National Geographic : 1945 Jan
Seafarers of South Celebes () Screen Traveler from (endreau To Makassar Harbor Went Tough, Flexible Rattan for Export the World Over Rattan starts life as a climbing, vinelike palm in the jungle; it ends as polo sticks, chairs, baskets, Malacca canes, and cordage. On the Mula Mulai much of the cordage was made of rattan. The Mula Mulai then sailed south into the Flores Sea. Hadji Badong intended to do what eastbound prau masters often do when they fail to clear Bulu Bulu in the east mon soon. They sail south across the Flores Sea to Soembawa, or to the west end of Flores if they can keep far enough to the east; and then, using the night winds that blow from the land, they work their way eastward along the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands. One evening, when we were well on our way to the Lesser Sundas, I asked Hadji Badong how far we had come. "We'll go below, Tuan [sir]," he answered, "and look at the chart." We went down to his cabin, where we sat cross-legged on the floor with an old small scale chart between us. Under the flickering light of a hurricane lantern we looked down on what the cockroaches had left of the chart. They had eaten some fairly large areas of sea and islands, but the section of the Flores Sea that lies between the Postillion (Postiljon) and Tiger (Tijger) Islands was intact except for a few nibbles. Hadji Badong put his finger on the chart half way between the Postillions and Bonerate, and then, moving it around in a circle that en- closed a full 3,000 square miles of sea, said decidedly: "That's where we are, Tuan." To Hadji Badong his chart was little more than a plaything. In his youth he had learned from an older generation a wide and detailed knowledge of reefs, tides, currents, and winds; knowledge slowly and perilously gathered during hundreds of years by the men who sail among the islands (page 62). Japs Commandeer Ships and Seafaring Men I often wonder what Hadji Badong is doing now. One thing is certain: if he is still at sea, and if the Mula Mulai is still afloat, the Japanese are trying to use him and his ship. Faced with a dangerous shipping short age, the Japanese have made every effort since they occupied the Indies to gear to their war machine the shipbuilding and seafaring manpower of the islands. They need ships urgently, to carry raw ma terials to the industrial centers in Japan, to take troops and supplies to war theaters, to replace losses. Their program for building wooden ships in the Indies is intended to pro vide them with a fleet for interisland shipping, to release steel ships for ocean routes, and to augment their ocean fleet directly.