Indonesia’s remote and remarkable islands
Indonesia’s remote and remarkable islands
Journeys

Indonesia’s remote and remarkable islands

Yacht owner Dominique Gerardin on the far-flung region that captured his heart.

By Dominique Afacan | 27 July 2018

When you grow up living in destinations as diverse and exotic as Madagascar and Tahiti, a thirst for adventure as an adult is practically a given. For Dominique Gerardin, co-owner of Lamima, that certainly turned out to be the case – and it’s what finds him today on board a Phinisi-style superyacht sailing around the otherworldly backdrop of Raja Ampat, a sparsely populated archipelago in Indonesia.

Indonesia’s remote and remarkable islands

Dominique Gerardin (front, centre) with the crew of Lamima

Indonesia’s remote and remarkable islands

Dominique Gerardin (front, centre) with the crew of Lamima

It’s a far cry from the Mediterranean where Gerardin spent many years as a superyacht captain – but by his own admission, the remote islands of South-East Asia are much better suited to the sort of low-key, barefoot luxury that floats his boat. The two worlds are intertwined, though, and it’s thanks to a previous client-turned co-owner that Gerardin’s dream of building a wooden sailing yacht could be realised.

“I had this idea of creating a beautiful sailing yacht, built in the traditional Indonesian way, but with all the luxuries of a superyacht,” explains Gerardin, “my client was very interested from the start and said he’d back me to do it.” Fast-forward to 2011 and Gerardin found himself on the beach, project managing the build for a hot and hectic year, before relocating to Bangkok where all the engineering, rigging and interiors were completed. “By 2014, we were on the water, cruising around Indonesia,” says Gerardin.

Indonesia’s remote and remarkable islands
Indonesia’s remote and remarkable islands

It’s a destination that he clearly holds dear – having first encountered it in rather less comfortable style. “I first came here with a Papuan friend on a little wooden pirogue,” he recalls. “When I saw this scenery, I fell in love.” With his background in the superyachting world, he instantly started plotting how he could introduce the destination to some of the people he’d worked with in Europe. “I had this dream of introducing my customers from Monaco and bringing them here, so that they could also discover this other world,” he says.

And it really is another world. Whilst plenty of tourism reaches the likes of Bali – Raja Ampat, Komodo and Papua are still perceived as being prohibitively far away. “It’s very inconvenient, which is great as it means in ten years time, it will still be unspoilt,” says Gerardin. He tends to spend a few days a month on board with friends and family; the rest of the time, it’s booked out to charter guests, who are increasingly keen to explore far-flung territories. “If you look at the yachts going to Antarctica and beyond, it’s the same kind of customer. People who want to do something more authentic, less shiny.”

Indonesia’s remote and remarkable islands
Indonesia’s remote and remarkable islands

One of the boat’s most popular itineraries involves starting in Raja Ampat, before cruising overnight to the Spice Islands. “We’ll often go onto Banda Island too – it’s interesting as it used to be the capital of nutmeg, which was worth as much as gold at one time,” says Gerardin. Aside from the historical appeal, there is a real draw for divers, too; the Banda Sea is famed for its hammerhead sharks that gather here to mate every October and November. “It’s beautiful being in the water with them,” says Gerardin, “and not scary at all. When it’s mating season, they are not interested, they don’t even look at you.”

An alternative charter offers another wildlife draw, starting in the Papua area in Kaimana. “In Triton Bay, there’s a place where the local villagers have fed the whale sharks for years. It’s part of their culture, so all the sharks hang around. It’s one of the only places in the world where they don’t migrate as they have food all year round. They are there every day for sure,” says Gerardin. For charter guests, that means guaranteed swim time with these gentle giants.

Indonesia’s remote and remarkable islands
Indonesia’s remote and remarkable islands

Of course, in such remote locations – the boat and the crew need to go the extra mile to keep their guests happy; something Gerardin is confident he has achieved. “We are set up for everything on here,” he says, “and you need that because where we are, there is nothing. Guests can’t book a restaurant or go shopping, so you need to have a great boat and a very friendly crew, which we do.” The 20 crew on board include masseuses, dive instructors and chefs – all of whom are local Indonesians, trained from scratch. “The crew love the boat and are very proud of it,” explains Gerardin, “so it’s very well maintained. The best compliments I have from charter guests relate to them. And they get better all the time, as the turnover is so low.”

The toy garage is also a big hit with charter guests, many of whom are families with young children. “We have all the water toys – jet skis, stand-up paddleboards, surfboards, wakeboards, tenders – everything,” says Gerardin. And it’s not just the charter guests who benefit from them – twice a year, Gerardin and the crew open the boat up to local schools, who are able to come on board and experience a day on board. “They love it,” says Gerardin, “and the crew love entertaining them too.”

Sign up for updates




Do you work in the superyacht industry? YesNo
I would like to receive updates from Superyacht Life