I was a participant of CAMP CHALLENGE & SeaOPS’ Basic SeaOPS Course which allowed me to experience alot of kayaking, sailing, dragonboating, boat pulling and all in a course of 3 days 2 nights.
I was pulled into this another world when i got to have a taste of steering a boat, in which this case, the boat was a dragonboat and i was being the coxswain. Eversince that course, i have graduated and have been a certified coxswain for all programmes that they were conducting that involved dragonboats.
After the course, there were alot of programmes that were spread out for the next few weeks that let me practice and improve my skills as a coxswain, almost 80% of the programmes i was involved in then involved alot of water and dragonboats. i lived, breathed, bled dragonboats.
I was also involved in some NYAA Adeventurous Journeys for some schools as their coxswain. These journeys were water adventures from Sentosa to Lazarus Island, to and fro which helped me build up my stamina, improved my pace and for the lack of a better word, the resistence against the sun burns, the hungry journeys and also gave me alot of experience in water in which i am confident to say that has improved over the times i have been steering.
– 2 to 3 times per week for dragonboat
– Spread over 12 weeks
– For every non-expedition programmes, duration for water time is roughly around 1.5 – 2 hours (excluding time to prep the boats as well as to transfer)
– For every expedition programmes to Lazarus Island from Sentosa and vice versa, duration for water time is roughly 3 hours
Sentosa to Lazarus Island 1.5 hours
Lazarus Island to Sentosa 1.5 hours
With this course and certification, it allowed me to have more experience on a sailing boat, but on a smaller scale.
It was a 3 day course starting at 0900 hours everyday of the course and ends at around 1830 hours everyday.
We were explained on parts of the dinghy, the right of way when out at sea, different types of boats, how to properly rig up your boat, etc.
There was alot of theory the first day before we got to actually go for simulation and the actual launching off in the waters.
One of my difficulties was how to recover when your boat capsizes as it takes alot of practice on how to counter the weight of the boats.
After we had simulation, we were headed out into open waters and we were given a taste at how sailing feels like, on your own, on your own boat.
– 3 days of course
– 4 days for Singapore Rendezvous 2017
Above is a video I compiled for the execution of my Adventurous Journey, Adventurous Journey 03B.
17th April 2016, Sunday
This was the first ever sailing lesson that I was going to attend in my life & I was feeling mostly neutral because I had no idea what I was going to get myself into.
I was briefed along with my other friends about what are the sailboats’ names, individually and was briefed simply on how a sailboat works. Coming from studying Marine Offshore, I was pretty excited because alas! Something I studied in school was going to be asked in real life.
We were tested on the different parts of the boat starting from the keel all the way to the navigational mast. I was very much interested at this point.
Then we put on our PFDs and we set off. The winds weren’t that strong so it was a great day for us to learn and absorb without all the stresses.
I learnt what a Close Hull was and what was ‘tacking’ that all the participants of AJ03A were talking about.
Tacking, by the way, is a team effort kinda thing. You need someone to release rope and you need another to pull in the rope to lock. It was amazing to see how people worked as a unit.
We were also told to do some PT and so I did. I clocked in 32 laps in the water and ran 7k that week. I couldn’t do so much because of my internship hours but I felt that I was being really productive.
‘A fit body is a fit mind’ is what Sasi said and I can’t lie and say that I didn’t have a few burgers here and there but I definitely exercised that week.
23rd April 2016 – 24th April 2016
Saturday – Sunday
We were given roles to ensure that everyone has something to do.
Marcus, Ishak, Wendy, Amal & I were in charge of rationing food, making sure that we were going to eat enough carbs, protein and have sufficient energy per day, per person for the whole trip.
Eventhough Wendy & Amal unfortunately couldn’t join us for the trip, their help was greatly appreciated.
Another training and this time, we had to study what was sailing all about, baby steps.
We slept over on the boats on Saturday night just to get a feel on how the boat sways and rocks and just the feeling of sleeping on a boat at night. Be it in the cabin or on the main deck itself.
We had over 300 slides to look through. We learnt on how to know that the sailboat is on a collision path, or what the red & green lights on the buoys or beacons mean. We learnt what is the difference between a buoy and a beacon was as well.
A buoy is anchored and floats while a beacon is attached to the sea floor.
We again, were trained on how to skip the boat and how to tack, how to efficiently do a tack and all the other terms on how to catch the wind and sail.
It was again, a great session and I felt that it was amazing to have the opportunity to learn something new. It was so foreign that I enjoyed learning every word of it.
28th April 2016
CAMP CHALLENGE – Raffles Marina
By this time, I was badly affected by a throat infection, which added to my lung infection & basically I was a mess. I was around with my hoodie and my windbreaker on my way to CAMP CHALLENGE to settle the food, pack and pick up the logs and to meet the team.
Marcus, Ishak & I were segregating the food and the count of water tumblers for each boat. We have 3 to cater for:
We packed nutella jars, bread, milk, tuna, ready to eat meals and a lot of cereal just to make sure we don’t stay starving while sailing the seas.
We didn’t make our target time which was to leave CAMP CHALLENGE at 2200 hours to make our way to Raffles Marina, we were redoing the admin papers over and over until we got them right.
Before we left campsite, my parents came to say goodbye and I spent a good solid 10 minutes saying goodbye. Those hugs to me felt like a lifetime because I realize now that they are sending their kid to the seas, where nature always wins and I really appreciated them coming down just to say goodbye.
We said our goodbyes and left for Raffles Marina and which was where we unloaded the truck filled with our logs and transferred them to the individual boats.
This was one step closer to the real thing, I remember having the thought of my parents before I fell asleep. My thought was that when I come back from this trip, I was going to be a better human being. I just wanted to do something that they can say that made them proud.
29TH May 2016
Everyone woke up feeling groggy but we were on time to report. We checked in the wee hours of the morning.
I checked in to learn, to experience, with fun, safety, to cross new horizons & to assist everyone in any way that I can. We set off from Raffles Marina with me being on Maybritt along with Vincy, Marcus, Ishak and Mr. Andrew.
I wasn’t familiar with Maybritt for I was always on L’attitude for trainings and I often caught myself stunned and stuck on what to do. I was too embarrassed to be embarrassed by asking questions so I listened carefully to whatever was being said and on what we had to do and I did them, which I realized that it was a mistake for I should’ve asked why I was doing it or what if I didn’t do it?
It was a great day to learn. The sun was shining, the winds were steady and our faith was high.
We learnt that day on what a spinnaker is and how it was being used. I can say hands down that the spinnaker is the most beautiful sail I have seen on Maybritt. It is really colorful which just caught my eye.
We sailed for hours until we reached Sisters’ Island, right behind Sentosa to do our passport clearances to leave Singapore waters. We had to wait for about 30 minutes to an hour because there was a queue of other vessels and sailboats heading out of Singapore.
Once we were cleared, we set up our sails again and sailed off to I had no idea where. I skipped by the boat by following bearings and kept repeating what the RPM was to the other boat when they asked and it was a quiet day for communications for ours broke down and it was a difficult challenge because had no communications with the other sailboat.
We even had to ask Skyrider 2 to help us convey messages to the other sailboat.
We arrived Nongsa Point Marina at around 1700 hours, I got off the boat feeling really really sick from my throat infection and just really hungry.
We all got dinner on land, which I was grateful for because I wasn’t used to not eating rice at any time of the day. We then had our down time, which Vincy and I used to go and shower and to hang around with the rest.
We had our debrief for the day on L’attitude and it was discussed that we weren’t punctual, serious and that we were just playing around. I was again, stuck because I felt like I did a good job, I did do the things that I was supposed to but I guess I didn’t do enough, so I told myself that I would try even harder to learn more and be more.
I was crying every time that I had to talk because my throat at that point was just too treacherous and it was just too painful to even mutter a word, but I refused to go to sleep frustrated at myseld, so I hung with Vincy and some of the guys which made me feel loads better.
I fell asleep on Maybritt’s deck and it was underneath the stars. I was amazed at how bright they shine and how piercingly beautiful it was to block out the city lights for once and to breathe in fresh air, sleeping on a beautiful boat.
30th April 2016
Nongsa Point Marina, Nongsa, Indonesia
Everyone either woke up at 0500 hours or at 0700 hours, Indonesian time. I was to be honest, still confused with the time change although it was just an hour. Singapore is ahead of Indonesia by an hour. So when people were up at 0800 hours thinking that it was late for them, they were actually really early.
I remember walking back from the toilets and passed by the boys and Chance asking them what time it was and they said it was 0800 hours, Singapore time, Chance flipped because he realized that he could’ve slept just a little bit longer because our reporting time was 0900 hours Indonesian time. I still laugh at that moment.
It was a messy morning, we had breakfast and everybody was just everywhere with the walkie talkies, trying to get documents from the boats, people from the dockmaster trying to get pictures of the boats, we trying to clear admin as fast as we can but still couldn’t sail off at our targeted time.
We switched for today. Mine included Vincy, Jei, Tim, Sasi & Damien. I was really excited because I was less nervous around my team. The sun had no mercy while we were sailing for about 4 hours.
A storm came and hit us, I panicked, got everyone their PFD’s and we just sat in the rain. I was amazed most of the time because it was such an adventure and we were only halfway.
I was the skipper for the late afternoon/evening time, which was really fruitful because I never got the chance to skip near night time as I have night blindess. I skipped with everyone’s help for the obstructions in our path which included fishing nets, trash and even a dead monitor lizard. Sasi took over after it got dark and from that moment on, I was really blinded. I was a mess, stumbling everywhere trying to help out with the sails, bruising my feet and I was really frustrated. I also was losing patience with my throat because trying to convey anything was near impossible. That also unfortunately showed to my crew because I was frustrated. I was told during debrief later on that Sasi and Damien both tried to push me till my breaking point with my anger, I gotta say that the whole house didn’t shake so I am gonna say that I have done well.
We docked at the island at 2200 hours +/- Singapore time and I was exhausted. I packed a quick backpack with just my camera, clothes and phone to head over to the house. The house was open concept and it was one of the most beautiful houses I have ever seen in my life. It was dark and I am terrified of the dark because once when I was younger my friend pushed me down a well kind of thing and it was dark. I still am scared of the dark. But I had Ishak always helping me out with anything I needed. He was the one to remind me to eat my medicine over the comms when we were on different boats.
We had a little down time before debrief and so Ishak, Raihan & I started to plan on how the flow is going to be like tomorrow morning. We were determined to reach raffles Marina on Tuesday, 2nd May 2016. We planned on waking up at the ass crack of dawn, 0400 hours and set off at 0500 being the earliest, mostly because we wanted to catch the customs as Nongsa before they close for the day which is at 1700 hours, Indonesian time.
But trying to catch the customs with just a little amount of rest and recovery wasn’t in favor. It was too tiring to even think.
We had our debrief after that which Am joined to listen to.
I had one of the painful struggles in my life trying to say what I felt for the day, but I was thankful that Vincy mentioned most of what I wanted to convey to the group. I was told that I had a patience issue, which I disagree with because I was just caught up with my throat. I was also told that I am very mature and that Sasi was really thinking about having me on board for SeaOps. I appreciated sasi & Damien saying that I am mature, mostly because sometimes it frustrates me when people see a tiny person and automatically think that I am still a kid that still thinks like one. I am a kid, I admit. But I like to think that I filter my thoughts and words before I let them out.
Damien and Tim helped me out with and for my throat with medicine and warm water and right after that I fell flat asleep on the bean bag until I felt the sunrays on my face.
1st May 2016
I woke up with the sun in my face, covered with my windbreaker and I felt refreshed. I didn’t shower before sleeping, mind you. And i still chose to not shower until we reached Nongsa. It was a goal for me for the day, to shower, a good one.
We settled everything that was needed to be settled and we checked out the boats, our belongings and thanked the people on the island, specifically in the house with us, guarding and keeping a look out while we slept.
It had a beautiful view like no other, right infront of the house was the sea and it was just beautiful to look at.
We set off again and this time, I was more confident to take over the wheel. So I got to be the skipper a few times this ride and halfway I felt sick again, and it just made me feel cramps. It just sucked when I had to get what I get every month during this time when I was supposed to be ruthless and tough. I was told to take a rest in the cabin while Jei took over the helm for an hour or so, thank you Jei.
We reached Nongsa at around 1800 hours. It was after the customs closed so we had to stay the night at Nongsa. I didn’t mind because the marina looked beautiful. Some boats had their lower lights on so I could see all the fishes and jellyfish, I was immersed into the views that I have seen all trip and I kept wanting more.
We had debrief and again shared about the day and how we could’ve been better.
We planned all for tomorrow, for some people to be on the boat in case we needed documents, we had a runner in case we needed to get documents to the dockmaster’s office and we had people on standby everywhere trying to make this one more smoother and trying to work more efficiently.
We were then treated to another meal on land, we had Nasi Goreng again but that didn’t matter, i can say that I have never eaten nasi goring that fast before in my life.
Vincy and I got to have hot showers and I literally stood there in the hot water just thanking every one that made this shower possible.
We had downtime before we slept and all I could hear sleeping beneath the stars were the other boat’s loud music but I didn’t mind because the songs were good. I had good music, a good view and surrounded with good people. There was nothing to hate about life in that moment.
2nd May 2016
Nongsa Point Marina, Nongsa, Indonesia – Raffles Marina, Singapore
The morning ran a lot more smoother and more calmly where people didn’t yell at each other trying to get things done or when people weren’t passive aggressive about things that needed to be done.
We set off again and this time I was determined to give it my all.
I was more aggressive with my actions, with a little more confidence and little more joy. I did tacks with efficiency with the team, I conveyed message as what I see and note and it was somewhat a smooth sail back to sisters’ Island. Although on the way back we were very very close to huge barges and vessels. Too close for comfort but the thrill and adrenaline ran through my veins when we manage to just pass it and were hit with the waves.
We got to Sisters’ Islands in the afternoon and we could see dark clouds but they never hit us. We got ICA to clear our passports and we were back to Raffles Marina, thankfully.
Once nightfall hit us, I was even more confident and braver to ask questions. I wasn’t afraid to ask for help and give help in whatever I can. I was more confident with the ropes on Maybritt, I was more braver with the winds and I was happy with the progress I made with myself.
We saw huge vessels at night while doing some sailing and it was amazing. The bright lights honestly make me think that it was land for sure. But it turned out to be cruise ships and oil rigs which looked like some futuristic movie that we were in.
We berthed at Raffles Marina at 2200 hours from what I can estimate and I was so happy to reach home ground. We unloaded all the stuff that we carried and transported them back to the marina.
We had our final debrief in which I thanked my team mates, crew and the people that made it possible for me to experience this adventure.
I checked out with all that I checked in with and in that moment, I felt sad because it happened, it ended and now it’s just a memory that I can ponder on.