Landfall in western Timor, Indonesia

3rd August 2008

Well we've made it to Indonesia and all is well. It took 4 nights to Reach the city of Kupang in Western Timor from Darwin - the wind died off the very first evening and never came back until the last... We had to motor almost the entire way.... I spent many hours with the calculator trying to determine if we were going to make it...Happy to say we found a little wind and it all worked out in the end. In an emergency Gunner and Ingvil on S/v Helen Kate were planning to drop us a couple of cans of fuel!
It was an ok trip all in all as the autopilot did its job and steered us on course so we were comfortable... Unfortunately we were one of the slowest boats so that sucked to say the least. We just couldn't figure out why... I ended up jumping over mid ocean to clear the prop and was successful in stripping off some heavy seaweed... It seemed to improve our speed but it was mostly a mental fix, without enough wind old Blue Moon is too heavy to make way efficiently - the concerning part was that friends on s/v Antares caught a 2 meter shark a little later just behind their boat about a mile from us... Yikes!
Kupang has been great- it's like India meets South America, Lots of noise and craziness. We spent most of the time trying to get cleared/checked in... It started out smooth but as always became tangled in typical third world bureaucracy. Lucky for us we had several over 60 cruisers maintaining a round the clock watch and kept the pressure on the rally staff and local government rep's... In the end everyone was able to get cleared - but not until they impounded all the vessels in the fleet - not physically but by writ - and everyone had a very large seizure sticker affixed to the hull... This again was resolved by a little extra money and more forms and stamps to be collected...
Things here are much cheaper than OZ - Fuel is under a dollar a liter but dirty... Worst fuel I have taken since I departed Florida -or Ever! I had to dump and clean out the baha fuel filter three times - what a mess but at least we're topped with fuel and bottled water now..
We took a tour of the island as part of the rally - they provided 11 buses, a police captain with land cruiser to lead us and an ambulance to follow not to mention several military and civilian escorts... It was quite a sight...Visited a few mountain villages including 'Soe' and 'Boti'- traditional & very isolated - really interesting but the bus ride - Wow ! My kidneys are still sore - they used an old WWII Japanese built road to get us out into the highlands - we took off at 7 am and got back at 10 pm... Long day but worth every minute and all free with the rally.
Caroline & Eli were asked to visit a school - middle and high school combo - they were the first white people many of the kids had ever met... They had seen some on TV or in a mag but never in person! Interesting ... The Indonesian's are really nice people - funny, warm and always love to try to communicate. Kupang is a mix of Muslim and Christian; most people are quick to tell us that they have a problem with the radical Muslim element as well... We were able to get a sim card for Caroline's phone for 5 bucks so we have a mobile phone again!
The Kupang anchorage was very windy and dirty with all sorts Of garbage - mainly plastic and junk floating around... Several boats broke free and went drifting on the second day as the wind picked up... It took ten of us with dinghy's four hours to rope then all in and re anchor the boats as the owners were off on tours... This inspired everyone to get a cell phone working. We had an incident as well; someone slipped down and hit Bluemoon... Lucky for us not hard and no visual damage - he was onboard at the time and apparently the radio was ablaze with everyone yelling to get people over to help and he was able to start his engine and get away in time... What a pain especially since I had already asked him twice to move and he wouldn't - needless to say he has been hard to find since...
We've now moved on from Kupang to the smaller island of Roti 20nm south with s/v Helen Kate, Antares and Silene. There are about 6 other boats here- mostly the younger cruisers. The remainder of the fleet has gone north to Alor; I needed a break from the crowds. So many people and 'Pushy'... Some are really unaware of themselves, at one of the villages the King handed out hand woven 'Ikat' scarves to each person. With a 100 or so people around some started to shove their way in front of each other to get theirs first...I was pushed out of the line several times.... It was all to do for me to not yank them back by the collar... This selfish "me first" attitude highlighted itself later that day when I was in line for lunch...Lets just say that I was glad they only handed out spoons with our food! The Indonesians are so calm and generous at times it was embarrassing to be associated with such rude white people.
However, we're enjoying being back in another culture and one that is a heck of a lot more affordable... Everyone in the rally have been very helpful and the locals are great - many of them understand English which makes it a little easier although it's like learning Spanish again - start with the numbers and thank you then work your way up.
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