Words can’t describe how welcome we were made to feel when we arrived at Debut Island on 26 July.
From the moment we arrived in the channel between Debut Island and the other small islands surrounding it, to the day we left, the local people could not have been more delightful and friendly.
As we arrived at 7 am, a flotilla of dug outs and fishing boats propelled by what sounded like unsilenced lawnmower engines and decorated with colourful flags, greeted us and literally ushered each yacht as it arrived to a spot in the anchorage.
Before we arrived we had hoisted the traditional yellow “Q” flag to indicate we needed to clear Quarantine and be declared healthy. On top of the “Q” flag we hoisted the Indonesian flag – red on top of white – both on the Starboard spreader.
Then we settled in for the wait for Customs, Immigration and Quarantine officials but our first priority was to check the propellor out to see if our argument with the fish traps had caused any damage.
Thankfully Bali Hai had sailed in OK and even under motor was steering fine but we could hear that things didn’t sound quite right.
Peter from Sun Chaser an extremely fit and experienced diver (and a resourceful and practical Kiwi as well) very kindly volunteered to go down and take a look.
After holding his breathe for what seemed like an inordinate length of time Peter popped up triumphantly brandishing a huge wad of rope and weed. It was apparently just a sample of what had been attached to the prop. He said the prop was like a toilet brush – “covered in s*#t”!
There was thankfully, no damage although the rope cutter not surprisingly, was loose. Another kind gesture was offered by Gerrit and Annemieke on Fruits de Mer – the loan of a “hookah”, a diving respirator attached to a long line with a small generator that pumps out air.
The loan enabled Jonathan to not only tighten the screw on the rope cutter but also check out the whole hull for damage without having to come up for air every few minutes. Fortunately all was completely fine.
We spent the day tidying, cleaning and scrubbing the boat, doing maintenance etc. As we were working boat loads of local children went past waving, cheering and singing. What a lovely welcome. I was glad I had bought some jelly snakes to give them as they went by.
Three young girls, two 13, one 17, hopped off their boat and came and had a look at Bali Ha. Then they wanted a ride on the dinghy, and Jonathan took them for a ride around the bay.
After some time back on Bali Hai we realised that the boat they had arrived on had disappeared so Jonathan took them back to the wharf and much to their delight they were seen arriving on a visitor’s dinghy by their friends!
A while later four people from Quarantine and Immigration services arrived and papers were duly exchanged and stamped (we have to have a ship’s stamp to add to the melee of stamps), passports perused and there were handshakes and photos all round.
We were hopeful that customs would also come aboard soon after but the boat nearest to us was the last to be cleared that day and as the sun went down we saw the customs people head for home. We weren’t worried as after five nights at sea doing night shifts we were pretty tired.
Before a long sleep we enjoyed a truly glorious sunset and toasted ourselves for arriving safely in Indonesia.