Thursday, November 24, 2011

Indonesian Boats

Any travelogue of a cruise through Indonesian waters could not possibly be complete without mention of the boats seen along the way.

Living in the world’s largest archipelago Indonesia’s 240 million peoples, scattered across 17,000 islands, trend to use boats a lot!  And so many different kinds!  The country’s legendary cultural diversity seems directly reflected in the vast array of boats we saw being built and utilized in the different island communities. Variations were distinctly regional, with vessels highly adapted and specialized with regard to income levels, intended uses and available construction materials.

It is clear they are undergoing continuous adaptation in the modern era, with for instance: the almost universal loss of sail (apart from recreational use); the adoption of outboard or inboard diesel engines; and, the use of modern steering systems.  Yet simultaneously they continue to display strong links to the past in their hull forms, materials, construction techniques and fastenings, decorative elements and the like.


A cross-bay ferry with outrigger and long-shaft engine

Not an Indonesian boat at all, but Philipino (so we were told),
impounded for illegal fishing.  It features bamboo outriggers
and struts and a pilot house so low it can only be crawled into

And not even strictly a boat, but a Fish Aggregating Device (FAD), essentially a raft tethered to a float, tethered by a very, very long rope to the bottom.  This particular one is moored in about 400-500m of water – but amazingly we have seen them in water over a 1000m deep.  By providing a bit of ‘structure’ FADs attract fish, particularly mahi mahi.  This particular FAD is lit, but mostly they are not.  Some are reportedly made of steel, not bamboo.  Often they break loose and drift for hundreds of miles – we’ve seen them!

Wangi Wangi, Wokatobi
Short haul ferry, carrying passengers to a small island just 5 kilometres away.  Apart from people they carry everything from motor bikes to chickens and bags of cement.

Longer-haul ferries, they are large, impressive timber vessels.  While we don’t really know, they appear to be largely redundant – the government runs an extensive inter-island ferry service that seems to cover most current needs.

Fishing boats with small, heavy, single cylinder diesel engines.  Their slender
shape and long water line ensures they can really move along! We saw them
as far as 30-40km off-shore, usually hearing them well before seeing them.

Fishing boats under construction.

Careening for maintenance.

One of the very few boats we saw, carrying trade products from an outer island and still working under sail.

An inter-island motorised cargo boat with traditional
steering oar system.

 View of steering oar arrangement
Inter-island cargo boats docked at Paotere.

These are real work boats carrying about 300 tons of cargo!

They have such majestic sweeping bows – this one getting a scrape down and fresh coat of paint.
I love the detailing around the pilot house

View from a bridge.

Modern replica of a fully rigged phinisi or pinisiq, with
traditional steering oars (quite a few of these have been
built as private pleasure boats and/or for commercial tourism/charter work)

An awsome sandeq trimaran, doing maybe 12-14 knots.  Each year
fishermen from around Sulawesi enter crews into this amazing 300mile
race series that finishes in Maccasar.

We watched from an unfortunate distance as this year’s
fleet of about 45 boats sailed in to town to finish the race.

End of a day’s racing.  These boats look hi-tech but are made of local timbers, bamboo spars and outriggers and are lashed together.  Beautifully crafted they are driven by a huge polypropylene sail.  Each boat carries a crew of 8 blokes who demonstrate amazing balancing skills, hoping from side to side on these spider like boats to keep them upright as they tack, both up and down wind.  

Kumai River
A heavily laden river boat.

Lightly laden inter-island cargo boat

Heavily laden cargo boat.

Construction of a flat bottomed river fishing boat.

Our interest in boats often piqued the interest of the locals.
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