One of the reasons the boat costs less than the competition is that the buyer takes delivery at the shipyard. In the past the owner would first go to Hong Kong. The one day trip was a sea trial of sorts and the shipyard has contacts there that would take care of any commissiioning issues that popped up. Then, after some time in Hong Kong to work the bugs out of the boat, you would make the four day S. China sea crossing to the Subic Bay Yacht club in the Philippines. This was another sea trial of sorts and the yard had contacts in Subic Bay to handle any commissioning/warranty issues. Due to a change in Chinese regulations, yachts must now be towed out of mainland Chinese waters by tug. The Chinese goverment determined that it would eliminate any liability they would have if something happened to a new yacht as it left China. Rumor has it that a CCP (Chinese Communist Party) official just wanted business for his tug company. That was the first problem. The boat would arrive in Hong Kong without a proper sea trial.
I then took the ferry from China to Hong Kong to meet the tug with my boat in tow. The next problem is that in past it was not that difficult to find a berth in Hong Kong. Now space is at a big premium. About the only choice I had was a $100 USD per day guest slip at the Gold Coast Marina with very limited availability which is far away from the city center and public transportation. Fortunately Bill, the owner Seahorse Marine, has a membership at an Oakland, California yacht club that has reciprocal yacht club priviledges with the Royal Hong Kong Yacht club in Causeway Bay located on world famous Victoria Harbor. I was able to have my boat docked at that location for almost two weeks. Every night I had the best seat in the house for the most famous city skyline in the world. The yacht club is a short walk from the one of the best public transportation systems in the world, the MTR. For two weeks, I was able to sample everything Hong Kong has to offer. When most people think of Hong Kong they think of the city. The whole east side of Hong Kong (Sai Kung area) is full of white sand beaches, wilderness parks and crystal clear water. A great area to explore. After two weeks at the Royal Hong Kong yacht club my welcome was wearing out. The club is mostly set up as a racing club and just a place to socialize. A large boat like mine sitting at their pontoon (they have no docks, only moorings) taking up a lot space they were not really happy about. The yacht club was a great place to provision for my upcoming 4 day S. China crossing and get the new electronics finetuned. Seahorse contracts with a marine electronics company in Hk to double check the installation of all the electronics (autopilots, SSB, VHF, radar, AIS system, chart plotter etc.) and make sure they are operating correctly.
Another reason that HK is usually such an integral part of the Seahorse delivery procedure is that the owners usually use the local water to thoroughly test their boats out before motoring off into the sunset. Hk has instituted a new marine captain licensing requirement. It is a pain to get. Expensive and time consuming. You are not allowed to cruise in Hk waters without. You can enter and leave but cannot spend time cruising around. So, with the tug tow out of Mainland China and the inability to use the boat in HK waters, I was not going to be able to test the boat as much as I wanted to before making an open ocean crossing where I could encounter adverse conditions.
A Duck owner who lives in Hong Kong is a member of the Clearwater Bay Marina and country club. The marina is spectacular. It is located on the east side of HK with crystal clear water and easy access to excellent cruising there. They do not allow liveaboards. The country club is VERY expensive to belong to so many of the slips in the marina are empty even though there is an extreme shortage of berths in the HK area. The water in the marina is clean enough to see the bottom and all of the tropical fish swimming around due how sheltered it is and the fact that no one is dumping anything into the water. It was great to be able to jump off the boat for a morning swim while the boat was sitting safely in a slip. The marina was constructed in an old typhoon shelter so there is almost no problem when a tropical storm shows up. The Duck owner was able to get me a guest berth for a couple of nights. I wanted to take advantage of the car quality diesel fuel they offer at their fuel dock and thought it would be nice to get away from the city. After two nights there I filled by boat with 1000 gallons of diesel at $5 a gallon (OUCH!) and prepared to leave for the Philippines. The boat holds 2000 gallons of fuel. 1000 gallons will get me over 4000 miles at its standard rate of consumption of 1.5 gallons per hour at 6-7 knots. The trip to the Philippines is only around 600 miles.
With the boat stocked up with food and fuel I was ready to go. I hoped I had found all of the new boat commissioning “issues”. Now came the big decision. Should I singlehand like I usually do or should I take some crew along?
Below is a picture of the Clearwater Bay marina. You can see how it is tucked away in a relatively uninhabited area of HK.