Cruising Indonesia: Don’t set sail without these 7 things.

If Indonesia is new to you, it’s difficult to know just what you’ll need, want and wish for once you start cruising here.

A year into our second Indonesian sailing adventure, these are the items we stocked up on before checking in: everything from spare rashies to extra rode, and sunnies to sav blanc.

1. Extra rashies & wetsuits

Service your dive gear, buy spare fins and a mask, and stock up on the gear you wear when you hit the water.

You’ll have a hard time buying swimwear, wetsuits and rashies anywhere east of Lombok, and because the sun can be brutal, you might want to consider sun-proof onesies for kids, and leggings for kayaking and snorkelling too. 

2. Polarised sunglasses

Sunglasses are cheap in Indonesia, in every sense of the word.

Since you wear them everyday (and rely on them to gauge depth when transiting over coral reefs), consider them an essential part of your sailing kit.

You can source polarised sunnies in place like Ambon, but it’s much cheaper to bring lots of spares with you. 

3. Jerry cans for fuel

Indonesia can be a wind-less destination to cruise around at times, especially in the transition seasons when the trade winds die down, and around the Equator too. Squalls are unpredictable and currents can be fierce, all of which means that you should expect to motor more than you might be used to. 

There are very few places where you can pull up alongside a fuel bowser in Indonesia, especially in the east, so fuel runs generally happen the old-fashioned way, hauling jerry cans by bemo, bento or car to the nearest fuel station.

Bring as many jerry cans as you can store onboard to make these fuel runs less frequent. 

4. Extra chain and rode

Expect to drop plenty of chain when anchoring off Indonesia’s finest coral-fringed isles.

The average depth of the anchorages we use ranges from 15-25 metres (although some are deeper), so with a 3-to-1 ratio, you’ll need around 75 metres of chain with extra rode attached to that (we add another 100 metres). 

Carry a couple of extra ropes (100m minimum each) to secure your boat in popular dive destinations such as Misool where tight, reefy amphitheatres with depths of 30-40 metres are not uncommon.

Many protected areas, especially in Raja Ampat, prohibit anchoring altogether, requiring you to tie bow and stern lines off to surrounding cliffs and piece of hose on the bight end will prevent chafing on rocks. 

In other tight anchorages you might drop an anchor into the deep and tie off to the beach, so regardless of whatever you have on the winch, add two to three additional lines of floating synthetic rode.

Ours are in 100m lengths and the fact that they are polypropylene and float makes them easier and not hook up on the reef to handle when tying your boat up. 

5. Boat spares 

Indonesia can be a desperate place to track down spare parts, and sky-high customs duties make importing things a costly business. Before you leave home and put serious miles between you and the nearest chandlery, stock up on all the consumables your boat needs. 

Our cruising list looks like this: watermaker filters, engine filters (oil and fuel), basic plumbing and gas fittings (including clamps, pipes and water pumps), props and impellors, belts and pulleys, spark plugs for outboards, plenty of sealant adhesives (like Sikaflex), fibreglass cloth and resin (for emergency repairs), all kinds of screws, nuts and bolts, sail repair tape, and replacement blocks and shackles.

In the last year of sailing through hot and humid Indonesia we have really overworked our fans and fridges, both of which we have had to overhaul, so bring spares where possible. 

6. Personal favourites

Indonesia has excellent fresh markets that sell a dazzling array of tropical fruits and vegetables, plus fish, eggs, rice and more.

Some of the treats you’ll struggle to find (or pay exorbitant prices for) are wine, fresh cheeses, olives and olive oil, really good corn chips and apple cider vinegar. 

Stock up on good quality cotton sheets, towels, and cotton underwear if you’re a fan.

Natural skincare products without whitening agents, SLS and mineral oil are also thin on the ground, so bring your favourite moisturisers, haircare products, sunscreen and insect repellents.

Gals should also stock up on period-proof undies and swimwear, reusable pads, and tampons too.