of Perahu Layar Jung
14 April 2011: Sometimes one must take a few steps back into the past, in order to appreciate how we got here in the first place. It also helps to familiarize oneself with some age old boat building techniques and blend them with today's technology to ensure the boat will sail into the future. Good news for readers that are following the progress on Abdul Ghafar's (Afai) 28ft by 5ft 4" solid timber Perahu Layar Jung (See Facebook Photos) in Muar, Malaysia, that he bought from the one remaining traditional boat builder in Tanjung Balai on Karimun Island, Indonesia. (See 29 March AY Diary) We left off with "The mast and sails not included in the purchase and asked our worldly readers for any suggestions, drawings, dimensions or photos of a suitable rig and sails for this fine craft." Shane Granger of Historic Vessel "Vega" fame, suggested the lug rig ketch or look at the Arab latine dhow rig which is similar to other traditional Indonesian sail boats plying the archipelago.
We have fast-tracked the program since then, instead of reinventing the wheel the original mast, boom, sails and rigging package was ordered from the boat builder and duly dispatched from Karimun Island across the Malacca Strait to Batu Parhat and onto Muar. All for the pricey sum of 1500 Ringgit or around US$500. Another urgent plea "Come, come we need your help?" from Afai was answered after fellow AY Director Hasslan's wedding in neighbouring Malacca. Upon arrival a laundry basket with two hand sewn tan coloured sails, enough spare material to make another sail, some bundles of that horrible 4 strand nylon rope they use and the roughly rounded mast and spars were laid out in the back yard. Unfortunately Afai had lost the small rough sketch but produced some photos that showed the top section to extend on up the mast and the long 4m boom resembling a mirror dinghy gaff like rig, just a little bigger. Now to put the jigsaw puzzle together and fit it to the boat while traditional shipwright Yunos Blongkek came out of retirement to make the hull seaworthy and some necessary changes.
Already the stainless steel man Zul was on the job, under Afai's strict direction, capping the spar ends and sheathing the attachment points. An elaborate s/s frame had been devised for the stand alone mast base but nobody knew exactly where to place it in the boat. Toss the coin to place it over the 4th or 5th frame from the bow? Having the boat on the trailer in front of the house has created a lot of attention from the passing traffic and local boat community. Even one old chap claiming that fifty years ago he used to sail on the Jung from Muar to Indonesia in six hours! Yeah, Yeah! Pull the other leg, mate!
Time to get serious and as the internet connection is very intermittent in these parts, draw on some traditional sailboat knowledge that has been sitting dormant for a while. First off, tour the local fisherman hardware stores to buy some home made shackles, s/s blocks, swivels, blind chord for lashings, deadeye's for attachment points, tape measure and a trusty 4" grinder to fair the hull and knock the rough timber edges into shape. Back on the tools, to show the locals how to use epoxy glue and take control of power sanding tools. When Yunos finished firing the caulking between the planks, timber stained varnish was applied to the whole boat. As an obsession to use stainless steel exists in Muar, the tiller bracket, extension to the bottom of the rudder and pinned mast base to easily raise and lower the mast were constructed during the building process. Now I understand why more modern day designers are working with boat builders during the construction phase, so in the end they launch a brand new boat, not one that was designed two years ago.
According to Muslim culture, the best time to launch a boat is Friday morning with an incoming tide. Unfortunately this day came and went, as she still was not ready. Boats have an uncanny way of telling you when they are ready to go and cannot be rushed. Perhaps that's why some owners call them a second wife. Always something, hey! After some last finishing touches on Sunday morning the newly named "Perahu Layar Malayu" was declared ready to launch for initial sail trials.
A heavy downpour sharply reminded us that "Mother Nature" has a important role to play when going on a boating trip. Most times we cross the Muar bridge there does not appear to be much wind but today the heavy overcast sky and surrounding rain storms produced gusty puffs from the sea across the river mouth. After connecting everything and raising the mainsail gaff, the small escort fishing boat towed us from the ferry landing into the middle of the river. As a good gust appeared over the mangrove tree lined bank, she was released from the tow boat and had no trouble going upstream into the 2 knot outgoing current. The jib was set and the boat now heeled over a bit but still advanced up river past the Sultan of Johor summer residence before planning to tack and reach back.
Initially shipwright Yunos took the helm and was caught with a beaming big smile as he allegedly becomes the first person in 50 years to sail the traditional Jung on Sungai Muar. Bailing duties complete, Mat 69 (From the original Impy crew) not wanting to miss out on the action, took over the helm and guided his trusty car mechanic Mat Zain through trimming the sails. Due to a reoccurring back injury Afai could not make it along for the ride but oversaw proceedings from the shore with family and friends. Everything all shipshape, Capt Marty took over and attempted to tack but bad communication skills, about tacking the jib resulted in loss of speed and abandoning the first attempt. Although quickly running out of runway the second attempt was successful, just as the wind picked up from another storm coming up the river. A quick lesson to the crew about moving purposely and slowly around the boat and as there is no keel, how to step up to the windward side when the boat heels over was hastily delivered. While approaching the southern bank, the wind completely faded away and left with no steerage plus at the mercy of the 2 knot outgoing current, we somehow managed to carefully glide her back to the launching ramp next to the now defunct Maur Marina.
All done and dusted, passed with flying colours, now onto the trailer and then back to the drawing board, in time for the Malaysian F1 GP. Although the 3 point attached mainsail worked well, the cut of the sail and stretchy nylon halyard leaves the mainsheet pulleys block to block. Some recutting maybe needed or alternatively, use the extra Famatex registered sail material and top spar to make the square lugg sail that we initially thought was the sail for this boat. There is a few other changes planned including two small bilge keels to help with beach landing and dampen the heeling motion a little.
The whole aim of this exercise is to judge whether she will be suitable for guests to go for a leisurely sail and while away the time at the exclusive Emperor - Tioman resort, that Afai is presently building on Pulau Tioman in the South China Sea. In fact, the overall plan is to revive some other traditional Asian boats, like the Thai Klong boat/shop into paddle/sail boats (See photo) instead of having plastic canoes. Back in the old days all the people living in the SE Asian region were known as the Malayu race. Thus the name of the boat "Perahu Layar Malayu" to encompass the wide range of boats that originally come from the region. As everything is a "Work in Process" we look forward to further updating our readers from time to time on the progress.
go to associated Emperor - Tioman