Finally, we escape Sorong. The maintenance jobs are done, and we’re off to do more exploring in the islands. And by some miracle, there’s enough wind from the right direction to put the sails up. Glory be!
We head out of Sorong Harbour, passing a large Indonesian navy vessel stationed just outside the entrance. We’ve heard that sometimes the navy call up yachts on the radio to check their movements so we have our radio on, but it’s all quiet as we glide past doing a nice 6 knots under sail.
We get a good mile past them when the radio crackles. “Tow-can, Tow-can, this is Indonesian Naval vessel”. Here we go. We tell them where we’ve been and where we’re going but it seems it’s not enough. “Please stop your vessel, we are sending a boat out to you”. Damn, there goes our sailing opportunity. We heave to (a nautical term meaning we stop the boat) and wait. And wait. A good twenty minutes passes before we see their RIB racing towards us. Three very polite and charming young sailors clamber aboard. They have instructions from their Commander to check our paperwork, but it’s clearly a training exercise rather than any suspicions about us or our movements. That’s OK, it’s their country not ours. The rule here is smile and stay polite and all will be well. We show them our paperwork and all’s good until “Where is your port clearance from Sorong?”. We try to explain that we don’t have one because we’re a recreational vessel, and the only requirement for us is a port clearance when entering and leaving the country. A lot of back and forth on the radio with the commander follows. They obviously haven’t heard of this ruling (and many harbour masters still insist that yachts check in and out with them). Finally, after much scrolling, I find a copy of the official memorandum that luckily was posted on FB just a couple of days ago. I show them this, and finally they’re satisfied. It’s all very cordial and professional, and hopefully they get a good assessment rating from their Commander.
Meanwhile, the wind has died. Bugger. Guess it’s back to motoring again.