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We’ve never done a paid rally before (the Pacific Puddle Jump is free). This will be our first time to really cruise for a long time with the same people.
Our primary reason for joining the Wonderful Sail 2 Indonesia Rally was the paperwork. To the credit of the Indonesian government, sailing through Indonesia has gotten a lot easier than it has been in the past. You used to have to have an agent, now you just need a sponsor. There used to be a formality called a Cruising Permit and Security Clearance (CAIT), which was a (more) complicated set of paperwork. Boats USED to be required to clear in with port authorities at every port visited.
Through the Wonderful Sail 2 Indonesia Rally, we did two rounds of paperwork. The first round of paperwork was the application to our agent and completing information for the rally. The second round of paperwork was to apply for our Indonesian social visa. Our visa application was for a 60-day visa. The rally will collect our passports and paperwork at one rally stop, file for another 30-day extension, then return our paperwork to us at the next rally stop. Same goes for clearing in and clearing out; our paperwork is collected and the rally handles everything for us.
Although the documents were not always straightforward and I think the rally could organize things better, we were able to fill everything out and successfully were issued our visas. Our passports were only at the embassy in Sydney for less than a week.
The rally works with the Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron to allow cruisers to send packages there to hold, so our passports and visas were waiting for us when we arrived in Cairns.
The rally was, in my opinion, fairly cheap at just under $400 USD. For the organization of all the events, I think it’s a good deal.
Our two biggest concerns about Indonesia are the prevalence of trash and corruption in the government. Hopefully, with the rally, we will bypass the later, and maybe we can do a little bit of clean up to help with the former.
There are 44 boats in the rally with us. A majority of boats are from English speaking countries such as the US, UK, and Australia. We suspect we are the youngest two people in the rally, although our friends Carlos and Linda are a close 3rd and 4th (that is, excluding kids, of which there are at least four, and crew). Most boats are monohulls. There are a few fast cats here, and we suspect we’re somewhere at the bottom of the fastest quarter of the fleet.
We have a few concerns over joining our first rally. Even though it’s a fairly small rally, the places we are going to will be crowded. We don’t want to have to find over resources like space in the anchorage and produce at the markets. There are a LOT of social events, and while that makes me happy, David might get put off from all the socializing. The route doesn’t get us up to Raja Ampat, some of the best dive sites in the world, which is unfortunate.
We stayed three nights at the Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron. We booked in here because the rally event was being hosted here – an information session and a party. However, the CCYS is a working marina; it has just a few berths, but a haul out facility and shipyard. It is not easy to access to town or nice amenities.
Fortunately, the WS2I rally organizes a discounted rate at Cairns Marlin Marina, saving us nearly 50% and bringing the cost down to the same rate as the CCYS. After the rally event, we moved over to Marlin Marina for four nights. The access to town is awesome – we walked to the mall, used the foreshore for runs, and I even attended some yoga classes downtown.
There are two main rallies going from Australia to Indonesia. The Sail Indonesia Rally and the rally we’ve chosen, the Wonderful Sail 2 Indonesia Rally.
There is a difference in the rally route. The Wonderful Sail 2 Indonesia Rally spends time in the spice islands, and if we chose to break off from the rally for a bit we could get up to Raja Ampat.
There are about 12 stops in the 2018 Sail Indo rally, versus 20 stops in the WS2I rally.
In 2018, there are 23 yachts in the Sail Indo rally; there are 44 in the WS2I rally.
Sail Indo has no sponsors, while WS2I is sponsored by Multihull Solutions and Wonderful Indonesia, the Indonesian Tourism department.
Both rallies say that they work directly with departments of the Indonesian Government.
The WS2I rally is in its 5th year and is organized by the Sail South Pacific Company while the Sail Indo rally is independent and was started in 2001 based off of the Darwin to Bali regatta.
The main difference for our decision was that the Sail Indo rally leaves from Darwin, and the WS2I rally leaves from Thursday Island, an 800-mile difference.
We have friends in both rallies, so we will be interested to hear from our friends in the Sail Indo rally about their experience.
When we arrived at CCYS, we picked up our rally packet from the office and our passports. This included our rally flag, a spiral from Sail South Pacific which was part boat log (for the newbies??) and part cruising guide for the coast up to Thursday Island. Also in the packet was an initial roster of the rally participants.
At the event itself, we received a reusable bag, two teeshirts, another flag, and a small booklet from the Indonesian government. Up until this point, the actual rally itinerary was just a low-res jpg with a list of names and dates. This small booklet had more detailed information for each stop, including coordinated for each anchorage.
We started with an information session where we met John and Lynn from Sail South Pacific, and Raymond Lesmana, our Indonesian sponsor. There was another representative from the Indonesian tourism department and a representative from the Sail Malaysia rally. Raymond walked us through each stop and we watched a video by the tourism board. There was a bit of Q&A, and then we heard from a couple that participated in a past rally.
Not all boats attended this event. However, the small booklet we received at the event is pretty crucial, and we have not received a copy of it via email (yet). Friends of ours who don’t have the booklet expressed frustration with trying to find the anchorages and accurate charts without the waypoints. The names of the regencies, islands, and villages are all rather confusing. Those rally members who didn’t attend the meeting in Cairns….well….their booklet is somewhere….
After the meeting, it was socializing. There was a musician and the CCYS was holding a pirates party. Hardly anyone from the rally dressed up, and it got a bit loud for conversation. However, the BBQ was tasty, the drinks were free (provided by the Indonesian tourism department), and we got to meet quite a few rally members.
Cairns was our last major stop in Australia and our last chance to do any shopping we needed. There’s a big mall in Cairns just a 10-minute walk from the Marlin Marina. Woolworth’s is only five minutes away. We took advantage of being in the big city and went to a movie in theatres! One of the best parts about staying in the Marlin Marina was the access to the foreshore with all the public spaces; running trails and exercise stations. I even attended yoga sessions at a nearby studio.
When visiting Cairns, a majority of the things to do are actually outside of Cairns. There are plenty of Great Barrier Reef tours that depart from Cairns, or you can go looking for crocodiles on a Daintree River Cruise.