Following the paperwork trail

Darwin CBD
Darwin CBD

When you fly the airline do all the paperwork for you except for visas, whilst sailing a yacht across the channel from the UK to France, Belgium or the Channel Isles requires only your passport. It’s not the same elsewhere as you have probably realised from reading our blog posts, most countries apply some form of the paperwork they have historically applied to ships and more recently aircraft to foreign flagged yachts. The most obvious example is the certificate of practique that declares an arriving vessel free of plague and rats and therefore may enter the port – we ask for this by flying our yellow Q flag and usually then pay for the certificate, often the most expensive item on entering a new country. Sometimes we also get a health inspection, sometimes not! The questionnaire usually asks “did anyone die on this voyage?” which always makes us chuckle.

For Temptress to leave we usually need customs clearance including a port clearance certificate for the boat and immigration clearance usually in the form of a passport stamp from the port we are leaving. In Australia this required a trip to the local Border Force office to notify them in advance and another to collect the paperwork. They also issue duty free fuel and alcohol certificates as well as the boat clearance, we definitely needed fuel prior to leaving after all our motoring but beer will almost certainly be cheaper in Indonesia!


Shady shopping street, Darwin
Shady shopping street, Darwin

The Indonesian Consulate is conveniently located in the centre of Darwin close to the courts and the state parliament building, just 15 minutes on the bikes from Tipperary Waters. We delivered our passports, photos, a bank statement to prove we have some funds and did the form filling last week; on Monday we delivered the sponsors letter and a copy of the advance notification then we just had to wait til Wednesday afternoon for our visas so we could take our passports to the Australians and check out. Border Force were happy to date everything for Thursday 13 October.


Once we had everything from both authorities it was off to the copyshop in Darwin; multiple copies of our passports with the visas, crew lists, port clearance and all the rest of the paperwork will be needed for most ports we visit in Indonesia. Trying to get all these tasks done and in the right order was a bit like juggling, you need to be fairly organised and methodical to be a circumnavigator! My yellow notebook with its to do lists became the First Mate’s best friend as there were also boat fixing tasks and some final provisioning to accomplish as well before Temptress could depart.


For the Indonesian authorities we required a sponsors letter (Sail Indonesia have prepared this for us) so we could obtain social visas rather than the usual tourist visa on arrival as the former last longer than 30 days and more importantly can be renewed without leaving the country. The paperwork required for the boat has fortunately changed for the better, Indonesia used to have some onerous procedures involving a bond being lodged (known as the CAIT) so now all a yacht has to complete is a form of advance notification which again Sail Indonesia kindly organised for a total cost of $US100. It can be done online but the website is so we have heard from those that have tried to do it themselves labyrinthine and not guaranteed to work.

Lanterns in a tree, Darwin
Sail repairs
In between visits to officialdom we managed some sail repairs

We had also been advised we may need to furnish some over-eager harbour masters with a copy of the government ruling that does away with the CAIT system so had a couple of copies of that five page document made while we were at it. Indonesia is so large and communications are poor meaning not everything filters down from Jakarta to the men on the street immediately though we hope that as it is now late in the season the yachts that have gone before us have blazed a trail of knowledge about the new regulations. However with so many islands stretching over several thousand miles the small number of yachts passing through are like the proverbial needles in a haystack and the chances of us visiting a place that has not had a foreign yacht arrive this year are high.


Refueling, Fisherman's Wharf, Darwin
Refueling, Fisherman’s Wharf, Darwin

The test of all our preparation will be when we reach Kupang – there we will need to visit first Immigration (Imigrasi), then Quarantine (Kesehatan Pelabuhan), Customs (Bea Cukai) and finally Harbour Master or Port Captain (Syahbandar) in the correct order with all the correct paperwork. Three of these offices are in the commercial port of Tenau a few miles down the coast which requires a taxi or a hire car or possibly a bemo (a shared taxi bus). Immigration is in the opposite direction close to Kupang’s airport.