For completeness, I'll mention that you also have to clear out of the first port with the Harbour Master 24 hours before you leave. This is not required in any other port you visit along the way in Indo.
In the past Indonesia had a reputation for officials to request what is euphemistically called "tips" to get cleared in. With the new government in place things are much more straight forward. The sign above in the Customs office says: "Customs and Excise, Tual. We are ready to serve wholeheartedly the yachters without receiving rewards." All clearance is free.
There were many presentations, lunches and dinners earlier in the week for the yachts that had cleared in. We made it to the final 'Gala Dinner'. It was held at a large beach area and was probably attended by 1,000 locals, as well as all the yachties. Above is a bamboo flute chorus. We felt a bit like Rockstars. Children, girls, women, grandmas, men all come up and ask if they can take a selfie with us.
He then gave the head of he Regency a flag signed by all the yachts. Lots of clapping and cheers followed. Then it was time for the dinner which was a potpourri of many homemade Indonesian and Kei Island specialties.
The island is a mixture of Catholic and Muslim, all apparently living together in remarkable friendship. Some families have large branches where one limb is Muslim and the other Catholic. Above is a mosque with a larger fishing boat being built in front.
We rented a cab for the day so we could go into town and get our cellphone SIM cards setup (for the sole purpose of being able to publish this blog). While on the way we took a local teacher with us, Kenny, to show us around the island. We stopped at the local Huan sacred caves, filled with clear water that has percolated down through the limestone. The islands ancestors stop by the caves and reconnect with those who are still among the living.
Kenny, our guide for the day really wanted to show our boat to some of his family, so we setup for them to come out the next day. Our boat and ourselves are now in a lot of local pictures.
Tomorrow we head of for a small island about 15 miles west of here to try and get in some snorkeling in what is said to be the clearest water around here with good corals. Then in a few days we will do an overnight sail to the Banda islands, the heart of the historic East Indies spice trade and key to many historic world events of the 1600-1800's.