Meet the seafarers of SulawesiSulawesi, Indonesia
Stepping ashore at the coastal village of Tana Beru on Sulawesi’s south coast, the first thing you’ll notice are the finely crafted timber hulls of traditional pinisi boats on the beach. They poke out through the coconut palm canopy in various stages of construction.
As you wander through laneways the steady ‘thunk’ of timber being struck creates an ear-pleasing soundtrack to village life. Skilled craftsmen scamper across hulls and teeter upon bamboo scaffolding as these vessels emerge on to the beach without blueprints – their builders follow memorised plans by master shipwrights and passed down through generations.
Early pinisi trading ships were strictly sail-powered, carving an elegant swathe across the sea as sails billowed with the trade winds, but these days are more likely to have an engine.
Take the opportunity during a shore excursion to clamber into the timber hulls of these magnificent vessels and admire the elegant lines created by hand-hewed planks caulked with coconut husk fibre. UNESCO recognises the cultural significance of boat building, alongside Indonesian batik and shadow puppetry, in South Sulawesi as part of a millennia-long seafaring tradition by Bugis and Makassan mariners.
- Seeing a centuries-old tradition being carried out in a coastal village setting.
- If you’re lucky you’ll get to witness some of the celebrations that accompany each stage of the boat building.
- As good as these pinisi boats would look sailing out of Sydney Harbour or Port Phillip Bay, you can’t have one.
Coral Expeditions’ Coral Adventurer visits Tana Beru in Sulawesi on its 14-night cruise called In the Wake of the Makassans, which travels from Darwin to Makassar (and from Makassar to Darwin).
You won’t need to worry about things like how your boat is going to be built on this trip. Coral Expeditions, who have brought you this highlight, have got the sailing sorted with its expedition vessel, Coral Adventurer.