29 Mar 2011: Many people ask Capt Marty where he goes on holidays and what he does between regatta's? Apart from producing the popular monthly AY News & Views and compiling the AYGP Rankings, plus posting regular News Updates and adding new Photo Galleries, he occasionally gets invited by old sailing friends to come and share their dreams.
One such occasion arose recently when Abdul Ghafar's (Afai) invitation arrived - To come to Muar, in Johor, Malaysia (25nm south east of Malacca) and cast his eyes over a 28ft by 5ft 4" solid timber Perahu Layar Jung (See Photos), that was built by the only remaining traditional boat builder in Tanjung Balai on Karimun Island, Indonesia. Also to judge whether she will be suitable for taking guests out for a sail at the exclusive Emperor - Tioman resort that Afai is presently building on Pulau Tioman, off Malaysia's East coast in the South China Sea.
In years gone by, the Jung was often seen plying its trade throughout the Riau archipelago, Singapore Straits and southern part of the Kra Peninsular. These days the intrinsically planked timber hull, often with multi coloured sails and artwork on the hull are taken out for official ceremonies and sailed at water festivals. Nongsa Point Marina used to hold races at Batam and all the Jung's were crewed by local sailors of all ages. As the mast and sails were not included in the package, which was not made clear at the commencement of the build (Can happen here too?) we are asking our worldly experienced readers for any suggestions, drawings, dimensions or photos of a suitable rig and sails for this fine craft to please email: email@example.com More boat photos and comments can be found on Capt Marty's Facebook site.
Capt Marty first met Afai in 1995 when a hardy bunch of boating enthusiasts from Maur, crewed for Tengku Alang on Impy (Winner of the first King's Cup) on a delivery from the Royal Selangor Yacht Club in Port Klang, down the Malacca Strait, past Singapore and up the East coast to Alang's beloved Pulau Rawa, the jewel in the Johor islands tropical paradise.
On this eventful trip, with a Sumatra storm brewing in the early hours of the pitch black morning, the boat accidentally gybed and the resulting boom action, struck Capt Marty firmly on the head and knocked him into the water. Tengku executed the perfect immediate stop and tear drop turn to windward, recommended in some Man Over Board (MOB) safety drills.
When Capt Marty regained consciousness in the water, the torch light illuminated him as the bow bore down to pick him up. While trying to push up and grab the toe rails, as the boat passed by, Bulat's big arms and many hands reached out and grabbed hold of the cap'ns bedraggled wet body, then pulled it through the guard rails (Legs and arms flailing around) and didn't let up until the Cap'n was safely back onboard. At this stage in time, usually your whole life story flashes through the mind in kaleidoscope colour film strips. Apart from the near mutiny for not bringing enough rice on the boat, the rest of the journey was mild in comparison. The big lump on the Captains head took one week to go down, long after the arrival on Pulau Rawa, which ushered in a new life in Asian waters and eternally grateful to a great group of friends from Muar.
this is what paradise looks like...
He has stayed true to his promise and overcome the difficulties of building on very rough terrain where others have failed before him. (See AY Photo Gallery) Exceptional vision and crafty building techniques has enabled the Ghafar family, along with a team of 10 to 15 Indonesian workers, led by Chief Abu to secure solid foundations on the sandstone boulders and are in the process of completing 11 exclusive solid timber chalets, nestled under the canopy of the dense rainforest. What is even more remarkable, there are no drawings and the chalet design, positioning and interior fit out are all locked up in Afai's head and the process is best described as a "Work in Progress" as they move forward.
All the construction materials including sand, gravel, cement and solid timber panels have to be transported by sea from the mainland and although it is only 26 miles to Mersing, the cost of building is five times as much on the island. Apart from clearing the fallen undergrowth, not one tree has been disturbed and some trees and boulders have been incorporated into the interior design of the spacious chalets. As the undergrowth is cleared some cave formations have been found between the boulders, that lead to the top of the escarpment were a copious supply of fresh spring water filters down to the sea.
The view is magnificent from the private chalets, dotted up the steep hill slope and even further enhanced at sunset. Every turn there is another beautiful sight to behold. You can't take a bad photo, even if you accidentally click the button, the image is sure to reveal some stunning scenery. If pampering is your game, during a tropical island getaway, then prospective clientele will be pleased to know, that all the chalets have separate bath and toilet areas plus an open air double Jacuzzi and massage facilities, built alongside the spacious Asian style octagonal and square chalets with big overhanging verandahs. (See AY Photo Gallery) An intricate network of concrete steps and walkways has recently been completed between the sandstone boulders, that connect the chalets to the beach and extra under growth landscaping carried out to blend in with the surrounding rain forest.
Some people may ask "Why go to so much trouble to create all this luxury?" Afai replies with "If you set the sights high and you aim for absolute perfection, only then can the dream come true." He also added "By sticking to high quality workmanship, the Emperor - Tioman will not only be fit enough for a King to stay but also Worthy of an Emperor as a holiday destination". Strong words, coming after humble beginnings and a rebellious youth, serving food at his farther's Mamak coffee stall, next to the central mosque in Maur.
The islands mystical past, has it that "A princes rode on the back of a dragon looking at all the islands and after landing on Tioman, liked it so much, that she never left". Her sandstone shoes are still waiting for her to leave on the little beach down from Cina. As there is no road access to this part of Tioman and the resort takes up the entire stretch of beach, you can get a bit carried away, thinking your all alone on an isolated tropical island. You only have to go a couple hundred feet out from the shore and look around the rocky headland, down the coastline and into the rugged interior where the famous dragon head escarpment towers high above. The brightest full moon rising in many years was observed from sea the other day, on the 10 minute boat ride to Genting, the nearest village which is also first and last stop for the regular ferry service to the island. Further north in Tekek the largest township, there is also a small airport with regular flights from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. A small pleasure craft marina was completed a couple of years ago with speedboat service and tender docks in a separate canal development next, door to the ferry terminal.
Many years ago and allegedly from the water heating up, the coral reefs were almost destroyed. You will be happy to know that they have recovered and the numerous dive sites around the island are as popular as ever. On Cina beach at low tide the broken corals may resemble a lunar landscape but just over the edge, two rich new beds have a wonderful array of colours and marine life. Four 3/4 ton mooring blocks have been laid to protect anchors from damaging the corals and visiting super yachts looking for some additional delights while cruising in the South China Sea will be welcome ashore.
Sorry if this story has stirred up the taste buds and whetted the appetite for more but it will be at least another year before the resort is completed to Afai's high standards. A boat landing jetty with a lift on the headland to elevate guests to a higher level, where a pathway for trishaw's will take guests to nearby chalets, is yet to be built. Two four story pagoda style buildings perched on top of the huge veins of sandstone are being constructed at the other end of the beach, where another jetty and resort marine facilities are planned. As there are significant difficulties in attracting long term skilled workers to an offshore isolated beach for months on end, as well as fit enough to carry all the materials ashore and up the rugged terrain, often balancing on planks of wood spanning the boulders, considerably slows down the building process. Most the time, Afai has to show the foreman what he has in mind before the workers can repeat the process and continue construction. Reminds me of the old cliche "Rome was not built in a day!"
Most the timber and ceramic factories in Malaysia, Thailand, Burma and Western Indonesia have been scoured for solid timber wall panels, decorative wood carvings on the eaves and verandahs, outdoor light boxes, interior furniture, pottery, ceramic tiles, seductive lighting and art works, to end up with 11 different and uniquely decorated high end chalets on offer. Feelers are also being sent out to hotel and resort owners, that maybe interested in taking over the management and running the ultimate tropical retreat in paradise, when it is finished. We will also keep our readers updated with the progress on Facebook and in AY publications.
go to associated Emperor - Tioman