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Indian Ocean - East to West - Top Tips

By doina — last modified Jul 10, 2008 05:58 PM

Published: 2008-07-10 17:58:24
Topics: Indian Ocean
Countries: Indonesia , Thailand

The weather started changing early March this year. We have changed our Indian ocean route due to a late start & early monsoon changes. A few boats that turned back in March are also following us. From Phuket or Langkawi you can motor sail down the west side of Sumatra to get into the southern Indian ocean. Plan on about 800 miles of motoring!

The window for this run is April before the SW monsoons fill in. Third of April we left from Phuket to Sabang at the top of Sumatra. Then motored down the outer islands on the West side of Sumatra to Padang. From Padang sailed to Pulau Pagai Utara & anchored in the bay (02deg 46.8343S, 099deg 59.6246E) at Macaronis surf resort. This is a nice place to wait until mid May when the SE trades fill in. Then sail about 200 miles SW and pickup the SE Trades to head across the Indian ocean.

Now for the details.

Indonesia charts are slightly off. There is not much traffic except close to Sabang where you get into the main shipping lanes from the Malacca straits. From Phuket Rip tides and over falls are the norm until you get close to Sabang.

You will need a CAIT to cruise Indonesia and you CAN apply for the cruising CAIT in Sabang. It only takes about 5 days through the harbor master. We applied for ours while in Phuket. The Cait gives the boat 90 days from when you request entry and upon arrival in Sabang you will get a 60 transit visa from Immigration. Upon entry Sabang you will be boarded and searched. We had 8 people onboard. If you have any Liquor they will want it. I suggest you declare it and have customs bond it in a lockable locker. Under international law the Ships Captain is allowed to have a weapon so if you do. Declare it! and insist that it be bonded and sealed in your locker. Do not let customs take it ashore as you will create a lot of problems with police and military intelligence getting involved. Customs is aware of the laws and will seal it on board for you. All are polite, Harbor master is a great help. No costs for Harbor master or customs. Health certificate is $20 US. A gift is optional. Immigration here want too much money. He will try and take your passports requesting you come to his office and then after about 1 hour of waiting he will request 25$ per person each way coming in & sailing out. (ie two people US $100). We settled on $20.US total. Be aware that there are no fees under Indonesian 2008 laws for clearing in or out of Indonesia. If you come without a CAIT and just want to pass through request a "port of refuge" and you will be given 3 days after clearing in to take care of fuel, parts, etc.

We paid 1,500,000 Rp for our CAIT. One USD = 8900 Rp. Fuel is 8,350 Rp per/lt. Industrial rate. Supplies are available. Locals will help. A local man named Kamar speaks good english and is a great help. I suggest you use him as an agent. He will come to the boat upon arrival.

You will be motoring down the outer Mentawai islands of Pulau Simeulue and Pulau Nias. There is fuel at a village in the bottom SE corner of Pulau Nias at Tg. Hele. Next is Pulau Siberut. There are many anchorages and a few surf resorts along Pulau Nias. These are remote islands and there are few if any tourists. Lost of fish and good diving. Beware there are small salt water crocs in the mangroves. Most villages charge 50,000 Rp to anchor except at Macas resort. There are 3 villages close by so the anchorage fee is 150,000 Rp. Winds are light to nothing with a few daily squalls. Seas slight from SW. Next stop for clearing out is Padang.

Anchor in the harbor at Teluk Bayur on the NE side of the bay. Harbor master will come to the boat. He is very helpful and will take you to all the officials in town. His cost including customs fee is 600,000Rp. Well worth the help. Immigration is much more professional than in Sabang. Immigration cost to clear out was $20. US Health certificate is 100,000Rp. Customs will come out and check your bonded locker seal and reissue it at no cost. This all takes about 2 days to do so be patient.

Pulau Pagai Utara
Once cleared out of Padang you can sail SW to Pulau Pagai Utara and hold there. Fuel is 7,000 Rp some supplies are available and Macas resort has a great bar and restaurant, internet hotspot, Sat. TV and world class SURFING. Anchorage fee at Macas for the village is 150,000 Rp. There are a lot of nice anchorages in these islands. From here we will wait until mid May and sail to Mayotte or Mauritius.

Randal on Westwind