Although last year 2020 was marked by a global crisis caused by Covid-19, rare diving in Komodo, and our boat had to stay in the harbour most of the time rather than going around the Komodo’s islands, we can’t just wait for the tourism to come back, therefore we have done our annual docking. If we “park” our wooden boat on the beach and go off, we rather will have a sieve on our return.
A wooden boat needs daily lots of maintenance and care. It is essential to check each and every inch of the wood, to start the engine from time to time and to listen to its sound, to check the mooring lines, to exchange the screws where necessary and to keep it in “good mood”.
The joy of a wooden boat
When we go out on our boat for diving in Komodo National Park, we are surrounded by amazing green-covered islands, the blue water, and an incredible silence. The tropical sun warms our faces and our lungs get filled with sea air. We see a volcano far in the distance at the horizon. And in our minds we are so excited about the underwater world that we are going to explore in the next hours.
And at the end of the day when our captain safely maneuvers the boat to the harbour covered by the coloured sunset, we feel thankful to our crew and to our boat that has been home to us for that day.
The joy our boat brings makes us enthusiastic boat owners. Of course, like most things in life, wooden boat ownership isn’t just about sailing with a romantic excite. We still learn every day how to care for our boat as caring for a wooden boat is a constant process.
Wooden boat care
At some point, usually during the months of January and February as this is our low season, our boat spends a few weeks out of water for its annual maintenance.
Theoretically, there are basically three options to do so:
- Dry dock our boat and have a shipwright or boatyard maintain it
- Do It Yourself
- A combination of the two above approaches
However, being based on a tropical island where life sometimes goes on with kind of other routines and habits, it can be a challenge to find a boatyard.
Hence, we tackle the more basic stuff ourselves and leave the more complex jobs for a professional “shipwright”. In this case, a shipwright is usually a local experienced boat carpenter with some helpers.
Sanding, Varnish, Leak Solutions
Being on a wooden boat is a feeling of romantic, nostalgia of pirates’ fun or just great relaxation.
Thus we want our boat to last for generations, and bring us more adventures of diving in Komodo. And so first of all we took care of all sealants and paints. Shrinking wood is pretty common; the seams between the boards on the hull of the boat open; some leaks might arise and water can enter into the hull. Therefore first thing on dock, the shipwright and our team repaired all leaks and sealed.
To protect boat’s hull from algae and other marine organism the team applied antifouling on the whole hull area. They also have removed varnishes on the wood on upper and lower deck, sanded the wood and applied fresh layers of varnish, and colours where needed. Varnishing and painting the wood helps to protect it from dust, dirt, sun and sea water.
And all of this happens in simple circumstances, sometimes in the hot sun, and sometimes in the dark, while the boat lies with the bow far forward on the beach. The team must always pay attention to the tides, as they can work on the lower part of the hull only when the water is low.
Two major repairs
This year we also have repaired the propeller and rebalanced the shaft, so that now the boat goes faster and without any vibration. Besides finding a good shipwright, it required us some time and patience to find a good mechanic for that job. This is a part of the maintenance that we prefer to be done by a professional who understands how to work on this type of boat.
Another big repair that required some logistics efforts was the changing of our mast. Actually we “only” have changed the lower part of the mast. But we needed a wooden beam of 6 meters of a specific kind of tree in exact our sizes. Our local availabilities challenged us to a certain level.
Finally, our captain went to his village that is away 2.5 hours ride by boat, went into the forest with a woodcutter, found the tree and transported it back to Labuan Bajo. When the wood beam was ready all sailors and helpers from neighbour boats came to help pulling up the mast. Because only manpower was used – there are no cranes here.
On top of our mast is the “crows’ nest” (a basket). We are proud to say that our boat is the only one with the “crows’ nest” in the whole town. Hence everyone who is not afraid of height is welcome to climb up for the ultimate sailor experience.
Our annual maintenance on dock has finished. We are happy and satisfied. And our biggest wish is that soon guests can arrive again in Indonesia to experience our boat and to explore Komodo National Park.
Besides, the town Labuan Bajo got a new look as well. There are now new, wide pathways with streetlights and palm trees, more modern cafes with local and international delights, bigger choice of accommodation up to premium class.
The town is now leaning on infrastructure and modern architecture to bring comfort during your holiday time in Komodo.
We welcome all of you to spend a spontaneous weekend away on a romantic or fun trip, or your long-desired dive holiday in the unforgettable underwater world of Komodo National Park.
Wet Frog Divers
We are a SSI dive centre in Labuan Bajo, Flores, Komodo, located inside the 4* Bintang Flores Hotel. We offer daytrips for diving in Komodo on our own boat as well as a wide range of dive courses. Book your Komodo experience with us. Follow us on Instagram, YouTube or Facebook. See you soon.