Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A new drone takes off from the boat

Date: Dec 30 2019
Weather: Sunny and searingly hot
Waters: Choppy, especially out in Sinki Fairway
On board: C, A,  J2, R and Pudding (the dog an afterthought)  
New gear on board: The DJI Mavic Mini drone  

The last outing for 2019. We made a total of nine trips this year, going out at least once a month except in January, July and September. We had two outings in October. Wishing we could be out on the water more often. 

We are missing J1 on board today. He's laid up with a bad throat infection.  

We hadn't planned on bringing the dog along, but he put on his best "sad face"... Of course, when he realised we were at the marina, this aqua-phobic doggo must have regretted his Oscar-winning performance of grievance heartily. While leashed, he was doing his darndest to pull away from the dock, away from all that water. 

Anyway, he was part of the crew for the day, so he bore his suffering for the next one hour 10 minutes as Little Wanderer 2 powered towards St John's Island. Without the usually-seasick J1 on board, we picked the farther-away destination. 

It was blisteringly hot as we pulled into the lagoon between St John's and Lazarus Island and dropped anchor. Pudding ducked below deck. As R says, we can just jump into the (rather chilly) water to cool off, but the poor boi cannot just shrug off his fur coat and jumping into the water isn't much of an option. Maybe his doggy mind has made a note to himself: If hoomans are dragging out the icebox, do not - I repeat, DO NOT - put on sad face and beg to tag along. 

C brought out his newest toy, a DJI Mavi Mini, which took off from the back seat of the boat and flew rather self-assuredly into the sky. Both stills and video clips were taken. 

C piloted his Mavic Mini without problem. His earlier
drones seemed more difficult to control.
Advances in technology since the earlier versions ?  

You can just make it out in the centre of
this shot. Pic by C

That's us in the BIg Blue off St John's/Lazarus islands.  Pic by C.

We are wondering now if the dog won't be as keen
to join us if only he can find out in advance
where we are going. We all know he's not keen
 on the water or swimming or any kind of
water-based activity. 

Portrait time. 

Portrait time Part Deux. 
The doggo chills on the journey back, seemingly more
 relaxed than during the outward journey, when he
cowered beside A for more than an hour.

Back at the marina, the drone was sent up again to capture one of Raffles Marina's legendary sunsets.

That's the environmentally-damaging Forest City condo development on the skyline, built by a Chinese developer with zero regard for the effect of the construction on the quality of the water in the Strait of Johor. Pic by C.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Back to Lim Chu Kang, a first-time visitor on board

Date: Nov 9, 2019
Weather: Sunny and hot, cloudy and cooler later
Waters: Slightly choppy
On board: C, A, J1, J2, P and Pudding (R is away)  

Taken by C who was treading water with A's iPhone X.
Little Wanderer 2's impressive profile. 
 The plan was to go back to St John's, but of course, the young ones didn't wake up early enough...

So back to the Lim Chu Kang fish farms it was. We had P on board, a first-timer on board LW2 and a first-timer on a sport cruiser like this. 

First time I've seen the rabbit-ear thing done to a doggo. And said
doggo didn't seem the wiser about what was happening. 

J1 and P jumped off the swim platform to cool off, and Pudding, hearing the splash, went to see. Maybe his doggo brain understood them to be in some sort of trouble. He began to whimper, like he did two weeks ago, when C dived off the swim platform. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The empty nesters head out for a trip

Date: Oct 27, 2019
Weather: Sunny and hot
Waters: Choppy, especially on the return leg; anchored off St John's Island
On board: C, A and Pudding 

With J1 and J2 spending time with their girlfriend and wife respectively, we (C and A) found ourselves with an empty nest this long Deepavali weekend. Well, OK, we still had the dog, who has come to expect outings every weekend, so why not head out on the water with him, right? 

Neither of us wanted to let this long weekend go to waste, sitting catatonic in front of the TV and binge-watching Netflix series. And since we can wake up earlier, it seemed to make sense to try for an earlier start - seemingly impossible when young people are on board - and head out towards the Southern Islands. This is a route Little Wanderer 2 hasn't taken in a while, not since September 2017, when a trip was made to the waters off Pulau Bukom. Thanks to J1's chronic seasickness and the family's habitually late starts at noon, this longer route has been ditched in favour of going west towards the SAF live-firing area instead.  

And so on this sunny Sunday, after a little over an hour hugging Singapore's western coast, rounding The Elbow near Jurong Island and going down Sinki Fairway, we found ourselves floating in a calm lagoon (pic below) just about 100m off the causeway linking St John's and Lazarus islands. The dog was by then panting under his fur coat and nervous from the much-longer, bumpy trip. 


The plan had been to anchor the boat just off one of Sentosa's beaches, but when we got to just off the Tanjong Beach Club (scene of the Wedding of the Year in July), the waters just outside the floater lines cordoning off the lagoon were choppy and over 20m deep at that - too much anchor line would have to be paid out. St John's became Plan B.   

Hot dog being cooled down with a wet chamois. 

At the place where we anchored, there were two other pleasure craft; on the shore, a surprising number of day trippers were walking or using their PMDs (no escaping these nuisances on two wheels) between Lazarus and St John's islands. Not many swimmers on this scorcher of a day.  

Lazarus Island to the left and St John's to the right, and
the causeway, dotted with people, in between.

It was much quieter today on board as we floated there, and I was reminded that we are going through that rite of passage that many, many couples undertake - to try to reconnect with each other after the children have grown and go out to make their own lives, on their own time. For many years, the logistics and the effort of raising children typically consumes both halves of couples, who would also be navigating through their careers. Then when this time rolls around and they have only each other (most of the time anyway), what do they do together or say to each other? After 20-some years in marriage, there's not that much that's new to report anyway. Are they going to find an activity to share? Live separate lives while chasing disparate hobbies? And what about financial security and health? Will they remember (and celebrate) day to day the reasons they came together right at the beginning of their story? This leaves couples hoping that the intervening years haven't changed either of them too much that they are practically strangers to each other in their later years. Or, at the very least, they would hope that if they did change a lot, then the people they have become would still be tolerable!

Anyway, wine was drunk and Dire Straits and the Allman Brothers Band crooned. At around 3pm, we hoisted the anchor and made tracks for home, tanned some shades darker (C) and sunburnt (A). 

The return leg was even choppier and the boat captain had to slow down to a sedate 18 knots and even nearly stop at times. 

Once more, the dog was afraid, and planted himself
on A's lap pretty much all the way home. You know he's
 nervous when he refused the offer of a treat.

Pudding (check out his Instagram feed @pudding_thegoldengod)
happily accepted treats again back on terra firma at the marina.
He will be two years old in less than a month, and now weighs 32 kg. 

 One thought that struck us on this trip: How will boating change for us when Singapore's busy port starts operations at Tuas? The waters will be busier for sure, and making our way down the west coast and towards the Southern Islands will become a little more dangerous, with our small boat ducking around the massive container ships. Or we might have to swing out wider to avoid all this traffic, which will certainly add to travel time. 

The time might well have come to consider moving to another marina, the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club nearer Sentosa, for one. We have come to like Raffles Marina a lot, the long east-to-west drive for us notwithstanding. The marina is home base to many anglers, and though we don't quite "get" the joy of fishing, we like the laid-back, unpretentious atmosphere there. 

The downside to Raffles (aside from its location near the future Tuas megaport) is that it's anti-dog... which we have discovered only in the last year and a half that Pudding has come to join our family. We take him from car park to the boat and back, slinking around the edge of the marina, unable to go enjoy beers at the Discovery Pub or to have a meal at the bistro. We have offered to take tables far from other club patrons, and the dog - always leashed - is quiet and doesn't bark.

However, we have consistently received a "Rules are rules" response from the wait staff... 

Boating, the great outdoors... and dogs. They just "go" together. But a member of our family, sadly, isn't welcome here. 

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Sitting out a short shower

Date: Oct 5, 2019
Weather: Sunny, then a rainstorm, which cleared up fast 
Waters: Our usual spot north of the SAF firing zone, off western Singapore
On board: C, A, J1, J2, R and Pudding   

This was an outing best told in pictures, since we didn't do anything out of the ordinary. There were all good intentions to be at the marina by 11am, but as usual, a few of us were slugs about getting out of bed. Toss in a topping up of the tank, and it turned out that we couldn't leave the marina till about 1pm. 

Pudds tries to wrap his head around the concept of
sunscreen, which J2 applied as we pulled out of the marina. 

The baby needed a bit of calming. 

Beer in one hand and wine in the other. 'Nuff said.
Pic by R

A has chosen this as her Shot of the Day. 

The doggo creates work with his presence. First he wants to be
where R is on the top deck. He's carried up because he can't "do"
that step ladder. Then he wants to come down, and
dog daddy J1 has to carry him down to the main deck...

Then the grey clouds gathered. The storm light was strangely beautiful. 
The family retreated below deck during the short but fierce shower. The waters outside stayed relatively calm. It's a source of fascination for A that the boat's capacity is listed as 12 people, but it already feels crowded with just the five of us plus Pudding. There is talk about getting a bigger boat, the Searay Sundancer 290, the next model up from what we have, the 260.

But we are just kidding, right? RIGHT? It's not like we own a mint.  

Post rain. It's near end of the day. Such calm. 

Le Capitan. 

Pic by R shot off her three-camera iPhone.
We got out on the deck again after the rain. 

Back on terra firma. We suspect the dog is glad. 

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Back on the water after FOUR months

Date: Aug 24, 2019 
Weather: Sunny, searingly hot 
Waters: Our usual spot north of the SAF firing zone, off western Singapore
On board: C, A, J1, J2, R and Pudding  

What's kept us away from the water for so long? An assortment of things, mostly, finding a date when everyone was available - not travelling or having work to do, or getting married (as J2 and R did, yay!) - and getting the winds and tides to be in our favour. It's almost like asking for all the planets to be aligned.  

But here we were on a scorcher of a Saturday, with everyone out of bed late, as usual. It's really hard for us to be on the water any earlier than noon. So we set out for our default destination north of the SAF firing range because it's a much shorter boat ride than going to the Southern Islands.  

It has been so long since the last outing that Pudding was a bit un-nerved by the roar of the boat engine. We can tell because he was moving about restlessly a lot more than on the last outing in April, when he made himself comfortable on the boat seats, across laps. This time, he stayed firmly on deck, drooling.   
Liverpool's lucky charm. Nine hours after he donned
this red cap, the team blew Arsenal away 3-1 at Anfield.

He hates wearing hats, but had no choice with this one.
It stayed on. 

J1, bested by the heat and his own son's dander, retreated below deck ... but the dog followed, which kind of defeated the purpose of taking a break from his dog. 

On board this blistering afternoon, we ate Royals Cafe mini pies and Grandma's banana walnut bread and listened to songs off Bruce Springsteen's Western Stars album. (OK, there was Toto's Africa, Taylor Swift's Lover and some Fleetwood Mac too.)

A rare family shot, given how everyone hates photos like this. Photo taken by R, so
we simply had to have another shot with her in it, hence the following one:  

Pudding, front and centre, puts on his best photo face. Photo by C.

Past-trip ablutions for LW2. 

Monday, June 03, 2019

Minor spring-cleaning for the boat

Date: June 1, 2019 
Weather: Sunny, hot  
Waters: In the marina, fairly flat
On board: C, A and Pudding 

With J1 and J2 away on holiday, C and A made the trip to the marina with cleaning tools to give the below-deck area a clean-up, and to see what stuff could be thrown out so the boat would be tidier. We kept our options open about a trip out on the water. 

Pudding was just along for the ride, because leaving him home alone wouldn't have been very nice of us. It's almost like he's come to expect outings on weekends. 

Horrors. The head was filled with dark brown water, and it took a few flushes for it to all go away. Elbow grease with toilet detergent and stain removers was applied, and the rest of the tiny shower stall wiped down. 

Some unused equipment (stand-up paddle board, a dinghy, probably stinky from being incompletely dry from the last use) were chucked out. The throw cushions and raincoats were sunned briefly and the shelves and seats/bed were wiped down. 

Pudding stayed above deck, rapidly wilting from the heat, so that was another reason to make the clean-up fast. An hour and a half later, it was almost 1pm, and A was feeling pretty sweaty and unkeen on a trip out. 

C and A chilled for a while with Pudds at the bistro and headed home. 


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Fishing: Catfish caught

Date: April 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.