Wednesday, March 25, 2009Despite getting seasick most of the time (even on the river), I love boats and In Terengganu, where I grew up, at one time, there were more boats than automobiles.
The first boat that I was on was not really a boat. The English would call it a dugout canoe. The Terengganu folks, being more generous call the dugout perahu jalor. It is a poor man's aquatic runabout.
Here is a picture of my father (in dark glasses) with his friend Tok Kobi, a kadhi back from a hunt. See how low the perahu jalor sits in the water. My father must have great faith in his boatmen because he never learned how to swim.
The perahu jalor is never designed by a naval architect. You simply choose a log and hack away the parts that do not look like a perahu jalor.
Perahu jalor, as I remember it was always manually powered. You either paddle it or punt it. You can't even put a sail to it.
You can however, use sail on a sekuchi. There are no hard and fast rule on the material you can use for the sail. I saw plenty of sekuchi using sails patched together from flour sacks. I have yet to see sekuchi sails made of kain pelikat or kain batik.
Fishermen friends in Terengganu told me that sekuchi are good for fishing in the river or, if in the sea, close to the shore. Apparently, sekuchi boats do not handle waves very well.
A close cousin of the sekuchi is the kolek. The prows are longer and higher and these make the kolek handles the waves better. The kolek is also sail-powered and it was popular with the freelance nelayan (fisherman) of Merang and other parts of Terengganu. Koleks can go further out to see than the sekuchi although it would not go as far as Australia as this young man in the picture discovered.
I would think that a payang would make it to Australia. Payang boats are at least twice as big and higher than a kolek. Payangs were used by the pukat tarek fishermen and they were rowed like viking ships, somewhat. I could not find a picture of perahu payang on my pc. Putrajaya residents can pop over to the lake and see a modified payang taking tourists on a cruise.
The boat that can really take you places would be the bedor. There was anok bedo that looked like the one in this picture. I used to hitch a ride in one of these to get from the Customs jetty to Seberang Takir. I had to wait for the wind though because it was wind-powered.
Bigger bedo (was it ibu bedor or ayoh bedor. I am not sure) complete with a toilet at the stern once made the journey from Kuala Terengganu to Thailand bringing back stuffs such as terracota tiles or whatever that floats the boats of the traders at the time.