Want to try something new without going too far from home? Check out one family’s overnight sailing staycation, aka ‘sailcation’ at Pulau Ubin with Discover Sailing Asia
Although VTL arrangements are now in place with several countries around the world, not everyone is able to go on a holiday. Some families have been choosing cruises and staycations to make up for it. Last weekend, my family and I decided to try something different. We embarked on a sailcation to Pulau Ubin on a 2D1N chartered sailboat, courtesy of Discover Sailing Asia. Here’s why our sailcation was the perfect opportunity to bond as a family while trying something new.
1. The boat: cabins and living area
We were met at the SAF Yacht Club by Jonathan, one of the crew members, to take us to the boat, ready for our departure at noon. The boat, a Beneteau Oceanis 45, features three cabins, two bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and a dining/living area. There was plenty of room for our family of four plus a three-member crew. After settling in our respective cabins, we set sail (motor actually, as there wasn’t enough wind to sail) on our very first family sailing adventure. It took us about 1.5 hours to get to Pulau Ubin.
2. Mooring at Pulau Ubin, cycling around Chek Jawa wetlands
The crew anchored the boat at Pulau Ubin and took us on a dinghy to the island. Pulau Ubin was lovely and quiet – we went on a Friday afternoon – in contrast to our previous trips when there were throngs of visitors.
We rented mountain bikes and went for a ride to Chek Jawa Wetlands. Chek Jawa Wetlands is considered one of Singapore’s richest ecosystems, it is a unique natural area comprising six major habitats.
There are two trails you can do: the Coastal Loop (600m) and the Mangrove Loop (500m) boardwalk, together they take about an hour. We saw wild boars, monitor lizards, mudskippers, crabs and critters and so many different varieties of birds. The whole family loved it. Tip: It’s best to go at low tide if you can. Also, bring cash, as the shops here don’t accept cards.
Read More: Camping Trip in Pulau Ubin Review
3. Water sports included
At around 5pm, it was time to head back to the boat and off to our private hideaway for the night. The crew took us to a calm and quiet bay tucked away between Ketam Island and Pulau Ubin. We had the whole area just to ourselves, it was incredible! Once anchored, it was time for water sports such as kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, swimming and our favourite – jumping off the boat. It was a refreshing change from urban living in Singapore, as the kids forgot all about television, video games and mobile phones. It was wonderful to relax and have fun together.
4. BBQ onboard our boat
Whilst we showered and changed, Amir and Halim (our skipper and deckhand respectively) started preparing a BBQ. I had brought snacks and drinks for pre-dinner sundowners and they were perfect, as the charcoal BBQ took a while to get started and the kids were famished. The BBQ was delicious and plentiful. We had garlic bread, healthy vegetable skewers, marinated chicken satay and chicken wings, and there was more food than we could possibly eat! Then it was off to bed. The kids decided to sleep under the stars on the deck and my husband and I slept in our cabin.
We woke up the next morning to the soft drizzling of rain – perfect weather for a hot cup of tea and Milo plus a spot of breakfast. After one last paddle in the kayak around the mangroves, we bid farewell to the tranquil waters of Pulau Ubin and headed back to the marina.
Tip: All the cabins have aircon, which means the generator will be on all night. I recommend you bring your AirPods or earplugs, as it is a bit noisy.
5. Unrivalled privacy and service
Having your own sailboat for just your family gives you the ultimate privacy, and that is priceless. No queues, no crowds just you and your family! Being on the boat also meant no TV, video games or mobile phones. Instead, we spent time together exploring Pulau Ubin and playing in the sea. It felt so good to escape the daily routine and to be out in nature. If you have a device with 4G, you will still be connected to mobile data if you need it, so there’s nothing to worry about. The Discover Sailing Asia crew – Jonathan, Halim and Amir – were super friendly, attentive and discreet, too. They paid special attention to helping the kids and were always ready if we needed them.
6. No sailing experience required
Sailing experience isn’t necessary because you’ll have your own skipper and deckhand on board. You can really do as much or as little as you want as well. Have a go at steering the boat, haul the anchor, set the sails or you can just sit back, relax and take in the views.
“One of the highlights was the range of activities that we were able to do as a family. There was kayaking, swimming, and paddleboarding. Being able to reconnect as a family was important, and it was so peaceful and quiet with no one else around,” says Jojo, aged 12.
For Adrian, aged 9, the best part of the trip was sleeping alfresco. “The aircon in our room didn’t work very well so we decided that we would sleep under the stars. It was very peaceful out on the deck but got progressively cooler as the night continued. We also had a very nice dinner of chicken wings and satay. I also really enjoyed the breakfast in the morning with lovely bread and fresh fruits. On the boat, my family and I also had a lot of quality time together by playing games together.”
Everything you need to know
Want to book a sailcation? There are different trips to choose from with different mooring locations. Our trip was the 2D1N Pulau Ubin Sailcation. Here’s what you need to know:
Where: SAF Yacht Club at 43 Admiralty Rd W, Singapore 759962
Time: 12pm to 10am the next day
Ages: There is no minimum age required
Price: $1,805 (weekdays)and $1,905 (weekends). The package includes a BBQ dinner and a continental breakfast plus a complimentary kayak and stand-up paddleboard. There are other sailing packages available, too.
Availability: The entire month of December, January and February (at the time of publication).
COVID-19 measures: Masks must be worn at all times when not swimming or eating.
Do note that lunch will be covered at your own expense and can be had at the floating restaurant (an additional $300, prebooking necessary), at any of the Pulau Ubin cafes or onboard (bring your own picnic).
Use promo code SASSYMAMA10 to get 10% off if you book before 10 December 2021. The travel period can be any date between 10 December 2021 and 28 February 2022.
Discover Sailing Asia, www.discoversailingasia.com
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