Sadar Arsyad, 45, is from Lamongan in East Java and has been living in the province’s Banyuwangi port town since 1987, from where he operates the KMP Gilimanuk ferry on the small stretch of water between Java and Bali. The father of four shared his day with The Bali Times.

My day starts before 5am, and after washing I perform the rites of my religion, which is Islam. Afterwards I’ll sit with my wife and have some coffee and something to eat, like biscuits. I try to keep fit and in the mornings, if I have time, I’ll do a bit of jogging around the area. It also helps to warm me up.

After a shower, I put on my uniform and have a proper breakfast: rice with vegetables and tempe or tofu. I have to get to the ferry by 7am, which is the time I am on duty. So I say goodbye to my wife before I leave, and I make sure I see all four of my children. They’re usually still in bed, asleep. I kiss each of their heads, because I love every one of them.

At 6am I set off in my car and drive to Banyuwangi; it takes about 20 minutes. When I arrive at the port I go straight to the ferry and board. I take over from the duty officer on deck and have a brief meeting with him about the current situation – how the ship is operating, checking the log, and any urgent communications.

I then call all the crew that will be on the same shift as me and have a briefing about their tasks. The crew will discuss their areas of responsibility. I’ll check the ferry to make sure it’s operational and perform spot checks in areas like the car bay and passenger seating to make sure they are clean and tidy. The bridge must also be spotless, and all the equipment there must be in perfect working order, including the communications equipment such as the radios.

While we wait for passengers to board the ferry, I relax for a while. It takes a while for cars and other vehicles to load. The story of this ship is that it was bought from Japan in 1977. There it was called the Asake. Even though it’s now old, it’s still in good condition and can hold its own against any other operating the Java-Bali service. The KMP Gilimanuk is serviced every year in Sumatra, by a company that’s good and well known around the world, and that also does maintenance on ships from Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. So if you look after your ship well, it will last.

The KMP Gilimanuk has been on the Discovery Channel and Al Jazeera. They came a few years back to do stories on this old ship that’s still operating well here, and interviewed me. I’ve been with the PT Jemla Ferry Company, which owns and operates the KMP Gilimanuk, since 1991.

The most vehicles we can carry is between 20 and 30, usually cars but also a lot of motorbikes. When everything and everyone is on board we will weigh anchor and depart from the port. The first manoeuvre is to turn the ship around, then we get under way. It’s a short crossing but it’s still a big responsibility. I am constantly monitoring – the instruments and what’s out on the sea, such as the waves and other craft. We don’t want anything bad to happen. It takes almost an hour to cross the Bali Strait, from the time we leave Banyuwangi to the time we dock at Gilimanuk.

When we get to the other side of the strait, we have to ensure that all safety procedures are adhered to, especially that people cannot leave the vessel before it is safe to do so. It takes about half an hour to complete the process of docking and unloading.

My shift lasts for 12 hours and in that time I will cross the Bali Strait eight times. It’s long, hard work but I enjoy it. I finish work at 7pm and go back home. I’ll have a shower and have dinner with my wife and the children. I feel happy when we are all together like that.

At night we like to watch TV, especially programmes about Java and its culture. We also talk about our days, how they went and if there’s anything we have to do. Occasionally at night we will go around Banyuwangi.

TV for me ends at 9pm, because I have to be up early the next morning. The children will still be watching it as I say goodnight to them – always reminding them to turn it off before they go to bed, and to turn out the lights.

Filed under: One Day

One Response to “”

  1. Elden Pacapac Says:

    It’s refreshing to see someone very chuffed about what they do. If only I had your writing aptitude. I look forward to more updates and will be returning.Thanks!

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