Saturday, April 20, 2019

Fishing: Catfish caught

Date: March 20, 2019 
Trip #21 (#41)
Weather: Cloudy but bright, cool. Rained upon our return to the marina  
Waters: North of the SAF firing range, a little choppy
On board: C, A, J1, J2, R, K, B, D and Pudding 

It rained in the east coast in the morning, and there was a danger the trip would be canned. But we drove out west and it was fine there, so we headed out. 

B and D, R's brother-in-law and nephew, were guests on board today. D, aged nine, is the only one of B's four children who has taken an interest in fishing. Father and son came with their own rod and tackle, which they set up as soon as we had dropped anchor in our usual spot.  

We turned on the boat's fish finder and it showed disappointingly fish-less waters. D, enthusiasm dampened, jumped into the water as an alternative sport. Several dives later, he was emboldened enough to jump off the side of the boat, a considerably higher launch point. His dad, J1, R and K joined him for a spot of swimming. After the broiler heat of our last two outings, today was pleasantly cool, with the sun behind massive cloud cover. (Sunglasses were still required.)  

Pudding generally got in everyone's way until he was given a hoist to get to the upper deck with A, who just chilled there and watched some predator birds take dives into the water. (Hm, there must be fish there, she thought.) 

Pudding surveying his kingdom from his perch.

Then came a shout from aft. There was a bite on the line. It was a catfish.  

It was a joint effort in landing this catch.
Mindful of the poisonous barbs on this fish, B, with his left hand protected by a flip flop, removed the hook. He released the fish "because catfish aren't good eating", he said. These bottom-feeders taste muddy.

Seeing a storm front coming from the direction of the Lim Chu Kang fish farms, we hauled up anchor and headed back for Raffles Marina. We idled for a while outside the marina so the anglers could make another try for a catch, but they came up empty.

The rain caught up with us again as we turned into the marina's no-wake zone. C did the post-trip hose-down while the rest took shelter in the bistro. After the boat was cleaned and returned to the boathouse, we had a meal at the marina. None of the waiters who came by with the orders seemed perturbed to find a dog there, though our table was far from where most other customers of the bistro were. So we stayed for the meal.

Monday, March 11, 2019

A longer trip, canned

Date: March 9, 2019 
Trip #20 (#40)
Weather: Sunny, bright 
Waters: North of the SAF firing range, flat, but stormed on the return leg 
On board: C, A, J1, J2, R, K, and Pudding 

The plan was to head east from Raffles Marina to go to the Southern Islands, but everyone (excepting C and A) got up too late. It is a rather longer cruise, be it to Sisters' Island or to Pulau Hantu, and we would have returned to the marina too late, probably in semi-darkness, so the plan was canned. 

We are starting out from the marina no earlier than noon or even 1pm these days, so our choices are seriously limited. 

We do miss going to the islands. The previous boat, a Chaparral, had an outboard motor [see the 2019 model of the Suncoast 230 that we had here]  which could be raised in shallower water so it didn't hit rock or coral. We would get right into the shallower lagoons in the Southern Islands and just wade to shore, carting our stuff for a picnic. 

The trusty Weber grill with gourmet sausages on Pulau Hantu,
November 2015

Little Wanderer, a Chaparral Suncoast 230,
anchored in the low-tide lagoon off Pulau Hantu, 2015

A picnic on Pulau Hantu while the boat is anchored 
just offshore, December 2015 

This isn't an option with the Sea Ray Sun Dancer 260. If we go to the islands, we'd have to drop anchor outside the lagoon and swim in - not a very exciting prospect for water-phobic A and Pudding. And swimming in towards shore also means we can't carry a BBQ pit, or speakers for music and a hammock ... you know, the mod cons. [Looks like having a dinghy would be a solution?]

That's why the five or six of us have been pretty much stuck on the boat north of the SAF training area. 

On the way to our usual spot, March 9, 2019. 

Derpy dog below deck, in air conditioned comfort. 
On this particular trip, it rained quite hard on our trip back to the marina and we were mostly soaked through. We just took quick showers back at the marina and headed home. We don't stay long at the marina post-boat trip nowadays because the marina has made clear its no-dog policy. They have no objections to dogs passing through the carpark and the marina grounds to get to the boats, but going to the bistro or pub after a boat trip is a no-no - even if we would be happy to take a table far from everyone and out al fresco so as not to annoy other dog-hating people. 

So the bistro and the pub have lost our custom. The dog is part of our family and if you outlaw him, we won't stick around, Raffles Marina. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Could a boating day get any hotter??

Date: Feb 9, 2019 
Trip #19 (#39)
Weather: Blisteringly sunny, bright 
Waters: North of the SAF firing range, flat, but choppy on return leg 
On board: C, A, J1, J2, R, K, Grandma and Pudding

The mercury climbed well into the high 30s on this Saturday afternoon, and it was the hottest anyone in the crew could remember a boating Saturday to be, and even those individuals prone to thinking themselves immune from sunburn obediently slathered on the Banana Boat (and laughed at the pointlessness of any SPF beyond 30). 

But the sunniness made for great photos. The colors popped. Sample this: 

Pudding with his consorts, R and K
(first-time on Little Wanderer II, welcome, K!)

Yes, the sky was that blue. What's with the weather these days? Isn't it supposed to be cooler at the start and end of each year?

Only J1, A, Grandma and Pudding stayed out of
the water, which was relatively clear. The currents were strong, though. 

Grandma a trooper in the heat, though she too sought
 the comfort of the below-deck space to rest.

The heat was really front and centre, to the point it was uncomfortable. And nobody showed this more than the resident canine, who chewed on ice and looked for every bit of shade, especially below deck.

We had the air-conditioning turned on, and
Pudding knew where he preferred to be - below deck!
I guess it is no joke wearing a fur coat he can't
ever take off and having no option to sweat to cool down.

We hadn't even expected to be out on this day, but our calendar suddenly cleared when a family gathering was cancelled, and the weather and tides were in our favour. What with so few trips having been made especially in the last half of 2018, we jumped at the chance. After all, berthing the boat  still incurs costs even if we don't go out, so we would really head out to the water more if we could. If only work and other obligations didn't get in the way so often.

[Cue here C and A's refrain: 'It's time to retire.']

Extreme heat aside, there's something pleasurable about powering up the stretch west of Tuas, and then dropping anchor in our usual spot. There is the fenced-in greenery north of the Singapore Armed Forces' training area, where we have spotted macaques and an occasional wild boar, the Lim Chu Kang fish farms to one side and Johor's Puteri Cove further south; the waters, out of which we have seen frightened fish leap in arcs to escape predator fish; and overhead, flocks of smaller birds and the occasional Brahminy kite. 

[Today, however, the birds disappeared. We imagined them wilting in the shade of the trees and trying not to fall off their perches.]   

Pudding revels in a scritch from J1. What a change
 from the dog that came on board for his maiden trip,
tail between his legs and shivering in fear.
But he still won't dive into the water.  

We have to agree that trips out on the boat have become even better with Pudding on board; it's as if we are viewing the experience through his eyes, whether he is going from one person to the next in search of ice cube, treat or a pet, or enjoying  a quieter moment with his Grandpa at the bow (after getting a helping shove to his butt to climb up there).

Here's to more boating Saturdays in 2019. 

We keep this blog as a log book for our trips. Sigh, and from checking the stats, A reckons that readership isn't very high. Time for some research into SEO - search-engine optimisation. 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Pudding definitely has his sea legs (but not for swimming)

Date: Dec 29, 2018 
Trip #18 (#38)
Weather: Cloudy mostly, occasionally sunny 
Waters: North of the SAF firing range, flat 
On board: C, A, J1, J2, R, L and Pudding
New gear on board: Leica DX7, Fujifilm X-T100 (Christmas presents!)  

Wow, it's been three months since our last outing. A combination of having this or that commitment on our designated boating Saturdays, or bad weather, or both, has seen to that. Just life getting in the way, in other words. We were thus looking forward to being on the water again as the year draws to a close. 

L (left) is a dive master and marine biologist. 

L the marine biologist joined us on this outing, but no, there was no chance of her showing us sea critters and telling us about them. The waters north of the SAF firing range looked clean enough, but weren't clear.  Seems it's too much to ask for when you are talking about Singapore waters. 

And I say emphatically Singapore waters, because the Malaysians have unilaterally decided in recent weeks that these waters are theirs. A couple of their vessels have been recalcitrantly dropping anchor in these parts, triggering a war of words between the two states through the media.  On this Saturday though, we didn't see any Malaysian-flagged vessels there. A Singapore Coast Guard boat made its appearance once (as they usually do in our outings), but only to tell us to drop anchor 50 m further north because we were technically still in the live firing area. 

What a dramatic international diplomatic incident it would have been if one of those Malaysian boats detained this Singapore family for their "incursion" into "Malaysian waters". But nah, it didn't happen. 

Meanwhile, Lord Pudding seemed really happy to be on the boat this time. He moved from spot to spot on board, with none of the fear he had on his first two outings. It got a tad hot for him though. 


However, he is still fearful of water. This pic says it all: 

He was curious, but appeared to take their word for it that the water was
lovely. Not even a liver-flavoured treat could lure him in. 

Looks like a few more swimming sessions at The Naked Pet are in order for us to be the owners of a doggo that would take a flying leap into the blue beyond. Friends have suggested that we just chuck him in (which in itself is getting to be a challenge since he now weighs 28 kg or so), but we don't want to traumatise him. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018


Date: Sept 22, 2018 
Trip #17 (#37)
Weather: Sunny, then overcast (very overcast), then sunny again 
Waters: Slightly choppy just outside the marina and on the way to the anchor point, but calm after dropping anchor north of the SAF firing range 
On board: C, A, J1, J2, R and Pudding 

The following pictures say it all about the fickleness of the weather on this outing, our first since The Big Move to our new home in Siglap. (Since then, it's been six weeks of dealing with the interior designer and the developer for the various fixings needed around the house. Truly, one never knows what needs to be done around the place until one moves in and starts living there.)

Time: Around 1pm, searingly hot, just off Raffles Marina. 

Time: Around 3pm, north of the SAF firing range. Beautiful storm light. 

Time: 5pm, back at the marina. Blue skies. 

The mutability of the weather was kind of surprising on this Saturday. Heavy thunderstorms had been predicted for the afternoon, so at first we canned the idea of going out in the boat. But the day dawned bright and clear, so the plan was back on. It was still sunny as we got underway; the heat was so searing that everyone applied sunblock with some diligence (except for C, who thinks himself immune from UVA/UVB).

It has been about three months (THREE!) since our last outing, and Pudding seemed to have forgotten the business of boating. He was restless as the engine roared, either because he was freaked out or because of the heat or both. 

After we berthed at our usual spot just south of the fish farms, the grey skies swept in, and brought with them the tiniest drizzle. Nobody moved to go below deck; I don't think anyone even thought of the possibility of the boat being tossed like a cork in a rainstorm. J2 put on his raincoat, but realised it wasn't worth how hot he was feeling under it. The light was all grey and yet orangey; it was dark and yet quite bright, this storm light.

We stayed put, calmed by the silence of the waters, the silence broken by our choice of music, washed down with beers. This is our Saturday oasis, one that we never tire of coming to.

We hoisted the anchor at around 5pm, partly because A had forgotten to bring along Pudding's lunch, and everyone figured it would be around 7pm before he would get his first meal since breakfast. A felt #contrition, though J1 said that as the dog gets nearer his first birthday, he should be getting used to having fewer meals a day anyway. We plied him with more treats than usual to make up for the oversight. The things we do for this dawg.

The drizzle blew over soon enough and we cruised back to the marina in bright 5pm light. It was as if the threatened bad weather was never there at all as we went through the post-outing ablutions.

Mutability, change. This family has been buffeted by it in a big way this past year, and I think we seem to have come through it with some grace, despite it having been change that was unsought. But we are finding our own new level after it and maybe even liking it, though, on a day-to-day basis, some of us still find comfort in doing things the old way.

Yes, one has to look back, sometimes. Pic by J1.  

We don't want to forget our old home, and so have brought along with us some pieces of furniture, some knick knacks, to remind us from whence we came. We have these things to tie us to the past, but we also need to look forward, all of us ...

... both the young... 

... and the not-so-young. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

It's so hot out here!

Date: June 21, 2018 
Trip #16 (#36)
Weather: Sunny, very hot and still 
Waters: Slightly choppy just outside the marina and on the way to the anchor point, but calm after dropping anchor north of the SAF firing range 
On board: C, A, J1, J2, R and Pudding 
New gear on board: Non-slip mat for the dog (Grandma's gift!)

This is how we remember mid-year weather to be - sunny, sun-burningly hot, in fact, searing. We just broke out the beers, turned up the music and chilled, our way. 

Pudding uses the non-slip mat that Grandma bought him.
The dog, on his third outing on the boat, was restless. Then we realised he was desperately in need of a cooler spot. Unlike us humans, he doesn't have a built-in system of sweat glands to cool him off. Wearing that coat of fur doesn't help.  He was chomping gratefully down on cubes of ice tossed to him from the cooler, and moved from place to place on deck to find a cool spot to lie on.  Then J2 doused his head with water from the hand-held shower head on board. He didn't even fuss - and this is a dog who everyone knows hates bath days.  

Wet (and glad) dog.

The hat didn't stay on for more than a second
after this shot. How do all the other cute Instagrammers
get pix of their doggos wearing the coolest head gear?
And this "Spraying & Praying" hat was put on him
with the best intentions -  to keep him cool 
this hot day at that...   

When J1 went below deck into air-conditioned comfort for his customary nap, the dog followed him readily. 

Dog-dad J1 in a happy moment.

R cosies up to her pal. 

This was a really chill afternoon - strange use of the word, come to think of it, given that it was anything but cool. But the flatness of the dark green, murky water, the stillness of the secondary jungle onshore, and our having that whole stretch of water south of the fish farms to ourselves was a wonderful Saturday respite from a hectic work week, which we undertook amid the hub-bub of renovations of our new home. So many things to tend to, some in consultation with the interior designer:   

Where do you want the grommets on the study desks? 
Do you prefer the bedside power points above or behind the bedside tables? 
Has the fan for the front yard been ordered and paid for?
When do we install the awning if we are unsure of the Building & Construction Authority rules? 
When are we going to start packing? 
And where do the boxes sit in a home that is still pretty much lived in? 
Will Move-In Day run smoothly? 
What about the leaks in the basement of the new home - will that continue to haunt us and break our budget down the road? 
What other things are left to buy? 

We are all looking forward to moving - well, more precisely, settling into - the new place, and finding our new routines and rhythms. 

And it's not just us. The dog too, four months into his life with our family and after graduating from a Puppy Start-Right programme, will have to find his own new level too. 

We really don't understand people who keep moving house, either because of circumstances or because they get a good offer on their existing home. The unsettled-ness is awful to us. That sense of Place is key, the feeling that when you come Home, you know where all your things are; it's also where people important to you are.    

At the close of yet another great day out.
Raffles Marina dock

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pudding gets his sea legs (we think)

Date: June 15, 2018 
Trip #15 (#35)
Weather: Cloudy after a brief drizzle
Waters: Slightly choppy on the way out, but flat where we anchored, north of the SAF firing range 
On board: C, A, J1, J2, R, Pudding and Grandma!  

Finally, Grandma said yes. 

We have been asking her to join us on the boat for a year or more, and we think she had always thought that we had to swim out to the boat or something, and she isn't fond of the water or swimming. We promised her that she would board the boat from the dock and no swimming was involved.  

We think she enjoyed herself! 

It was Pudding's second boat outing and he seemed a lot calmer this time. He had spent most of the last boat ride taking refuge in J1 and J2's laps, shivering. (See post here.) This time, he switched between being on the seat with Grandma and A, or lying at Captain C's feet. He happily chewed cubes of ice on deck and often raised his head to take in the salty air. His tail: definitely not between his legs.

Who's havin' a good time? 

Now to make him jump into the water from the swim platform. Hahaha. Baby steps, baby steps.  

The weather had threatened to tank this outing. It was drizzling all the way to the marina, but by the time we got there, it had stopped, but it stayed cloudy. We had to top up the tank for the boat, so that delayed our start a bit. 

After we anchored though, it was all good. The waters north of the SAF firing range were an emerald green, clean and flat. We just kicked back and relaxed, glad that this was a long weekend, courtesy of the Hari Raya public holiday. 

Our kind of afternoon, away from the madding crowds.

J1 needed his nap, either because he might have been a little seasick (again) or because. So the air-conditioning below deck was turned on and he retired. Pudding followed him.