Insight: the problems of provisioning in paradise

Written by Gemma Fottles

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Everyone now knows that Indonesia has spectacular cruising grounds. The archipelago’s 17,000 islands host dramatic scenery, surrounded by beautiful seas teeming with exotic marine life - a memorable cruising time frame and a successful guest experience are almost guaranteed. What may not be quite so well known is the extent of the support infrastructure that yachts need when travelling in this part of the world. Logistics aren’t glamorous, but the importance of good planning and good shore support cannot be underestimated, as Managing Director of AYSS Member, The Lighthouse Consultancy, Andy Shorten, explains here in more detail.

Accommodating the considerable expectations of the superyacht industry has always been a core philosophy of The Lighthouse Consultancy. Access to high quality provisions for both guest and crew menus is a fundamental element of cruising anywhere in the world, and the provisions supplied to yachts cruising Indonesia is no exception. Lighthouse are focused on delivering the best possible provisioning services - despite the considerable efforts required.

Provisioning options are evolving in Indonesia, particularly around the main tourist centres. Many western style fruits and vegetables are even now being grown locally – huge improvements from four or five years ago. It’s also interesting to see more and more local businesses producing western style products such as cheese and yogurts, curing meats, and offering health and wellness products such as Kefir and Kombucha.

Outside of Bali and Java the supply and demand for common western ingredients can be rather limited, so it just doesn’t make sense for the local supermarkets to stock this kind of produce, presumably as the spoilage percentage is too high.

This isn’t to say that no produce is available in the more remote regions, the provisioning opportunities in the main gateway ports are gradually improving, but in local supermarkets, extensive varieties aren’t common.

Another option for a yacht’s chef team is a visit to one of Indonesia’s vibrant fresh markets. Local market produce is delightfully fresh, but due to the simplicity of the Indonesian cuisine, there are again limited ingredients available. Seasonal fruits are found in the markets, especially papaya - which are usually supersized - and often you’ll see a coconut man proudly desiccating his nuts. It’s a unique experience, but the markets are not open toe sandal affairs, so visitors must appreciate they’ll experience the sights, sounds and smells of a local market.

Although in an ideal world, every chef would prefer freshly picked produce, often they are just too busy to do these early morning market explorations. On larger vessels the sheer quantities of produce required means market sourced provisions won’t work. Another consideration are constraints of a short turnaround between cruises. It’s imperative that produce is available for the yacht’s chef team at the earliest possible, without losing time hunting for supplies that often aren’t available locally.

Perhaps an owner’s preferred breakfast, dinner or snack may simply not be available in Indonesia, a scenario which requires ingredients to be sourced from further afield. If possible, specific items of produce can be imported from overseas as part of weekly shipments of import produce from Australia and beyond.

In general yacht deliveries are a combination of imported items, Indonesian grown produce and locally sourced, heavy items. Coordination of these elements can become complicated, as the chef team will generally be relying on each and every ingredient. Shipping food across Indonesia has its own challenges and pitfalls, but this is where the systems of the Lighthouse provisioning team, developed through years of experience, are implemented to ensure the produce has the best possible survivor percentage.

Each shipment requires considerable logistical planning. Once an order is received from the vessel it is processed, discussing replacement items for requests aren’t available. Communication is one of the greatest strengths of the Lighthouse team, sharing detailed knowledge of what is available and what has a chance to last the duration of the trip, and ultimately, what does not. Once the orders are delivered by suppliers, produce is quality controlled and packed ready for shipping to the vessel, as Kerry Shorten of Lighthouse explains;

We’re in a nice position because we are not a supplier and we don’t have stock to rotate, so we supply only the freshest ingredients and reject stocks that don’t pass the QC inspection. The provisions are usually flown with the cargo services of domestic airlines – though we have used charter aircraft and charter vessels in the past. Some shipments reach 150 boxes and have to be split and sent over a number of days."

The physical packing needs to be of the highest standard to ensure spoilage is kept to a minimum, in order to maintain standards we personally oversee the packing of each and every shipment. Heat is one of the main challenges, but lack of care from cargo handlers is another consideration and delicate items therefore need particular attention. We are a small team, but that gives us the benefit of being personal too, we work so closely with the chefs on board that we usually become really good friends and that makes it even more important to us that they receive the best produce.

Once the produce arrives in the local airport, Lighthouse work is still not complete. Shipments are collected, transported to the harbour and then either transferred to the waiting vessel at anchor, or even sent on a speedboat to rendezvous with the vessel 30, 40 or 50 nautical miles out in the cruising grounds.

Provisioning superyachts in Indonesia is a complicated business, with multiple factors in each small decision. It is simply hard work and experience that puts Lighthouse in the position to provide a consistently high quality of service. Reviews and feedback from chefs supported by Kerry’s team are glowing;

Being on yachts for many years we have received truly an outstanding service from Lighthouse Consultancy during our 3 months in Indonesia,” has one happy chef to say. “Kerry and Andy had incredible knowledge of the cruising areas and how to get the goods to us in the fastest and most convenient way possible, giving us multiple options. The communication was faultless and close to perfect from the day of our arrival until we waved goodbye. Outstanding service!

So the cruising grounds are fantastic, the permitting processes are more streamlined, the provisioning is exemplary, what are your reasons for not visiting Indonesia? Contact The Lighthouse Consultancy to discuss your cruise.

The Lighthouse Consultancy
PT Konsultan Menara Api
Komplek Pertokoan Niaga 5-6
JI. by pass Sanur 149
E: [email protected]
T: +62 (0)361 289 587

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