..BOOK REVIEW: Land of Water
By Dan Streech
In 1990 while attending the Southampton boat show in England, I met a young gentleman from Jakarta, Indonesia, named George Tahija. George showed interest in the Nordhavn 46, which we had on display, but indicated that he needed a larger boat for the cruising plans that he had in mind.
Not long after that meeting, we began to conceive and design the (now venerable) Nordhavn 62. Some months later, George and his wife Laurel visited Dana Point where we presented our new design to them.
The meeting began not with drawings of the boat, but with a large map of Indonesia which George unfolded and spread out on the table. He said “Gentlemen, this is my country, Indonesia. There are 13,000 islands within the boundaries of Indonesia and they stretch over 3,000 miles from one end to the other. I want to visit and explore these islands and I need a boat which has the range and capability to carry me and my family safely to the remote and unexplored areas”.
We packaged a Nordhavn 62 for the needs of the Tahija family and in due course, George placed an order for hull #1 of the Nordhavn 62 project. The boat was named Saumlaki after an Indonesian Island where in World War II, George’s father Julius had distinguished himself in military action. The order for Saumlaki allowed the N62 project to become reality. (As Americans reading this will recall, it was during this period of time that the wretched and ill conceived “luxury tax” was put into place for boats sold and delivered in America. This effectively killed the market for American buyers and we would not get a second N62 order until the day after the tax was repealed some 18 months later.)
In December of 1993, Jim Leishman and I, along with my son Trevor and mate Colin Richman, delivered Saumlaki to George in Singapore. That 1800-mile sleigh ride down through the South China Sea to Singapore still ranks as one of my most wonderful boating experiences ever. Upon arrival at the Raffles Marina in Singapore, Captain Paul Dean and wife Sheri came aboard and Saumlaki’s life of adventure officially began. It wasn’t long before we began getting photos, letters, faxes and wonderful reports of Saumlaki in Bali, Darwin, Ambon, Jakarta, Krakatoa, Komodo and places in between. We were awed by the romantic and exotic places which were being explored and appreciative that George, his family and the Deans were wringing the best from Saumlakiand from life itself.
By 1997, George realized that Saumlaki had become too small for his growing family and asked PAE to design and build a larger boat for him. Jeff Leishman developed preliminary drawings for an 85- foot Nordhavn, but before starting the project, we realized that we weren’t ready for a boat of that size. (We had 15 PAE employees and 175 factory workers at that time. Today, we have 81 employees and 700 factory workers).
George used Jeff’s preliminary plans as a guide for a lovely 85 expedition yacht called Maleokoe which was built by Trinity Yachts and delivered in 1999. Saumlaki, meanwhile, was sold by our brokers and brought on her own bottom from Darwin, Australia to Dana Point, California where she is in great condition and continues to please her current owner.
Aside from celebrating the history of our first Nordhavn 62, my reason for waxing nostalgic is to introduce a book. A very very wonderful book. George Tahija and Paul Dean have written a novel called Land Of Water which, for me is beyond description. I can probably best explain it by saying what it isn’t. It isn’t a cruising guide or travelog. It isn’t a harrowing story of seamanship and difficulties. It isn’t an autobiography and it doesn’t place the boat as the centerpiece of the story (actually, Saumlaki is pictured only once and never mentioned). It is a love story. It is a simple story of a man’s love for his country, its people and for cruising on his sturdy boat and exploring some of the last remaining untouched places on earth. Even that love story isn’t told so much in words, but in photos, excerpts from the log, official documents and a “feeling” that you get as you turn the pages.
George sent me a copy of the book as a gift and I was blown away by it. I couldn’t put it down. Think of Babe Ruth pointing to the left field fence and then hitting the next pitch over it. George stated his dream in 1991 and he has accomplished exactly what he set out to do.
The 225-page Land Of Water is published in Indonesia but is not available through Amazon or anywhere on the internet that I could find. This book is a hidden gem! I feel strongly that people who are cruising or only dreaming of cruising will enjoy it very much, so we are going to offer it through the Shop Nordhavn section of our website. I have asked George to ship 50 books to Dana Point and we are offering them at our net cost of $55 plus shipping and handling. Order your copy today – you won’t regret it!