Red Tape and Scams

Standard
1030 hours:  Pleased to see yacht Angelique anchored nearby. She’s owned by an old friend Jeff who’d done a lot of carpentry work on Lowana IV during her refit.  He immediately comes over in a dinghy to guide us to a good anchoring spot in about 5 metres of water.  Adjust ship’s clocks to 0900 hours local time. Darwin is 1.5 hours ahead of Kupang. Not long afterwards the chap wanting his rudder also comes over to get it.  Found out later this one got broken too unluckily for him.From where we are at anchor we can see what was once fort Ford Henricus built by the Portuguese Dominican friars in the 1500s, to guard against Moslem attacks. It was later captured by the Dutch in 1653 but the walls collapsed in 1663 during an earthquake in nearby Solor Islands. All that remains of the old fort are the foundations and lower walls built right on the waters edge. The stones of the rest has likely been carted away over the years for use elsewhere, and  the locals have simply been building housing units on top of them ever since.

The Dutch built another barracks further to the right of the harbour on a rocky point, which is still the site of a military barracks today. Captain Bligh arrived here in 1789 after being set adrift in a small overcrowded sailboat with just a sextant and pocket watch after the HMS Bounty mutiny in the South Pacific. Pretty good effort for him and his small crew to get here.

13a barracksRight:  The military barracks is built on the site of a rocky point overlooking Kupang Harbour. “Cholera Creek” is off to the left out of photo and is likely to have been where Captain Bligh landed.

Captain Bligh is not the only one to have been received here. In 1791 a group of 9 convicts and 2 children heard about Bligh’s achievement and stole a small government dinghy in Sydney NSW. They arrived in Kupang 10 weeks later covering a distance almost equalling Bligh’s. They were locked up. Various explorers such as William Dampier also called here during their expeditions.

1230 hours: A local man named Jimmy comes aboard to offer his services and arrange Customs matters. He works for the Jakarta agents mentioned previously through whom we got our CAIT.  Jimmy has a rather slippery reputation and recently got an official reprimand from Jakarta about overcharging for his fees. The present rate is A$50 but he has been asking up to US$75.

Jeff also comes aboard to have a gander at how the boat finished up after her refit, and to watch over arrangements being made with Jimmy. Jeff runs a sailing charter business from Kupang and is very good with the language. He’s also familiar with Jimmy’s rather dubious methods. Luckily Martin is also fluent with the language and can ask for more details when I don’t understand Jimmy’s accented English.

At the conclusion of our discussion Jimmy offers his house for bathing and laundry, but being a bit suspicious about what it would cost politely decline.  Jimmy leaves assuring us that all will be well with the paperwork.

Afternoon: Everyone goes ashore.  Paul and Barbara decide to stay at a hotel overnight. Martin and I head off to a laundry behind Teddy’s Bar, which is an Australian ex-pat meeting place and watering hole. Have a mandi (wash) and leave our laundry there to be picked up later.

Have a late lunch at the nearby Karang Mas Restaurant sitting on the verandah in one of those fort like buildings overlooking the harbour. From here the yachts can be seen quite clearly. All the boats are hobby horsing in the afternoon winds. Lowana IV looks quite comfortable sitting out there. Have a few drinks and a catch up conversation with Jeff but he has to leave soon.  He’s got some paying guests flying in who he is to take to the surf beaches at Roti Island.

Take a little walk around. Half the shops are closed being Saturday arvo. Beeping bemo’s everywhere that can be heard clear out into the harbour. Come back to Teddy’s Bar and watch a couple of boxing bouts. Apparently it’s a youth club run by the military.

Late Afternoon:  The rolling surf on the beach is now gone and the bay is quite calm. Return to Lowana IV with Martin who by now seems quite content with the world after some Bintang refreshments.

Evening: Both of us quite tired after last night. We sit and talk while we listen to the city noises and activities. Go to bed early. It’s been a big day.

Sun 7/9/97

16 Dawn at KupangLeft: Dawn over Kupang Harbour looking to the left of anchorage. Local fishing boats anchor off this point.

Morning: Leisurely morning. Run the engine to cool down the fridges and just generally relax. Dip the main fuel tank. We’ve used 120 litres of diesel on the trip over. Total distance 508 miles including the back and forth travelling in Roti Strait. Fuel consumption averaging 4.1 miles per litre. Engine has been run for 127 hrs averaging an economical 1 litre per hour.

Late Morning: Jimmy aka Jimmy The Weasel comes out to boat and tells us we are now cleared into Indonesia but cannot leave Kupang due to a discrepancy in our CAIT. He says that not all crew members are listed on the CAIT and Immigration are holding onto our passports.

This is a shock. According to the information we got from Peter Dermoudy the CAIT was for clearance of the vessel and its Skipper only. Accordingly I had only included myself as the Skipper. I was confidant about that because the CAIT application was also accompanied by a complete Crew List with photocopies of passports.  I had also understood that Visa’s would be given to each crew member including the Skipper on arrival at Kupang.

All this paperwork had been faxed again later on. This is sounding like bullshit and I begin to suspect Jimmy might be trying to scam us.

Jimmy now tells us there is another problem with the CAIT.  It seems that all the required clearances have not yet been granted. The missing clearances were the Indonesian Navy and the Dept of Sea Communications. Jimmy says I will have to go out to the Navy Offices tomorrow with him. He assures me it is simply a formality and that an updated CAIT will be faxed from Jakarta tomorrow.

Jimmy’s assurances do nothing to convince me this will be sorted out quickly, and indeed it gets even worse.  Jimmy now tells me that even if a properly approved CAIT is received tomorrow it will cost an additional A$20 per crew member not listed on the CAIT…uh huh!  This fee is allegedly to be paid to Immigration. We will not get our passports back until this ‘fee’ is paid. He tells me bluntly that if it is not paid then the crew will have to fly out of Indonesia, and I will have to sail the boat away by myself.

We later learn that similar things have happened with other boats too. Andy of Wraith of Galbraith had 9 extra backpackers aboard and allegedly cost him A$180. Dave and Shea of Wanita Merah are believed to have had two extra persons and apparently it cost them something too. Although it appears to be a rort, I believe it’s more likely there is simply a loophole in the paperwork that is being exploited to squeeze out a few extra dollars from visiting yachties. Whether they can justify it or not doesn’t help us at this point. There is not much that can be done about it except pay up. If we push the point we will only be held up more than we already are.

Early Afternoon: Take the dinghy across to the beach and meet up with Paul and Barbara. At Martin’s suggestion we have lunch at the Cafe Surya which serves Padang food. Padang food involves the laying out of several Sumatran dishes, and only charging customers for the food they actually eat. It’s ridiculously inexpensive costing Rp18500 – approx A$9.00 for 4 people. Current exchange rate is Rp2018 per A$1.00.

Martin decides to head back to the Karang Mas Restaurant across the road while the rest of us take a walk along the traditional boat harbour to look at the fishing boats and some of the older style traditional vessels. While looking at the boats we manage to talk to some of the people and get mobbed by crowds of kids. Carrying a camera is a sure-fire attraction. Further on we watch as a traditional prahau fishing boat is being built just back off the beach.  Nothing elaborate here, they just use basic tools and most measurements are done by eye.

14 Barbara at Kupang 15 old foundations
Above: Barbara poses along the sea wall with part of the old fort Ford Henricus in the background. Above: Old fort foundations with housing built on top.
18 traditional prahues 19 fishermans house
Above: Part of the traditional boat harbour. Many are anchored close into shore and the fishermen wade out to them. They don’t use dinghies here. Above: Typical of the housing along the beach used by fishermen. Repairs to boats are carried out right on the beach.
20 laying a keel 21 joyful children
Above: Just getting started on a new boat. The plank on the right hand side is shaped and just about fitted even as we watch. Designs are still traditional but they use power tools to construct them. Above: Paul with a bunch of kids. They like to get their photo taken.
24 loaded up 23 boat harbour at low tide
Above: These people would be going to nearby Semau Island. Not much thought given to overloading. It is fairly common that if you git a bum on a seat, or even just stand in a boat then you can travel on it. Above: Low tide and the boats are left high and dry . They can clean the keels and do whatever other work they want at these times.

On the way back we stop to watch a game of volleyball. One of the people is the Harbourmaster of Ternau harbour. Pretty important chap. Paul has been a volleyball player and is invited into a match with them. He soon proves he’s quite good at it. Seems the team is the #1 team in this region of Indonesia.

Late Afternoon: Head back to the Karang Mas Restaurant and stay there for a while with Martin until Paul and Barbara show up after the volleyball.

Evening: Go back to the boat, re-charge the fridges, watch Indon TV, check the navigation charts for the next leg and read a book. Crew comes back on board quite late – and vocal after having been at Teddy’s Bar. Paul had been disco dancing there but I understand there’d been a shortage of available females to dance with.

Mon 8/9/97

0730 hours: Sun has been up for last two hours and crew having a late sleep in. There is a large, thick shoal of fish hanging about the boat.

1000 hours: Paul and Barbara go ashore for a 4 hour tour of the city. I have a shave and dress up, then also go ashore where I meet up with Jimmy as arranged yesterday to go out to the Navy Offices.

Jimmy makes a phone call to Jakarta and we take a bemo, both of which I am asked to pay for. At the Navy office we are taken into some back office where I speak to a fellow in civilian clothing with Jimmy translating. At first the fellow appears rather non-committal. Knowing the Indonesian deference to military and police I manage during the general conversation to introduce my Police Badge and casually mention that I was ex-military. Am not entirely sure but am fairly satisfied that this makes a suitable impression on our naval chap. With displays of big cheesy grins and thumbs up he promises my clearances will be granted by the Navy and the approved CAIT will be faxed from Jakarta tomorrow… uh huh-heard something like this before!

Jimmy assures me, and I must admit he’s good at it  that Immigration and the Harbour Master clearances will not be a problem. We will be able to leave Kupang tomorrow by lunchtime. He generously explains that he will pay the Immigrasi ‘fee’ and I can fix him up with it later.

On the way back into town, the Weasel makes a passing comment that we must have some small amount of whisky or rum aboard. I’m not sure what he’s thinking when I tell him I don’t drink and that I can’t speak for the crew. However it’s interesting to  note that later on the Immigration ‘fee’  went up to A$25.00 a head.

1100 hours: Return to the boat. Apart from the sour taste in my mouth this is just a glorious day. Have a nap and generally relax on the boat with Martin.

17 shoaling fishRight: Not a particularly good photo but is meant to show a small part of a large school of fish in residence around the boat. The white blotch roughly near the centre photo is one of our dinner plates on the sea bed after it had blown overboard.

1500 hours: Our resident shoal of fish is considerably larger and thicker now. No idea what’s holding them around our boat except for protection from predators. There is quite a bit of splashing around the boat from time to time.

Late Afternoon: Go ashore. Collect laundry then book into the Timor Beach Hotel for the night. Get a double room with shower, air conditioning and TV for Rp30500 (approx A$15.00) but only because I argue that the TV in the single room doesn’t work and the air conditioner is noisy, plus I threaten to leave.

Evening: Have a shower, then dinner on the restaurant terrace overlooking the harbour. Beautiful view especially with the big red sun going down over Semau Island. Dinner is excellent with steaks, chips, egg, rice, gravy on a sizzle plate, and a plate of green veges with red peppers for Rp8500.  Go for a walk, return to the room, read the Jakarta Post newspaper (In English), watch some Indon TV and go to bed by 2130 hours.

MORE TO FOLLOW

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