If you are in Catamaran
I would suggest the East Coast
as trying to head
west in the Bight would not be fun and there are far more safe havens up the East Coast
especially for the shallow draft
of a Cat. Keep a hand held VHF
on when a fair way out from the Australian coast as Customs
Sea Watch planes often fly by and low (like mast
height) to check you out and will try to call you on the VHF
to Darwin via Thursday Island thenacross to Timor (Kupang) only do Immigration there no matter what they say then clear customs
at Bali. That way you will not be asked for a bond for the full value of the boat!!!
In Kupang anchor
near Jimmy's place a bar near where you clear customs but do not go ashore until q'tine is done. Radio
in for quarantine to come out to the boat before going ashore. Note they do not wear uniforms and they wake you up at 5am in the morning. Jimmy does everything else for you. Take a gift for each of the immigration officers (not too much). Plan to arrive into Kupang in the day. We planed that butr ended up arriving at night. There were fishing
boats everywhere most without navigation
lights on. It was hard to tell where one group finshed and another started across themiddle of the channel. We got caught on a very thick fishing
net and I had to dive over and get the rope
off the prop in the dark. Most are wooden and do not show up on radar
Be warned though organise your cruising permit
well before departing Australia
. There is a guy in Darwin who can do it all for you. It allows you to go one way so mention all the possible stops in a westward direction. Plan to do the Timor Sea bit before the Trade
winds stop or you will haveunbearable heat rain and no wind
. You must leave Darwin by about mid Sept latest. You may be able to join the Sail Indonesia Rally. They organise all the permits and I hear are good fun to be with. We arrived one week behind them but they left good will behind in every port so we were welcomed and found the authorities to be friendly but did not have to put up with crowded anchorages
. In fact we saw very few boats.
The Lombok Straits have huge tidal flow up to 9 knots sotiming whether from the NORTH or the SOUTH is critical to get into Bali as is a good engine
. The Yacht Club at Benoa has a marina but beware the pontoons are basic made of concrete with no wooden whaler boards to protect your boat. The fingers are too short as well but the club is friendly, Customs have an office there, it is cheap
and you can geta boat boy to do lots of yukky jobs on your boat for about $10 a day. I'd recommend anchoring
I did this trip as crew from NZ just a few years ago. Watch out for pirates in the Timor Sea (we had two encounters though may be just us being paranoid), also watch out for an unchartered reef in the middle of the Timor Sea near where the oil
rigs are based. We had been given the co-ordinates for it but thought we would not go near but in the end due to light wind
we ended up having to avoid it anyway. Its only 1 metre deep.
We stopped at Rinca island and Komodo. Great diving
there. Very strong currents and overfalls and whirlpools going between Rincaand Komodo. Our boat was getting pulled 30 degrees off course in places and in one spot we got turned a full 180 degrees around in just a moment of time. Our boat was a very deep keeled mono hull
weighing 13 tons. The current
is weaker near shore but fringe reefs
are everywhere so best to hack it and stay in the middle.
We mainly routed to the south of the Nusa Tengara Island chain. When the wind dropped to 5 knots we headed back out to about 30m off the coast and picked up steady sea breezes.
I loved Bali so much I got off there and stayed for three months.
If you want more info PM me for my mobile and email