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04-10-2018: Phinisi Festival 2018 in Bulukumba

Ahoy mateys! Throwing the spotlight to the legendary Phinisi Schooner and the seafaring spirit of Sulawesi, the Phinisi festival 2018 will be held on 4th to 10 October 2018 in Bulukumba, at the southern tip of South Sulawesi Province.

As the main feature, there will be a sailing expedition of the traditional Phinisi Schooners as well as a number of other sailing ships. Ships that will be joining the expedition are those with the capacity of 15 GT (Gross Tonnage) and will be coming from all over the province. There will also be a group fishing competition at the coast of Tanjung Bira. The group consists of 7 fishermen and the winner will be based on the heaviest fish caught.

The festival will also be highlighted with a unique exhibition of traditional rituals of the Kajang people Ndiringi Kampong and AttunuPanroli. Literally translated as ‘Burning the Crowbar’, AttunuPanroli initially is a traditional trial of the Kajang ethnic group who are seeking justice. In the process, a steel crowbar is put into a fire to the point where it gets glowing red and really hot. The ‘accused’ would then be asked to grip the crowbar by his/her hand. If the accused hand got burned then he/she is declared guilty, whilst if he/she is unharmed, then he is declared innocent.

As part of the Phinisi building tradition, the traditional ritual ceremony of AnynorongLopi or the launching of a Phinisi Schooner will also be held at the TanaberuPhinisi Center in Bontobahari sub-district. To add the sparks to the festival, there will also be musical performances featuring some of the top artists of the country.

Sometimes spelled as Pinisi, the schooner is the masterpiece of the seafaring tradition of the Bugis ethnic group of South Sulawesi. For centuries, the phinisi have plied the waters of the archipelago journeying as far away as Malacca, Burma, Vietnam, and Australia. Today one can still admire these large traditional boats in full sail at sea or at anchor along the Sunda Kelapa harbor in Jakarta and at the Ujung wharf of Surabaya unloading timber from Kalimantan, or at the Paotere harbor in Makassar, South Sulawesi, or even at the small port of Labuan Bajo on Flores.

Phinisi is a two-masted sailing ship. The hull of the ship looks similar to that of a dhow while the fore-and-aft rigging recalls western schooners. The large mainsails differ from western style gaff rigs though, as they often do not have a boom and the sail is not lowered with the gaff. Instead, it is reefed towards the mast, much like a curtain, thus allowing the gaff to be used as deck crane in the harbor. The lower part of the mast itself may resemble a tripod or is made of two poles. Phinisi maybe 20 to 35 meters long and 350 tons in size. The masts may reach 30 meters above the deck.

Nowadays, much of the phinisi schooners are also refitted to serve as unique traditional liveaboards for divers to pristine locations, especially in the eastern Indonesian islands. These sturdy vessels now come complete with cabins, kitchen and toilet facilities to accommodate members of diving expeditions to the Komodo National Park in Flores, Takabonerate and Wakatobi in South East Sulawesi as well as to the resplendent Raja Ampat national park near Sorong, in West Papua.

To reach Bulukumba, you must first get to Makassar, the capital city and main hub of South Sulawesi province. There are daily flights from Jakarta, Denpasar, as well as other major cities in Indonesia. From Makassar to Bulukumba which is roughly about 175km from Makassar, the overland trip will take about 4-5 hours, so it will be more convenient if you rent a car. Once you reach Bulukumba, you don’t need to worry about accommodation. There are at least 30 hotels of various classes and inns to choose from. Some of these hotels can also be booked online.


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