Indonesia Sailing

Found At Sea: A Life Aboard the SY Raja Laut

September 22, 2017

Sailing Indonesia

The SY Raja Laut in Myanmar

Gustav and I have been living aboard the SY Raja Laut for almost 11 months now. She’s a 100ft classic wooden sailing schooner built in 2006 in a shipyard somewhere in Malaysia – one of a kind. We joined her when she was still based in Myanmar. The first few months were spent sailing around the remote Mergui Archipelago. It took us a while to learn the ropes ( literally ) and adapt to a life full-time at sea.

For the first we weeks we didn’t have a cabin and slept on deck. Eventually, we converted the old deck wetsuit closet into our little room ( small but cosy ). The fellow Indonesian crewman had limited English skills so we were forced to pick up the Indonesian language pretty fast. It didn’t take us long to get fully settled onboard and become a part of the crew family.

Previous to the Raja Laut, both Gustav and I had limited sailing experience. Though we both grew up with the ocean as the center of our universe, moving onto the Raja Laut would be our first time living on a boat at sea for an extended period of time. We had a lot to learn.

January 2017, we sailed the Raja Laut from Myanmar south into Indonesian waters where she will be based for the upcoming years.

Sumbawa Indonesia

Local village children on the island of Moyo is Sumbawa

It did not take us long to discover that the highs are higher and the lows are lower aboard our floating home. When it comes to life at sea, everything is more exaggerated than life on land. When things are good, they truly are incredible. But when things are bad, there is no escape.

Sailing schooner

With no electrical winches onboard, raising the sails is a feat of man power


We often stop in remote villages to pick up fresh produce and get to meet and interact with the locals

Sailing Indonesia

Spectators watch the finish of a local sailing race on the island of Sumbawa

Sailing Indonesia

Akram, our bosun, tends to the two tenders

Within the 10 crew onboard, we each have our duty and job. Gustav and I are in charge of all water activities, excursions, adventures and general operations of running the entire vessel. Other jobs include the engineer and chef, the two stewards, the deckhands and of course the captain. All equally important. We are small team and family. So whenever possible, we help each other.

Akram is our bosun.

Akram is from Sulawesi and has been with the boat the longest ( over 10 years ) . He actually built the boat, even chopping down the trees to collect the wood that has now become her hull. He knows every inch of her like the back of his hand.

Radar Island Komodo Indonesia

Rian our chief steward

Radar Island Komodo

Gustav enjoys a sunset beer somewhere in the south of Komodo

Sailing Indonesia

The deck

A sailing yacht becomes a very small space when offshore. When I say there is no escape, I really mean it. During our last 10 months aboard, we have learnt a great deal about each other and ourselves. With a full time crew of 10 people on a 100ft boat, personal space is the biggest challenge. Gustav and I share a 2 x 2 x 1 meter old closet as a room. It is crucial to give yourself and your each other personal space. Aboard the Raja Laut, we each have our favorite places to read, listen to music or just contemplate life and our world.

Sailing Indonesia

Opa, our second engineer. Everyones foster father onboard.


Opa and Tomi

Komodo National Park

Gustav enjoying a sunset paddle board session

Uluwatu sunset

Sunset beers somewhere in Indonesia

Sailing Indonesia

Gustav after a 12-6 am watch shift

Sailing Indonesia

Rian our steward always making people laugh

Sailing Indonesia

Our Captain from Manado, Meidy.

Sailing Indonesia

Opa looking like he’s been at sea too long

Sailing Indonesia

Akram chilling at the stern of the Raja Laut

Sailing Indonesia

Gustav trying to complete some admin amongst rough seas

Fishing Indonesia

Fresh fish caught by our hand lines off the stern of the boat

Sailing Indonesia

A’an our young but experienced First Officer. What a cutie.

Labuan Bajo Flores

Our home port for the past few months, Labuan Bajo in Flores

Sailing Indonesia

Gustav’s favorite chill spot, the bow net.

Sailing Indonesia

Gustav is still learning how to use my film camera. Me out of focus on the deck…

Labuan Bajo Flores

Back in the port of Labuan Bajo after two weeks of exploring the Komodo Islands

Why do we do this? Simply put, on a boat we can go places others can’t. We get the chance to visit and immerse ourselves in remote places that have not yet been destroyed by tourism. We spend months at remote island archipelagos with no airports or roads or ferry terminals. We have the freedom of picking a spot on a map and just going. As cheesy as this quote is, Mark Twain’s got a point:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disppointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

– Mark Twain


You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply