In the warm waters of Raja Ampat, eastern Indonesia, about 1,300km due north of Darwin, the scenes are otherworldly. This is the home of teak yacht Rascal.
Scores of mountainous karst limestone islands rise from waters that alternate between clear turquoise and deep blue. This is the home of ironwood-and-teak yacht Rascal, launched little more than a year ago.
The 30m private charter was the brainchild of three young British men - Erik Barreto, Steve Ebsworth and Tom Wheeler - living and working in Singapore. The boat took craftsmen two years to complete on the remote beaches of South Sulawesi, in Tana Beru. Tana Beru, a remote fishing village where Phinisi boats have been built for hundreds of years by a long line of master boat builders whose skills have been passed down from generation to generation.
"It was our first experience building a boat, so we inevitably came across many unexpected hurdles - not least, translating the design of a Western super yacht, with all of the mod cons we wanted to include, whilst still respecting the traditional Indonesian Phinisi craftsmanship," says Erik Barreto, one of the owners of Rascal.
Modelled on a traditional twin-masted Indonesian sailing ship called a phinisi, Rascal dispenses with masts to create a fun, modern vessel. Without the masts, the open-top deck becomes a sunbathing space, a diving platform, and an outdoor screening area at night.
Rooms offer bright, beachy tones — Hamptons-meets-Bali is how the owners describe interiors that feature white walls, timber floors, Sonos audio systems, fully stocked mini-bars and spacious en suite bathrooms. Sparingly used Indonesian artwork lends the rooms a distinct sense of place, and all are above deck (unlike in most phinisis), with views of the sea.
The food onboard is the handiwork of the team behind Bali’s successful Watercress cafes, healthy, fulfilling meals with dishes like the Rascal burger — juicy Australian Angus beef, caramelised onions, cheddar and pickled beetroot. A handsome drinks menu, which includes the yacht’s very own Rascal Rum, is compiled and curated by Proof & Company. Meals are breezy, convivial affairs, taken on the back deck (or sometimes at a beach barbeque lit with candles) with views of the water in all directions, and punctuated by warm service from the disarmingly amicable crew.
Rascal is available for charter and can sail anywhere around Indonesia’s 17,500 islands, but the tours tend to focus seasonally on the areas of Komodo and Raja Ampat — chasing the sun, escaping the rain. Voyages take in some of the most stunning seascapes in the world: remote outposts where time slows and where days can go by before you pass another boat. Often, in this world of your own, the only company you’ll encounter are the manta rays and turtles in the silky seas below.
Explorers can venture on the seas with onboard inflatable kayaks or stand-up paddle boards, while divers can glide underwater with the crew’s certified dive master, who doubles as the cruise director (he also offers PADI certification courses for novices).
Trips on the ship fall into an easy rhythm, where the outside world magically disappears and where there is no schedule, no list of activities to be completed before lunch and no dizzying sense of urgency. Some regions where Rascal sails are blissfully free of phone coverage, allowing guests to truly disconnect, while immersing themselves in their surroundings. You can wake up in a private cove at an undiscovered island, with infinite possibilities at your fingertips.