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Indonesia finds luxury use for humble sailing vessel

Wooden ships augmented by rock-star features provide leisure cruises

Lamima, the world's largest working wooden yacht at 65 meters, charters for $20,000 per day. (Courtesy of Lamima)

LABUAN BAJO, Indonesia -- The traditional phinisi vessel -- a twin-mast, seven-sail schooner with elongated bowsprits -- once humbly traveled around the 17,504 islands of the Indonesian archipelago transporting people and cargo, going on raids or catching fish. Now they are enjoying a revival as luxury boats for high-end tourists.

The original wooden design of the phinisi has been attributed to the seafaring Bugis people of South Sulawesi and predates the arrival of European colonial ships in the 16th and 17th centuries. "Knowledge of the technology of making boats with the formula and pattern of hull preparation has been known for at least 1,500 years," said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education and Culture when the phinisi was designated in 2017 by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage item.

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