Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012
The New Paper
WILD parties on board – people having sex, walking around naked, yacht owners bringing their mistresses to their love boats – pleasure craft captains have seen it all.
“We see these things with our eyes wide shut,” said a pleasure craft captain with 15 years of experience. The captain declined to be named.
“If you want to remain in this business, one of the qualities you need is to be able to keep secrets.”
When asked for details of these wild parties that took place onboard, all the captains and crew interviewed for this report were uncomfortable about divulging details.
Said a skipper with 20 years of experience: “The industry is very small and word gets around.”
But his counterpart revealed an anecdote that he says is representative of what goes on.
“Once, the wife of a member of royalty from the region rang me up on the phone and demanded to know if her husband was with his mistress,” said another captain, who also declined to be named.
“I lied and said he wasn’t here on the boat, but she didn’t believe me and even threatened to sack me.
“Another time, I worked for this guy. The interior of his yacht was plastered with photos of naked women.
“Only his girlfriend was allowed on the boat.”
The captain added that some boat owners make their captains and crew sign confidentiality agreements.
And it isn’t just the wild parties that these captains have to deal with, but also drunk or overbearing guests.
Captain E K Tan, 46, managing director of pleasure craft services company SPEK Group, recounted how his client insisted on setting off at 4.30am when it wasn’t safe to do so as the boat’s windows were tinted.
“You couldn’t see a thing. I told my client we would set sail at the first break of light, but he insisted (on having his way).
“This is when, as a captain, you have to be firm in what you believe in – you have to put safety first. If I had set off, we could have met with an accident.”
Dealing with the drunk
He added: “Sometimes, you get drunk guests who want to jump into the water while the boat is moving. You have to distract them by talking them of out it.
“If worst comes to worst, you’ll have to stop the boat. But that hasn’t happened to me yet.”
With growing interest in boat sales, demand for skippers and crew has increased, but not many Singaporeans are signing up for these jobs.
One reason is that Singaporeans have been squeezed out of the market by foreigners, some captains told The New Paper.
The number of Singaporean boat captains and crew offering skippering, crewing, maintenance and cleaning services is less than 10 – a fifth of that in the 70s and 80s – said Captain Wandi Mohamed Salim, 51, a Singaporean.
“Now, most of the crew are Indonesians and Filipinos,” said the 51-year-old.
“Ten, 20 years ago, I would work on 10 boats. Now, it’s just two, and whatever part-time work that comes along, usually the weekends.”
Indonesian captain Jumari, 39, told TNP that he received a “little” raise in his salary last month but decline to reveal the amount, while Filipino captain Alan Rubelios, 34, said he wished that his salary of $1,800 could be higher.
Foreign captains are paid between $1,800 to $2,500, while the starting salary of Singaporean captains is $2,500, Capt Tan told TNP.
“You’d be surprised that it isn’t higher,” he said, when asked if more experienced Singaporean captains command higher wages.
“It’s not easy to attract Singaporeans into this industry. Cleaning, washing boats in the hot sun is tough,” said the retired Republic of Singapore Navy officer.
“To do this, you must have passion.”
Indeed, that can be said of Capt Wandi, who inspired his wife and son to take the powered pleasure craft driving licence (PPCDL).
His wife Puspalinda Suratman, 45, is a captain, while his son Mohamed Al Syahiidie, 23, is a crew member of the family business, One D Marine.
Said Capt Wandi: “Sailing is in my blood. My grandfather, Capt Asmawi, trained captains in the 60s. My father was a seaman too.
“I was 16 when I started as a engine boy working in an engine room in a commercial ship. It was a cheap way to travel the world – I’ve been to New York, New Orleans, Cape Town, Mexico, China, but that was before I got married.
“But now, with seven children, I’m pretty much based in Singapore.”
Started by helping out
Ms Puspalinda, who was then a mother of four, decided to help her husband in 1995.
She started out by washing boats.
“It wasn’t hard to wash boats – I wasn’t born rich and I’m used to hard work,” she said.
It takes a person about an hour to wash a 16m catamaran, but it can take two persons up to two hours to wash a 22m yacht, Ms Puspalinda said.
The couple’s eldest child, Mr Mohamed Al Syahiidie, 23, also picked up the love of the sea, getting his boat licence at age 18.
He joined the family business in June after his national service and after serving a four-year apprenticeship at marine offshore firm, Keppel FELS .
Said Al: “I feel lucky to have this job – many of my army mates are jobless. But not many people want this job because it’s demanding, dangerous and physical.
“When I was in secondary school, I spent my weekends helping my father wash boats. That’s how I’ve come to love the sea.
“It’s great job because it takes you away from the crowd and congestion on land.”
Meanwhile, the outlook for boat sales is looking up.
Yacht broker and ProMarine general manager Craig Marcombe, 54, expects 20 to 30 per cent growth this year, while another broker, Simpson Marine’s general manager Paul Whelan was also “optimistic”.
Much of this optimism is due to increasing interest generated by boat shows and the healthy economic climate in Asia compared to two years ago, they said.
In Simpson Marine’s financial year of 2010, the company sold 25 yachts, both new and secondhand. The last financial year, it sold 28 yachts, but a “greater percentage” was secondhand, revealed Mr Whelan.
One emerging trend is that more super-yachts, or boats larger than 24m, are being sold here, both brokers said.
And that means an increasing demand for captains with an advanced PPCDL, which required to operate such boats .
“There aren’t a lot of people who can drive these boats, and there’s no training institution giving Singaporeans this qualification,” said Mr Marcombe.
“These bigger boats are for charter and there’s growth in this area.”
“Sailing is in my blood. My grandfather, Capt Asmawi, trained captains in the 60s. My father was a seaman too. I was 16 when I started as a engine boy working in an engine room in a commercial ship. It was a cheap way to travel the world…”
This article was first published in The New Paper.
This iuboating website is created to help more people get their boating licence, in particular, the PPCDL. Recently, many readers are starting to ask, “So, now that I have gotten my PPCDL, what’s next?” “Should I get a boat now?” “What type of boat?” “& if I am not gonna buy a boat now, what else can I do?”
In fact, there are many people out there who basically did nothing or didn’t know what to do after obtaining their PPCDL. What a waste!
So, how do we not let our PPCDL go to waste and “collect dust”??
I was in that same situation as well. After following strictly my own strategies for getting my licence in the shortest possible time period, I took the practical test and passed on my first attempt. Thereafter I embarked on the journey into the boating world. I spoke to many people in the boating scene for the past many months, in particular, seeking advice on what to do next after getting my PPCDL. In conclusion, I believe that every person can start their journey into boating by doing the following 7 things:
1. Buy a boat; go on friends’ boats; visit a yacht broker near you
Probably you have already decided on the exact boat to buy even before taking your PPCDL test. So now is the right time to go ahead and buy it. But if, like myself in the beginning, you are not sure yet whether you should get a powerboat or sailboat, don’t rush into things first. Take your time. The famous saying in boating goes:”The 2 happiest days in your boating journey are when you bought the boat, and when you sold it”. Buying a boat is unlike buying a car or even a property, where the market is pretty liquid (at least here in Singapore) So no need to rush, unless your name is Larry Ellison. You can always call on your friends who own boats, and join them in their cruises. Better still, offer to pay for the fuel for the trip, though I doubt they would take it. We went on some of our friends’ boats, ranging from cruisers to formula-one speed boats to beautiful sailboats. Here are some other ways to “own” a boat.
Also you can visit some of the yacht broking companies and chat with them. A good broker will want to aid you in your journey into boating, and build a long-term relationship with you. Of course, a good broker wants to sell you a boat! But I would not recommend bothering them too much if you have no intention at all of owning a boat in future. I know a friendly American guy from Simpson Marine. You can look him up if you intend to get a boat soon.
2. Join a marina club; get in the right environment
If you don’t have anyone in your social circle who are in the boating scene, go check out the marina clubs in Singapore. My wife and I went to check out a few before purchasing a life-time membership at ONE°15 Marina Club at Sentosa.
We decided on ONE°15 because (i) it is away from mainland and offers us a peaceful environment (ii) there is a small community of liveaboards there & we intend to get a sailboat to sail to nearby islands & to live aboard for a few days a week (iii) it has full facilities and a beautiful infinity pool (iv) it is also a great place to entertain our family, friends & business clients (v) the marina is directly opposite some beautiful islands for a quick sail-away. Thus far, we have already met some very nice people there to share with us their boating experience.
So, to get involved in boating, get involved in the environment where there are “boating people”! Marina club memberships should range from a few thousand dollars to less than fifty thousand dollars. Not expensive at all when compared to golf country club memberships. Marina clubs here include:
* ONE°15 Marina Club
* Marina @ Keppel Bay
* Republic of Singapore Yacht Club, West Coast
* Raffles Marina, Tuas
* SAF Yacht Club, Changi
* SAF Yacht Club, Sembawang
* Marina Country Club, Punggol
3. Join a boating online forum, make friends
If you are not joining any marina clubs for the moment, go online and checkout some interesting boating/sailing forums. One of them is cruisers forum http://www.cruisersforum.com/
And I actually made some friends there who got me introduced to the beauty of sailing vs powerboating. I saw some people offering their time and asking to be put as crew onboard after they obtained their PPCDL. (I think this is only feasible when you are going into sailboats. Never heard of powerboat owners needing “extra” crew onboard.) But first, make sure you can provide value-add to these boat-owners. Have a can-do attitude. Put others’ comfort before your own. Follow instructions, ask questions if you don’t understand. Volunteer to do extra work. (On a sailboat, say if a line needs to be coiled or if a sail needs to be folded, you’re the first one up there helping out.)
Personally, I still feel the best is to buy your own boat.
4. Take up further course
PPCDL teaches you how to drive a boat, but not anything about maintenance, route planning, reading weather conditions, knot tying, coastal navigation & sailing! At this time of writing, I came across a 1-day Route Planning Basic Course offered by METS. It is supposed to help us acquire more in-depth knowledge of route planning and the skill of coastal navigation. I will check it out soon.
For those considering getting a sailboat, I would highly recommend the courses offered by Keppel Bay Sailing Academy. They are very professionally run by the RYA-qualified instructors on beautiful Beneteau First 40.7 yachts. I have completed their 5-day Competent Crew Course recently. It was a magnificent experience.
5. Get some boating gear, iphone apps, books/magazines, attend a boat show
This is somewhat similar to point 2 – Get in the Right Environment. Go to a popular bookstore. You should be able to find some boating/sailing magazines. Let me know if you want some softcopys of previous issues for certain titles such as Yachting Monthly, Boating World, DIY Boat Owner, Boat Buyers Guide etc. They are particularly useful if you are intending to get a boat & have some practical experience after getting your PPCDL.
Yes, there are many iphone/ipad apps relating to boating. I have the Navionics AustralAsia version for ipad, DragQueen (a simple anchor alarm), Knot Guide, Ship Finder (shows you the vessels in Sg waters). There are also ipad apps by developer Prestige Vision Inc (beautiful virtual tours & videos of awesome yachts normally above 50 foot).
I don’t think I need to elaborate on getting boating apparels, shoes, attend a boat show etc. You got the idea.
6. Get more friends to take up PPCDL & journey into boating together
Someone once said, “Fastest way to learn golf is to teach! Cos’ you can’t teach what you do not already know!” Well said, but he could be teaching the wrong things! Well, we cannot teach our friends how to berth a boat yet but we sure can get them interested to go get a PPCDL and then journey into boating together. I first got interested in boating because I read about the benefits of boating on the internet & my friends invited me to go boating with them. Then I realised “Better get more friends keen on boating, so that we can share the same hobbies and go boating together!” And now is the best time to get your PPCDL, here’s why.
7. Boat charter; travel to Langkawi/Phuket/Australia
When looking to purchase our next car, we usually go for a test drive. Boat wise, they don’t normally offer “sea trial” until you have placed a deposit. And because the local boat scene is not as vibrant as that in US, Europe, or even Australia, the boat you want to buy may not be in stock over here. I have friends advising me to travel to places such as Phuket, Australia, and charter a boat there where they have more variety. This is a good way to “try” different boat models without making that commitment yet.
In conclusion, I believe every person can start their journey into boating by doing the above 7 things after they get their boating license. & do subscribe to this iuboating site (below) as there are more developments coming your way. Cheers to your boating journey!
Why do you want to take PPCDL test? What have you done after you got your PPCDL? How do you ensure the time & effort you invested in getting the PPCDL is worthwhile? Are you enjoying boating/sailing thus far?
(Please feel free to voice your comments below)
Owning a boat – a rich man’s hobby?
Mr Derrick Ong, general manager of Marina Country Club (MCC), thinks that’s a stereotype.
Said Mr Ong: “Wrong. Don’t have to be rich. Nowadays $10,000 or $20,000 can get you a reasonable boat.”
With a maximum berth capacity of 750 boats, MCC, situated in Punggol, is the largest boat storage area in Asia and boasts a triple-level dry berth that resembles a multi-storey carpark.
“The most expensive yachts we have here cost up to $3 million or $4 million,” said Mr Ong, who added that such yachts are all less than five years old.
The marina is busiest on holidays and weekends.
“We have queues to enter the marina during these periods. Boats have to radio in and await permission to berth,” said Mr Ong.
He said that the waiting time during these periods has doubled from around 15 minutes to half an hour.
The heightened activity also showed at other marinas TNP spoke to.
There is also an increase in demand for berthing space at the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club (RSYC) in West Coast.
Even with a new five-storey dry stack, berth spaces are filling up fast, with 55 per cent of the 230 new lots already occupied.
The club had to purchase two new fork lifts to increase the efficiency of moving boats around.
For Marina at Keppel Bay, 90 per cent of its 168 berthing lots are occupied, and it is still receiving enquiries for berth space.
Some of its 136 boat owners berth more than one boat with the marina.
MCC takes in about 10 new members every month. It currently has around 500 members.
A spokesman from the RSYC said it has recorded a gradual increase in membership since the end of last year. It currently has around 2,400 members.
Marina at Keppel Bay is seeing a similar rise.
A spokesman said there has been a steady increase of about 10 per cent to 15 per cent in membership applications annually since it opened in 2008.
And don’t be surprised by the changing profile of boat owners.
Marina at Keppel Bay and MCC both have boat owners ranging from young working adults in their 20s to retirees in their 70s.
Mr Ong said: “While there are still the rich businessman and rich man’s sons, there are many who live in HDB flats.”
In recent years, interest in boating has slowly been taking off in Singapore.The Straits Times reported in 2006 that there were 3,202 licensed pleasure craft.
Though this means a decrease from 3,223 in the previous year, 192 new licences were issued, compared to 184 in 2005.
The number of de-registered pleasure craft also halved in 2007, compared to the previous two years.
Most people use their boats for sporting activities, like fishing and wakeboarding.
There are also those who use their boats for commercial purposes like ferrying people to nearby islands.
Others use them for leisure – with some even going on their boats for karaoke or barbecues.
“Some also play mahjong. Have you ever played mahjong on a swaying boat before? It’s quite an experience,” joked Mr Ong.
Mr E.K. Tan, an instructor from Maritime Education Training School (METS), has been conducting Powered Pleasure Craft Driving Licence (PPCDL) courses for 12 years. It costs about $400 to get a boating licence.
Boating is popular with people of all ages, said Mr Tan. “I get the full range of them. From as young as 16, which is the minimum age, up to retirees in their 60s.”
A spokesman from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) told TNP that 151 PPCDLs have been issued so far this year, taking the number of valid PPCDL holders over 28,000.
The number of PPCDL holders has increased consistently in the last 10 years.
One of those attending an ongoing PPCDL theory class was aerobics instructor Eileen Kang, 25.
She was there to learn how to drive a boat as her 29-year-old boyfriend had bought a wakeboarding boat recently.
“We enjoy how laid-back boating seems to be. It’s fun and I’m really looking forward to driving it,” said Miss Kang.
This article was first published in The New Paper.
With effect from 1 January 2012, pleasure craft of 24 metres in length and above shall be handled by those who hold a valid Advance Powered Pleasure Craft Driving Licence (APPCDL) issued by MPA or as approved by the Port Master.
24 METRES = 79 FOOTER
Eg the 80 foot Ferretti Motot Yacht
Thanks iuboating!! Just passed my handling test on 18-Aug-12, v close shave, remember to release all 3 ropes, i missed out on the forward rope, mistaken the middle rope as stern rope
plus the navigational lights are on top of the boat, nt the sides like the picture, haha, i was looking high & low for them
ganbateh everybdy & best of luck~~
hope everybdy who went last Saturday passed~~
3 words – thanks, thanks and THANKS!!! The hubs and I just went for the theory test and we both passed (1st attempt for us)! Thanks for sharing your tips and the mock questions! =)
Just to reiterate your tips for future students, do not skip studying your text/notes. Know your beacons and islands! All the best to the rest of you.
Onwards to practical now! *yeeksss*