It can be no surprise that Dunia Baru receives a lot of coverage in the media – the luxury yacht charter, after all, is one of the finest in South East Asia. From gracing the cover of magazines to being central to adventure and sailing stories as well as the exquisite backdrop to photoshoots, stories and photographs of Dunia Baru have been published around the globe. The feature below was written for Private Edition, a magazine that targets South Africa’s highest net worth individuals. This story was published a little while back, but we haven’t yet shared the full feature with you… so order a cappuccino, get comfortable, and settle in for a read.
It is invigorating, that sense of adventure that comes with waking in a place where you are almost completely alone. Where dawn brings the sound only of waves – small ones at that – and the early light casts silhouettes of volcanoes onto the skyline. This is how it is when dawn breaks near Indonesia’s Komodo National Park; I know because I’ve begun days there, sitting cross-legged on a Javanese teak deck, coffee in hand, while the sky melts from darkness into subtle light.
It was around this time of morning that, one day in May, the Dunia Baru’s course took us away from the jagged coastline of Sumbawa and towards a small island called Sangeang Api. Until it made headlines at the end of May 2014, it was probably not an island you’d heard of – I certainly hadn’t – but it was the one place I’d been looking forward to exploring ever since we’d set sail from Bali three days earlier, because it was at Sangeang Api, Dunia Baru’s dive instructor had promised, that we could swim through gases rising like delicate Champagne bubbles from the island’s corals. And if you put your hand close to the rock and corals, or into the dark sand, you could feel heat emanating from the belly of the earth.
Sangeang Api – also sometimes called Gunung Api, which translates as “fire mountain” from Indonesian – is an active volcano and snorkelling or diving at one particular spot, the dive instructor had said, would give us a chance to see the power of the earth in action. Of course we didn’t know it then, but on 30 May, less than two weeks after we swam there, the volcano on Sangeang Api erupted (with the crew of Dunia Baru as witnesses, nearly 20 kilometres away), its ash cloud causing chaos with flights around Darwin in north Australia.
Indonesia is a fantastic country to explore by yacht: it is an arc of more than 17,000 islands scattered across clear, warm waters, where daytime temperatures average at around 30 degrees Celcius and feeling cold is virtually unheard of. Hot days, balmy nights, calm waters and the occasional surf break… it really is hard to beat.
Many of the islands around Indonesia were formed by volcanoes, and that’s just normal in these parts. The country sits along the Ring of Fire, literally a hotbed of seismic activity around the rim of the Pacific Ocean, and where 75 percent of the world’s volcanoes – both active and dormant – are found. Indonesia lies along a very active subduction zone of this Ring of Fire, meaning that it’s where tectonic plates are converging, resulting in earthquakes, volcanoes and mountain building. While that makes it a fascinating and important place for geologists and volcanologists to observe and conduct research, for the rest of us it means this: lots of little islands, dramatic landscapes, and a nutrient-rich sea. More specifically, that means gorgeous beaches, jagged hills that offer exquisite views once climbed, and wildly colourful corals that are pure heaven to explore. And, of course, there’s the chance you’ll have your mind blown by nature.
And that’s exactly what happened the morning we snorkelled around the base of Sangeang Api. The volcano had last erupted in 1988 and all the nutrients around the base of the island had fed corals, which blossomed into colourful explosions that played host to an aquarium of sea life: tiny electric blue fish that dart rather than swim; lazy starfish that drape themselves rocks and corals; exquisite blue-spotted rays and bright orange anemone fish, their colours vibrant against the island’s black sand. But most impressive of all were the bubbles: tiny pockets of gas escaping through vents from beneath the earth’s surface, and rising as soft little sparkles into the swelling current. It really was a humbling experience, being able to sweep my hands through these soft bubbles, the result of such force; of such primeval movement, and from the physical base of our very existence
“Dunia Baru” means “new world” in Indonesian, and there is surely no more an impressive vessel on which to explore this part of the world. She is a majestic boat, inspired by traditional phinisi design and built with all the high-tech equipment and systems that you’d expect to find on regular white superyachts… but her charm lies in the fact that she isn’t one. Superyacht, yes. Sterile white superyacht, no. Everything – from the hull to the bar stools to the door hinges – was hand-crafted from wood sourced from Borneo and created by Indonesia’s finest boat builders. While no expense has been spared in ensuring that Dunia Baru is an ultra-luxury vessel, she still feels organic; very connected to her surroundings. Dunia Baru simply exudes a sense of adventure and totally lives up to her name; while sailing with her you really do get that feeling that you’re exploring a part of the planet very few people have travelled before.
That’s how it felt every morning that I watched the sunrise from Dunia Baru’s deck. Fuelled by the tranquillity and possibility of undisturbed places, every day became an adventure. Just before sunrise one morning, while we were anchored off a bay of Rinca island, a pod of dolphins quietly broke the smooth surface of the sea, turning the dark-silver water into thick ripples of mercury. Within an hour, we were walking on an island that is home to more than 2500 Komodo dragons, three-metre-long super-predators that are the ancestors of dinosaurs. Another day, I conquered my fear of the open water and snorkelled for two hours with manta rays – too many to keep count. At one time, there were seven of these majestic creatures just a few feet below us.
On an island called Satonda we’d taken Dunia Baru’s kayaks and paddled across the secluded, fresh waters of a crater lake, exploring the steep jungle-clad banks that had probably never held human footprints. Back on land, Mark and I climbed up to the rim of the volcano, unintentionally disturbing a troop of timid langur monkeys along the way. Another afternoon we snorkelled with curious hawksbill turtles, and then, as we wallowed in the clear, shallow turquoise waters of a small uninhabited island, we watched little black-tipped reef sharks swim past our toes. The morning that Mark and I snorkelled around Sangeang Api, we swam to the black-sand beach, our footprints mingling with those of wild buffalo, monitor lizard, monkeys and Sunda deer, and we sat quietly behind a tree as we watched a wild pig scratch for food on the beach, among the rocks and broken corals.
As the dying light turned the sky into a gentle darkness, and in the moments before the first stars broke through, my days onboard Dunia Baru ended in a manner similar to their beginning: sitting cross-legged on the teak deck, with a large gin and tonic – not coffee – in hand. And instead of revelling in the anticipation and possibility of what that day would hold, I’d sit content with wonder, and with gratitude. Today, I thought every evening, today I can honestly say: I have lived.
Dunia Baru, the finest superyacht to ever have been
built in Indonesia, is available for charter. For more
information, please speak to your broker.