visit the boat, refused to give us a Temporary Importation Permit (TIP) and didn’t seem to know quite what to do with us. This wouldn’t have been a problem if the original plan of leaving within 3 months had been ok but the delay due to Herman’s arrival and departure meant we needed to get personal visa extensions, CAIT extensions and an extension to our TIP, which Jayapura hadn’t given us in the first place.

The Visa extensions were straight forward and luckily our agent in Bali, Ruth, was on the case. She extended our CAIT and managed to get Jayapura to retrospectively give us an original TIP, which Medana Bay offered to get extended. This seemed to be going ok and we had customs come and inspect our boat. They consisted of a team of two, a man and a woman, the woman in an ankle length pencil skirt as part of her uniform. This made getting into the dinghy and up on board Lochmarin an interesting operation. There had been a bit of a swell for a few days and once below deck she started to turn green and had to be helped back up to sit on the side deck and stare at the horizon. Phil signed a form, they took a photo of the engine and a few selfies and the whole process was complete apart from getting the ankle length pencil skirt onto the dock from the dinghy, which could only be described as caterpillaring as it was impossible for her to step up from the dinghy or even crawl. So we were happily cruising assuming all was fine. 

Then came the email from Medana Bay: the week before it ran out Lombok had refused to extend our TIP unless we had a Lombok resident guarantee it (impossible) or paid a bond that, with extras, would amount to about 60% of the boat’s value (which we didn’t have and wouldn’t have done anyway). We were being chucked out. It was mad: we had personal visas, a cruising permit for the boat, all boats now coming in on the Cruising Declaration don’t need TIPs and can automatically stay for 3 years and yet they decide to refuse us an extra month. 

You’d have thought if they refuse to let you stay you can go, but no, you have to apply for an Export Permit. Incredibly, the folk at Medana Bay told us we must be out of their Bay and Lombok waters by the time our TIP ran out and advised us to just pretend we knew nothing about the refused extension if stopped. This is madness as if you don’t have the correct documentation they can confiscate your boat. We asked Medana Bay to help arrange the check out process and get an Export Permit for us but they made it clear that they didn’t want to do it and said we should to go to Bali and have Ruth do it. Personally I think they bit off more than they could chew with the TIP extension. They are hoping to become a check in port themselves and have been doing visa extensions for the Sail Indonesia Rally, so offered to do the TIP but it’s clear that anything more than simple Visa extensions are more than they can handle. They just wanted us out of their waters. Bali here we come…