If you would have told me ten years ago that I would be living and working in Singapore, as part of a stopover on an around-the-world sailing adventure, in a marina, on a boat, a catamaran nonetheless (instead of a monohull), I would have laughed and told you you were crazy.
When we left the UK in 2014, it was meant to be for 2 or 3 years only, 4 at the absolute maximum. Definitely not 6 or more. We sold our house but we left most of our belongings in storage, thinking they would come in handy on our return.
Now, I wish we had gotten rid of everything before we left, so we wouldn’t be paying a monthly storage fee for things we mostly don’t care about anymore. Furniture, books, clothes, kitchen appliances, toys, clothes, CDs, DVDs, skis, bikes, … The only thing I miss having with me is some of the jewellery that I inherited from my grandmother (and has sentimental value) and my favourite Mulberry handbag (but only because I could use it now that I’m back at work). And I know the kids would love to get hold of some of their Lego sets that we left behind.
Reflecting back on 2019, it was a very busy year for us. Going back to work after nearly 5 years off was a bit of a shock. Combining the daily grind with a live-aboard lifestyle, homeschooling the kids and keeping up with boat projects and maintenance, has left us all feeling rather exhausted.
So, we took a break over the Christmas holiday period and did what we enjoy most: we went sailing. We didn’t go far and decided to explore what Singapore has to offer in terms of anchorages (which is not much, I have to admit, but it was plenty for a short break).
We left Raffles Marina on Boxing Day and sailed over to St John’s Island, just south of Singapore. It’s a well-protected anchorage that gets frequented by tourist charters during the day but empties out in the evening. The weather was beautiful and not too hot and, despite it still being the wet season, the sun came out and only disappeared briefly during the solar eclipse on Boxing Day.
We anchored in the sheltered bay and jumped in the sea for a refreshing, salty swim. It felt so good to be back at anchor. The kids did some surfing behind the dinghy and crazy jumps off the boom. We turned on the BBQ and ate some delicious home cooked food and then slept the most peaceful sleep at anchor with the breeze coming through the boat and the gentle rocking of the waves.
After a couple of days (and nights) at anchor we nipped into nearby One15 marina, arguably the poshest marina in SE Asia, for a treat and a night out in town. The next day, we did some laps in the resort-style pool and sauntered along the marina’s border walk which is lined with fancy restaurants, bars and cafés. On New Year’s Eve, we left the marina and sailed around the top of Singapore to the Changi Sailing Club, where we celebrated the start of a new decade with a few sailing friends.
The party was fun and so was New Year’s Day but we fancied a few more days in a quiet anchorage to finish off our holiday. We sailed back south and enjoyed another couple of peaceful days and nights at St John’s. We finally saw a first drop of rain on the 3rd of January. We had been very lucky with the weather; it was supposed to be the wettest period of the Northeast Monsoon and we had been enjoying some lovely dry days filled with sunshine. Regardless, it was time to return to our base in Raffles Marina and get ready to go back to work and school and boat jobs.
I think we’re ready for another year. It’s going to be another tough year and we’ll all be working hard to reach our goal of setting sail again and crossing the Indian Ocean. It will all be worth it. Having taken a break from cruising this year has made me realise how much I love sailing and living onboard, being able to travel and explore new and remote places, meeting new people and simply being together as a family away from all the craziness that comes with modern society. I can’t wait to continue our travels.
If I had one wish for 2020, it would be to catch up with some of our close family and friends we haven’t seen for the last few years. Hopefully some of you will consider a stopover in Singapore in 2020. You know where to find us!