A tranquil spot despite the occasional storm

A tranquil spot despite the occasional storm
A hush falls over the marina on weekdays, with only hobby fishermen pottering around on its decks at Raffles Marina on 10 September 2014.

ITS website lists a few ways to get there - by bus from Boon Lay interchange; by car via exit 26B - the last exit - on Ayer Rajah Expressway; or by sea - via Buffalo Rock, Raffles Lighthouse or Alert Shoal Buoy.

The journey is part of the fun when it comes to visiting Raffles Marina, Singapore's first private dock for small boats and pleasure craft such as yachts.

Despite its name, it is not near Marina Bay or Raffles Place, but at 10 Tuas West Drive at the south-western tip of Singapore instead. While the "by sea" route is part of Raffles Marina's allure, three people who used this route for a "non-leisure" purpose last month ended up being jailed. They had sailed there on a catamaran from Langkawi island in Malaysia, skipping immigration checks before coming ashore. The trio were jailed 10 to 16 weeks for, among other offences, entering Singapore illegally. Their intentions for illegal entry were related to a dramatic child custody tussle.

The case put the spotlight on the lax security at the marina. But chances are Raffles Marina will not keel over from this latest setback. After all, the marina - which occupies 3ha of land and 4ha of sea - has kept itself afloat for more than 20 years despite a tempestuous birth and the occasional storm. The gleaming marbled lobby and well-manicured lawns of its clubhouse belie its tough start.

Long-time marina member Vivian Tan, 58, said: "Before the club was opened, the estimated cost was lower than the actual. Ten years later, there was talk that the bank might shut the club down. But (members) were not worried. We had faith in the management."

In 1991, during the construction of the club, the belated discovery of a poor seabed and soil conditions led to costs doubling to about $100 million as more expensive methods of dredging and piling works became necessary.

Its initial opening phase was delayed by about six months, and Raffles Marina opened officially only in 1994.

The amount was paid off mainly through membership fees and shareholders' capital. But that did not spell the end of the marina's financial problems.

In 2003, news broke that the club, with the Republic's first multideck boathouse, was insolvent. Auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers said the club did not have the means to pay off its debt of nearly $45 million.

It was saved only after its sole creditor then, DBS Bank, threw it a lifeline by restructuring its loan.

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