We arrived in Jepara Indonesia after a 3 day and 2 night sail, the last night of sailing was very stressful due to the amount of fishing boats out on the water, some with lights some without, the ones who did have lights had very poor ones and not the right colours !!
We arrived into a bay that was just outside of town, we needed a quiet bay as the boats were going to be left for 3 days as we were going on a tour down to the temples Borobudur and Prambanan. Helmut the German and Paul the South African were going to keep an eye on 4 boats and generate when needed to. Helmut was a nice guy who was 62 but had already been cruising the South Pacific Islands for 14 years, he would spend the summer around Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and when the cyclone season started around December he would head south to New Zealand until March before heading north again for the summer. Not a bad life eh?
Paul was a South African who was 72 and was sailing with his wife Maureen who was originally from America. They left SA over 9 years ago and have been sailing the world ever since.
When we arrived I realised that I would have 4 nights on board the boat before the tour and the sea shore looked very quiet. As it was Saturday night I thought I’d chance my luck and Brian gave me a lift ashore. I soon realised that it was a bay occupied only by locals and not a shop/bar/hotel in sight. I bribed a local man with a motorbike to give me a lift to the next town by waving some Indonesian Rupiah in front of him.
The next bay had some hotels in it and I found one at a reasonable rate for the night. They were setting up a stage on the beach so I knew something was happening that night. After having a rest i went back outside to the bar where there was some music and dancing already in full swing. Looking about there was quite a few white faces amongst the Indonesians. There was a guy wandering around taking photos so i asked him what was going on, he told me it was a leaving party for an Aussie who had been living there for a while. He asked me what i was doing there and i told him i had only been there for about 3 hours having around on a sailing boat. He soon set about introducing me to everybody and i soon realised there was a big ex-pat community here. Where we had parked the boat up was right outside a Welshmans house by the name of Rob, he was 62 and worked at the nearby power plant. When i said we were here for a few days and going on a trip down to the temples at Borobudur he soon arranged for everybody there to look out for the boats whilst we were away, look after all our boating needs, diesel,water,food,etc, organise any local tours for us, all our worries would be taken care of.. What a result to find all these people happy to help , i could have so easily stayed on the boat and never met them.
Most of the ex-pats were in the furniture business as Jepara was the center for furniture making in Indonesia. I met Jim from Denver, Edwin from Holland, Peter from Germany, Joost from Holland, big Steve from Belgium, a few Aussies and lots of others i can’t remember. The Bintang was flowing and they all took an interest in what i was doing. Most of them were also members of the Jepara Sailing Club which explained their interest in the sailing boats anchored nearby. The sailing club was very small but fairly new, it was built by a Swedish guy who was also a big part of the ex-pat community. Rob came up with a plan to take us out the next day which was a sunday, this was the sailing clubs day where they mostly got wet, had a few beers and gathered together for the day. Peter the German said he would pick me up from my resort at 9.45 a.m.
I didn’t know whether any of what had been said would happen as many beers had been consumed and it all happened so quickly. True to his word Peter turned up and took me down to the yacht club, Rob soon turned up and other ex-pats too. We jumped in a speed boat which Rob and Peter were manufacturing locally and shot around to the other bay where the yachts were anchored. We picked up Paraic, Myra and Brian and went off to another bay where was a resort to have a drink and lunch. Paraic my skipper wasn’t a fan of speed, in fact he wasn’t a fan of water because he couldn’t even swim !! The speed boat had two 200 horsepower engines on the back and we were shooting around the bays at speeds up to 80 knots, very fast !! I think we were a bit of a novelty to be honest, the sailing club had never had so many visitors and the ex-pats had a load of new faces to talk to. Joost the commodore of the club was desperately trying to find the guest book so we could all sign it but then realised that they probably didn’t have one as he hadn’t ever seen it.
We had many Bintangs, meals and barbecues with these guys throughout our week here, we met Dutch, German, Welsh, South African, Finnish, Flemish, Swedish, American, Australian and New Zealanders. The person i got to know the best was Peter, originally from Germany but left there in his early 20’s as he didn’t like it. He travelled the world buying and selling what ever he could lay his hands on. He had spent many years in the States, in Mexico, parts of Asia, didn’t seem to be many places he hadn’t visited. He had now settled in Indonesia and been in Jepara for 6 years, he had designed and built his own house over looking the bay and lived there with his wife and son Ben who was 5. He had a furniture making business making chairs/tables/stools designer furniture mainly for the American market. He gave us a tour around his factory one day, he had about 200 workers there, each worker only got about 5-7 dollars a day, the average wage in Indonesia.
Peter the Germans furniture making factory –
There were literally hundreds of these carpenters lining the streets around Jepara –
I stayed at his house for a few nights, it was great to have a break from the boat, have a double bed and have a swimming pool right outside the front door !! I stayed in a chalet in the grounds of his house, it had air conditioning, a fridge full of Bintang, shower and your own space. I had smoked salmon, cheese, meat and hot French rolls for breakfast, it was a pleasant change from the boat !!