A superyacht with siblings at the helm
When a brother and sister chartered traditional phinisi boat Dunia Baru back in 2017, they never imagined that they would end up owning it.
“My sister sailed on Dunia Baru back in 2014, and then we both chartered her again in 2017 with some mutual friends,” says Singapore-based real estate developer Teng Yuan Wee. Their joint trip to the Komodo archipelago on the traditional-style phinisi boat left an impression on the pair, who were intrigued by the exacting standard of craftsmanship on Dunia Baru as well as the intricacies of traditional boat building. Together, they decided to do some further research into owning one of their own.
“As part of our discovery process, we contacted the naval architect behind Dunia Baru, and Mark Robba, the then-owner, came up as one of the people for us to get in touch with,” explains Teng. “He mentioned that he was open to letting it go – and given that Dunia Baru is the grande dame of phinisis, the opportunity to have a chance at owning it was exciting.” The siblings took Robba up on his offer and got to work on making it their own.
To put their own bespoke stamp on the vessel, the pair tapped Cape Town and Singapore-based interior designer Deirdre Renniers, who was at the helm of the design for Amandira, the exceptionally stylish yacht built for Aman Resorts. “My sister and I both share a certain aesthetic and we knew that Dunia Baru had the bones to accommodate that,” says Teng. Renniers, as they predicted, certainly delivered.
Following a ten-month-long refurbishment, Dunia Baru is now dressed with subtle soft furnishings and accessories such as Frette bath and face towels, duck-feather pillows and duvets and natural fibre rugs, hand-knotted in Indonesia. A neutral and light colour palette complements the yacht’s dark interiors and timber cladding. The result? A boat bursting with history and tradition, yet decked out with every modern comfort and luxury.
Dunia Baru sailing around Indonesia
Dunia Baru sailing around Indonesia
The siblings will use the boat privately, of course, and continue to let the boat out for charter trips around Indonesia. “In Indonesia, a phinisi yacht blends in perfectly with its surroundings,” explains Teng. “A wooden boat has a sense of charm and for Dunia Baru in particular, a strong sense of history behind it,” says Teng.
In terms of destinations and charter routes, the siblings are spoilt for choice. “Indonesia is a huge archipelago with over 17,000 islands, so there are many undiscovered areas,” says Teng. “The main ones are getting a bit busy so I think our aim is to explore the quieter ones.” With a tropical, year-round climate and multiple unspoilt cruising grounds, there is certainly scope for plenty of adventures ahead.
There will also be a philanthropic angle to the boat’s activities. To date, the yacht has undertaken some impressive projects, including a pioneering research trip with Boat International’s Yacht for Science program to study black coral in Raja Ampat. “That’s something we definitely want to continue; engaging the local communities and contributing to environmental and marine research,” says Teng. Led by Dr Erika Gress and a team of four marine biologists from the University of Papua, the study, which took place over a two-week cruise, provided vital information on the black coral ecology and the reefs they thrive in.
“Mark also built a learning center in Raja Ampat, which was his way of helping to educate the children in these local communities,” says Teng. “Guests will also have the opportunity to visit and contribute, so they get exposed to seeing different cultures and ways of life.”
Dunia Baru was built for families and the siblings plan to take full advantage of that. “My sister is a mother of two young children and there are now 12 of us in the extended family,” says Teng. “The boat acts like a floating island where people can do what they want to do; we don’t all have to do everything at the same time but, crucially, we are all connected. We look forward to spending some quality time on board, exploring Indonesia’s vast cultures and numerous remote islands,” says Teng. By all accounts, it seems these siblings are set for some smooth sailing.