They were probably the coolest parents in town last year when Evelyn Tan and Darren Lim told the media that they were going on a year-long sailing trip with their four children.
But the local celebrity couple have now put their plans on the backburner for a reason many Singaporean parents can relate to – the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).
Kristen, their eldest daughter, will take the exam next year.
Darren, 43, says: “My wife would like to focus on preparing Kristen for exams next year and wants to be land based.
“So this year, instead of going far and beyond, we will just do the region – Malaysia, Thailand, Sabah, Philippines.”
“It has been my dream to sail around the world. But I guess that dream was a little too big. I had to come back to reality and take it bit by bit, in smaller bites.”
Their idea of a much smaller adventure is a month-long sailing trip to Phuket. The family of six set sail on Feb 17.
Scaling back the duration and the nautical miles does not make the trip any less meaningful, however. The whole idea of going on a sailing trip as a family, Darren says, is for the family to bond and to expose their four children – Kristen, 11, Jairus, nine, Way, seven, and Elliott, two – to the world.
Netizens can read updates on his Facebook account. On top of giving their family and friends some peace of mind, he hopes the posts will inspire others to pursue their dreams and “dream big”.
On board their boat, he is in charge of steering the ship under the mentorship of an experienced Australian captain.
Evelyn, 40, a former actress-host who homeschools the children, will keep them occupied with crafts and watching marine life. She will weave in life skills throughout the journey, such as map reading.
She says: “Darren’s belief is that education should not be confined to four walls. The kind of education I am used to, comfortable with, is through books.
“But I’m looking forward to this trip. Learning in theory cannot beat experiencing things first-hand.”
LIFE ON A BOAT
Embracing adventure was not always in her blood. It took him a decade to convince her to live on a houseboat.
For four years, they lived on a three-room yacht docked at the ONE°15 Marina Club at Sentosa Cove Marina. They moved back to their apartment last October when their tenant left.
He says: “When we were dating, I took her to the Marina to show her the houseboats. She thought it was crazy to live on a boat and was worried about the dangers, such as our kids falling into the water.
“Four years of living on the boat and nothing like that has happened. There will be dangers, but it’s fine as long as you are responsible and take precautions.”
It is a case of opposites attract for this couple – spontaneous Darren is anchored by his down-to-earth wife.
Darren says: “All her life, she has been brought up by the book. Everything she does is by the book. If the book doesn’t say so, it cannot be done.
“I’m the opposite. I believe in trying first. If you cannot do it, then try again. She’s attracted by that because it’s a trait that she doesn’t have.”
The affinity between them began when they co-starred in the television version of Dick Lee’s musical Beauty World (1998). She was the small-town girl Ivy Chan who captured the heart of his role, bouncer Ah Hock .
Almost two decades later, they will rekindle their on-screen romance in an upcoming Channel 5 telemovie Spelling Armadillo 2, which airs on March 19. They play widowed individuals who find love again with each other.
A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times.