7 August 2021 - Pasir Ris to Pulau Ubin
Our expedition started bright and early at Pasir Ris Beach. We ensured that all equipment was in order and brought everything we needed, including lunch and a hot thermos of coffee. It was our first time crossing the channel to Pulau Ubin and we were a bit anxious. We knew we had to paddle hard across. Once we passed the last kelong, we raced furiously as we aimed for OBS. The presence of the safety boat helped to ease the tension especially with KB and Gilbert at the helm. Alas the crossing was not as scary as we thought it would be.
The plan was to kayak from the southern to the northern point of Pulau Ubin and cut through the island via the mangrove swamps. We passed by OBS Camp 1 & 2 which was eerily quiet without campers. I was reminiscing my own 5-Day camp at OBS twenty-five years ago as we slowly paddle pass. Such wonderful memories!
I have been to Ubin numerous times but never seen it from this perspective – from the sea inwards. The sights were awesome, especially the rock formation and mini lagoon we found at the eastern part of the island. For a moment, it looks so exotic that we felt like we were in Krabi or the Maldives. We stopped for an early lunch as we stayed to enjoy the mini sanctuary.
We proceeded towards the Northern point of the island after lunch and a quick dip in the water. The tides were changing, and we were paddling against the current which made the journey more challenging. But as we reached the mouth of the swamps, we were greeted with calm waters and the beautiful, serenity of the mangrove ambience and its inhabitants. We meandered through the peacefulness and witnessed the beauty of nature. The tide was getting low, so we had to hurry before the water gets too shallow for us to paddle. I was a bit sceptical that we could actually cut through the island, but I stood by Berwin, our expedition leader, as he expertly navigated across the swamp to the southern tip.
We were finally back into civilisation as we emerged at the southern side of the island, but we were greeted with an approaching storm. Lightning struck at mainland Pasir Ris where we were headed. The waters became choppier, and winds started to blow hard, pushing us towards Changi. We decided to berth at a nearby kelong while waiting for the safety boat. We felt safe for awhile until their gigantic dog came out barking at us defensively. Of course, in the midst of the oncoming storm, ferocious dog and drift, I had to answer the call of nature. Into the sea I went for a quick (actually rather slow) release and had to climb back up while our kayaks were knocking at each other. I was surprised that my seasickness didn’t come in play.
We crossed the channel with one of our sailing boats acting as safety. It was exhausting! Nothing felt heavier as we paddled through the restricted waters back to KBC. As we set our shrivelled feet back on land, I sighed a deep relief. A short trip (21km) but an adventurous one indeed. Definitely looking forward to more!