August 2004 - Indonesia
The collapse of General Suharto's regime in 1998 set in train
a period of internal instability that threatens to continue
for some time, particularly ethnic and sectarian violence
in many parts of the country. It is therefore essential that
anyone planning to visit Indonesia should monitor the internal
situation carefully and avoid critical areas at all costs.
With some 13,677 islands the Indonesian archipelago is the
largest island group in the world.
The main islands are Java, Sumatra, Irian Jaya (the western
part of Papua New Guinea), and Kalimantan (formerly Borneo).
For cruising sailors, access to this fascinating country
is complicated by the need of a cruising and security permit
(CAIT), which must be obtained in advance. Although one may
be able to obtain it without the help of a local agent, the
frustration and waste of time is hard to justify. The easiest
way to obtain it is by joining the annual race from Darwin,
which used to finish in Ambon but will now use Bali instead.
Most yachts cruise the islands from east to west, each island
different from its neighbour.
Benoa Harbour in Bali is the most popular port of call for
cruising yachts and there is a reasonable range of repair
facilities. The opening of Bali International Marina and the
existence of a number of excursion vessels have consolidated
Bali's position as a modest yachting centre.
Otherwise, yachting facilities are only available in the
few places where there is either a local yachting community,
such as Java, or in those frequented by cruising boats, such
as Bali and perhaps Ambon.
Outside of Bali, some repair facilities are available at
Surabaya, on Java, where there are several boatyards, general
workshops and sailmakers. Surabaya's main drawback is that
it has no docking facilities for yachts and theft is a serious
problem in the harbour.
The development of new marinas, such as at Carita Bay, near
Java, or Nongsa point Marina, opposite Singapore, will undoubtedly
bring about a long awaited change.