Kayaking: Training weekend

We got in three training days this weekend. A dawn paddle around Ubin on Thursday, a paddle to Yishun Dam on Sunday, and a paddle to Changi Village and Coney Island on Monday. 20+km per trip. Feeling stronger and faster that’s for sure!

The round Ubin trip felt leisurely, for the weather was mild, the water glassy, and the currents on our side. A far cry from the whiteout conditions we met the week before!

A garfish jumped straight into Jeff’s boat
Kayaking round Ubin, enjoying a quick breakfast of waffles

On Sunday, we joined the expedition group for a training paddle to Yishun Dam, where Singapore’s Last Fishing Village is. A hodepodge of blue plastic barrels, zinc sheeting, and wooden stakes tied together to form a series of floating platforms, juxtaposed against the modern buildings in the background.

Got back to Pasir Ris right before the storms hit

Monday morning, National Day, we got up for another early morning paddle. The tide was the lowest we’ve seen. Just past Api Api River, the waters were so shallow that we got stuck near the blue buoy barriers, about 100m from shore. We had to carry the kayak over the barrier in order to continue to Changi Village.

Stuck in the muddy bottoms at low tide
Sun rises over Changi Sailing Club

The hawker center at Changi Village was bustling, never mind that safe distancing measures were still place, such that we had to check in to enter the hawker, and could only buy food for takeaway but not dine in. No matter. I bought two packets of nasi lemak and lime juice, and brought it back to the beach for a leisurely breakfast.

Enjoying a very Singaporean breakfast

At Coney Island, we watched the fighter jets zoom past in formation, then the slower chinooks bearing the Singapore flag fly past. It’s a lovely gesture, these helicopters, going around the island with the flag, since we don’t have a proper parade this year due to the heightened measures.

Introduction to Wake Surfing

I’d been seeing pictures / videos of friends seemingly surfing in Singapore right before the Covid shutdown recreational activities. When things reopened up again, I asked one of these friends what / where / how they were doing it. Turns out, there’s a new (to me) sport of wake surfing. Like wake boarding, one is towed from a power boat starting from a stationary position in the water. Unlike wake boarding though, the board used for wake surfing is narrower and doesn’t come with foot straps. And once you’ve been towed to a standing position, you’re supposed to manoeuvre to the lip of the wave so you can let go of the tow rope and surf the wave.

It looked super cool, and my friend assured me that it was in fact, easier to pick up than wake boarding. Haha. so I eagerly got online to try book in a slot. But it’s evidently very popular! The next slot we could get in was all booked out and we had to wait over a month to get in the next available booking with SurfnWake.

The morning, when it arrived, looked ominous with dark grey clouds looming low over the horizon. As we drove towards Ponggol Marina, where our lessons were to take place, we drove into ever increasing splatters of fat heavy raindrops on the windscreen. By the time we pulled off the highway, the rain was coming down fast and furious, obscuring the road ahead into a blurry streaky mess.

Thankfully, it seemed a fast moving cell, and the storm had abated by the time we rocked up to our instructor Yen and eagerly clambered onto his little power boat.

Among the four of us, Jeff had the most recent experience – he’d recently gone wake boarding at the cable park with his coworkers – so we had him go first. He made it look super easy, getting to standing right in his very first attempt. He was able to quickly progress to letting go of the tow rope with one hand, and to navigate the board back into the sweet spot of the surf.

After a few false starts though, the rest of us managed to get to standing as well. A big win, considering that we had squeezed the four of us into a 2-hour session; usually, Yen recommends a maximum of 3 people for that time frame. Our greatest challenge was to not tug on the tow rope, but to just let it pull us along while we tried to shuffle our feet into the right positions on the board using just our core.

Great fun though! Jeff and I immediately booked in another session right after (alas, another month out!); we’re determined to get to surfing the waves sans rope!

So glad the weather cooperated. It turned out a glorious Sunday. I stayed in my swimmers the rest of the day, wearing it for 2 hours in the tennis court, in between long soaks in the pool. 🙂