Scooter Life! - Surabaya 2009
Meanwhile, Bob Hobman the erstwhile co-owner of SIOLA TAU had heard, from Peter Walker, of a lambo [a type of Indonesian sailing vessel] for sale at Benoa which sounded like a good deal. He began collecting loans from acquaintances to implement his plan — to go up to Benoa, buy the lambo named Tunas Harapan ("Bud of Hope"), load a cargo and sail down to Darwin before the wet season westerlies faded. He generously offered to pay fares and expenses if I wanted to go. He also took Rick Hoskings who had sailed with him on Siola Tau and had the distinction of being the only one from Siola Tau’s crew who had not been hospitalised after any of their voyages.
We flew to Bali with charts, sextant and compass, and in a day or three Bob had bought Tunas Harapan. She was a good looking, low sheered, Butonese lambo, obviously quite old but well-built. She retained a tall gaff riggers mast with only a short masthead above the hounds although she had been rigged with a gunter mainsail for a year or two.
I cut a new mainsail and jib, some local sailors made new standing rigging cable, laying up galvanised fence wire by hand — a new fashion on Indonesian perahu at the time. The hand laid fence wire cable looked bad because you could never get it completely straight but it was strong and durable.
We ballasted with sand bags and started loading large terracotta pots, stone statues, cane furniture and all sorts of stuff. An old acquaintance from previous visits to Benoa turned up. Professor Adrian Horridge of the Australian National University, had published a number of monographs about Indonesian perahu, including one about the perahu lambo. I didn’t agree with all of his conclusions but we corresponded regularly. He asked to join Tunas Harapan for part of the voyage as far as Ende on the island of Flores where Bob intended to stop.
We also met up with Dr Colin Jack-Hinton, director of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, another distinguished scholar of Southeast Asian maritime culture. He and Bob discussed the finer points of Asian maritime culture over twenty or thirty cold beers while Rick and I got on with the loading and caulking the decks. Colin agreed to purchase Wayan Kerig’s jukung for the collection of the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Darwin if we could transport it to Darwin. It was a bit awkward. The jukung was about seven metres long, and so were its outrigger booms, while the outriggers themselves were ten metres long. We strapped the jukung and all its bits to the starboard side of the cabin where it completely blocked the side deck and meant that one had to climb outboard to get to the running backstays which was decidedly awkward, but not impossible. Since the jukung weighed at least a quarter of a tonne and was carried as deck cargo it was fortunate that we had plenty of ballast and cargo.
We sailed from Benoa at about the end of February. The wet season westerlies were blowing consistently with plenty of westerly squalls. We got a good offing and sailed south of the Lesser Sunda islands. Professor Horridge proved to be prone to seasickness and perhaps that was why he always tried to make Tunas Harapan self steer when he was given a trick at the helm. He said it was an experiment but as I told him every five or ten minutes, a sloop rigged lambo with its great long main boom sticking out one side doesn’t self steer when running down wind.
Bob enjoyed a reputation as a man who appreciated a few stiff drinks, even in Darwin where nearly everyone has a thirst like a suction dredge. However, at sea Bob very properly restricted himself and his the crew to a single cocktail taken during the cocktail hour before dark. Bob always mixed the cocktail himself following a simple recipe of his own devising.
1 Tip a litre bottle of rum or Dutch Genever into the coffee pot and top up with fruit juice.
2 Decant into three very large enamel mugs.