Building a traditional wooden vessel the size of Dewi Nusantara is a complex enterprise that involves a lot of preparation, a lot of labour and a lot of time which nowadays it is only feasible in those rare places where both the wood and the ship’s carpenters are still available. Fortunately such a place was found in east Kalimantan.
Hand built as a one off project the initial stages of Dewi’s construction began on the muddy banks of the Karangan River in Sangkulirang Bay, east Kalimantan, better know as Borneo. The chosen site, although a 12 hour drive from the nearest airport, was close to the water, close to the source of the raw materials needed and lastly close to a skilled and busy workforce nearby to work with the master shipwrights.
Finding suitable timbers for and laying the ironwood keel is the first task and the site starts to grow up around this afterwards. Next is building up and covering the ribs then finally on top of this laying the various layers of decking and building the some of the superstructure.
After these tasks were completed nearly a year later she was ready to be launched and floated out into the river stream on a high tide before being towed nearly 500 nautical miles across the Bali Sea to Benoa harbour in Bali where, under the supervision of engineering and design experts, the huge task of finishing the woodwork and installing the engineering components began. Now the race against time to have her ready for the upcoming 2008 dive season that we were going to begin in North Sulawesi. Finally after weeks of sanding and cabin construction the engines and generators were installed, the lounge and cabins were designed and decorated and the dive centre built and equipped, she were finally ready for the long haul to the Lembeh Strait to start her maiden cruise.