Our travels through Indonesia began in 1987. We were among the first Westerners to explore Bunaken Island in North Sulawesi, at that time islands with no tourist infrastructure whatsoever and a place where even a snorkel and mask were strange items to the local people. The few travelers making it this far had to sleep in fishermen’s huts and eat plain rice, fish in chilli sausage, and fried bananas to clean the mouth from chilli effect.
But this inspirational image of pristine natural beauty pushed us to explore more and more of this amazing country, even if traveling on crowded and overloaded old wooden boats, trucks and pony carts. We reached places like The Togians, Banda Islands, Komodo, Halmahera, Alor and Papua all places now becoming famous as diving paradises.
In 1997 we decided to set up in Indonesia. We have spent our time here working in the dive business and traditional boat building industry. Our experience and deep knowledge of the country allow us to offer our customers the same emotions and sensations we experienced in our travels across the country, with all safety and comfort of the modern life. We can arrange tailor-made cruises in the most world famous diving destinations of Indonesia or in the most remote Archipelago’s areas, where diving and traveling are still pioneering ones...
And because the best way to cross Indonesia is by boat, in recent years we have been dedicated to building liveaboards, transforming the Phinisi -the traditional wooden sailboat of Indonesia- in functional and luxurious motor yachts for private use or dive cruises. The liveaboards are in great demand among European and American operators, thanks to content cost of construction and management that Indonesia offers.
THE TRADITIONAL INDONESIAN PHINISI SCHOONER
Anyone that appreciates wooden sailing vessels will come to understand that the Indonesian Archipelago is home to one of the world's truly classic sailing fleets. The Indonesian Phinisi Schooner was the backbone of the original spice trade, carrying spice cargos from these Spice Islands to China and the Middle East since long before western cultures even discovered the Earth was not flat. Even today, approximately 80% of Indonesia's cargo is still carried aboard similar wooden cargo vessels to and from ports through this, the largest archipelagic nation on our planet.
Still in our days, around 80% of country freight are carried trough all Indonesian archipelago by this wooden sailing vessels. These majestic 2 masts, 7 sails schooners called “Phinisi” are built entirely in tropical wood. Its dimensions vary from 18 to 36 meters on deck. Very strong and capable are still built direct on the beach by very skilful workers with the only help of few traditional instruments. The precision of these workers is astounding.
The history of these boats and its builders, the Bugis and Konjo people of Southern Sulawesi, started many centuries ago, before the Europeans explorers reached these islands. At that time, Bugis sailors were already trading with Chinese Empire and Arabian merchants, using its boats to carry across the entire archipelago and beyond spices, wood, porcelain and all items they could trade. When James Cook reached for first time Australia, in 1771, found more than hundred of these Phinisi Schooner trading with the Australian Aborigines.
Until the end of the 1970s, the Phinisi had no engine and sailed following the trade winds, 6 months to the east and 6 months to the west, with no hurry, keeping pace with the world they belonged. At these days, all the boats are engine powered and sails are becoming less important.
In the last two decades, westerners have started to transform these cargo boats into luxury yachts, mainly to use as liveaboard for the diving industry. The very strong Phinisi’s hull structure has been equipped with all modern safety equipment like GPS, depth sounder, radar, radio, satellite phone, fire detectors, inflatable rafts, water maker, solar panel, electric generator. This kind of boat is perfectly adaptable as liveaboard having plenty of space for cabins, diving equipment and relax areas.
Phinisi limited draft allows it to reach almost every shore and reef. In a country composed by 18,307 islands scattered in an area as the size of USA, with many areas still out of beaten tracks and without tourist structures, liveaboard is the only way to reach dive sites otherwise unreachable.
Imagine being on board of one of this beautiful schooners, sailing in the most beautiful and untouched seas of the planet, visiting uncountable deserted white-sand beaches… Imagine diving 3-4 times a day in pristine wonderful reefs, and perhaps being the only one and the first one… enjoying the sunset in a deserted bay surrounded by hills covered in tropical jungle while making barbecue on the beach. These are not just dreams, but the ingredients of a liveaboard scuba diving vacation with Cruising Indonesia.
BUILD YOUR OWN PHINISI LIVEABOARD
Anyone that appreciates wooden sailing vessels could have the unique opportunity to build his/her own phinisi schooner without need to be a multimillionaire.
The size of these vessels vary from 18 to 35 meters LOD -length on deck-, for the smaller ones the cabin space below deck is max edible for 6-8 passengers, the stern section it does provide comfortable after deck space, bigger ones have a lot of space and are suitable for 14-16 guests in comfortable large cabins, plus lot of space for leisure and relax.
The cost for a entire building process of one of this beautiful vessels is still affordable, due to the low cost of work and materials in Indonesia. As for the hull shape it is better to follow the traditional way used by the skilful Konjo-Bugis builders, for each vessel interior can be modified to fit the new owner preference or total new design concepts can be developed for those looking for something special, transforming the Phinisi from a cargo vessel into a luxury yacht.
Projects span a period of 18-24 months to complete, included installations of all key systems running required for a long distance and commercial vessels: water maker, genset, air conditioning system, solar power system, wench products, electric and pipe systems, kitchen equipment, etc.
Power options on a vessel of this size are numerous and these models can achieve speeds of 6-9 knots with a 200 to 400 hp new or rebuilt diesel engine. As most people think of an annual docking as a major expense, we do lean towards a more traditional approach to this process. The traditional docking process of these vessels in often accomplished by bringing the vessel to a shallow beach on a full moon, for caulking and anti-fouling by the vessels own crew.
Our company could assist you in all the process from project, building, purchasing and installation of equipment and finishing to the selection of crew, cruising permits and registries, cruises management, web site developing and everything you need to get your Phinisi Schooner working out.
Marketing support is another service of our company, if you are interested in chartering your vessel here in Indonesia or beyond, we will be glad to sell your packages trough our website.