We return from our sea-trial to Batanta Island with mostly good news. There’s no more slipping from the clutches which is terrific, but the starboard gearbox is alarmingly noisy under load. We think Rieman may have made the washer tolerance too tight, so we’ll need to get it re-machined at some point. In the meantime we’ll just put our headphones on with the music turned up loud…
Our scheduled haul-out doesn’t happen due to some delays. We’re not too concerned as we now have working, non-leaking gearboxes, and the old prop is doing fine. We’ve re-scheduled our haul-out for mid-December so all that’s left to do is get our visa extension, re-provision and get out of here.
Our initial social visa allows us 60 days. Thereafter you can re-new every month up to six months in total. If you want to stay longer than six months you have to leave the country and return with a new visa and start the process all over again. The boat can stay for three years, so I guess technically you could keep doing this for three years. The bureaucracy in Indonesia is legendary for all the wrong reasons – it’s cumbersome, confusing and time-consuming but it’s what we have to work with so we just smile and suck it up.
In fact, our renewal process would have been relatively straightforward if the bemo driver hadn’t dropped us off in the wrong place. We spend half an hour or so wandering around trying to find the immigration office only to discover it’s about 2 kms further down the road. We hail another bemo, this one drops us outside the door and we enter the blessed air-conditioned office where we’re greeted by two very friendly immigration officers who also speak good English. I’ve spent the previous afternoon gathering all the needed paperwork together but then realise in horror that I’ve left our sponsor letters on the boat. D’Oh! Ayu, Wick’s office manager, has agreed to act as our sponsor so luckily it isn’t a problem – the immigration officers know her well, so a quick phone call resolves it all. Then it’s just a question of getting photos and fingerprints done, and walking to the local bank to pay the fee of 500,000 rupiah (about Aus $50) per person. Our passports will be ready to collect in 3 days, but we don’t have to wait for this as Ayu will send us photos of our new visa page and then hang onto the passports for us.
So now we’re free and clear until mid-December and it’s time to say so long to Sorong and get out exploring in Raja Ampat. Woohoo! We even have some wind and a sailing angle, what a bonus!
We’re heading for iconic Wayag Island, about 100NM north and a short hop across the equator. We’re going to break the journey up into several legs. Our first leg takes us back to Besir bay on the south side of Gam Island – we were here before with ‘Jams’ and “Sarabande’ and it’s nice to come into a familiar anchorage, particularly one that has internet too!
After this, we’ll be out of internet range for a few weeks, but we hope to return with lots of stunning footage from Wayag and surrounding islands. For now, here’s last night’s gorgeous sunset at Besir bay. Life is good.