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Yo ho! Yo ho! A Pirate’s Life for me!

on October 2, 2012

It is recess week in NTU – that time of the year when you realise half the semester is over, when you have started missing most morning class (especially if they are Monday morning), when professors are reminding you of assessments and submissions and when all you want to do is hide all your books and do something fun.

Usually that works out well. The tradition is to go off Singapore to Malaysia and Indonesia and further up. This recess week I signed up for sailing with the NTU Sailing Club. A one day trial sailing session at the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club.

Republic of Singapore Yacht Club

Republic of Singapore Yacht Club

We reached at 3 30 pm for our first ever sailing experience with the sun burning us like tandoori. We saw our instructors who had spent the whole day sailing and they look burnt to a crisp! That’s when we decided that all the SPF 30 Sunscreen we had applied was going to be pointless and just a formality.

The session began with an introduction to the yacht (the bow, the stern, the port, the starboard, the rudder), a few basic knots (the figure of eight knot, the bowline and the () ) and the various ropes that control the main sheet and the jib sheet. We were warned over and over again to look out for the boom as it swings around so that we don’t hit it and have our heads go boom!  And then finally, we hopped in the yacht and our journey began.

We left the waters near the Club with our instructor telling us the basics of handling the various ropes. Soon we were relegated to one post and were off sailing under his instructions. Once now and then, we rotated places so we got to work on all posts. By then, the sun had decided to have mercy on us and the wind was blowing nice and gentle.

It is so thrilling and exciting to see the yacht under your control! To make it tack or jib, to understand the wind and set your sails accordingly. As in most things related to physics, a 45 degree angle of attack of the wind on the sails powers the sails up the most and the aim is to adjust the main sail so that the 45 degrees angle is achieved. Also, obviously, one can’t sail against the wind – which is where maneuvers like tack and jib come in handy. The sails have to be kept taut against the wind and there are threads on the sails that help you with this. You can see their shadow from the point where you sit to control the rudder and they have to blow horizontal on the sail. Every time they drop, you adjust with the rudder.

Mainsheet rope with Traveller

Mainsheet rope with Traveller

Jib Sheet rope

Jib Sheet rope

But the best part is once you have set your sails in the wind and you can let go off the ropes. Then you sit by the edge, throw your legs out and feel the fresh cool water splashing on your feet. You can see the horizon extending far away and it feels like the world is open to you. Now and then the yacht rolls hard as the wind changes course and you feel you are going to be flung into the water. The water sprays even more against your feet before you set the yacht straight again.



Sailing is one of the best things I have done in Singapore – relaxing yet exciting, refreshing yet exerting. I have thoughts to continue it through the vacation in NTU. Training once a week for 4 hours – could be killing, could be rejuvenating.

We already have plans to own a kick-ass yacht when we get rich and then we shall set sail for the horizon! I think I know how Captain Jack Sparrow felt!

One Day

One Day


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