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Feb 2016 back issue
Surabaya Beat
by Beat Presser
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At fourteen, Beat Presser got his skipper’s licence for sailing boats. At nineteen, he crossed the Indian Ocean for the first time, from Mombasa to Bombay, on a ship carrying Pakistani and Indian refugees who had to flee Uganda in the early 1970s. His passion ever since has been to sail the seven seas, and Indonesia has been one of his favoured destinations. In 2012, Beat Presser once again headed for Indonesia, travelling by boat from place to place, from island to island, from adventure to adventure, exploring the country and capturing it in photographs. The book constitutes a collaborative effort, combining his photographs and explorations with poems and short stories written by a select group of Indonesian writers.
Shipyard in East Java. The beginning of it all, a Pinisi in the making.
The bow of a Pinisi under construction.
At the shipyard in Bira in South East Sulawesi five huge Pinisis, up to 60 meters long are built simultaneously for a Chinese trader. Beat Presser was high up on one of the boats when he took this photograph, a risky undertaking.
The carpenter choosing the right kind of wood. Up to 16 different kinds of timber are used to build a Pinisi.
The inside of a Pinisi under construction.
What looks like Noah‘s Ark is in fact a Pinisi.
A small Shipyard in some remote area in East Java.
Tanaberu, Sulawesi. After construction, a Pinisi is pulled and pushed into the sea. Pinisis – they have sails and engines – are the local boats, mostly built and navigated by the Bugis. Pinisis travel all over the Indonesian Archipelago. The Buginese sailors, one of the major ethnic group of South Sulawesi, are known for their skills and have been travelling as far as Australia and Madagascar for thousands of years. The saying: Be aware of the Bugiman comes from the fact that the Bugis were not only know for their skills at sea but many of them were dreaded pirates.
It takes about 20 strong people to push and pull a Pinisi into the open sea. Except a winch, no other modern equipment is used. The boat moves about 5 meters a day and it takes up to one month to finally see a boat floating in the sea.
Early morning in Bonerate. The Medina, our Pinisi is still being caulked. The next day we were at the open sea, on course to Larantuka in Flores, some days and adventures away.
9 Knots under full sails. Captain Nidun, six crew members and one Swiss photographer. A Pinisi fully loaded with rice, fruits, mattresses, electronic equipment, refrigerators, nails, motorcycles, smartphones, dried milk. Travelling SE.
Engine failure 50 miles East of Larantuka. Photographer Beat Presser puts a rope around his waste and jumps – despite strong currents – into the sea to take this photograph. This action was not very much liked by the captain and his crew – nobody on board knows how swim.
Poetere. The Pinisi harbour in Makassar, Sulawesi.
Unloading rice in the harbour of Maumere on the island of Flores.
Far away in the Indian Ocean. Travelling by Pinisi from Makassar to Balikpapan, Kalimantan. Balikpapan, today a place of oil drilling and petroleum production. 100 years ago a small Bugis settlement.
Bunaken Island, North Sulawesi. Out at sea with a local fisherman at a stormy day.
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