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September 2007


Lovina Bali  Indonesia,  The Malacca Straights,  and Port Dickson Malaysia


Checking Out and Checking In



We are now twenty days ahead of the Sail Indonesia schedule and the lone boat anchored off Lovina on the northern side of Bali.  The locals on the beach are primed for the arrival of 124 boats in several weeks but for now they are relentless in touting there goods and services to the one available boat, Shiraz.  One of the first acquaintance we make is the harbor master, or so he tells us.  We think, there is one small sailboat anchored here, the flotilla is not due for more than two weeks and there's a harbor master?  But there's no harbor, just a beach with a modicum of protection. And the guy, Made', doesn't have a uniform. He visits our boat to inspect our safety equipment and we need to expalin the used of most of it to him. Oh well.


Although Indonesia is 87% Moslem, Bali is predominately Hindu as the ornate architecture indicates. Lovina was once a bustling tourist area with a good number of resorts, restaurants, internet cafes and hand made craft stores that today are woefully underutilized due to the impact of the "Bali bombings" more than five years ago. We watch as a restaurant prepares for the evening by lighting all the table candles and having an employee make offerings and burn incense at ten or so points surrounding the restaurant.  The restaurants we visit are less than half full and many things on the menu are not available. On the lighter side, every restaurant we visited had a number of cats with their tails cropped and we theorize as to why.  I propose that without a full tail cats are less agile and when the kitchen runs out of chicken it makes it easier for the chef to catch a cat.  Rene disagrees.  Okay how about this, a cropped tail indicates that this cat is a pet of someone so the chef should search fro a feral cat.


No waiting for the internet in these uncrowded conditions.  It may not be fast but the building is air conditioned.  As we work our way nearer the equator the days are warming up and the internet offers a short respite from the heat. But alas it is too slow to do anything but check our Yahoo account so again we fail to post our web site.


We have laid plans to depart Lovina and sail directly to Malaysia where we have reservations at Port  Dickson Admiral Marina.  The marina appears to be as nice as any in Singapore and Thailand at half the price.   Also we paln to fly back to the US and the air fare from Kuala Lumpur is about $500 per person less (even though you have to fly thru Singapore ?). So we started the process of checking out of Indonesia.  Immigrations directed us to the new port where we can find customs.  It is about 45 minutes west of Lovina and after a lengthy stop at the customs office and several phone calls we were directed to visit the old customs office not five minutes from immigration, our starting point.


Here we entered a dilapidated office adjoined to a large but abandon port facility.  The office contained but a desk and several chairs and Mrs Ibu Retno, dressed in traditional Muslim head covering and a customs uniform.  She greeted us warmly with kisses and hugs for Rene and a hand shake followed by touching her heart for me. This gesture is a symbol that not only do I greet you but I take you into my heart as a friend. In this desolate little office we are greeted as visiting ambassadors and within minutes cold soft drinks are ushered in and we are offered food. The rice balls were to be eaten with a bite of hot chilli peppers.  Mrs Retno was very insistent that we eat and for a sweet she provided a banana wrapped in some sort of green leaf sprinkled with coconut.  And don't even think about sharing one.  Our driver, WaYan, acted as interpretor, even though his English is limited, and after snacks and a coke we came to the realization that Mrs. Retno would type us any kind of departure document we wanted.  We were pretty insistent that the document be official with an official stamp and proposed that we return on Monday to give her the weekend to investigate how we might obtain the proper document.


Upon our return we found a typed clearance paper with a great number of mistakes and another snack.  With this in hand we head for immigrations with Mrs Retno riding in the back seat with Rene.  After a lengthy waiting period we had our passports stamped and upon returning to the "harbor" we are greeted by Made', the "harbor master", decked out in starched uniform and shinny shoes.  He was accompanied by a military policeman dressed all in black. Go figure. Anyway Made' had the documents we were looking for and the next morning we were off.


Our first night out we were surrounded by the fishing fleet.  There were literally hundreds of fishing craft in the 40 foot range all with enough illumination to blind any squid that came within 50 feet of their boat.  These boats are slow moving and that they appear to make way for us but with so many it is a bit unnerving.  Wait , we hear a large motor!  Now there's a freighter coming up from behind and we are certain we will see our first catastrophe at sea. The freighter is running at close to 20 knots but everything is cool and the fishing boats adhered to the right of tonnage and scatter.  We are the only boat with sweaty palms.


The winds are with us and we are able to sail for seven days before turning on the motor just south of Singapore.  And its just as well as we will be weaving around islands and reefs and rocks to pass west of Singapore and avoid the traffic in this congested area.




As day breaks on our seventh day, we are making our way through the high explosive anchorage and getting ready for a dash across the Straights of Malacca, one of the busiest shipping channels in the world.  On this morning it is living up to its reputation as we are intimidated by a dozen tankers and cargo ships as we head across the traffic pattern.  Arriving on the north bound channel, we find our spot at the edge of the shipping lane and at any given time we can see ten or so large ships.  But the ships are not within range, it's the tugs pulling barges that are headed any which way that make the last day of an eight day passage so tiring.









We find Admiral Marina in Port Dickson to be a beautiful yacht club with a great facility but no one is here.  The pool is world class, the food is wonderful and the staff is friendly. It is a bit remote and there is no focus  on cruisers.  In fact the focus is on building vacation condos and the marina is a small part of the ambiance. We plan to enjoy the hospitality for a while and then we will head back to the US in November to enjoy the holidays with family and friends.













For a few more pictures of Bali please click on the arrow below.


FAD - Fish Attracting Device - put out by the Indonesian fisherman but they are unlit so be careful at night



If you're headed this way: 


  • The straights of Mallaca are not only busy but also full of floating debris.  During our last night we hit something at water level.  After we arrived we could see where the bottom paint had been scraped off at the boot top.
  • Local fishing boat are most times out to catch squid.  These boats have high wattage lights pointed overboard to attract the squid.  Other fishing boats are for the most part unlit.  Several times we found that a small light came on when we were 20 yards away. Night passages can be very exciting depending upon the area you are in.
  • A case of beer in Malaysia is around $40.00 USD so stock up in Indonesia.
  • Consider an AIS system.  We don't have one but will buy one while back in the US.



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