Beside the Mahakam River

Monday, February 25, 2008
One of the world’s least known boat building areas is in and around the city of Samarinda on the Mahakam River in the province of East Kalimantan on the Indonesian side of the Island of Borneo. While some yards are building a dozen and more boats at a time in modern facilities, the tradition of building on the riverbank is alive and well. One such builder is Mr. Suwandi who, in mid-February, was preparing to launch a 28 by 8.1-meter tug for Mr. Syarifuddin who operates a stone quary at Palu on Sulawesi Island.

The tug, registered in Samarinda and named Syarasd I, is powered by a pair of in-line six-cylinder Cummins KTA19 engines each generating 600 hp and turning propellers manufactured by Tesco in Jakarta through Twin Disc MG5321DC gears with 6.39:1 ratios. Pt. Altrak 1978, the Cummins distributor for Indonesia, supplied the engines. Although the tug is expected to work in deeper waters guards that, the builder explained, add strength and protection from logs are fitted to the 1.75-meter inside-diameter nozzles.


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