Pierre: 30 Nov. 2009Kayu Manis - Langkawi Gazette

Langkawi has quite some beautiful, traditional boats that are available for charter.

Here we present the

Kayu Manis

Kayu Manis has two meanings:

1 - In common Indonesian and Malay it means 
     CINNAMON (The spice)
2 - Litterally, it means SWEET WOOD.


Kayu Manis - a most beautiful Bugis Schooner

based at the moment on Pulau Langkawi.


Kayu Manis - Langkawi Gazette


This wonderful ship was built recently at the owners instructions in the Celebes and it might just be of interest to know what an extensive history this type of vessel was drawn from.

It would seem that for nearly 2000 years this mass of islands, now known loosely as Indonesia, particularly in the South Sulawesi, people had been building sailing vessels, known as ‘perahu’. These vessels, of varied sizes, were rigged with rectangular sails 'layar tanjaq' and traded all over this vast area.

It would have been the biggest sailing fleet the world has ever known.


Kayu Manis - Langkawi gazette

With their innate skills of following the monsoon winds, and their seasonal changes of direction, these fleets covered the many thousands of islands in their own area.  Some found their way across the Indian Ocean to Africa,  and their trade with the Arabs was highly influential.

They regularly reached Northern Australia, and were well known to, and traded with, the aborigines of that area, long before the rest of the world knew it existed.


Perahu with rectangular sails - Langkawi Gazette

 It is known that illustrations of this type of vessel exist in the Borobudur Temple from around the ninth century, and in the early cave paintings of the Australian aborigines contained pictures of these classic ‘perahus’.


Classic Perahus - Langkawi Gazette


It has to be acknowledged, by some of the great boatbuilders of the South Sulawesi,  that the jungles of this area are fortunate in producing some of the finest type of timber that could possibly be used in making such great vessels. ‘Kayu Manis’  is built in that exactly traditional style, has as its hull the famous ironwood known to us as 'billian', which is the finest of its kind in the world, and still constructed in the old ways, joined by wooden pegs with no iron piercing the wood.


Kayu Manis - joined by wooden pegs - Langkawi Gazette


The main deck and the upper construction all made of the finest teak,  which once again is of superb quality.


These boats were known under their name of 'padewakang'  and their sails would still have been all of the rectangular 'tanjaq' and traded and pirated with great fame, all over this part of the East...

Some time later in the 17th century with the incoming Europeans the Indonesians began to combine some of their 'tanjaq' with a our normal fore-and-aft type, which they'd seen on these foreigners vessels.

These then that later became known as the 'pinisiq'...

 Kayu Manis - a  perahu pinisiq - Langkawi Gazette

It is thought around 1850 that a type of vessel, in a similar layout to that of ‘Kayu Manis’,  was built in Trengannu Malaysia for one of the Sultans,  and as soon as this was seen in the Indonesian area it was adopted and as their  'perahu pinisiq'.  This got called by some a 'schooner',  fully  rigged with cloth sails,  and was therefore faster and better able to take advantage of all types of winds than the old-fashioned types.


Kayu Manis - Langkawi Gazette


Several thousands of these boats were made in the South Sulawesi area,  traded and pirated all over the East. They were of the similar type with the long bow-sprit and three foresails,  main mast and a mizzen mast with standing gaffes, two top sails a stay-sail on the mizzen mast forestay. The hull shape was elegantly adapted to the faster sharp-bowed and center-stern rudder, which they describe as ‘perlari’ (run fast )..

This was traditionally maintained that for a greater part of their trading times since then,  and it is only in recent years that the use of internal engines reduce the size and elegance of the sailing layout.


All this is beautifully preserved in ‘Kayu Manis’, with both the same skills and workmanship and timber, derived from such a fantastic and long history..

Kayu Manis - Langkawi Gazette

Kayu Manis is available for Charter and is at the moment based on Pulau Langkawi.

The website of  Kayu Manis is here.


by Pierre, 29 Nov. 2009