A popular tourist destination for years, Indonesia is about to become more accessible.
In August, Thai Ministry of Transport & Communication confirmed that foreign-flagged superyachts can undertake charter operations in Thailand, which will make the area inviting for more charter yachts, said Diana Brody, a charter broker with Camper & Nicholsons, Palm Beach.
The Indonesian archipelago, with 17,508 islands, offers a mix of exotic cultures and experiences, and what better way to cover all that ground, so to speak, then aboard the 213-foot wooden sailing ketch, Lamima?
An Indonesian two-masted phinisi, designed by Barcelona naval architect Marcelo Penna and constructed by traditional boat builders of the Ara village on Sulawesi island, Lamima is a dream-come-true for co-owner Dominique Gerardin.
Gerardin’s wife, Naomi, tracked the course of Lamima’s construction in her blog: lamima.com.
“Originally such prahus (a type of Indonesian sailing boat) were employed as cargo ships, carriers of sandalwood, spices and ceremonial textiles along the spice routes to the ancient kingdoms of China and India,” she wrote in March 2012. “Over the centuries, their rig evolved from rectangular to gaff sails, the Bugis people (Indonesian 16th-century sea traders and warriors) skillfully adapting what they saw on foreign vessels to what worked best for their local winds and waters. The result was the magnificent sailing phinisis unique to Indonesia.
“And now they’re building such a vessel for us.”
Two years later, the Konjo people of Ara conducted the launching ritual, “bersanji,” for Lamima’s strength and safety at sea, which was followed by the “panossi” (chiseling the navel) ritual, when master builder, Haji Saka, made a small hole in the keel and inserted a golden ring, an omen of good luck. Later that evening, using pulleys and sandbags, a crew of 50 began to drag Lamima into deep water, a process that took 45 days. Then, Lamima was towed to Italthai Marine in Samut Prakan, Bangkok for her final fit-out. On New Years 2015, Lamima completed its first sojourn, a 10-day cruise around Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia.
Lamima can accommodate 14 guests in seven large ensuite staterooms; the master stateroom is aft on the main deck and six guest staterooms are below. Midship on the main deck is the salon with a bar, lounge and dining alcove. Forward of the salon is a large open deck for alfresco dining and lounging, and forward of the pilothouse, the deck is furnished with Indonesian sun mattresses. Cruising speed is 10 knots.
“It’s the largest wooden sailboat and hand built. It’s amazing,” Brody said. “The Lamima will give guests the feeling of being immersed in the Indonesian lifestyle and the water is pristine, like the water in the Caribbean 75 years ago. You’ll have beaches and rain forests to yourself. It’s quite unexplored and the people are open and gracious.”
On the beautiful and elegant sailing yacht, a naturalist will be on hand as well as Indonesian chefs, who will prepare a fusion of Asian and European cuisine. A yoga instructor and two Balinese masseuses also are on board.
When guests are tired of being pampered by the crew of 20, Lamima is equipped with adult toys that include Yamaha Jet Skis, diving and snorkeling gear, wakeboard, jet-propelled tender, water skis, paddleboards, sea kayaks and Jukungs (Indonesian canoes). Lamima also is certified as a PADI dive center with two dive instructors.
A suggested itinerary from November through March: a few days in Phuket, Thailand, and then moving toward Mergui Archipelago to Myanmar. Mergui, with crystal-clear water, white-sand beaches, and blanketed with untouched rainforests, is a top destination for viewing wildlife with barking deer, macaque monkeys, wild boar, hornbills and elephants. Visitors will see Moken Sea Gypsies living in their small floating communities on the Andaman Sea. They’ll also see stilted fishing villages, glimpse whale sharks and manta rays, and visit a pearl farm known for its golden pearls.
For charters from April to September, tourists will sail to Indonesia’s eastern islands, Nusa Tenggara, to visit Alor, Flores, Sumba and Komodo. In the seas between Komodo and Flores, dolphins are a common sight and the area is also on a whale migration route. The reefs offer good snorkeling and some of the best diving in Indonesia, especially for guests who want to swim with manta rays. On land are buffalo, deer, wild pigs, birdlife and endangered monitor lizards. The Komodo Island monitors, known also as Komodo dragons or “ora” are the largest living lizards on earth and found only on Komodo, Rinca and Western Flores islands.
This culturally rich eastern area of Indonesia offers many possibilities for exploration. The water around Alor has a sperm whale migration route and the local people on this island are known for their ikat-dyed woven textiles. Between Alor and Flores, charterers can visit traditional whaling villages and they’ll see lovely lakes set in mountains that are home to the Lio tribe in the north and Ngada in the south.
For September and October, charterers can explore the wild Asmat region in Flamingo Bay and cruise up the Atjs River. With year-round warm temperatures and pristine waters, the Raja Ampat archipelago is known for its marine biodiversity, with almost 550 species of coral and more than 1,300 species of fish. In Asmat, snorkeling and diving is great, as well as bird watching, and visits to the villages of Warsi and Numbrep will give charterers the opportunity to experience the culture of the region and ride in long boats. After an overnight crossover to the area of Triton Bay, visitors will enjoy the most secluded white-sand beaches of West Papua. The area, known for whale sharks, is fantastic for diving, as well as taking in the scenery with its distinctive cliff paintings.
People who charter in this area often make a cruise a portion of their vacation because it’s halfway around the world, and there’s so much to see, Brody said. “Some people wish to explore other cultures and visit areas such as Shanghai, Hong Kong or Macau, and we can make suggestions.”
Most charters aboard Lamima are a week long, and the price is $140,000. For information, call Brody at 655-2121.