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Updated January 20 2018
Indonesia for the Sailor - Different Field, Different Grasshopper
The saying above was "discovered" in Flores by Belle Holahan sailing on the catamaran Simpatica while shopping in Flores and it best describes the experience crossing Indonesia on a yacht.
Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world. It is an exotic mix of cultures, people, traditions and customs, food, wildlife and plant life. Running approximately 3000 miles along the equator, Indonesia is comprised of around 13,000 islands and has the world’s fourth largest population, made up of around 350 distinct ethnic groups and languages. Blessed with an abundance of spices and natural recources it has been an important trading region since the 7th century. During that time Indonesia has been influenced by foreign powers attracted by the abundant natural resources including Arab, Indian, Malay, Chinese, English and Dutch and Portuguese traders.
A great Cruising Guide for Indonesia has been published, please see click Cruising Guide to see more. This book will be available from the marine stores in Darwin before you leave.

Travelling through Indonesia on a yacht is very different to a short holiday visit to a resort - Things are never the same, procedures and costs in government offices sometimes will change from one day to the next depending on the official you meet and most certainly from one place to the next. There are no clear rules of engagement and getting things done in Indonesia is often a bureaucratic nightmare requiring many photocopies of all your documents combined with occasionally having to make "facilitation payments" to ease the way or speed the process up when dealing with officials or obtaining goods or services.
These things alone combine to mean it is a very different kind of place and sometimes getting the simplest of tasks done can take all day. There are often no set procedures or clear rules of engagement and the concept of time in the manner familiar to the western mind is not familiar to the Indonesia society and the wonderful phrase "Jam Karet" delivered with a smile, translated as "rubber time" will explain why the parts you are waiting for or the taxi you have ordered are late or does not arrive all.
We here at Sail Indonesia could never give you a complete guide to the wonders of Indonesia - with over 13,000 islands and more than 300 languages it is such an amazing and diverse country nobody can ever see it all. We recommend you get a copy of a guide book such as a Lonely Planet Guide Book and select the places you wish to visit and be guided by the tourist information it contains.
For the cruising sailor Indonesia is an safe and diverse cruising area, see a Cultural Overview of Indonesia and to see the experiences of some our participants from previous years please see the Stories section of our web site.
Click here for Health Information and Advice and for general information about Indonesia see the Asian Links page of our web site.
A piracy attack against a pleasure yacht has not occurred for over 10 years, however theft from yachts may occur and when you are anchored close to a village or in port, a "neighborhood watch" is always a good idea.
Before you leave for Indonesia
English is not widely spoken away from the main centers and the Indonesian Language, Bahasa Indonesia is not a difficult language so before you leave Darwin get yourself a phrase book and at least arrive with a few words and remember, if in doubt smile. When you arrive in Darwin our staff will give you a CD containing a cruising guide to Indonesia and a beginners course of the Indonesian Language in written and audio lessons.
In Indonesia, Cash is King - Do not rely on Credit or Bank Cards as your only source of money and always carry at least $400 AUD or USD in cash and a similar amount in Rupiah in case you need it as fuel sellers and many other businesses do not take Credit Cards. In Indonesia there is usually a limit of 1,500,000 Rupiah per ATM (Cash Point) withdrawal and only two transactions are allowed per day AND there is an approximate $7.00 fee per transaction. Traveller’s cheques are a better option for larger amounts of money.
You should arrange some Indonesian Currency before you leave Darwin and the Westpac Bank at the end of the Smith Street Mall in Darwin will sell you Indonesian currency to you with no commission when you tell them you are with Sail Indonesia.
Yacht Spare Parts
Obtaining yacht spare parts in Indonesia is almost impossible, engine spares may be available but they will be difficult to locate away from the main centers, you should take any spares that you may need before Singapore with you, especially fuel filters.
Firearms in Indonesia
Indonesian regulations regarding firearms and ammunition are very restrictive and strictly enforced. All weapons MUST have a registration certificate from the country of origin. Proof of purchase is NOT acceptable. Declare ALL firearms and ammunition on arrival in the country to the Indonesian Customs. In 2004, a Charter Boat Captain spent four months in a Bali jail for not declaring his shotguns and ammunition. In 2005, a Sail Indonesia Rally skipper declared his two shotguns to Customs in Kupang with the receipt from the store where they were purchased in the USA. In accordance with the regulations in the USA these weapons were not required to be registered in the USA and as he could not produce a registration certificate his guns were confiscated. He was also threatened with court proceedings and a possible 16 year jail term. It required considerable negotiations and the intervention of his country’s diplomatic mission to resolve the issue and his guns were never given back to him.
Importing Yacht Parts into Indonesia
This is a complicated and difficult process as the Indonesian Customs procedures are very bureaucratic for yachts in transit and in any case these services are only easily available in ports of entry and exit such as Kupang, Bali, Surabaya, Batam and Jakarta. Do not rely on the postal service in Indonesia as it very slow and unreliable. Most important, according to Customs Regulations, to avoid having to import taxes on items you are expecting, even though you will be taking them with when you leave Indonesia, you will need to go to the Fedex or DHL office with your paperwork to make import arrangements BEFORE the items arrive in the country, if you do not do this you will have to pay the full Indonesian import duty of around 30 percent and there is no way around this. Avoid using Fedex for delivery in Bali, many yachts have had problems with clearing incoming items with the local agent the FEDEX office is actually in Jakarta.
Pets on Board
Regulations concerning the importing of pets into Indonesia are subject to interpretation but the regulations regarding animals arriving on boats do not seem to be enforced and yachts are usually cleared without problems. Many of our past participants have had pets on board their yachts and have never experienced any problesms If you want to fly out of the country with your pet or fly in with your pet it is a bureaucratic nightmare at the airport as you will have to have the necessary vaccination certificates and negotiate a very complex system of paperwork.
Shopping malls are in all large owns and stock just about anything you may want, western style delicacies such as wines, cheeses, processed meats, olives, and other similar western style foods are are only available in the larger cities at specialist shops.
Indonesian Internet Facilities
There are internet facilities in all Indonesian cities and most towns, however these services can be sometimes slow and unreliable. After you arrive you can purchase an internet connection modem that operates over the GSM phone network - many cafes and hotels have WIFI connections or you can go to a a WARTEL or WARNET shop is where you can find international phone and internet facilities.
The Phone Service in Indonesia
The country code for Indonesia is 62, the cell phone network is available at all towns through Indonesia and is the best way to keep in contact with family and friends. on arrival purchase an Indonesian SIM card for your phone from one of the many shops as the SMS service is very cheap. Please Note that if you have an pre-paid cell phone it may be locked to another network and may not work in Indonesia.
Medical Services
Away from the main urban areas medical services vary from limited to non existent, if you do need medical treatment SOS International Medical Clinics in Bali, and Jakarta offer a first class service. The SOS contact in Bali is International SOS, Bali Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai Number 505X Kuta 80221 24 hours Alarm Center number +62 361 710 505
Bargaining is the system of commerce in the smaller local markets away from the large stores and supermarkets and usually around 60 per cent of the original asking price is about what you could expect to pay, but again as with all things in Indonesia there are many "different types of grasshopper"
Water in Indonesia is not drinkable unless it is bottled - large 20 liter returnable bottles known locally as "Gallons" are available everywhere costing around 30,000 Rupiah plus your refundable deposit for the bottle.
Your Stomach, In Indonesia medical supplies are very reasonably priced and are available at most "Apotik" stores, prescription drugs are usually available however their quality and authenticity is not always guaranteed.
The very popular stomach upset known as "Bali Belly" may not be in fact a bug but rather the result of different food or too just much fun, a very effective remedy you may wish to try first are the activated charcoal pills called "Norit" again these are easily obtained from any Apotik store.
Diesel Fuel is available everywhere in ports in Indonesia, however it is sometimes contaminated with foreign material so a good supply of filters is recommended. Since the bombings in Bali and other places in Indonesia it is now illegal to carry fuel in jerry cans (jerry jugs) so getting fuel to your yacht can be difficult often requiring those "facilitation" payments again.
Diesel known in Indonesia as "Solar" is cheap by world standards with prices around Rp10,000 to Rp12,000 per liter. The pump price everywhere is Rp7500, but this price is subsidised and only available to the local people.
LPG Gas Bottles All Indonesian fuel and gas supplies are under the control of the government owned company - Pertamina.
Indonesian government regulations do not permit gas bottles with non Indonesian connections be refilled in Indonesia so you should take 3 month supply of gas with you or if you wish you can have your gas system modified to take Indonesian bottles while you are in the country. As you cross the country you may find some places will fill your non Indonesian gas bottles, but the official regulation is that this is not allowed.

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