By Dan Streech
When I wrote this article a month ago, there were some classic photos that I wanted to include.. that being N6201 SAUMLAKI stranded in a small pool of water far up Crocodile Creek in desolate N. W. Australia. The photos were mailed to PAE by SAUMLAKI’s owner George Tahija in the days before digital and somehow in the two moves that PAE has made in the last 20 years, the photos were lost. I asked George for a copy of the photos, but like many of us with our old “real” photos, he had to dig thru some old boxes to find them. I didn’t wait for the photos and went ahead and posted the article without them.
Well.. the photos arrived today, and here they are. The story behind the photos is that Crocodile Creek is a “tidal” river and when the tide goes out, all that remains is a small trickle. The trick is timing. To get to the pool, you need to charge up the river (miles inland) and get to the depression formed by the change in topography and the water fall and remain there until the tide recedes.. and returns. It is a long haul up the river and apparently attempt #1 failed and poor SAUMLAKI ended up stranded on the river bank as the tide receded. There was no damage of course to SAUMLAKI.. except to her pride. Attempt #2 succeeded and resulted in the photo that you see.
In the e-mail that accompanied the photos, George (with a smile) referred to his Captain at that time and for many years thereafter as “mad”. That Captain was Mr. Paul Dean who took over on SAUMLAKI upon her delivery Singapore to 1993 and operated her safely over tens of thousands of miles of adventurous cruising throughout the waters of Indonesia and Australia. Well, I agreed with George that Paul was “mad” but we both knew what we meant.. he was “good mad”. My answer to George was that “mad” Captains create great memories. Thank you Paul.
Brothers George and Sjakon Tahija are known for the hard work, dedication, skills and conservative behavior they bring to their respective corporate and medical professions in Indonesia and via business dealings throughout the world. When it comes to their boating lives, however, “conservative” is a word seldom heard and instead is displaced by the more frequently used (and most appropriate) “adventure.” While safety and common sense are paramount when the Tahija family is boating, a spirit of exploration and a joy of discovering new pristine cruising areas is always present.
I first met George in the early ‘90s when he inspected an N46, the only Nordhavn model that existed at the time. Expansion of the line had been discussed, but the N62 project was really just a concept. Before we started talking about the boat, George spread out a map of Indonesia on the conference table. “This is my country,” he said. “We have 18,000 islands stretching over a distance of 3,000 miles. I want to explore them. Can you build a boat for me that will do that?” Our answer was a resounding, “YES!”
Only then did we commence the conversations about the Nordhavn 62 and to make a long story short, George Tahija’s order for N62 #1 became the foundation of the N62 project. She was named SAUMLAKI (after an Indonesian Island which carries family history) and even though she is on her third owner now, still carries that name. Soon after our delivery of SAUMLAKI to the Tahija family at the end of 1993, the adventures began and we would from time to time receive wonderful photos from places which evoke romance and great adventure – Krakatau, Komodo, Bali and more. The whopper was a photo of SAUMLAKI miles up a river in Australia purposely stranded in a small pool of water left there when the tide went out.
So when Sjakon stepped forward to order N86 #10 (KOONOONA), we knew that the tradition of adventure would continue and that we would soon be regaled with wonderful stories about grand adventures in exotic places. One clue that it was forthcoming? Captain Duncan Warner ordered “mud valves” on N8610 – a duplicate set of raw water inlets 18″ below the water line that are used in lieu of the standard lower inlets when in muddy shallow water conditions.
An inspired show of appreciation goes to Captain Duncan for making it all look so easy.
And most importantly, a heartfelt thanks to George and Sjakon for the examples that they set for all of us: a life filled with hard work, enthusiasm, commitment and adventure – whether at work or play – will result in a life that’s well lived and richly fulfilled.