The rebirth of a legend:    a new ship

On the east coast of the Malay peninsula, in the estuary of the river Terengganu dwell the most highly skilled shipwrights of Malaysia under the palm trees of the small island Pulau Duyong.

For centuries these seafaring boat builders manufactured magnificent wooden craft here. Amongst other vessels they built two types of junk-schooners, legendary far beyond the borders of Malaysia: the PINIS and the BEDAR:

model of a BEDAR                                    model of a PINIS

The ancestors of the Malays once settled the whole of the SE-Asian archipelago, ventured far to the east, to the furthest Polynesian islands and to the west until Africa (Madagascar). These are areas where their descendants live up till today.

With modern ways spreading, the unequalled boatbuilding techniques still practised today in Duyong are endangered. With this archaic art of building wooden boats vanishing, doom seems spelled for this great nautical tradition of the Malay nation.

In 1980 I had a Bedar constructed in Pulau Duyong (pulau = Malay: island), the Naga Pelangi, (Malay: Rainbow Dragon), which was a seaworthy home for my family and me during our travels.

           Junk sailing: Naga Pelangi, in the South China Sea, 1998

Naga Pelangi came to be the first indigenous Malay junk to finish a circumnavigation when we returned to her birthplace in 1997, dropping anchor off Pulau Duyong in Kuala Terengganu. I sold this boat in the year 2000 and in April 2003 I started a new project, one that has not been undertaken in over half of a century:

The building of a "perahu besar" (Malay: big boat),
a PINIS of about 70 feet (21 m) over deck

This website (see: CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS) is the place, where the latest pictures of the works progress will be published. We will be happy to have you accompany us.

The construction team in May 2003 with the provisional model of Naga Pelangi II. Note the planks of the hull, stacked for drying.  In the picture you see on the left side Hasni bin Ali, the master shipwright who built the Naga Pelangi in 1980, son of Hadschi Ali bin Ngah, who supervised the works.

Che Ali bin Ngah working the keel of Naga Pelangi, 1980