This High-Luxury Superyacht Was Hand-Crafted in the Jungle

Can a single vessel be a piece of history, a luxurious yacht for modern travel, a masterpiece, and a platform for sustainability, all at once? The dark, majestic Dunia Baru proves that it’s possible. Thanks to its young millionaire owners, this traditional Phinisi boat was transformed into a truly one-of-a-kind gem among all luxury charter yachts.
The Dunia Baru is one of the most spectacular traditional Indonesian yachts today 19 photos
Photo: Dunia Baru
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Not everyone can decide to buy a charter superyacht because of how much they enjoyed spending time on board. But when you’re a millionaire and a visionary, you can change a yacht’s destiny. After chartering Dunia Baru a couple of times, the young Singaporean Jing-Yi Wee and her brother Teng Yuan Wee dreamed of becoming the owners of the unique Indonesian masterpiece.

And they did. Luckily for them, the original owner was willing to part with his yacht, which he had enjoyed mainly as a personal watercraft. An American businessman, Mark Robba had enough resilience to bring the Dunia Baru to life, even though the road to that was long and riddled with challenges. In the hands of Jing-Yi Wee, the exceptional boat would become even more spectacular.

First of all, Dunia Baru (translated as “New World”) is a Phinisi. Back in the 17th century, these two-masted vessels carefully carved out of the woods that grew in Indonesia were used as cargo ships. They carried the most precious goods, such as rare spices, sandalwood and fabrics, along one of the most famous trade routes at the time (the Spice Route).

Dunia Baru Yacht
Photo: DuniaBaru
In 2017, these sailing boats built by hand in South Sulawesi (an island in Indonesia) were recognized as “Intangible Cultural Heritage” by UNESCO. They remain the highest expression of the Indonesian sailing tradition, and we can still admire them at sea, today. There are plenty of Phinisi yachts available for charter, such as the beautiful Prana, but Dunia Baru is unique even among them.

While most of the luxury motor yachts today are designed for series production, Dunia Baru is literally impossible to replicate, which is what fascinated its new owner. The main reason can be found in the vessel’s bones and essential features, like its wheel and balustrades.

All of these were carved by hand, from an exceptional wood that is currently protected, so it can no longer be used for yacht building. This is the Ulin Ironwood, sourced from a tree that’s indigenous to Indonesia and that can live up to 1,000 years,

Another element that makes it special is that this isn’t a replica of a traditional sailing boat, built in a modern shipyard. This Phinisi was literally born in the Sulawesi jungle. This is where it was built by the famous local craftsmen of Sulawesi, known as the Konjo Boat Builders. Due to the challenges that came up along the way, it took eight years for the custom boat to be completed. The fact that we can admire this unique boat today is owed to Mark Robba.

Dunia Baru Yacht
Photo: DuniaBaru
But it was its second owners that gave it another layer of sophistication, making it as luxurious as any modern motor yacht. The 167-footer (51 meters) that had been built in 2014 was restyled by Deirdre Renniers, only to enhance the onboard experience. Its relaunch as a sumptuous option for what is called “slow travel,” was a resounding success. It was voted “Best Asia-based Charter Yacht” two years in a row, by Asia Boating.

Adding to its unique character, Dunia Baru was also the first and only wooden vessel to operate in Indonesian waters with a BKI Class certification. This approval from the BKI (Indonesian Classification Bureau) confirms the Phinisi’s safety and high construction standards.

A floating work of art, this sailing yacht blends the traditional design, furniture, and style, with the latest yachting amenities. Its seven cabins can welcome up to 14 guests, with an 18-people crew attending to their needs. All of the cabins feature en-suite bathrooms, and the master suite is remarkably lavish for a yacht this size.

Try to picture wraparound windows that offer amazing views, a private study, and, best of all, a generous private deck – the perfect spot to enjoy breakfast, relax, or even meditate. The open kitchen, centered around a Teppanyaki grill, is another inviting area on board. Unlike the cold and formal galleys of conventional yachts, it’s as stylish as all of Dunia Baru’s onboard spaces. Plus, it blends seamlessly with the wider outdoor dining area.

Dunia Baru Yacht
Photo: DuniaBaru
The latest entertainment systems, Wi-Fi, and a generous selection of cool water toys (including diving equipment) turn this traditional boat into a modern vacation yacht. At night, passengers can admire the fish that are attracted by its 34 underwater LED lights. On board the Dunia Baru, there’s no rush. Its Yanmar engine keeps it sailing gently at no more than 10 knots (11.5 mph/18.5 kph).

Able to cover up to 4,000 nautical miles (7,408 km) this luxurious Phinisi is one of the most coveted options for sailing around Indonesia, as well as Thailand and Myanmar. Although it’s aimed at wealthy customers (weekly rates start at $120,000) the Dunia Baru also supports scientific research.

For example, in 2020, a scientist was hosted onboard for two weeks, in support of the Black Coral Research Program. Plus, the owner also helped built an eco-friendly Learning Center in a local village, as a way of giving back to the community. During their luxurious vacation trips, passengers can also visit the Center and learn more about sustainability.

Dunia Baru Yacht
Photo: DuniaBaru
An exquisite wooden vessel that embodies the heritage of Indonesian boat building, the Dunia Baru shows us a different perspective on luxury.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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