Turns out the Singapore restrictions on boating in the area are even stronger than I realized. They have very specific rules on how to travel when moving in their waters. We knew they required a 12-hour notice before moving into their waters and they have patrol boats all around their borders. They require AIS transponders when moving between locations (even marinas) in Singapore. Given this is one of the busiest shipping areas in the world, and that Singapore is a very attractive place to live, I understand their need for good security. But, I ran into a surprising new set of rules.
A few days ago, I was talking to some new local Singapore friends I made through a GPS game I’ve been playing. They wanted to go visit a small island called Kusu, where part of the game can be played. The island is only about 2 km away from our marina, and our dinghy could get us out there in only 5-10 minutes. What I didn’t know is whether there was a public place to park the dinghy at this small national park. So, I asked the marina. They gave me some surprising news.
It turns out that it is not easy, or practical, to take our dinghy anywhere here in Singapore. They require a cruising permit and AIS transponder for ANY foreign boat going to the islands just south of here. We would be fined if caught (and there are a lot of patrol boats out there). Alternatively, we could get our boat registered in Singapore, but this is also a difficult process. Wow, we can’t use our dinghy!
Instead of taking my dinghy on a 10 minute trip (at most), I had to take local transportation to the nearest ferry about 5km east of here, then the ferry ride took over an hour (it stopped at another island first). Then we had to wait 2 hours at the island to catch the next ferry back. It was a very pleasant little island – a national park – and the weather was nice. So, no complaints staying there. But, by the time I got back the entire trip lasted over 6 hours. Not at all what I was expecting, to go to an island 2km away from my boat, when I have a perfectly good dinghy!