***Long overdue post
I was very young when I first got the opportunity to be given a private boat ride.
The salesman was keen to give us a “great time” and so instructed the skipper to ride the waves like a PRC in a Ferrari. I remember my hat nearly flying off and seeing my mom’s face turn gray as she held on tight to my brother and I.
Still, as a kid, any non-emotional terror rarely scared me. In fact, I was quite angry with the salesman and told him so in as many words, much to his surprise.
Perhaps my young subconscious mind, despite that experience, realised that this was the last remaining freedom in this world and so whispered to me in my dreams every night.
I’ve had a burning itch to own a boat ever since.
As a student, inflatables caught my attention as the cheapest option short of a styrofoam box but, as a student, these were still out of my price range, and within my mom’s “No” zone.
One day a friend and I were talking about getting small and cheap inflatable boats to open up more places to us. Although he still has not followed up on the plan, I have since owned a total of 4 cheap inflatables and 1 expensive inflatable.
I started out with the Intex Seahawk 2. From that first trip, I realised that inflatables were more than just cheap toys. They were valid alternatives.
I scoured the net and talked to friends and captains and discovered that inflatables were even used by the militaries of the world! Yet all I had was an inflatable with paddles.
I was determined to fully motorise it but alas the investment in a tiny 1.5HP motor for that small boat made no sense to me and so I searched further for a bigger boat which could take my family on boating trips.
The portabotes and instaboats were ruled out totally due to poor reviews, non-compact sized when folded and poor performance and weight limits.
I narrowed my choices to a seaeagle boat and a saturn boat.
Before I made the purchase though I wanted to be sure I knew what I was getting into and so called up a local manufacturer to check out his products. That same day, I bought his boat, which had some similarities with the Saturn boat (though not a model I was considering).
The pontoons act to keep the boat lying flat on the water. This means that in perfectly calm waters, this boat would be nearly impossible to rock. The downside of course was that it rode the waves in a weird way. I later discovered that the best way to ride small waves was abeam.
Because this model lacks a keel, the boat is easily blown away by the wind and single handed paddling can be tricky, but not impossible.
On the left you can see a picture of me just before her maiden voyage. Nick kindly agreed to come along and assisted a lot.
Unfortunately it was really heavy so I ended up buying a Seahawk 4 for use when launching solo but it turned out to be too bulky to launch solo either.
Intent on at least trying it out, I again called up Nick to see if he was interested to test it out and naturally he was.
Sadly, this place turned out to be a dumping ground for discarded nets, pipes and refuse.
The trip was not uneventful though.
There was mild confusion when my home made stone anchor randomly broke free and we ended up being blown in to the treeline.
The other highlight was when a fellow angler, who was fishing on the bridge we were paddling under, offered us his bait and lowered it down to us using his fishing rod and a snap swivel tied to a plastic bag!
Still, the scenery was beautiful and we got to see a number of planes on final approach which was cool.
The boat handled within expectations. Just like its smaller cousin, the boat glides effortlessly over the water. So effortlessly in fact, that you’ll find yourself spinning around when using the oarlocks.
Unlike its younger cousin, the boat is extra spacious. This is quite obvious when you think about it since this can carry double the capacity of the Seahawk 2.
It also has inflatable seat cushions which make it that much extra comfortable.
No one expects a low pressure inflatable boat to be rigid but because this boat is relatively long, if you sit on the gunwale, you’ll find the boat crumpling in that area. The pressure is high enough to keep it from buckling completely or going underwater but still, it is a slight concern.
Again, the rod holders are merely there to hold your rod and keep it on/in/one with the boat. It will do absolutely nothing to keep your rod pointing in the right direction (to the girls!!! oh no he di’nt!!).
Two pairs of oarlocks also means you can take turns paddling without having to bend to awkward position.
And the soft floor with the addition of a really comforable inflatable seat means I did not experience any leg cramps.
Although, 3 people did take this boat out one night and complained of cramps. Though I suspect that it was because the third person was sleeping all over their legs!
I eventually sold off this boat to two nice young gentleman. I just couldn’t see the point of having two large inflatable boats. My home was already overcrowded.
On our very first trip, Wei Yee managed to land this beautiful (and big!) Red Drum, also known as the Taiwan Ngor.
As excitable as we were, plans were made for this to become a weekly thing. And indeed it did!
Kiat, Nick, Nigel and Weiyee were some of the people who stepped on board my humble boat.
On one occasion, we went out in two boats, one group in the Seahawk 4, and the other in my white boat.
Empowered by that surprising catch on our very first trip, we always found the energy to paddle the 3km to the spot and the further 3km back.
Alas, despite all the theorising and anecdotal evidence, we never did catch another red drum.
Kiat did manage to catch 2 large Belukangs though.
Still, the itch never fully cured and after much back and forth (the paperwork is a massive pain), I eventually bought a motor and registered my boat. At about the same time, Kiat bought himself a Hobie i9s.
To be continued….
Shawn started fishing in 1994. He caught his first fish (an Ah Seng) on that very first trip to Changi Carpark 4 (before it was barricaded). He built up his fishing knowledge and gear over the years but still keeps his old gear, just like the memories.