Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sailing Bali Indonesia - some cruising basics


Notes from SV Marquesa
Entered Indonesia at Jayapura, April 2012.  Route: Jayapura-Biak-Sorong-Raja Ampat-Ambon-Flores-Komodo-Sumbawa-Lombok-Bali.  Currently location Serangan Island, Bali.(pic of a small portion of Serangan harbor below, Mt Agung in background).

Here’s a little info we Wish we’d had before arriving in Indonesia/Bali:


- Kartasa Jaya in Java, who gave us good service, took 2.5 months to process our CAIT application.  Through them, the 3-month CAIT cost US$150, the 3-month CAIT extension cost $150, and a sponsor letter for a Sosbud visa cost $50. 
- Instead of the 1-2 month Visa on Arrival, we got the longer-term Social/Cultural 'Sosbud' visa in advance.  It cost $60 at the Vanimo consulate, one or two-day processing.  It's good for 2 months, then you can renew it monthly for $25/month up to 4 times (for a total stay of 6 months). 
- Clearance was pretty painless and the customs guys were friendly and helpful in Jayapura.  In a few other places we were asked for bribes of $10-$50 dollars, but we always refused successfully.  Sorong customs asked for the bond but gave up after phoning our agent, Kartasa Jaya.  The bond law has been officially revoked, but word hasn't necessarily gotten out to all the local officials.  Customs in Benoa didn't give us any trouble.  
For more info check out Noonsite's Indonesia page


The channel west of Bali is full of obstructions and wicked currents and not easily navigable.  Lombok Channel, west of Bali, has south-flowing currents up to 5knots/+ in the SE monsoon (May-Sept).  Currents flow north during the NW monsoon.
Anchoring in Bali is NOT as easy as it used to be.  We have heard good reviews of Lovina anchorage in north Bali, but we have not yet been there.  As for E/S Bali, here are the choices we are aware of:

1) Port Benoa/Bali Marina - Benoa harbor is a very busy commercial harbor and the boats are pretty packed in places.  Parts of the harbor are very shallow.  Both Benoa and Serangan are as dirty as any other commercial harbors in Indonesia- just something you have to learn to look past, I guess. 
Approach through the s-curved marked channel.  Better to do this in good light, the shallows extend Well south of the marks on the north side of the channel, especially in the outer half of the channel.  After you take a final 90-degree turn into a roughly north-south dredged channel, you will have the Bali marina to port and ~ 20 moorings to starboard.  Bali Marina is small- about 20 slots, most of seem to be filled with resident boats. A berth at the marina will cost you about US $25/day, and a mooring here will cost about US $10/day.  The marina has no moorings; these are run by some random local fellow who will find you if you pick up a mooring.  A few sailboats manage to anchor north of the marina and moorings, but it is very shallow and space is very limited here.  Rumor has it you can also anchor south of the marina and main channel, though we did not see any sailboats doing this.  Benoa Marina charges a US$5/day landing fee to tie up dingies. 
Beware if you're entering Indonesia in Bali; Bali Marina has been known to insist that you use them as an agent when you clear in, for a US$200 fee.  This $200 clearance fee is excessive, since there's no reason you would need an agent, and all relevent offices are located within walking distance south of the marina (unless you needed to go in to town to the main immigration office?  That's an $8 taxi ride).  We know a couple boats that stayed at the marina, but Serangan really seems to have become THE place for cruisers in Bali.

2) Serangan Island - this is where nearly all the cruising boats end up.  There are 30 or 40 moorings here that cater to a mix of cruisers and local boats.  I guess they could conceivably all fill up during the busiest couple weeks of the year, but there would probably still be room for anchoring.
The Serangan passage is about 10m, marked by small unlit buoys, passing through breaking reef, but not anything that made us uncomfortable in good light.  I wouldn't want to enter any unfamiliar harbor at night and Serangan is no exception.It is accessed through a separate 10m wide channel through breaking reef north of Port Benoa.  Multiple masts are visible from the Lombok Channel and the channel into Serangan anchorage is marked by a couple funny little unlit red-and-green floating buoys.  Once inside the buoys, you will see two well-protected anchorages that offer 5 choices:

a) Mande’s moorings: Mustached- Mande and his goons are known to everyone on Serangan as ‘the mafia’.  They operate out of a beachfront shack just east of the dingy dock.  He will probably motor out to you as soon as you enter the anchorage, offer you one of his moorings, and tell you (untruthfully) that it’s hazardous to go any further in.  His moorings are US $8/day or about US $170/month.  THE PRICE OF ALL MOORINGS INCLUDES A ~US $70/MONTH (Rp 600,000) VILLAGE FEE, which is supposed to go to the people of Serangan.  The reason we recommend avoiding Mande if at all possible is that he has a reputation for stealing this village fee, as well as your dingy engine and anything on the boat that’s left vulnerable.  If you take a Mande mooring when you arrive, you are stuck with it; no one else will dare to rent you a mooring.  Make sure the village fee is included on your receipt and lock up your boat.
b) Made’s moorings: I know, it sounds like Mande, but this is Bali and everyone has the same name!  This is the 2nd local fellow who has moorings.  Rates are roughly the same as Mande’s but you won’t have to worry about mischief.  Made’s shop is to the right of the  dingy dock and the conspicuous 3-story old yacht club with the curved blue roof on the waterfront road- ask around. 
c) The Royal Bali Yacht Club - probably the best choice.  Try Ruth on Ch 17 on arrival.  She is honest, friendly, and  helpful.  The yacht club is hidden away; land at the dingy dock, turn left down the little main road/waterfront road and walk about 1 km- the RBYC will be on your left.  RBYC moorings are a couple dollars more expensive than the others, but they come with a shower. 
d) Anchor - You should be able to anchor for free NE of Serangan in the large area between the moorings and the reef.  Holding here is reputedly poor in a mud/plastic bag bottom.  This area and the outer moorings are windy and thus more rough than the inner moorings.  Swell protection is good everywhere at Serangan. You cannot anchor inside of where the moorings start. 
e) If you happen to be a good personal friend of former Indonesian dictator’s son Tommy Suharto, you can anchor in the absolutely beautiful, protected, peaceful, perfect inner anchorage that lies up the southern channel that you will notice to port just after you pass through the reef.  Tommy’s dad was one of the richest men in the world after he stole billions from the Indonesian people in the 60’s-90’s.  Tommy owns a large portion of Serangan, and unless you’re buddies, his goons will show up to chase you off shortly after you drop anchor here.


Good news: Local produce, services, and goods are cheap and imported ones are often reasonable.  Shop at Lottemart (near Serangan), Carrefour in Kuta, or Hardy’s in Sanur.  Public transport from Serangan or Bali Marina is nonexistent, taxis are about US $10 to Denpasar/Kuta/Sanur, but you can rent a motorbike for about US $3/day/  Traffic in Bali is scary.  In Serangan drinking water is US$1.50 for 20L.  Local tapwater (bleach/boil before drinking) can be delivered to the boat for $8/500L.
- In Serangan diesel can be delivered for about US$0.85/L negotiable.  Jerry canning is technically illegal, but we've had no problem filling our jerry cans at a dingy-accessible petrol station for $0.50/L.  If you need laundry done US$0.15/peice) or water find Ibu Lala's shop near the dingy dock for honest service.  Local labor is around $15/day.  Good sail repair can be done by Nusa Dua Boatworks south of Kuta ($$$) or Julie on Serangan.  Local beer is cheap and good.  Telkomsel- near Ramayana on Diponegoro St in Denpasar - can provide a 3G internet plan for US $15/month + plus dongle. 

Bad news: Imported (ie palatable) wine and alcohol are expensive here.  This is a double-whammy for us because we have spent the last month trying to get work done on the boat here, and we really need a stiff drink now!  Quality boat parts and metalworking/mechanic services are really hard to find here, unless you’re fluent in Indonesian and  looking for something very basic.  Propane- The only places we've found that have Indonesian-to-US/Europe propane adaptors are Bali Marina or the Royal Bali yacht club.  Both charge US$50 for a 20lb bottle fill. 

Unfortunately the harbor water in Benoa and Serangan is very dirty and a giant pile of trash does loom on the horizon between Benoa and Serangan :(
On the bright side, Serangan is a lovely, quiet, friendly little traditional village with tons of temples.  Except for the pollution, can't think of a better place to stay on Bali.

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