Sunday, April 24, 2011

Small wooden house of Arfak tribe in Kwau village of Arfak mountains

The small wooden house below is a typical traditional dwelling place of Hatam people. Hatam is one of the indigenous tribes who live in Arfak mountains of Manokwari regency in West Papua province of Indonesia. The house was built on a slope in Kwau village. I went there on 14 April 2011 with Ad Rappange - a tourist from Switzerland. Two crews from TOP TV - Nadia Siregar and Edo also went with us. Most of the traditional wooden houses have similar designs. The interior is not divided into smaller rooms like what we have in the city. The walls were made of bark reinforced with wooden sticks. The floor is made of bamboo supported by a lot of wooden posts. The Papuan do not use nails to join the wooden posts and beams. They tight them with split rattan. The houses do not have windows.
This traditional wooden house does not experience a lot of changes both in the design and method of construction. The only noticeable change that we can see in most of the houses is the roof material. In the past, the Hatam tribe used pandanus leaves as roofs. Now most of them have been replaced by corrugated metal roof called seng that is more resistant to rain. Because the houses do not have ceilings, the temperature inside the house is usually high during sunny days. 
The Hatam people like to grow flower around their houses. Although there is a high demand for fresh flowers in Manokwari city, they don't consider it as market or business opportunity. For them flowers are decorative plants that can beautify their houses and their Kwau village. The cool temperature in Kwau village makes the flowers grow well without any need of fertilizer. 
In recent years, villagers have constructed concrete houses in Kwau village. The concrete house actually is not suitable for them because the interior temperature will be colder at nights. However, they build the houses to show to other people that economically they are not poor. In most cases, I see that although they already have got a new concrete house, they still live in their traditional wooden houses that are warmer at nights. Kwau village is located on a slope in Arfak mountains some 1350 meters above sea level. by Charles Roring
Also read:  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wooden houses in Senopi

Wood as house construction material is still abundant in West Papua especially in District Senopi. From church, to villagers homes and from school to priest house, most of them were built with wood. The most popular tree for home building in District Senopi is Kayu Besi and Kayu Matoa. In the past, when chain saw and wood working machinery had not entered Senopi village, the indigenous Papuan built their traditional homes that were called rumah kaki seribu manually. The walls of these houses were made of barks whereas the floors were made of bamboo. For the roofs, they used thatched palm leaves. Today, we cannot not see that kind of rumah kaki seribu anymore. Most of the timber houses have been constructed from wooden blocks and panels that were cut using chain saw and other wood working tools.
The windows that we do not see in the traditional kaki seribu house design have been installed in the modern timber houses in Senopi. Many households in Senopi receive solar panels from the government as power resource for their radios and lamps. Unfortunately, the quality of these panels is low. Many of them cannot produce enough electricity anymore.
Although the houses are now using panels and blocks cut from big tree, their designs are not the same as the wooden houses that we usually see in Manokwari city. Most of the wooden houses in the city have floors made directly on the ground. Floors of Senopi houses are still around 1 meter above the ground adopting the traditional style of Rumah Kaki Seribu. The space under the floor allows air to flow freely and provides natural cooling for the house.  Wooden house is relatively an eco-friendly home. In addition, the empty space is mostly allocated for animals such as pigs, and chickens. So, it is not surprising if we hardly ever see any pigpens in Senopi. by Charles Roring
Also read: wooden house and alleyway of Kyoto

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Titanic sank into the Atlantic Ocean today nearly a century ago

Titanic is a history to remember. Today, 99 nine years ago one of the worst maritime tragedies happened in the Atlantic Ocean. Passenger ship RMS Titanic hit an iceberg and sank into the cold sea. Because it was her maiden voyage from Europe to the New World, it attracted the attention of all mass media on both sides of the Atlantic and from around the world. The luxurious passenger liner the Titanic sank with more than 1500 passenger and crew that died with her. However, there are not many pictures left about how the largest ship that belonged to White Starline looked like when it was sinking.

In 1985, wrecks of the steam ship was discovered by Robert Ballard and his expedition team. The discovery enables us to get Titanic pictures that were taken underwater. The pictures gave us a lot of information about the current condition of the passenger liner that is now lying on the sea bed. The damage on the ship's hull which was around 12 square feet in size was later analyzed using computer model to study how sea water entered the hull and sank the ship.Even though a lot of books, as well as scientific articles have been written about the ship, the sinking of Titanic ship will continue to attract the attention of ship enthusiasts and naval architect forever.Also read: The Sinking of Titanic Ship

Wooden House Frame from Minahasa

Wood has been used as home construction materials since ancient times. Wooden house frame that you can see in this article is typically from Minahasa. The species of wood that is chosen for pillars is aliwoswos, besi (iron wood) and other hardwood that is available in the timber market. The walls are usually made of Cempaka wood (Elmeralia ovallis). People in the mountainous region of Minahasa choose wooden houses because they are more resistant to earthquakes which sometimes hit the region that is surrounded by several active volcanoes. Posts are strengthened or stiffened using braces that are bolted or nailed to the beams of the house to ensure that it will not collapse when hit by strong earthquakes.
Before the house is erected on certain location, its posts, windows, and doors have to be manufactured by builders in their workshops. They will build the house to check whether all the construction parts of have been made according to the request from the owner. When the house is complete, it will be dismantled and shipped to where it will be erected.
Because the wooden house from Minahasa has attracted a lot of buyers from various different islands in Indonesia and abroad, the length of the frames and other parts of the house has been shortened to fit the standard size of a big container. Customers who want to buy a wooden house from Minahasa have to make sure that the frames of the house have been cut from hard wood material such as iron wood or merbau. In addition, the wood panels should be from old timber. by Charles Roring
Also read: Wooden house from Kwau village in Arfak mountains

Titanic - a history to remember

This morning is 13 April 2011, tomorrow ninety-nine years ago RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg on her maiden voyage to New York into the Atlantic Ocean. RMS means Royal Mail Steamer. She was a vessel that was meant to carry postal mails across the Atlantic. Titanic was a passenger liner. Even though it was considered as a luxurious vessel, it was not a cruise ship like the Oasis of the Seas. Cruise ships do not see speed as an important factor in their services. Cruise ships emphasize their services on entertaining their passengers and on providing itinerary to places that have been famous as tourist destinations. It was the worst maritime accident in the peace time. We still remembere how the accident was relived in the film starred by Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack and Kate Winslett as Rose. Actually, naval architects who designed the passenger ship had divided the vessel into 16 main compartments and double bottom. The 16 compartments had also been divided into 44 watertight compartments. Meaning that when the doors of the compartments were closed, water could not enter. However, the temperature of the sea that was very cold had changed the structure of the ship's hull. The steel plate of the hull became harder when it was in cold water and lost its ductility. As a result the hull plate of the Titanic had been more brittle in icy water. When she collided with the iceberg, it buckled the ship's hull plate and broke the rivets allowing sea water to flow into the watertight compartments.

The tragedy of the Titanic ship was a great lessons for all of the people who were working in the maritime industry. Safety has now become the main priority of the operation of ships around the world. The lifeboats that are installed in every ship now have to be able to carry all the passengers and crews in case when the ships experience emergency situation at sea. Radio equipment has to be manned 24 hours a day when the ship is sailing and lifeboat drills have to be conducted on every voyage. 
We have got a lot of lessons learned from the sinking of Titanic. Now the maritime technology is more advanced and the rivet joints in ship's hull have long been replaced by welded joints. Inflatable boats have been invented too. These improvements in shipbuilding technique should reduce the number of ship accidents. However, the challenge to the safety of passengers and crews of ships is increasing. Piracy is considered a serious threat for ships. Merchant ships that sail near the Somali waters and Malaka straits are now becoming the main targets for the pirates. Dealing with piracy, international community through IMO give green light to governments to protect their ships with navy personnel and naval ships. Even though the sinking of large ships have greatly been reduced, we must not ignore the pirates and other threats. Never forget that the seemingly calm surface of the blue sea does not reflect that our ocean is always at peace. by Charles Roring

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Oasis of the Seas Length

As the largest cruise ship at the moment, MS Oasis of the Seas has an LOA 360 meters. MS stands for Motor Ship. If compared to the length of a soccer field which is 105 meters, this vessel is nearly three and a half times longer than the field. Oasis of the Seas is even larger than the famous RMS Titanic whose length was 269 meters, a passenger ship that sank into the Atlantic ocean 99 years ago. In theory, with such length Oasis of the Seas can go faster on the surface of the sea propelled by her three Azipods propellers that sometimes can be rotated to 360 degrees to provide maximum maneuverability in restricted waters or when the cruise ship is near a harbor. According to ship theory, if the ship is too long compared to her breadth, it will not be stable enough when facing big waves. Naval architects who design the ship knows about it so they enlarge the breadth of the ship admidship to 60.5 meters. With such dimensions, the ship is more stable in rough seas and has more rooms for passengers. In addition, a cruise ship with larger breadth will have higher rolling period (around 7 to 8 seconds) that are more comfortable to passengers and crews.  

In addition to her length, Oasis of the Seas cruise ship has attracted the attention of naval architects around the world due to her unique superstructure form that has hollow spaces to allow sunlight to enter the rooms below the main deck and bring more light to port and starboard rooms above the superstucture that are closer to the center line of the ship.
Interested in the science of shipbuilding?
I remember the time when I was a child standing near the harbor in my town looking at the ships that were mooring at the pier of Manokwari bay. At that time I tried to find the answer of why those big and heavy ships that were made of steel could float on the sea surface whereas a small needle sank into the bottom of the glass that I had filled with water. You might have the same question. Well, if you are interested in learning more about ship science, I suggest that you begin reading books on naval architecture.
Also read: Oasis of the Seas Cruise Deals Pricing

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Wooden house from Kwau village of Arfak mountains

The wooden houses that you see in this post were photographed when I was guiding tourists in Manokwari regency. This is a typical wooden house in Arfak mountains. The walls are made of tree barks that are strengthened by wooden sticks to create rigid structure. The indigenous people who live in the house make fire near their feet to keep them warm at night. This house was located around 1400 meters above sea level in the middle of the tropical rainforest of West Papua. This house is an eco-friendly home construction because it only uses organic materials for building it. Although the houses look very basic in their design and construction, they are more resistant to earthquake than the ordinary concrete houses that I usually find in Manokwari city.
The floor of the house is made of bamboo panels that are supported by small wooden pillars and beams below it. The space below the house is usually allocated for pigs. Hens and cocks fly to the nearby trees to sleep there at nights. In the past, the roofs of the wooden houses in Arfak mountains were made of palm leaves that had been arranged and woven together to protect the interior of the houses from wet weather. Today, the villagers prefer to use corrugated metal roofs that are more resistant to wet weather and will only need replacement after 10 or 15 years of use.
Under the free housing program from the social department, local government of Manokwari regency construct semi-permanent wooden houses whose design and types are not the same as the original design of the houses which the indigenous people of Arfak mountains usually build. Most the houses are not built above the ground. As a result, they are not suitable for the climate in the slopes of Arfak mountains that is very cold at night. The Arfak tribes still say that their traditional timber houses are warmer than the ones constructed by the contractors of the government's project. If you are interested in traveling to Arfak mountains in West Papua province of Indonesia, and need a guide to accompany you, please, contact me Charles Roring via my email:
Also read:
Wooden house design of Losmen Amberimasi
Wooden house from tropical village of Senopi

Friday, April 8, 2011


In my previous article entitled: The Sinking of Titanic Ship and Lessons Learned from It, I describe some improvements in maritime regulations that are now practiced by ship crews. Titanic ship is the name of a passenger liner that sank into the Atlantic Ocean on her maiden voyage, shortly after midnight on 15 April 1912 from Queenstown harbor in Ireland to New York in the United States of America. More than 1500 passengers and crews died during the accident which was caused by the collision between the ship and an iceberg. The rivet joints under the water were broken when the ship's hull plate buckled after the collision leaving significant gap between the shells where sea water began to enter. Even though many passengers had life-jackets, the temperature of the sea which was 28 degrees F (- 2 degrees Celcius) was unbearable for those who were floating on the sea surface. Many died of hypothermia.
source: Irish Titanic Historial Society -
Years after the worst maritime disaster, people still remember about the accident due to a lot of publications about the ship. There are books, news articles and films (documentary and fiction) that have been created about the most modern passenger ship of that time. Some websites even sell Titanic models to those who are interested in buying them and put them at homes or offices. Naval architects and marine engineers now have to implement certain technical rules stipulated by IMO (International Maritime Organization) and varoius classification societies to ensure that such accident will not happen again in the future. At the present moment, all of the passenger ships and cruise ships have to carry boats that can save all of the passengers and crews.
In addition to the improvements in the number of boats, the sub-division of ship's hull into smaller watertight compartments have been strictly enforced to avoid rapid sinking of ships when they collide with other ships or experience grounding with coral reef in shallow waters.
Maritime accident such as what the RMS Titanic had faced must not happen again. However no one can guarantee that all ships at sea are now completely safe. We still receive news on television where ships sank due to human error or bad weather. The recent one is the sinking of a refugee boat between Libyan and Italian waters where a lot of people have been missing until now. RMS stands for Royal Mail Steamer meaning the ship was powered by steam engine. Mail steamer was a vessel that carried postal mails. A ship with that name must be a fast ship. That's the impression which we can get from the three letters of RMS.
Titanic is now at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, pictures about her have been published on televisions and newspapers. A lot of new regulations have been made to improve the safety of life at sea and still a lot of ships sink.
Today, the largest cruise ship in the world, such as the Oasis of the Seas can carry more than 6,000 people. She is equipped with modern navigational devices, and manned by experienced crews. As the ship sails around the Caribben waters, the lessons learned from the sinking of the Titanic must continue to remind people who operate the Oasis of the Seas to run their ship carefully until it arrives safely on her next port of call. by Charles Roring
Also read: Oasis of the Seas and Titanic Cruise Ships Size Comparison

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Sinking of Titanic Ship and Lessons Learned from it.

Cruise ships are not unsinkable. That's what we must always remember. A cruise ship how modern and advanced her technology is such as the Oasis of the Seas has to abide by the rules set by IMO and other maritime authorities related to safety of life at sea. Titanic ship sank on 15 April 1912. It was 99 years ago. The sinking of this passenger liner was one of the worst maritime disasters in modern shipping history. The "unsinkable" vessel demised into the Atlantic ocean after colliding with an iceberg. Carpathia, a small and slow mediteranian cruise liner, could only rescue 705 passengers and crews from the sea whereas more than 1500 had been lost to the sea. The passenger ship that belonged to White Star line is now lying two and a half miles below the surface of the Atlantic ocean.
One year after the maritime tragedy, people working in passenger shipping industry and Atlantic crossing business gathered in London for the first International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea. From this convention some rules were made for the safety operation of ships. The rules require that:
  • Every ship has to be equipped with enough lifeboats for every passenger and crew working on the ship.
  • Wireless or communication devices have to be manned 24 hours a day
  • Lifeboat drills have to be conducted on every voyage.
All ships have to abide by these and other maritime rules issued by IMO.
source of the photograph:
The rules are still valid until today. In addition, more technical regulations and improvements concerning the sub-division of ship's hull under the main deck into several smaller watertight compartments have been developed by classification societies that deal with rules regarding the safety of ships' structure. Today, modern cruise ships, ferry, and yachts have better navigational equipments that are supported by satellites such as GPS devices. Ship crews can easily inform their exact location (or coordinates) to the nearest maritime authorities and their shipping company if they face an accident at sea.
I remembered my personal experience when going to the sea by a small wooden boat to supply food (provision) to a giant container ship Global Bonanza one day after a huge earthquake and tsunami hit the eastern coast of Japan. For the container vessel, the remnants of tsunami waves that reached the northern coast of Manokwari were only ripples on the surface of the blue sea of Papuan waters but for a small boat where I was on board, the waves caused violent rollings. The boat did not have GPS equipment at all. When it was still in the Dore bay protected by two small islands, Mansinam and Lemon, the waves were not dangerous. After it went to an open sea behind these islands, the crews who operated the boat said that the waves were dangerous. As soon as we reached the port side of the container vessel, I climbed the hull through the rope ladder. When we were unloading the food and water for the crews of Global Bonanza container vessel, I received a call from my friends in the small boat requesting the big ship to rotate a little bit to protect the wooden boat from sea current that was entering the Manokwari bay. After several failed attempts in informing the deck crews about the request due to language barrier. They speak Chinese and their English was not clear enough, I was invited to go to the bridge to talk directly with the captain.
It was easy to talk to the captain because he spoke good English. He rotated his ship to starboard direction to block the sea current and waves from hitting the small boat. This dangerous mission was finally accomplished. While inside the bridge of this container ship, I saw that it was equipped with modern navigational equipment. Radar, and GPS were two important devices that I noticed in the room. The small wooden boat that was unloading the food for this big ship did not have such devices. In addition, the small boat were not adequately divided into smaller watertight compartments. The crews of the boat had to rely on their personal experience when operating their small wooden boats. Fortunately we could return to Manokwari harbor again. We left at 4 p.m. and we returned at 10.30 p.m. This small boat was nearly capsized but the experienced boat driver did his job well. He knew when to accelerate the boat's engine and when to slow down. Although the sea is a dangerous environment, I will never stop sailing. by Charles Roring
Also read:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Titanic ship sea accident and how to avoid it from happening again

Royal Mail Steamer (RMS) Titanic sank in April 1912. It was a tragic maritime accident which took the live of 1,517 people (data from Wikipedia) into the deep dark blue water of the Atlantic ocean. All of us hope that such case will not happen again. Titanic was a modern passenger ship of her time. However on her maiden voyage, it sank due to human error. A lot of people died in the accident because the number of passengers was higher than the available lifeboats and rafts. Although the passenger vessel had been divided into smaller watertight compartments to improve her insubmersibility properties, most of the compartments were broken and were not watertight anymore when she struck an iceberg. They began to receive cold sea water immediately after the collision. As a result, the Titanic passenger ship did not have enough buoyancy to support her on the sea surface. Insubmersibility can be defined as the ability of a ship to remain afloat when one or more of her compartments are flooded with sea water. Buoyancy is the force or pressure on the surface of the ship's hull that causes the ship to float.

Titanic Ship at sea - Source:
A.N. Krylov, a Russian naval scientist, developed the theory of insubmersibility to improve Russian warships following the loss of the entire Russian naval fleet in the battle of Tsushima strait against the Japanese navy in May 1905. So, the division of ship's hull below the main deck into several watertight compartments such as what we had seen in Titanic vessel was not a new invention. However, when she collided with the iceberg most of her watertight compartments were broken. As a result, the Titanic passenger ship did not have adequate insubmersibility properties anymore. 
Last week I traveled with four tourists from the Czech Republic to Numfor island. We went there by a small ferry boat KM. Kasuari Pasifik IV from Manokwari city - the capital of West Papua province. As somebody who used to study naval architecture, I observed that this ferry boat is not equipped with adequate number of life saving equipments. Based on the general arrangement drawings that I saw on the walls of this ship, I noticed that the ferry was constructed to carry both passengers and motorized vehicles such as cars and trucks. However, this ferry, during most of her voyages, carries more people than cars.
To prevent the loss of human life if the case of Titanic passenger liner happens again to this small ferry boat (I hope not), the number of lifeboats, rafts and life jackets should be added to a capacity of 300 to 500 people. I personally do not know the maximum capacity of this ferry if she only carries passengers with no cars on the main deck. Since the draft of the ferry is small and the main deck has large open space for trucks and cars (or usually passengers), the operator of the boat must not take any risk of carrying a lot of passengers during rough weather. In addition, in order to avoid any sea accident similar to Titanic passenger vessel, crews of the boat must regularly carry out training to simulate any possible sea accidents while the ship is sailing in the middle of the sea. by Charles Roring
Also read: Oasis of the Seas and Titanic Cruise Ship Size Comparison