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Kayaking At Kallang River

15 Feburary 2014

With the city skyline in the background, splendid weather and a huge reservoir to paddle around, nothing but perfect conditions prevailed for the energetic and boisterous team of 10 Setsco staff to learn the basics of kayaking as well as to row around the picturesque Marina Reservoir in the heart of the city!

Kicking off the class on 15 Feburary 2014, was a lesson on the basics of kayaking and how to handle the equipment, safety information and simple paddle skills to manoeuvre the boat. Our instructor from the People’s Association Water Venture (PAWV) shared her valuable experience and demonstrated her passion for the water sport.

Retrieving the kayaks, oars and life-jackets from the shed, you could sense the excitement among the novice rowers as they made their way towards the water’s edge along the Kallang River. This river used to flow to the open sea. However as a result of Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew’s vision, a dam at the Marina Barrage sealed the mouth of the Marina Channel in 2008, creating a freshwater Marina Reservior which has a catchment area of 10,000 hectares. Staff of PAWV expressed their appreciation to Public Utilities Board (PUB) for progressively opening up many reservoirs to the public for such water activities in the hope of instilling greater community ownership in keeping our precious water catchment areas clean and beautiful.

Paired in teams of two per kayak, the rowers went up Kallang River towards the new National Stadium, which is still in construction, before stopping for a rest under the Tanjong Rhu Bridge. At first, it seemed like a pretty short distance and many powered their kayaks furiously towards the destination. However, it wasn’t long before the current and heat of the morning took its toll on them! Some of the kayakers decided to take things easy and paddled leisurely while taking in the scenic view and spotted birds that hover above the reservoir looking for food. A few of us managed to spot the white-bellied sea eagles, one of the largest raptor birds in Singapore, soaring majestically above us!

At the first rest stop, rowers huddled under the bridge and tried as much as possible to stay under the shade as the kayak had the tendency to drift along with the current. The instructor gave us some time to rest while she re-emphasised some of the rowing techniques and skills that could help us paddled more efficiently using our core muscles.

It was not long before we reached our next destination, Benjamin Shears Bridge which was about 1.6km away. Close to mid-day and the waterway was abuzz with traffic from kayaks and canoes to dragonboats. We had to carefully manouevre across the busy channel to reach the next pit stop which was a newly decorated, cozy nook just under the Benjamin Shears Bridge. With its own dedicated docking platform, we soon learnt that the place was to be the future home of the PAWV Kallang when they shift next year. The instructor taught us techniques to exit the kayak and buddy-carry the kayaks to shore. Staff was glad to be able to stretch their tired muscles and hide indoors, offering some respite from the scorching noon-day sun.

At 12.30pm, the rumbling tummies of the rowers signaled them to head back for lunch. On the final leg, team effort seemed to have improved between the rowers and many were able to arrive at the finishing point in no time.

The orientation course ended with a much anticipated lunch at the nearby Goldmile Complex. All the rowers had a very enjoyable time despite the aching feeling in the arms and core muscles. The rowers also realized that kayaking is not just a sport for the super fit. It is can be easily picked up from the young to the active senior citizen. The CSR committee hopes to hold more of such activities in the near future to introduce staff to our beautiful reservoirs and raise awareness on the importance of water conservation.