The inner peace

Or “the peace within”. Whatever it is, is not easy to get… thats what I am told… To me, it’s a state of mine, that is to be treasured (if I  ever get there).. I think I have, at times been there. Some of those rare occasions are when I am sailing solo.

I come from a line of seafarers. Ah Gong was a boatboy who moved from Swatow, China to Singapore in early 1900s. The family settled down in the Catholic parish land of “Kangkar”, which is northeastern Singapore and now known as Hougang. My father was a engineer and a uncle was an officer on commercial cargo ships. Another uncle was a sea sports man, winning medals in canoeing and water skiing.

Kangkar is TeoChew for “Harbour End”, and Hougang is Mandarin for “Back Harbour”. .. so it kinda means the same thing.. Anyway, the area had a whole network of creeks and swamps, leading to the Serangoon river. .. this was my childhood playground. Growing up among fishing nets, small boats and coconut trees, all my weekends involved boating, fishing, crabbing and clamming. That was fun!

Naturally, I am a outdoor sea sports type person. Getting myself the powercraft license is as normal as driving a car.. and owning a boat is like getting a car. … I wonder why all my sisters are not like me.. they have no license and dont own cars or boats.. 🙂 hmm… 

My family did only power boating… rowing was only done out of necessity (very rarely). There were no sailors … until me! Pretty sad tho, cause I wasnt exposed to sailing at a young age.. all those years that I didnt know sailing! The irony of it all is, I decided that I would be a sailor, on the day that I took and passed the powerboat license test. Then revealation hit me when I was taking the test boat out, and a Hobie cat sped across infront of me. I thot, it went so fast, so quietly, so gracefully… and look! what a pretty boat. It was so fascinating to me to see one of those sailing craft close up.. and yes, I pass the test and am a licensed powercraft operator in SG, but I wasnt feeling too elated by that fact. .. My mind was already onto something else!

1 week after passing my test, I bought myself a new Walker Bay 8 with sailing kit.. and a used 2HP Honda 4-stroke air cooled OB. .. and I borrowed the “Basic sailing” book from the library.. .. my 1st self taught sailing lesson was off the Punggol pier beach! The trip only lasted 5 mins.. 🙂 as the weather conditions of that day was not conducive to beginning sailors..! I ended up on the rocky beach of Punggol, wet and pulling Sea Sparrow behind hind as I trek back to where I started from … a very humbling start to sailing.. its not as easy as I thought.. Back to the books. Lang and Sea Sparrow.

…………..I got it right 2nd time. The experience was much more satifying than getting my powercraft license. It was like opening a door to a new world that is so fascinating to me. So, now that I can sail, I begin to make trip plans for me and little Sea Sparrow. I would load up with food and liquid for 1 day, shove off and sail 4 – 8hrs each time. Starting from my home beach of Punggol, making my way east, turning around at Changi Sailing Club after gawking at bigger sailboats, making it back before dark. It surprise me that, 1) I really love the solitude of sailing alone 2) that sailing the familiar waters of Punggol and Coney Island gives me the state of mind that I call “inner peace”. The feeling of returning to a old playground (alone), good ol’ memories flashing, while I am rocking gently at 2knots.. is beyond my language skills to describe.. This is what sailing solo does to me, putting me in a very relaxed mood 1st, then reflective and comtemplative… and so a day goes by and I put Sea Sparrow away for yet another adventure. I go home burnt and tired, but always high spirits.. like I am on Valium or something.. 🙂

1 year later, I happen to be in the right place (Alameda Marina) and right time, where I found my 2nd boat, a Cape Dory Typhoon weekender. I rarely sail Eleanor alone. She has too many eager fans wanting to go for a ride. Those times that I did sail alone, I had been too busy about sailing that I dont quite get into the “spot”. Maybe its the speed.. Eleanor travels 4-5kns. There were some very brief moments, that I do get high on sailing Eleanor.. The calm waters of Sebana Cove, a gentle little breeze, the familiar rocky banks and same old boats.. I love sailing into the esturary among the waterfront apartments, and seeing baby palm by our workshop..

.. hmm.. so, as I have found, the “treasure map” to my “inner peace”… a combo of sailing in familiar waters, sights, slow speed, quiet and solitude. .. I am a journey person and I will eventually leave Singapore. I hope that wherever I go, I will have “treasures” aplenty.


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Sailing 2015: Port Townsend(WA, US) -> Costes Island (BC, Canada)

Sailing 2013: Singapore -> Okinawa -> Kobe

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October 2009
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