On Water: Wade Pearce
On Water: Wade Pearce
Wade Pearce zips in from his home in Sentosa Cove in his nifty speedboat dressed in shorts and a crisp linen shirt, looking every bit an islander. The 35-year-old founder of Singapore Marine Guide and his boat are familiar figures on the island—as he scouts out new information to include in his online directory for the benefit of the leisure boating community in Singapore. Wade has also become the unofficial first-response personnel in case of eventualities for the same reason.
The ocean has been a part of the Australian’s life since a young age as he frequently travelled up and down the New South Wales coast surfing, sailing, sea kayaking and camping. Straying from the normal Aussie career paths, Wade set off to Asia in pursuit of more unique adventures. At the age of 19, the journey took him to Sanya on Hainan Island, China, where he set up his own outdoor education company that organised adventure activities, surf coaching, sailing training and the like—the most popular operator for International schools in China. In 2015, he made Singapore his home with wife Della—a Singaporean yacht broker, whom he met in China. So it may not be an exaggeration to say that his association with Asia and the boating industry were also meant to be.
Transiting from surfing to boating was no challenge for Wade. Having developed surfing in China at a grassroots level, he hoped to play a similar role in contributing to Singapore’s boating industry. “Identifying the barriers that hinder people getting on the water and into leisure marine activities are key to understanding what is needed,” he says. “The aim is to
help people use their yachts, rent boats or go paddling more in Singapore.”
“It is really disappointing when you see boats in the marinas left neglected or never used, and you hear comments like ‘nowhere to go’ or ‘I don’t know who can fix it’,” pitches in Della, explaining the subtle yet definitive difference between an activity that is part of the culture versus one that is deemed a lifestyle.
This was one of the main motivations for an online directory—with a community focus for the growing boating enthusiasts in Singapore. When Wade moved to Singapore, it was to work on The Singapore Yacht Show—his main role was to help scale the business around Asia. This opened his eyes to the challenges faced by the region’s boating communities, especially in Singapore.
“You didn’t really know where to go to buy spare parts or avail certain services. There were no means to check and draw comparisons—every information was more hearsay from a friend,” explains Wade about the void that needed filling for the boating community, more so for first-time buyers.
As someone who immensely enjoys cruising around the waters of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, Wade also realised the need for a resource that informed on the regulations governing leisure boating, and to educate local boaters on where they can venture and what they could do.
Wade was no stranger to Asian culture or Singapore, but being in a country renowned for its busy port and shipping industry yet with little resources for the leisure boating industry was disconcerting. “There is no government agency that has a direct focus on leisure boating. To find the relevant information, you’ll have to contact multiple agencies or be lucky enough to know someone who has already dealt with the issue,” adds Wade. Singapore Marine Guide aims to fill that gap with comprehensive information—from the activities open to leisure boaters, the routes they can take to reach neighbouring waters to licenses and servicing. Wade has also started as a contributor for Longitude.
NOURISHING AN INDUSTRY
Wade’s web resource launched when COVID-19 hit—when there was a sea of change (pun intended) across many industries but the flourish in the boating industry was especially evident.
In the past two years, the entry-level boat user has increased significantly with both pre-owned sales and new boat arrivals, there are a lot more first-time boat owners and particularly more people boat-sharing, this is great for the community as it brings more boat owners onto the water at a more affordable price,” says Wade, hoping that the Singapore government soon comes to realise the revenue this upward trajectory is bringing into the country.
When Wade started out on the guide, he was told that Singapore was too small for a boating guide and that he would run out of content to provide. He begs to differ. “Although Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia are beautiful cruising grounds, Singapore is a hub for many boaters, there are over 1,000 boats based here, and hundreds visiting each year.”
Wade is also quick to acknowledge the marine health awareness that is growing alongside, as well as the people pioneering Singapore’s goal to decarbonise and reduce the amount of impact on the environment in the next 10 years. A big supporter of the ‘friends of the marine park’ group, Wade, through Singapore Marine Guide, has been able to facilitate other environmental initiatives such as Boaters Against Plastic—a periodic convoy of 20 boats heading out to cleanup Pulau Hantu. He also managed the recent stopover of Energy Observer, the first hydrogen fuel cell vessel in the world. Wade believes the green energy tech sector will eventually be his focus.
The couple’s appear to have centered their life in their marine environment. Della admits: “Once there was a need to be in the city’s hot spots and part of the buzz every weekend, but now with the Southern Islands in our backyard, we are more than happy cruising out for a little escape from it all.”
Having a speedboat helps them to plan impromptu trips around Singapore waters—until they decide to upsize once borders fully open and longer sea journeys come up.