The four day passage to Kupang was uneventful for us but at times, with 70 boats making their way to the same destination, the Timor Sea seemed like a three lane highway at rush hour. There was a sincere lack of wind for the majority of the trip so a few litres of diesel were burnt but on approach to Kupang harbour, the wind filled in and the final 12 miles into the anchorage were a joy. We'd (by chance) timed our arrival perfectly as the Officials were doing the rounds of the boats close to where we'd anchored and within 30 minutes, they were clambering aboard Oceans Dream. In total, six guys and one girl demanding 5 copies of crew lists, 3 copies of CAITS (Clearance into Indonesia papers), 4 copies of passports, 5 copies of boat registration ... the paperwork is phenomenal ... the Indonesians love it - AND, they love boat stamps. For every piece of paper handed over, they required it to be stamped with the yacht's official rubber stamp. This, we'd had made before leaving the UK in 2008 and have used once until now - let's hope the ink doesn't suddenly decide to dry up! Customs, Immigration and Quarantine gave us the all clear and we went ashore in the dinghy to be greeted like celebrities.
There is such a buzz about Kupang, the excitement is contagious. The entire town is totally behind the annual arrival numerous yachts from Australia (70 this year - 120+ in 2012) and everyone - adults and children alike are absolutely busting for the bule (white people) to speak to them. They politely sidle up and ask to have their picture taken with us yachties on their phones. They're desperate to practise their English and if you happen not to photograph them, they almost take it as an insult ... something very new to us as we're used to having to tip-toe around, often taking a sneaky photo or being turned down when asking to take a shot of an individual.
Sail Indonesia, the organisers of the Rally had based themselves in the Yacht Club along with Telkomsel (the local telecoms company) and we spent the best part of a day getting ourselves hooked up to the web for our travels through Indonesia. We enjoyed a Welcome Ceremony at a local restaurant with traditional dancing, fashion shows, freebie merchandise and a chance to try some local dishes with Dignitaries from the Nusa Tengarra area all in attendance.
Marina of S/V Kailani, Jackie of OD and Annie of S/V Karacool.
Three students from the University of Kupang, in their third year of Tourism studies took us on a tour of the city by way of public transport. The BEMO's are mini-buses pumping out the latest tunes with the Bass set to it's extreme ... the van rocked ... literally! Adrian, quickly adjusted to the Indonesian way and found himself tapping away to the music until one of the students suggested he might want to stop the tapping as each time he did it, the driver was pulling over because knocking on the walls/roof of the van is the signal for him to stop. We laughed.
The Rally has a very loose Schedule of Events being laid on by the Indonesian government on a number of islands throughout the country. We shall attend a few but not all as we make our way west. Following the welcome celebrations in Kupang, we decided we needed a break from the other 70 boats and took off on an overnight passage for the volcanic island of Lembata.
View from the cockpit
Local bus here in Lembata - spot the Man Utd on the side!
From here, we shall gradually head west towards Komodo island, in search of the Dragons. We'll keep you posted.