The Malay Junk
The small Pulau Duyong/Duyung Besar at Kuala Terennganu is famous in Malaysia for the presence of old families of craftsmen, specialised in the construction of traditional junks of large dimensions. (40-60 m.), which were used for trading rice and salt with Thailand, regularly crossing the difficult China Sea. The traditional boats are of two types Pinis e Bedor and their characteristically long keel was designed to enable landing on a beach using the tide. One model of the type Bedor is on display at the National Naval Museum of London.
The Bilbo was one of the last junks built by the master craftsman Che Ali Bin Ngah, one of the last survivors on the island, and by his family.
The traditional construction
The boat is constructed entirely in Chengal wood, the Malay teak , which has been shown to posses marine characteristics that are even better than traditional teak (this is demonstrated in some studies of the British Navy that are available on request). One of the secrets of this type of construction is in the fact that the hull is assembled beginning with planking that is first fixed together edge to edge, using wooden dowels at intervals of 10cm, and which is only later fixed to the frame.
Unfortunately it is no longer possible to find a sail maker in Kuala Terennganu who is able to design the rigging of a junk, and therefore the sails were designed after a detailed bibliographic and historic study and then built by Viganò of Milano.
A singly voyage: The great Crossing
Bilbo was launched the 7 August 1995 06:00AM , after being fitted out and rigged with the help of sailors ( and dear friends) experts in ocean crossings. The crossing, which began on the 1st January 97, was organised and carried out by a group of around 70 people who participated in various stages of the trip. The journey was exciting, tiring and certainly unforgettable. During the crossing of the Indian Ocean, Bilbo managed an average of 9 knots over a period of 24 hours, and in the Red Sea the trip was very difficult, where Bilbo faced winds of up to force 9.
Since May 1997, Bilbo is in the port of Kusadasi, in Turkey and has been used and enjoyed one month every year only for my private use. He is in perfect conditions and has been maintained with all my love.
Bilbo is a very rare boat because it is one of the last traditional Malay Junk boat still on water in the world (among with Burong Bahri, June Bathra, Boleh, Naga Pelangi all unique and beautiful boats...).
Furthermore traditional Malay junk craft-men knowledge is disappearing and Chengal wood is out of price now (Bilbo is made of 20 tons of Chengal!).
More information's? Have a look to the Bilbo leaflets (in Attachments & various languages) or contact me and lets take some beers together...