Living off the Land

The new marina where the old Keppel shipyard used to be reminded me of Puerto Banús in southern Spain. Not that I’ve seen many marinas around the world but that was the first thing that came to mind.

On a much smaller scale here minus the bars and shops, and surrounded by new condominiums, Keppel Marina is more secluded and family oriented. Like any average visitor, the thrill for me was to spot the biggest, newest and ‘sexist’ boat in the marina. I was not disappointed. There was something I definitely did not expect to see.

A small helicopter all nicely wrapped up in marine blue was perched on top of a luxury yacht named “Itasca”. Even the rotor blades were wrapped up like a present. This is the best photo I can take from the boardwalk.


Out of curiosity, I checked out Itasca and found a yacht by the same name in According to the website, Itasca is a Dutch-built ocean going explorer yacht that has travelled round the world from the Bering Strait to Antarctica. No wonder it needs a helicopter! Some years ago, it was on sale at a respectable price tag of slightly over $18 million (excluding the chopper).

Not that I can afford anything close to it but the boats in the marina led me to think of alternative housing if residential properties get so expensive here that living in a boat could be a viable and exciting option. If you’ve been in or seen photos of pleasure crafts over 50 feet long, you’ll know the interior is actually very liveable. It is even more convincing if you love to travel and having a boat may turn out to be cheaper since you don’t have to fly and pay for accommodation when you go places.

To start with, we don’t need a super yacht like Itasca which needs a crew of 12 to go anywhere. A single or double cabin self-operated boat will do, like living in a small apartment on land.

Boat dwelling can be a unique experience and an enviable lifestyle for the young as well as for retirees. I know someone who chooses to live on his boat at the furthest west end of Singapore and rides his motorbike to town every work day. He has everything he needs on the boat and all other possessions in a storage area at the back of the marina. He goes out to sea most weekends for fishing or diving, and relaxes in the marina clubhouse at the end of the day. What a life! Not much of a difference from living in a condo.

Who knows, when people gets driven to live at sea again, Orang Laut may make a comeback some 200 years after Raffles and his fellow colonists drove Singapore’s original indigenous people away from the shore in order to build the “emporium of the east”.

Of course it is not expected for anyone to make a mad scramble for the waters tomorrow but for those who think a boat might be a good retreat from the urban crowd, check out Let me know when you have decided to live differently. Better still, invite me on board.



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