DBS Marina Sailing Programme (FREE) + Survival Tips

[Update 6th Sept ’15 ->]

We went again this afternoon so that hubby can have a chance to sail with the kids.  The entire afternoon’s event was cancelled due to bad haze level that went beyond healthy range.  We found out that Singapore Sailing used another scale that is different from NEA’s website.  Hubby said that it could be SG Sports had to consider the strengthnous exercise ALL Singapore sportsmen had to carry out, and hence had to give additional mark up from NEA’s website.  It sounded reasonable to us as well.

Earlier I noted that there was no Q system nor registration desk and the queue was messy.  Today, there was a foldable table brought up from the floating pontoon once registration starts.  However shortly after, the staff-in-charge actually mentioned to another that they are not allowed to set up a table there and quickly had to keep it again.

Today, we learnt from the staff that under 7-yo is not allowed on the sail boats.  The reason is not because of height/weight, but insurance.  Their insurance does not cover participants out of 7-70 yo range.  My last trip, it was a walk-through for didi and we didn’t realize the consequences.  From a few of my friends’ feedback yesterday, it was also a walk-through for them.  However today, the under 7s were rejected.  So do take note on the age restrictions.

OMB’s basement toilet was also closed today.  Perhaps it is closed on both Saturday and Sunday.  OUE Bayfront has a handicapped toilet but we were told it’s only for ladies.  Thanks to my friend’s reminder and familiarity with her “territory”, we ended up walking back into the tunnel from OMB towards Raffles MRT direction.  There is a public toilet located in between Asian Chopsticks and 7-Eleven.  The entrance to the toilet has side walls tiled with bright green colour.

[<- Update 6th Sept ’15]


It was just last Friday when we went for the ride of our lifetime.  No, it wasn’t powered by engines or fuel.  Its human against nature!  Sponsored by DBS Bank as part of their community outreach programme, new sailing boats to add on to the existing fleet of eight (8) and is running a fortnightly sailing programme for people from all walks of life.  These events are supported by sailors and skippers who represent the Singapore Sailing Federation (SSF) and who volunteer their precious time so that more people can get to know the sports and to enjoy the scenery at Marina Bay with a different perspective.

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40-ft SM40 – Boat #2

DBS Marina Sailing Programme is a free event!  This year, for the first time, six (6) new 40-ft mega sailing boats have been brought into the Marina Bay under the programme.  We now have two options to experience – the SM40 and the SB20.  The Swedish Match 40 (SM40) mega sailboats is a 40-ft boat designed specifically for the elite sailors in the world, for training and competitions held in Europe and USA.  It reaches an impressive height of 18 metres (4 storeys) and can take up to 7 guests and 3 crew members.  It is also the very first time that such boats are available to the public in Asia.  The SB20 is half the size (at 20-ft) and is commonly used for racing. With the SB20s, Singapore won 18 medals under the Sailing event in the recent SEA Games 2015 and is ranked #1 in South East Asia.

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DBS Marina Sailing Programme is available every Friday to Sunday, in the afternoon.  I gallantly booked a slot for SM40 at 1.20PM, when it’s supposed to be the hottest and having the least people expected.  True enough, the crowd amassed only towards the later part of the afternoon.  Since it’s a Friday booking, I also made the decision not to drive into CBD as I anticipated a parking duration of 6 hrs.  The hefty parking charges and ERP could have bought us a nicer meal instead.  With my car left at Bishan HDB parking (find your own convenience although for me, it’s solely because of kids lessons in the evening), I took my mum and kids to bash through (I had to use the word!) the lunch time crowd at Raffles Place MRT.  I suddenly felt so out of place to be there wearing my aunty clothes when it was just 4-5 years ago that I sashayed down the walkway in heels and chio-chio outfit!  Sigh!

We arrived 20 minutes earlier than our booking time as I was not sure where the registration was to be.  Now, I can share my experience and hopefully it’ll be easier for everyone (including my loved ones who’ll be heading down this weekend).

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The registration mentioned to meet at Customs House Floating Pontoon (map included at bottom of post).  Well, technically it’s a floating platform for boats to park against, for people to walk on, typical of what you see at sailing and yacht clubs.  Located just next to the Oyster Bar and at the back of One Marina Boulevard (OMB, or commonly known as NTUC Building).  For detailed directions, it’s at the end of this post.

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My view of OMB from the Customs House Floating Pontoon.  This side of building with the 4 silver columns faces One Raffles Quay direction.

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View from where I stood on the floating platform. OMB is on the left of this photo, out of view.

When you find the Floating Pontoon, look for the staff in charge stationed around there immediately.  You would be able to recognize her with a stack of papers (the indemnity forms) and a registration list.  There wasn’t a reception table or sorts hence the lady could be anywhere in the crowd.  Speaking of which, there was no orderly queue as well.  We did not realize it until 1.30pm (my booking was 1.20pm for SM40) when there seemed to be no call for us.  We were still idly waiting for our turn while sitting around at the Oyster Bar, enjoying our view and taking photographs.

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It was when more people arrived for their scheduled slot that I realize that a queue system was not in place.  This appeared to a permanent problem since the programme has already been running for two years.  The above photo was taken during my second ride at almost 5pm (my booking was 3.40pm for SB20) when there were many unhappy people up there.

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View from Oyster Bar

My advice is to wait around at the top of staircase but try not to block people from returning from their sailing experience.  Be street smart and try to get the staff to allow your group down to the Transfer Deck.  Sorry to say, you would only know when exactly is your turn next when you are standing on the Transfer Deck with a safety vest in arm.

Photo taken by Jiejie

Photo taken by Jiejie

Once you are on the Transfer Deck, the rubber dingy will soon be here to pick you up for a transfer if you are heading for the SM40 ride.  For small kids, make sure they hold onto the rope tightly and have them by your sides during the transfer on rubber dingy.  Sea water can get into the dingy, so do give a thought over the kind of shoes you would wear if you don’t have deck shoes.  Full-strapped sandals would be great for safety and getting wet in.

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If you have booked the SB20, proceed to the end of floating pontoon where you will board one of the smaller sail boats.  Wait for one of the staff / sailors to direct you to your boat.  More details below (after toileting & food break).

When we went for our first ride on the SM40, we were totally lucky to have the sun blocked by clouds.  Instead of scorching mid day sun, we had a breezy and cloudy/hazy ride around the bay for a full one-hour duration (the perks of weekday booking!).  Our SM40 ride was manned by 2 volunteer sailors on Friday – a businessman who sneaked out of office for 4hrs (I know right?!  Good life!)  and a retiree who has been volunteering every week.  Both of them were competitive sailors who have retired from competition and are now sailing simply for the enjoyment of it.

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Everyone on board was given a briefing on the key components and functions of the boat.  All bags were left on the boat deck to prevent anything from falling over into the water.  And nobody should be sitting on the side board of the boat in case his/her head got hit by the main boom as the sail changes direction.  The photo below will show the height of boom relative to a man’s height.  Hence the risk of hitting on the head if one were to stand up and not knowing what’s going on while sailing.  The main boom may just swing across while being manned by another crew member.  Of course, our two sailors took very good care of everybody and with every action / decision taken during sailing, it is a protocol to shout out instructions to alert the other crew members.

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In this photo, you can see how low the main boom is. The sail is designed to catch maximum amount of wind.

Everyone took their turn behind the huge steering wheel and to sail the boat under the guidance of the sailors.  Look how big the steering wheel is!

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Our sailor here was really chatty and shared with us lots of information about sailor and his business.

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Where the wind was not blocked by MBS (at Merlion side and at The Promontory side), we were proudly riding the waves (don’t worry, pretty gentle ones they are hahah!).  Those were exhilarating moments on the SM40 when everyone got excited with all the action to turn the sails to catch the wind, or when the boat keeled sharply.  We had the kids screaming with excitement when it happened.  I think maybe they were hoping to drop into the water for some action!  I did try to pay attention to some of the sailing terms used but then had completely forgotten about them in the excitement >.<

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We were glad that we had the chance to complete our experience on both the SM40 and SB20 in one afternoon.  We had plenty of time for photos, and learnt a little more about controlling the sail boats, chatted with the sailors while truly enjoying the scenery and wind without the camera. ❤  If you are aiming for same arrangements, do space out your booking timing to have at least 2 hours in between each slot.  I can’t guarantee that everyone will have 1 hour on their rides.  I guess it largely depends on the crowd as the duration officially allocated for each slot is about 30-40 minutes (if I don’t remember wrongly).

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My mama, so happy! ❤

After we finished our ride on the SM40, we headed for toilet break and lunch at 3pm.  Everyone was famished as we did not have enough time to take a proper lunch prior to registration.  With the kids and mum along, I brought them to the most conveniently located Wang Cafe at Basement 1 of OMB.  The food sucks though.  The macaroni with chicken soup is powdery.  The meesiam is watery.  And the tea is bland.  😦  Nevertheless, we did what we had to with the food because we only had 40 minutes break before our next ride on the SB20.   So thankful that the kids didn’t reject the totally yucky macaroni because they were also too hungry.  If you went to the floating pontoon via Raffles MRT, you would have spotted other eateries in the tunnel.  By all means patronise them instead.  The food and teh at Wang Cafe IS AWFUL!  Details on locating the toilets and Wang Cafe is at the bottom of this email.

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After cleaning up, we registered ourselves for round 2 and were eager to be the next group down there (the floating pontoon).  However, this time round, the crowd was messier with people not in line (there wasn’t any!) and all standing around everywhere.  Though our registration time was 340pm, it was close to 5pm by the time we boarded one of the SB20s.  Behind us, there were many people who also had the same registration timing.  We really didn’t know who’s first who’s last.  It’s a battle of wits when you are there!

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One of the SB20s sailing out into the bay.

We were given a mini briefing on where and what not to step on while on the SB20, for we had to walk across 3 boats later on, while maneuvering through the steel rods and ropes.  This is where having a backpack front-carried would be safer.  Be careful not to step on the wind sails as it will be slippery.

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The stretch of sheltered bay has totally no wind.  Our volunteer sailor had to manually sail us out using the rudder which also controls the direction of sail, unlike the huge steering wheel the SM40 has.

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On the way out, the children were also assigned with sail ropes that they “need” to take control of.  They were elated with the responsibility and assumingly took up the roles very well, pulling the ropes to control the jib sail (the smaller piece in front) and locking them into place.

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The smaller SB20 gave us a totally different experience.  Being compact, there was lesser room to move about but was still able to.  And when there is no wind, alot of arm exercise to be used to control the rudder in order to move the boat.  However when there is wind, it’s a sailing smooth journey where one just need to watch for direction after setting the sails tight.  The children were also given chances to manoeuvre the boat – super happy lo!!

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Our volunteer sailor said that jiejie sailed like a drunk driver! Hahaha!! Is that so typical of girls??!  You mean she didn’t inherit my excellent genes in driving?!!

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Didi here, totally focused on controlling the boat. Super thumbs up! Future Olympic medallist??

Plenty of thanks to DBS, Singapore Sailing and all the wonderful volunteers involved. We had not one, but two wonderful rides with the beautiful backdrop of dramatic skies and amazing city skyline. We hope to be back for more soon!  This post is just in time for this week’s round of sailing starting this afternoon!  If you know of anyone going for the experience this weekend, do share it with them on Facebook! ❤  We hope you’ll have fun soon!

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Registration

The DBS Marina Sailing Programme is hugely popular and slots are always snapped up WITHIN MINUTES.  So if you are keen to go sailing with your friends or loved ones do sign up as soon as the slots are open towards the end of each month.  Anyone can sign up and each person can register for up to 4 guests.  Allocation is on a first-come-first-served basis at the registration site.  Please click here to register or for more information about the sessions we have each month.

Successful applicants will be required to fill up an indemnity form and present it to the sailing staff on the day of the selected session. Please click here to download the form.  Note :- I would advised all to print and fill up the form at home before heading to the event. It’s quite messy during the actual day with the crowd not knowing what to do, who’s next, who came earlier, etc.  But please don’t complain too much!  It’s FREE!!

For those who repeatedly failed to get a slot and don’t mind paying for the experience, can consider to do a registration at Singapore Sailing Federation.

Venue

Customs House Floating Pontoon (Access from One Marina Boulevard, NTUC Building at Level 1 Lobby facing One Raffles Quay). Walk out of glass doors and to the left and down the steps towards the waterside direction.  You will see The Promontory and some small sailing boats straight ahead in the sheltered bay. The boats have DBS name & logo on their sails.

If going via Raffles Place MRT, find your way to One Marina Boulevard using the underground walkway.  You will come to Wang Cafe at Basement 1.  Use the escalator behind Wang Cafe to go to Level 1 (abovementioned lobby).  You will see a small lift lobby with security gantry.

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Map from DBS

Parking

Weekdays
MRT would the best & cheapest option.
For those who insist to drive, the carparks in the CBD charges via parking rates in 10-min to 30-min blocks. Generally the charges will work out to be S$5-6 per hour.
OUE Bayfront @ $0.86/10min from 7AM to 5.59PM and $3.21/entry from 6PM to 6.59AM the following day
One Marina Boulevard @ $2.14/30min from 7AM to 5.30PM and $3.21/entry from 5.30PM to 11PM

Saturdays
OUE Bayfront @ $0.86/10min from 7AM to 2.59PM, $3.21/entry from 3PM til 6.59AM the following day
One Marina Boulevard @ $3.21/entry from 1PM to 11PM

Sundays
OUE Bayfront @ $3.21/entry from 7AM to 7PM the following day
One Marina Boulevard @ $3.21/entry from 7AM to 11PM

Food Availability

Wang Cafe at One Marina Boulevard Basement 1 is the closest available reasonably-priced food for a quick meal.  But don’t patronise them!  Read above for my review.  If time permits, walk further back into the underground walkway heading back towards Raffles Place MRT.  You will find Asian Chopsticks and Spinelli (Italian cafe).  There’s a food court at Republic Plaza and awesome food street at Raffles Exchange as well.  While there’s no shortage of good food at various prices, do check your time in order not to miss the boat!

Toileting Facilities

Weekday :- One Marina Boulevard (NTUC Building) Basement 1 (Metal door next to security gantry behind Wang Cafe).
Weekend :- OMB Basement toilet is closed.  Can use the toilet at the tunnel leading back towards Raffles MRT.  The toilet is located in between Asian Chopsticks and 7-Eleven and has side walls tiled in bright green.

Things To Bring/Wear

Sunblock – there is no shade out there!
Backpack – you can expect to be stepping from boat to boat in order to reach your designated boat.
Water – lots
Sunshades
Cap
Light clothes – Sailing is a sports, not fashion show >.<
Deck Shoes / Strapped Sandals – no slippery or fanciful shoes (see Backpack above).  The boat may have seawater splashing inside too!
Safety Vest – Available in kids & adult sizes, provided by organiser

Things NOT To Bring

Shoulder Bag – you can expect to be stepping from boat to boat in order to reach your designated boat.
Sports Shoes / Heels / Slippers – Ditto

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Weather

In the event of inclement weather or haze level above PSI 100, DBS will heed NEA’s advice and will be unable to proceed with the sailing, even if it’s at a short notice or we are already there at the floating pontoon.  As this is something out of our control, we would just have to accept it and leave the premises.  Don’t scold the poor girl!

ABOUT DBS MARINA SAILING PROGRAMME

The DBS Marina Sailing Programme was launched in 2013 with a fleet of eight (8) SB20 sailboats.  It has to date enabled more than 7,500 members of the public to enjoy complimentary trips on DBS sailboats around the bay.

Taking place every fortnight, these sessions are available three times a week (on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday).  With the addition of six (6) SM40 sailboats to take the combined fleet of sailboats under the programme to 14, the FREE programme will now allow close to 20,000 people to sail in the bay each year.

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Thanks for joining us on SAys! Happy Mums.  We hope you have enjoyed reading our blog.  If you liked what you read on our blog, please follow us on Facebook for the latest updates.  We hope to see you back again soon.

~ SAys! Shirley 🙂

Disclaimer : This is NOT a sponsored post.  All opinions expressed remain our own.  Photographs, unless otherwise stated, belong to SAys! Happy Mums.  Please do not reproduce without prior permission.

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About SAys! Happy Mums

We are a Singapore Mum Blog hosted by BFFs Shirley & Audrey. We blog about our children, parenting and family lifestyle. Most often than not, we find ourselves immersed in family and kids entertainment and can't escape from the lure of great food!

17 thoughts on “DBS Marina Sailing Programme (FREE) + Survival Tips

  1. Just curious why the queue system was not carried out properly since it has been running for a period of time plus knowing there will be unhappy crowd. Thanks for the lovely tips which will definitely be helpful if we are going for a sail ^_^

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    • I don’t know why. Maybe its logistic issue as they don’t have any shelter. After investing so much for public interests, the least the authorities can do is to allocate a space for them to house equipments?

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  2. What an awesome experience and detailed post. didn’t know about this event until I read your posts. Sobs – all slots gone 😦 next year please remember to ‘jio’ us SPB members ok? 😛

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