Guest Blogger: the Missus, on living aboard

My fiancée Charlene read my last post and decided she wanted to get in on the action too.  She’s Singaporean and so she can provide some interesting perspective on why living aboard in Singapore is just not that common — and also on what it’s like when your gung ho American fiancé leaps full steam ahead into buying, working on, and living on a boat.

Hello everyone!

This is my perspective on living on a boat, and I have broadly divided it into 3 phases.

Phase 1: Scouting/Shopping for a boat/Dreams

This is a rather cool idea!  I’ve always liked to be unconventional and this really seems to be such a neat idea.  My understanding of what boat living is all about involves mental pictures of me sipping mocktails on the boat, BBQs on the deck, wind in my hair, lazing around in a hammock as the boat rocks gently along. Bear in mind that this image is from someone who in the past has only been on:

  1. Mega-ass cruise ships where you pay money to be treated like royalty;
  2. Speed boat tours in Thailand where the waters are crystal clear and you mostly just sit there and try to look pretty.

Phase 2: The Reality

It started out nicely because when Kris got the boat he was excited like a little puppy (ahem, I mean big strong greyhound), and its always nice to see the people you love enthralled with their latest purchase.  Cough shopaholic cough.

However, reality sank in after a while.  Singapore is hot and humid and whenever there was work to be done (not that I did much) it was just excruciating. The space on the boat was small, two puny cupboards (which to this day still stink of mothballs) and no space for me.  And c’mon, a girl needs space, right?  So it wasn’t the most welcoming home for me.  Compared to the shiny new apartment that Kris moved out of, it was like going from a mansion to a kampong in some ways.

At the same time, the boat was also like a new LEGO expansion pack of some sort, and Kris would spend all day and night talking about it, and boy did that make me annoyed after a while.  However, over time I began to be less of a whiny annoying girlfriend and decided, hey, I need to just suck it up, because if it’s something he loves and enjoys I should try to be positive and supportive.  So I tried hard to make adjustments.

I’m afraid Singaporeans aren’t used to the do-it-yourself culture: almost everyone in my country was brought up in a fashion whereby hard labor is done by somebody else, and if you want anything fixed, you call someone.  Sometimes it seems that according to Americans, it’s like a wimpified culture of people who can’t do crap.  Kris has very strong opinions about this issue, and of course being the patriotic Singaporean that I am, I get ultra defensive about it.  Someday maybe I’ll talk about cross cultural relationships.  Anyway, back to the boat: the point that I am trying to push across is that having a boat was a  difficult transition for me in quite a few ways!

Also, I guess it didn’t help that all the boat repairs took such a toil on Kris and there were many days where he was just grumpy, angsty, and thoroughly frustrated.  (Rightly so I must add, and if you read his other posts you’ll understand.)

Phase 3: Acceptance and Excitement

Now I believe I’m in the third phase in my relationship with Oia.  After finally accepting the fact that she is here to stay, I can say that I do enjoy the boat now (well, most of the time)!   It’s quiet, the waves rock you to sleep and it’s a place where I can just spend quiet time with Kris, even if sometimes that means I nap/read/mark papers on the boat while he works outside like a rugged man!  At the same time, I respect his sheer patience and determination in getting things done despite the difficulties.  I’m also extremely proud of his electrical work, spanking new windows, installation of stuff up the mast and all the new things he has learnt while fixing and meddling with stuff.  (Very handy for our future house! Wahahahahaaha!)

I’m also extremely excited about our upcoming adventure: sailing to Canada in 2012! Its like something a Singaporean city girl never dreams of doing when she grows up! I love traveling and exploring new places and it’s such a treat to be able to do it with relatively low expenses, since transport and lodging is covered aboard Oia. And since it’s a sailboat, hopefully nature will blow us along smoothly!

I know very little about sailing though, and I’m kind of “princessy” in some ways.  But I’m sure when push comes to shove, I’ll get my act together and be a valuable crew to Kris. When I make up my mind about something, I will get it done! So don’t worry Kris, I promise not to nap too much and to be useful! Cook, clean, man the helm!  But I won’t climb the mast, because dear God, I hate heights with a vengeance!  It’s morbidly embarrassing, the extent of my fear; someday, I might get rid of it, but not yet.  Anyhow, my goal in this sailing adventure?  I eventually want to be a more rough and tumble kind of girl, a competent crew and a supportive fiancée!  Help Kristopher fulfill his dreams, and take a long holiday from work while at it!



Filed under advice, general, liveaboard

5 Responses to Guest Blogger: the Missus, on living aboard

  1. Charlene, it’s great to hear your take on things! I confess that moving onto our boat was equally my idea as well as Owen’s, so I have had an easier transition (and more space!). But you are a brave woman, and I hope Kris appreciates what it takes to make someone else’s dream your own. Whenever it gets to be too much, come have mocktails and BBQ on our deck and we can do our complaining together, haha. – Jessica on Malaika

  2. hear hear Kristopher!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What do you know? It rhymes too!

    Mocktails and BBQ sounds like an offer we cannot resist!!!!!!!! We should have a BBQ someday. Satay is good!

  3. Mat

    I have only read a few of these posts since my friend gave me the link last week
    I am about to buy my first sailboat in Thailand with the intention of sailing it to Singapore to liveaboard for a bit. Definitely mid life crisis and my wife hates me for it! You sound like a very cool chick and your boyfriend is pretty lucky you have such a great attitude. Best of luck to you both on your adventure.
    If either of you have any good tips om where to keepi a 38ft monohull in a marina there that would be very kind. I am definitely not looking for anything flash, just functional.
    Many thanks

    • Kris

      Hey Mat: you’re right, I’m definitely lucky!

      I also bought my boat in Thailand and sailed it down here; and am headed 2/3 of the way back up next month (to Langkawi). Let me know when you get your boat and are planning to sail, I may have a little advice about coming down the Malacca Strait.

      As far as marinas go, I’m planning to write a post about that soonish, but here are some quick notes, moving West to East: Way out west is Raffles Marina, expensivish but probably the most well liked by cruising sailors. Very far from town. Near Clementi is RSYC, also seems laid back and not too flashy, but word is it’s very rolly there due to ferry traffic. I doubt it’s all that horrible, and there are some people living there. Then there is Keppel Bay and One 15, the two flashiest/shiniest and most convenient marinas in SG. Not super expensive for a 38 ft boat (my berthing at One 15 is ~SGD750/mo for < 40ft). Way out East (as far as you can get) is SAF Changi marina, small, quiet, cheap. There is also Marina Country Club way up north in Punggol, but I have never visited there and don't know much about it. If you are going to be working in SG but without a car, I think you'll want to look at RSYC, Keppel, One15. Otherwise if being farther out is okay, Raffles and Changi are probably great options.

      Best of luck!

  4. charbot

    Hi Mat!

    Thanks for the kind comments!

    Kristopher is extremely patient in listening to my whining, that helps a lot. At the same time, he often very rationally convinces me of the merits of going this route. I love seeing the world, so while the mode of transport is not my top choice, the boat seems to be a much cheaper option!

    Or you can name the boat after her! Sweet gestures might make the transition easier!

    A lady from our marina, who has settled very well into marine life is You can ask your wife to hang around her more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *