Soul Sailor- Hans’s Solo Jukung Voyage Through The Archipelago
Posted: Apr 13 2019
Dutch seadog Hans Sluiman connected with us recently looking for all day sun protection which is made with respect for the ocean. He needed something to see him through a long solo expedition of the Indonesian Archipelago of more than 17,000+ islands. His upcoming ocean voyage captured our imagination. Between1993 and 2008 Hans explored Indonesia by Jukung on and off, often setting out for 6 months at a time. Hans has seen more of Indo and been more intimate with the Indian ocean than even the most intrepid of us surfers. We asked him to spin his tales.
Explain to us what a Jukung is, and what has inspired your trip?
Jukung means small boat in Bali.
A Jukung is a Balinese outrigger sailing canoe that is used for daily fishing around the coast.
It's interesting because the Jukung dates back a few thousand years to the very origins of sailing. The boats that spread around the Pacific and would populate Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia and eventually Hawaii.
The materials have changed but the basic concept has stayed the same. A central hull and double outriggers.
The traditional ones are inspired by the Gajah Mina or mythical elephant fish and are also some of the most beautiful and graceful boats to be found as well as being seaworthy enough for Indonesian waters.
Having been born in Balikpapan, Kalimantan and growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, the sea has always played a big role in my life. It led to a life as a delivery skipper as well as racing yachts around the world, salvage diving and bodysurfing.
Sailing the Jukung brings it all together. Being at home around the tropics, islands and the sea and the opportunity to see and meet incredible people, islands and sea life whilst having adventures I couldn’t dream of.
Why do you choose Indo? We imagine you’ve had some colourful experiences travelling to so many remote destinations.
Imagine 17,000 islands- it automatically makes me wonder what they are like and how the people live.
There is no other country that has so many islands that are hardly known or explored.
The Jukung gives access to all of them with its shallow draft and at the same time gets me closer to the people.
As a tall, bule (foreigner in Indonesia) travelling by Jukung, what kind of reception to you get in the villages?
What seems to amaze them most of all is the fact that I travel on my own.
But their hospitality and friendly reception has been heartwarming mostly and they are off course very curious.
If anything sometimes it's overwhelming and extreme being on my own on the Jukung, then exposed to a whole village that wants to know about me.
What draws you to long, solo voyages?
I’ve always been a loner and liked the places I grew up in where I had to rely on myself mostly.
I’ve never felt lonely at sea and the wonder of seeing new places and people will never get old and it inspires me.
Also not a day passes without something beautiful happening whether it's dolphins, whales or giant manta leaping around the boat or getting chased off a beach by territorial monkeys or oxen.
What conditions do you favour? How do you navigate the weather?
It’s not about what I favour but about what I get and have to deal with it.
But for starters I sail in the dry season mostly as sitting in the rain all day gets old quickly.
Sailing to new places and not knowing the conditions before hand means staying flexible and moving when the conditions look good. That means sailing at any hour of the day or night.
Navigation is by the stars and sun as I don’t carry a GPS.
So a clear sky at night is nice when you can see the constellations but it isn’t always like that : )
That can mean following the waves and a certain wind angle and if one or the other changes it means your course will change.
How much do you rely on the paddle when sailing?
They are complimentary but I prefer sailing any day : )
However the Jukung being a bit limited in close quarters maneuvering means the paddle is essential when close to land or reefs.
Logistically where do you sleep, how do you eat, what equipment do you take with you?
I sleep on the boat as it doesn’t work setting up camp unless you are really in protected waters.
If the waves start coming in you don’t always get the the time to get all the gear back on board so it’s safer to anchor and be able to leave on short notice.
I have an old style kerosene stove for cooking and I bring a jerrycan of rice and have to try and score fruit and veggies on the way. Sometimes it’s good but sometimes not and going to bed hungry is part of the life as it is for the islanders as well, although they have to deal with it much longer.
If I do hit a bigger town I eat my heart out and shower as much as possible as fresh water is scarce on board.
Equipment is basic tools, hammer/axe, saw, parang, knife etc that are needed to fix basics on the boat and be able to rig her and fishing line and hooks. These make good presents along the way as well.
How has your sailing experience and time on the water formed you?
It’s where it comes together for me but the price is that my social skills are somewhat underdeveloped : )
As a European, you mentioned that sun care hasn’t been engrained in your experience in and on the water. What have you learned about sun care and it’s effect on wellness?
I grew up in the tropics but in those days the awareness or information of the harmful effects was limited.
Now sailing on an open boat for extended periods and being exposed to the sun and elements all day long there is no hiding and the effects are noticeable in sunburn or even a heatstroke.
Sending the highest of vibes to you, Hans on the upcoming adventure! We will be following you and hope to chat along the way.
Get in touch with Hans at @sailing_adventures_indonesia or jukungsailingindo.com. He is currently accepting media enquiries!
Check out his youtube channel alsohttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpVSIGvylH_vMRij9QoR8Xg