State-of-the-art trap­pings meet tra­di­tion­ally built plea­sure craft for trop­i­cal cruis­ing in the re­mote reaches of In­done­sia, writes SANJAY SURANA.

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - News -

A plea­sure craft cruis­ing in the re­mote reaches of In­done­sia.

Three young Bri­tons move to Sin­ga­pore to work. They head to In­done­sia for their hol­i­days: kite-surf­ing in North Su­ma­tra, bump­ing along tracks in South Lom­bok on dirt bikes, surf­ing off West Sum­bawa, and muck­ing around on boats in East Nusa Teng­gara. Smit­ten, they toss in their jobs to fo­cus on projects in In­done­sia, among them build­ing a yacht. But not just any yacht – a 31-me­tre con­tem­po­rary ver­sion of a phin­isi, a tra­di­tional In­done­sian boat, that took a team of 40 crafts­men three years to build.

Work­ing on a re­mote beach in South Su­lawesi, where the craft orig­i­nated, and with­out plans, the ar­ti­sans used tra­di­tional tech­niques, such as bend­ing iron­wood over an open fire.

Co-founder Erik Bar­reto and his part­ners launched Ras­cal and their pri­vate char­ter busi­ness in March last year, tak­ing groups of up to 10 guests on voy­ages to Ko­modo Na­tional Park and Flores, in the Lesser Sunda Is­lands, and to pris­tine Raja Am­pat, off the north-west tip of West Pa­pua.

“We spent time ex­plor­ing the di­ver­sity and raw beauty of In­done­sia,” says Bar­reto, “and wanted to make it ac­ces­si­ble to oth­ers.”

Ras­cal has the lines of a phin­isi but ameni­ties de­signed for 21st-cen­tury fun. “We wanted to push bound­aries,” Bar­reto says. “Phin­i­sis are full wooden boats and the cab­ins can feel dark and claus­tro­pho­bic. The white walls, high ceil­ings and raw, un­fin­ished tim­ber f loor­boards re­ally give

Ras­cal’s rooms that bright, beach-house feel.”

The five cab­ins each have an en­suite, wi-fi au­dio sys­tems, and the am­bi­ence of a trop­i­cal villa.

The boat dis­penses with the twin masts typ­i­cal of phin­i­sis, cre­at­ing breezy, open com­mu­nal ar­eas. By day the top deck dou­bles as a sun­bathing space and div­ing plat­form; at night it be­comes a star­lit cinema. Guests lounge on rat­tan deckchairs in front of the bridge – the best views in the house – or on bean­bags on the master cabin’s ter­race.

Among the crew of nine are a di­ve­mas­ter, two wait­staff, and a chef, who pre­pares menus de­signed by the team at Wa­ter­cress, the pop­u­lar rus­tic-hip cafés in Seminyak and Ubud. For­merly of By­ron Bay,

old friends Pablo Four­card and Jordie Stry­bos launched the first

(in Seminyak) in 2012 and their style is ev­i­dent in a sig­na­ture Wa­ter­cress salad of or­ganic greens, mar­i­nated feta, radish, pomelo, and crisp tem­peh, served (on­board or at beach bar­be­cues) with grilled fish caught off the yacht.

“We wanted the food to be light, fresh, healthy and to use lo­cally sourced in­gre­di­ents,” says Bar­reto. The drinks menu is writ­ten by Proof & Com­pany, best known for its speakeasy 28 Hongkong Street in Sin­ga­pore. It also blended an ex­clu­sive Ras­cal Rum for sun­downer cock­tails on the deck.

Ras­cal can nav­i­gate any­where in In­done­sian wa­ters and around its 17,500 is­lands, though the yacht largely di­vides its time be­tween Ko­modo Na­tional Park and Raja Am­pat. Guests might find them­selves snorkelling with manta rays at Makas­sar Reef or kayak­ing around the man­grove forests of Yanggefo. Or em­bark­ing on un­scripted ad­ven­tures not yet cap­tured on In­sta­gram – itin­er­ar­ies are de­vised in tan­dem with guests, al­low­ing max­i­mum flex­i­bil­ity. There’s only one re­stric­tion, as the yacht’s motto in­di­cates:

“If co­conuts don’t grow there, we don’t go there.”

Ras­cal is avail­able for ex­clu­sive hire only, for groups of up to 10 peo­ple, from $US9,350 per night for the en­tire boat (min­i­mum three nights). A typ­i­cal four-night itin­er­ary in

Raja Am­pat, which in­cludes all meals and non-al­co­holic drinks, park and har­bour fees, fuel and crew, costs from $US41,800. ras­cal-char­

Above: Ras­cal at the Wainilu dive site off Rinca Is­land, Ko­modo Na­tional Park. Op­po­site, clock­wise from top: the up­per fore­deck; roof deck; Master Lounge Deck and Master Cabin (cen­tre); Ras­cal at Gili Lawa Darat, Ko­modo Na­tional Park.

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