We went to the Indonesian Consulate to pick up our original CAIT (cruising permit). The agent had emailed us a copy in early July and we were supposed to collect the original at the Consulate here in Darwin. The original still has not arrived in Darwin, but they told us there would be no problem completing all formalities in Indonesia with the emailed copy that we had printed. Later we learned that the original CAIT is in Bali and we can pick it up when we arrive there. Everyone else we know was able to pick up their original CAIT here in Darwin. Oh well, assume we won't encounter any problems about this when we clear into Indonesia.
The clerk at the Indonesian Consulate seemed to want us to apply with him for a visa. I told him that we planned to obtain the 30-day Visa-on-Arrival when we cleared in at Bali. He said that if we got our visas from the Consulate now that we could have 60 days instead of only 30 days, which is the maximum time allowed for a Visa-on-Arrival. I explained that we did not have the required sponsor letter for the application, but he handed me the forms anyway. So we figured, what the heck; what have we lost except time if we completed the forms and then they rejected the application. Luckily we had brought extra passport photos on this trip. Bill filled in all the blanks and when he got to the question of who would be our sponsor while we would be in Indonesia, Bill wrote "none." I figured that would be a red flag and the application would be rejected. I wanted to put the agent's name. After all, if our original CAIT hadn't been forwarded to the Consulate as it should have been; then it shouldn't be surprising if our sponsor letter from that agent also had not been received yet. But Bill wrote "none" and we submitted the application.
Lo and behold, the clerk looked through the application, clipped the photos in the appropriate places, took our passports and told us to return at 3:30 to pick up the visas. We half-expected to arrive back at 3:30 to learn that the application was rejected; but, sure enough, when we returned that afternoon the visas were ready. We had just saved about $175 USD. The agent had wanted to charge us $70 each for the sponsor letter. By the time we paid the Western Union fee to wire the funds, the total cost for the 2 sponsor letters would have been about $175. Then we would still have to pay the additional $60 AUS each for the actual visas. We refused to pay that much because our schedule would allow us only a short time in Indonesia anyway. It would have been nice to have the longer visas just in case something happens and we don't make it out of Indonesia on schedule -- you just never know what might delay a boat -- but it wasn't worth $175 for the off-chance that we might get delayed. Thanks to the nice clerk at the Consulate, we got the visas for the normal $60 AUS each without paying the additional agent fee.
We figure one of three things happened.
1) They just made a mistake.
2) The local consulate wanted the income.
3) The local consulate acutally has the authority to issue visas without the required sponsor letter.
Now that we have the visas and can take additional time in Indonesia we need to decide whether we want to go to Kupang and the Gili Islands after all. Or whether we will still just go straight to Bali. I am favoring going straight to Bali; then leisurely making our way up to Singapore. I don't care whether we see the Gili Islands because we have seen Komodo Dragons before.
S/V B'SHERET and S/V SKYLAX departed this morning enroute to Kupang. We are now all alone in this anchorage. We had reserved a slip in the Cullen Bay Marina, but they charge $425 to take our boat through the lock into the marina. Sorry, but that is too expensive. The marina slip rates are reasonable. But $425 to enter the marina is exorbitant, especially since we will be here such a short time. The other 2 marinas in Darwin also have locks, but they do not charge a locking fee. But we are waiting on the replacement NMEA multiplexer and it was shipped from Florida to Cullen Bay Marina; therefore, we are reluctant to move way back around to another marina. Hopefully our parcel will arrive on Tuesday and we will clear out soon afterwards.
So we remain anchored behind the large sand bar just outside the entrance to Cullen Bay Marina. This sand bar supposedly is the best beach in the Darwin area and fills with locals during low tides on weekends. During high tide the sand bar is well-submerged and some boats actually sail over it. During low tide the sand is exposed and looks pretty high. Remember, the average tide here is about 25 feet. Here are a few photos. At high tide the markers on the southern tip of the sand bar are floating and there is no evidence of the sand bar. At low tide those same markers are sitting up on the beach and the sand is exposed to a height of several feet.
One photos shows a Norwegian boat that was anchored next to us for a couple of days. At high tide there is no visible evidence of the sand bar on the far side of this boat. At low tide the beach is quite visible.