DB debacle

The closure of DB Marina and eviction of some 200 boats by HK Resort has been reported on at length in the South China Morning Post, on portals and blogs, yet nothing conveys the desolation as graphically as images taken on site.

At the bottom of this post, we see the marina from the northwest shore, looking southeast. Happier times, indeed. The community that grew from the initial row of Bondway junks and assorted craft way back in the 1990s was well established and, indeed, flourished as a colourful gathering of houseboats, yachts and powerboats. A credit to Hong Kong’s vibrant marine sector.

Indeed, the marina promoted the lifestyle and charged accordingly. It provided transport, a restaurant and a bar, a swimming pool, tennis courts and all the other normal marina facilities like power, water and basic security.

There have been a succession of marina managers since the days of Brian Mackay (who set up the docks in phases), the last was an unpopular character who quite suddenly disappeared as reports of him being wanted for fraud in Hawaii began to surface.

Then, on the 31st of August 2018, the owners of boats in the marina were given their marching orders. They were to be out by the 31st of December or face the consequences of prohibitively high fees and ‘heightened security’.

Visiting the marina on the 1st of January 2019, FH was surprised by the extent of this security. Razor wire around the perimeter of the marina, the boom raised at the entrance and a checkpoint system of two gates with a ‘no man’s land’ in between.

The familiar boatyard along-side, operated by Ken Wiltshire, was also shut down and fenced off. Strange that HK Resort would go to such lengths, or perhaps they were making a point.

Some say that the owners of the marina want to develop the facility into a megayacht base for their rich friends and no longer want ‘troublesome’ liveaboards. Others say it was ethnic cleansing . . .

Strictly, living aboard a Class IV vessel is not allowed in Hong Kong. If you want to live aboard a vessel you need a ‘Dwelling Vessel’ permit and, currently, there are only four vessels in this category (https://www.mardep.gov.hk/en/publication/pdf/portstat_2_y_e3.pdf). However, living aboard is difficult to define and is something of a grey area as staying over for a period of days or nights is likely to be overlooked. After all, the boats are defined as ‘pleasure craft’. More on this ‘misunderstood’ subject in future issues.

In the meantime, it is worth reading our comment about living afloat on page 10 of the Number 297 issue as houseboats would certainly be a way to solve Hong Kong’s housing crisis.

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