On Water: Overnight Yacht Charters
On Water: Overnight Yacht Charters
Pre-Covid in Singapore, overnight yacht charters almost didn’t exist, but recently with the influx of regular charterers and a nation-wide drive for “sea-cations”, overnight trips have become a lot more interesting for those in Singapore. And why not when you get to see two of the most beautiful times on the water—sunrise and sunset— all while being looked after by a crew providing activities, making breakfast, barbecuing and providing a completely outside perspective of Singapore? There are two common ways to experience an overnight yacht charter. Firstly, you can head out on an afternoon to the Southern Islands, anchor down for the night and make your way back in the morning but if you are looking for a memorable experience you can plan your trip to go to several locations all around Singapore and spend the night at a different location.
Here’s what we experienced on a 3D2N trip we went with Ximula Sail.
Departing from ONE°15 Marina, we made our way to the pretty little islands of Pulau Hantu, passing through the large ship anchorage—we were taken aback by how huge some of the ships looked up close. The captain gave us details on the differences between each vessel, where they come from and how long they were in Singapore for. After cruising for 45 minutes, we anchored down outside Pulau Hantu—taking advantage of the high tide, we jumped into the kayaks and made our way into the cove. Upon reaching the beach, we decided to explore the island on foot— taking in the quiet and peaceful surroundings. It took us just a few minutes to reach the other side of the island, where we could see the second, smaller island of Pulau Hantu, and swam across to check it out. The tide started dropping quickly and the lagoon we just swam to was shallow enough to walk from island to island—we saw a school of fish being chased in the shallow waters by what looked like a baby shark.
We got back to the boat for lunch—the tide had dropped so much by then that there was a sandbank exposed in the middle of the sea. The captain informed us that there was a shipwreck there, so we decided to check it out post lunch. We searched the waters for about 15 minutes—snorkelling mask and fins on. Our visibility was about three to four metres, so we could only spot the top of the ship as the rest of it had sunk four metres deeper to the ground—an exploration for another time with more equipment.
The boat then headed to the second destination St John’s anchorage—we set off South to view the historic Raffles Lighthouse, which used to serve as the beacon for all ships along the Singapore Strait. We couldn’t stop there as its a restricted area, so we moved along towards the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park— which unfortunately was not accessible as the dock was under construction.
We cruised the waters for an hour before lowering anchor for the night at St John’s Island. But not before capturing a spectacular sunset, which we captured with drones, and a delicious barbecue cooked by the captain.
Day two started just as beautifully with an amazing sunrise. We wanted to take a look around the islands, so the captain drove us over on the small tender and dropped us off at Lazarus/Seringat dock. A trail links the three islands—but we were short of time to explore it fully. On the way back, we walked a bit off-track—which was serendipitous as we chanced upon a large mangrove lagoon inside the islands. We spotted something moving in the water and realised when we got up close that they were two one-metre long monitor lizards swimming. That capped our trip to the islands and it was time to embark on a five hour journey to the North of Singapore.
During the cruise North, we passed by the city skyline and navigated through the shipping anchorage, avoiding the Changi Naval Base as it is a restricted zone, before setting our sights on Pulau
Ubin. We stopped by Smiths Marine for a fresh seafood lunch—the floating kelong is just one of the many kelongs in the area, but is one of the ones where the boat could dock alongside. The owner gave us a quick tour around the individual farms explaining the different types of fishes they were breeding.
We anchored down in a calm water channel between Pulau Ketam and Pulau Ubin, and began our exploration—first kayaking up the mangrove river and then further into the island by foot. The day wound down with another gorgeous sunset—the peace and tranquility of the spot, sound of wildlife, and the rustle of fish hunting in the water, all make you forget that you are in Singapore anymore. It’s also one of few places in Singapore where you can see a starlit night sky.
On the final morning, we took a quick cruise around Seletar Island, a hidden gem of the northern coastline. We took the small tender up into the river towards Singapore—we passed by old settlements and docks of yore. Departing from Seletar Island, we cruised around north Pulau Ubin before sailing back towards the marina. The wind was behind us as we approached the northeast part of Singapore and the captain taught us to put the sails up for the journey South—with the wind behind us we shaved around an hour off the time we took to motor up the day before, so the captain brought us by Lazarus Bay for a quick swim before taking us back to ONE°15 Marina.