Strong-armed into Sailing

Changi, Singapore

May 31, 2017

The Changi Sailing Club traces its origin from the nineteen thirties and forties when sailing races took place between the Changi Garrison Yacht Club and the Royal Navy’s Red House. From its venerable beginnings using native sailboats like Koleks and Jongs, to dinghies used by three British servicemen to escape during the Japanese occupation, the club has seen its share of excitement. These days the excitement is largely limited to spirited races between members on the Johor Straits. And it was to this area that we were headed.

Landlubber that I am, the thought of setting off on a boat does not usually rate very high on my priority list and I am not quite sure how it came about. I have a sneaking feeling that rash promises made at the party the night before, was in part, to blame for t. Making a mental note to avoid making promises in the vicinity of flowing drinks, I trailed along the dock and soon found myself on a  bobbing little sail boat.

The waters around the islands of Ketam and Pulau Ubin hummed with traffic of all shapes and sizes. Motor boats, kayaks, massive freight and cargo ships and sail boats all bobbed and weaved across the muddy green water. And airplanes roared in to land at the airstrip not far away, their underbellies seeming just a stone’s throw above our heads. Trussed into a life-vest, with strict orders to park myself on the bench, I bobbed and swayed and dutifully listened to instructions issued by experts. My vocabulary increased by leaps and bounds. The conversation flowed from boom to bilge and boathooks to boom vang. It eddied around cleat and cringle to fluky and jib with a few lazy jacks thrown in for good measure. Lovely words, I thought. I have a good mind to start bandying them about in conversation, albeit not quite in the way they were intended.

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