On weekdays, I get up at 6am. Seathan makes coffee while I get ready, we have a quick breakfast, I give the boys a kiss and a cuddle while they are still in their cozy, warm beds and I’m on the MRT by 7. My days are filled with meetings and by time I get home in the evening, my brains are fried and I’m ready for bed.
As with so many things in life, only when you stop doing something, you realise how much you really enjoy it. I’m so happy we didn’t sell the boat and settle back into ‘normal life’ because I can’t wait to go sailing again. The Indian Ocean awaits.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that all four of us are eager to set sail again. We all crave the sailing lifestyle. We miss being in tune with the world around us and living by the weather, going to bed when it gets dark and waking up naturally when the sun rises (instead of being woken by the buzzing of my alarm clock), jumping into the sea for a quick dip before breakfast – or any other time of the day, spending several days sailing non-stop to a new place and enjoying the wide-open ocean with nobody else around, catching a fish for dinner, having time to read a book or play some games, and, most importantly, having time for each other. It’s not a holiday, it’s a lifestyle.
There is a flip-side, there always is. We don’t see our friends and family often, many of whom are on the other side of the world, and, although we meet a lot of new and interesting people, we often have to say goodbyes. Living on a boat is not always easy, the space is limited, everything takes longer because you usually have to do everything from scratch (think making bread or pizza which starts with making the dough), grocery shopping is usually a half-day event, there’s always something to fix or service and there’s often no internet available.
But I wouldn’t swap it. I enjoy living on the water. I love not being tied to one place. Now that we are based in Singapore for a while, I’m glad that we still live onboard, even if it is in a marina. It feels good to be away from the city-centre with all its high-rise buildings, traffic jams and shopping malls.
Singapore is a real bubble. Life is very comfortable here. Everywhere is very safe, and clean. The public transport network is great and taxis are cheap. You can get any type of food you want. The supermarkets have imported produce from all over the world (Singapore doesn’t grow anything) and the restaurants are top notch. You can have French, Italian, Greek, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese,… and of course Chinese. The typical hawker centres serve delicious local favourites at an affordable price.
In Singapore, you can buy anything you want (except for chewing gum, that’s not allowed because it could make the streets dirty). There are shopping malls everywhere, all air-conditioned of course, so that people can still wear jeans or suits or trendy clothes despite the hot and humid climate. But it’s a very consumer-oriented society and I’ve become very skeptical about buying things I don’t really need.
Maybe it’s because we live on a boat that we don’t get tempted to buy many things as there simply is no space for an extended wardrobe, designer furniture or new kitchen appliances (and because our boat is 110V we can’t buy local appliances that work on 220V). So, let’s just forget about that new breadmaker, the kids will just have to keep doing the kneading.
The kids are used to having chores, which we think is very important. They’re lucky that school usually only takes half a day, so even after doing their chores they still have plenty of time to play. Minecraft is still the number one favourite activity. Apart from swimming, scooting and just hanging with friends.
When we arrived in Singapore we considered sending them to a school but when we found out how expensive the international schools are (the chances of getting into a local school are pretty slim for foreigners) we decided to continue homeschooling, which Seathan took over. They benefit from one-to-one tutoring and are getting through the curriculum much faster than they would if they were at school. And I don’t think they are deprived from social contact. There are some other kids in the marina and we’ve caught up with friends we knew from back in London, who in turn introduced us to their other friends, all with kids of similar ages.
So, I hope you get the picture. Life is busy but we are fine. We’re just taking a break from the ‘real world’ to do some work and earn some money.
Talking about work, our list of boat projects is quite long. After five years at sea, there are a number of things that need to be replaced or renewed including all the safety gear onboard, some of the sails, our mainsail cover, our cockpit enclosure removable clears, some of the interior upholstery, our watermaker needs a makeover and we need to rethink our instrument set-up (radar, electronic chart plotters, etc.). And I know that there are many more things on Seathan’s list that I’m not even aware of.
It is a bit frustrating that, at the moment, we can’t even go out for short daysail on the weekend because one needs a local licence to sail in Singaporean waters (which you don’t need if you are clearing out internationally). Seathan is looking into getting that licence so that we could nip out for a bit of much needed escapism on the weekend… In the meantime, there’s still the pool!