Sunday, February 16, 2014

Indonesian checkout

I had arrived at the Nongsa Point Marina from Mentok on Saturday, February 8th. This is an Indonesian checkout spot that many westbound sailors use for its location and as the Marina staff facilitates the checkout officialdom. It is on the Island of Batam right across the strait from the island country of Singapore and would be the last stop in Indonesia. (Judy was still in Canada helping her parents.)

I soon found out that I had arrived on the final day of a week-long annual sailboat race/regatta that the Marina hosted. Most of the boats were stationed in the area, but the crews were from all over. I took advantage of fresh shore water to give Sea Turtle a refreshing shower.

Upon registering my arrival at the office, I informed them that my personal Visitor's Visa would expire the next day and asked them if they could process my checkout pronto. They said "If you bring up your paperwork, it should be no problem." (Hmmm...I think I have heard that one before.)

"Do you have a wheelbarrow?"
"Never mind."

So staying positive, I presented all of the reams of official Indonesian papers that we had accumulated and let them tell me which ones they needed. But apparently, I didn't have the proper Import Permit, and the one we had, had expired which they decisively pointed to. I felt like asking them if they had ever travelled to China, and if so, could they read Chinese? All the forms are in Indonesian and nobody explained that we even had an Import Permit much less explained that it expired.

We were always made aware when our Visitor's Visas and our Cruising Permit (CAIT) was about to expire, no one mentioned anything about an Import Permit. This apparently was going to need some consultation with the Customs head office to sort it out.

I could see that this was going to take more than one day, so I decided to do a Singapore Visa run the next morning, the day my personal Indonesian Visa expired. But the Marina facilities here were great with restaurant, bar, showers, and swimming pool, so in the meantime, I decided to heed the call of the cold at poolside.

Refreshing indeed

I was up at 05:15 the next morning to catch the shuttle bus for a short ride to the ferry terminal for the 06:00 Singapore run. Before boarding, the Immigration stamped my passport as outgoing. It was a short 30-minute ride across the strait where I went through Singapore Immigration and they stamped my passport giving me a 30-day Visitor's Visa for Singapore. (Thanks, but I only need about an hour.) I had a quick runny egg breakfast, then got back on the ferry for the return ride.

So on landing back in Indonesia, of course, it was through Customs Immigration again as an incoming tourist. "Would you like a 7-day or 30-day Visa?" they asked. Now normally, I am a positive and optimistic person, but after 4 months of cruising in Indonesia and dealing with bureaucracy, I was being cured of that condition and I was being swayed over to the dark side. So it was with an unapologetic pessimist attitude that I paid the extra and went for the 30-day.

The days started to tick by with no progress. My inquiries yielded small dribbles of insight as to the goings on of the officialdom out yonder, beyond my control. Evidently, the normal agent, for the normal of fee of $25 couldn't handle my problem with Customs. It required a different agent.

By Thursday (5 days later), I finally was informed that everything was sorted out and the Customs would clear me, however, the agent needed a $300 US payment to cover Custom fees, penalties, and agent fees. I was getting a distinct whiff of a fattened rodent.

I informed him this was exorbitant and I asked for a breakdown of costs for Customs, penalties, and agent fees and that I would take it up with our agent Raymond in Jakarta who we had used for our original incoming processing. Well, it turned out that when pressured, he said it was all just agent fees. I told him that was too much and it should be no more than $100 US. The next day, he texted me a simple blunt message "I cannot act as your agent." I replied with a not so simple and not so nice retort.

Raymond in the meantime inquired about the problem and apparently we were originally given a commercial type of Import Permit that was a comprehensive bundle of bureaucratic redundancy that needed attending to, however it was mostly done and I could finish it.

Surprise, surprise - the next morning I got a text that the agent would finish the process and the charge would only be the $100 US. So I gave him the go-ahead.

So by Saturday, the whole clearing out process was done and I was free to go. One week to check out of a country! Unbelievable. Raymond, our agent in Jakarta has been working with Tourism Indonesia to simplify this complicated bureaucracy, but the wheels are rusty.

The was a nice place to be held hostage. The resort facilities were at my disposal. I practiced up on the pool table at the bar beside the pool which I swam in everyday. A good fast internet was included! Life could be worse.

February 16th at 07:00, I departed the clutches of Indonesia for a solo one-day sail to another marina in Malaysia.

Sea Turtle ready to leave Nongsa Point Marina

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