Going flat out to own a boat
The New Paper
Monday, Apr 16, 2012
The family of four was strolling down the pier at Boat Asia 2012 yesterday at Marina at Keppel Bay, looking for a boat to buy.
But Mr Jack Ang, 46, and his family are not your typical boat owners who live in landed property. They live in an HDB flat in Telok Blangah.
Like them, more HDB flat owners in Singapore are looking to own a boat, challenging the notion that boat owners are all elite and super rich.
Mr Ang’s wife, Madam Wendy Law, 42, said that it was her first time at Boat Asia 2012, an annual luxury boat fair.
When The New Paper asked her why she and her husband had made the recent decision to own a yacht, Madam Law said: “I believe this is something very ‘in’ right now.
“We think that it would be very convenient for us to own a yacht as we live in the area.”
Madam Law and her family live in an executive HDB flat in Telok Blangah, which is roughly 2km from the Keppel Bay area.
She further added that they would sail their yacht if they owned one.
“We would have a family picnic, you know, maybe twice a month.”
Describing herself as a housewife and her husband as a “phone shop owner”, Madam Law said that the yachts offered at the Boat Fair were too expensive.
“I’m looking for a smaller, second-hand boat at around $80,000,” said Madam Law.
Her family is hoping to find a suitable boat as fast as possible.
Mr Ang has already finished a mandatory four-day course on boating, and took the theory component of the exam two weeks ago.
The idea to own a boat, however, came from a good friend of Mr Ang of more than 30 years whom they affectionately call “Uncle Elton” .
Uncle Elton, whose actual name is Mr Elton Chow, is 54 and a former tailor.
Now partially deaf, he wears a headset which acts as a hearing device.
When The New Paper interviewed him, we had to speak into a microphone which he had clipped onto his shirt.
Mr Chow was there at Boat Asia 2012 to show the Ang family around on Thursday.
Looking to change boats
“All of my friends are also looking to change their boats, so I’m taking a look at what the fair has to offer,” he said.
Mr Chow has been boating for the past 25 years.
“I enjoy the sea,” he said. “And I love to fish.”
Fishing was the reason he chose to buy his first boat, which he describes as a small 14-footer worth $2,000 at the time.
He needed to constantly upgrade it as he and his fishing mates would often go out together on his boat for excursions.
He then moved on to own two 17-footers and one 23-footer before finally settling on his current boat – a second-hand 34-footer that cost him $175,000.
It is docked at the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club at West Coast Ferry Road.
When The New Paper asked Mr Chow how often he takes his boat out to sail, he said: “Weekly, of course! Every Sunday, whenever I am free.”
Asked to explain the appeal of boating for Singaporeans, Mr Craig Marcombe, 53, general manager of yacht brokerage company ProMarine said: “It takes you away.
“Singapore is a very small, crowded island, filled with many tall buildings and noise, so it can get claustrophobic.
“What you can do with a boat is drive it out to the Marina, or to the cruising grounds in Indonesia or Malaysia.”
ProMarine was at Boat Asia 2012 to feature its line of luxury yachts by Princess Yachts International.
His advice to potential new boat owners is to have financial capital greater than the actual price of the boat, for the total long-term costs of owning one would far exceed it.
He says that the cost of maintaining a boat, which includes fuel and having a crew, is about “10 per cent of the boat’s value a year.”
Mr Derrick Ong, general manager of Marina Country Club at Ponggol 17th Avenue, says that it is this cost that is driving people away from boat ownership.
“Prices of boats are going down, because people don’t want to own it for too long,” he said. “There is an increase in people owning boat licences, but not in people owning boats.”
Boat Asia 2012 is the 20th edition of Asia’s leading annual boat show.
The boat fair at Marina at Keppel Bay, which features a line-up of more than 50 luxury yachts, ends on April 15.
The organisers are expecting more than 15,000visitors this year and more than 100 exhibits from all over the world.
The yacht line-up on the pier this year ranges from super yachts, mid-range power and sailing boats, to speed boats and performance craft.
The largest yacht presented at Boat Asia 2012 is the Sea Bear, a US-built Westport super-yacht formerly owned by golf legend Jack Nicklaus.
The seven-year-old craft is almost 40m long and is worth $16.2 million.
Brands such as Audi, X-tra and Mumm Champagne will feature at the waterfront, while off-the-water activities include car displays, test drives and jazz performances.