The Quest for Diesel

The Quest for Diesel

Much of this voyage has been defined by the quest for diesel. I have huge tanks and long range so it has yet to be a desperate situation and price can be the driving element in the quest.

Mexico had great fuel and better pricing. French Polynesia was a bit more but tolerable if you got it duty free. A fuel truck brought me good cheap fuel in Raratonga, right to the boat. In Tonga I got the best price since Mexico and it came in barrels with a pump delivered by six guys so very labor intensive.

Then we got to Australia! The fuel prices were double the worst price I had seen. New South Wales had even more tax so it was eighty cents a gallon more. Back in Queensland we were back to be in seven dollar a gallon land, imagine being glad to pay that much. The pricing stayed the same as we went up the coast even in the most rural areas. We topped off at Darwin as we did get duty free fuel on our way out of Dodge, but it was still five bucks a gallon.

The lure of cheap fuel was enticing me to go to Indonesia, that and great diving, wild places and warm weather that is. As with everything in Indonesia there is a process and a bunch of people get their hand out. The first stop did not have a wharf and the sailboats packed jerry cans, I could not see doing that! I did not need fuel. When I got to Allor I had three quarters of a tank but was told by the guy that “was there just to help us” I could get it for 5000 rupiahs a liter—that is two bucks a gallon! So I ordered it delivered to the wharf. This is not a usual stop for motor yachts and Furthur caused quite a stir as we pulled in with the small tramp freighters and fishing boats. We had a crowd of fifty gawking locals in no time. We had fun making balloon dogs for the kids and joking with the men.

The fuel truck arrived, a glorified and oh so overloaded golf cart, with five 200 liter barrels on the back. A gas pump was quickly dispatched and the fuel hose fed out to the boat. The fueling process took no time at all and when we were done I tried to pay the guy the agreed upon five million rupiahs but he said I had to talk to Akmed, the fellow who “helped us” but he was not to be found.

I took the boat to the anchorage and came back and found Akmen and handed him the wad of bills. He informed me he needed two more million. As you can imagine, a row ensued evolving the fuel guy, Akmen and me. One lesson learned very quickly is do not engage Muslims at 5:30pm during Ramadan, they are very hungry and cranky. After a bit if yelling in various languages we all agreed to meet in the morning. This gave me the jitters as I did not want to leave owing nor have anyone pissed off at me that could come to the boat at night.

Well fed and happier the Muslims came to a compromise and I paid one million extra to make peace, about a hundred bucks. We all hugged and I had my picture taken with the fuel guy and his family and we remained friends for the rest of my stay. Akmen seemed to disappear as the organizers of the rally talked to him about mine and several other complaints. So, I got a tank of what was still very cheap fuel, a new friend and the most outrageous tale a simple fueling could muster.