Saturday, December 17, 2011

Typhoon Shelter Marine Machine Shops

There are small workshops that support the shipyards of the Typhoon Shelter.  Some of the ones that I pass daily are busy at marine engine repair, sewing of customized sail canvas and boat covers, and the welding and fabrication of the stainless steel "bright work", the railings, ladders, and other fittings that need to be hand crafted to fit the particular needs of the vessel under repair.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Coming Home from the Boat Yard

The Aberdeen Channel and the Ap Lei Chau Bridge are the backdrop on a beautiful Saturday afternoon as "Watermark" makes her way to her moorings in the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter.  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Boat Yard

The Aberdeen Southern Typhoon Shelter is surrounded by dozens of boat yards, building, maintaining and servicing boats of all sizes and descriptions.  Many of these work shops are classified by Hong Kong authorities as "temporary light industrial sites", but have been a fixture on the shores of the Typhoon Shelter for twenty years or more.

With the development of luxury high rise condominium towers with prime waterfront views in demand, the future of these boat yards, machine shops, and marine workshops is in question.  They are seen by the authorities as environmentally incompatable with the residential development taking place, but provide vital services for the sampans, junks, trawlers, and yachts that make their home moorings in the Typhoon Shelter.  They also are the employers of what may be one of the last generations of true master craftsmen building and renovating wooden vessels in Hong Kong.

For now, "Watermark" has her teak woodwork cleaned and varnished, her deck sanded and oiled, and fresh paint, ready for another year afloat in her home in the Typhoon Shelter.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Typhoon Shelter Dawn

This week our junk, "Watermark" is in dry dock for the routine maintance that a wooden boat requires.  Joanna and I are staying onboard, which is in itself a very unusual experience of living on the boat while it is out of the water, with workmen scraping, sanding, caulking, sawing, varnishing, and generally bringing "Watermark" to condition to carry her through another year.

The temporary change in location to one of the boat yards on the Aberdeen shore gives a spectacular early morning view from "Watermark's" deck of boat traffic in the busy channel between Hong Kong Island and the adjacent island of Ap Lei Chau.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

First Typhoon in the Shelter

With Typhoon Nesat approaching Hong Kong, Typhoon Signal 8 is raised by the Hong Kong Observatory early in the morning of September 29.  Signal 8 is a warning of dangerous gale force winds, rain, and sea conditions.  All non essential businesses and services in the city shut down, and people are advised to stay indoors and take precautions for the safety of themselves and their property.

While neighbors in the Harbour take the opportunity to head for shore before the Typhoon strikes, the crew of Watermark (my wife, cats, and I) decide to stay aboard her in the refuge of the Typhoon Shelter.

Another clip shows the wind and rain as a neighboring boat tries to prepare:

Not the first Typhoon to be weathered by Watermark, but definitely an adventure for her crew.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Home from Patrol: Marine Police have a home in the Typhoon Shelter

Hong Kong's Marine Police Southern Division is based in the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter.  
As neighbors in the Shelter, their presence is reassuring.  They maintain a number of craft in the Harbour, ranging from ocean going patrol launches to  smaller tactical "go fast boats".  

The largest of these is PL 6 56 "Detector".  This craft patrols the sea lanes as well as the areas around the dozens of islands that are under Hong Kong's jurisdiction.

I see her mast lights at night and pass her daily as she makes her early morning and nightly patrols, returning to her dock at the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter.

I wish her and her crew well in the work that they do patrolling  one of the worlds busiest waterways.

Fishermen in the Typhoon Shelter

Small boats of every description and condition are used by fishermen to weave their way between the larger moored junks and and yachts in the Typhoon Shelter.  It is not unusual to see them paddled slowly with a single oar to come along side of "Watermark" and her buoys. It's not considered bad manners at all to fish in the shade of her hull, and not unusual to look out the below deck portholes to see a fisherman looking back at eye level.

Hand lines, rather that poles, are the preferred choice.   I've seen small fish, and squid, pulled up right next to "Watermark".

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Typhoon Shelter Neighbors include Boat Living Pets

My neighbors in the Shelter also include the few cats and dogs that live aboard boats full time.
For some of us, companionable pets are part of what makes living on a boat a home.

Eleanor is a calico cat who's home is a neighboring boat, but visits us on "Watermark" often.  She enjoys keeping us company on "anchor watch", sitting on the bow and watching the sunset.  She also earns her place, as many other seagoing cats throughout the ages have, by fiercely stalking any uninvited creatures that may try to board during the night.

Dogs passing by excitedly standing in the bow of small motor boats, enjoying the wind and the waves, are a regular sight, too.

For Teddy and Alfie,  kayaking is a weekend adventure.  I usually see them on the stern dive deck of their cruiser, brothers shoulder to shoulder with their tails wagging, watching the sampans passing by.

We brought our own cats from Singapore when we moved to the Typhoon Shelter.  They adapted quickly to life on the water, and even though a smaller space than the Singapore  shophouse and garden they were use to, seem to love the gentle rocking of "Watermark", the dozy sunlight through the windows, and exploring the different levels of the cabins.  We do keep them inside, as it can be hazardous for pets that are unaware that they may actually, as we all eventually do, fall over the side.

"Watermark" has a full crew.

see More Pets Aboard

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Kowloon Kommutin' Sampan Blues

The Kowloon Kommutin' Sampan Blues
Duff Hughes

Looked over Jordan, what's coming from afar?
     coming for to carry me home
an over-loaded train of the MTR
     coming for to carry me home

Mong Kok to Admiralty, a five station hop
     coming for to carry me home
dispatcher comes on, says "Unscheduled stop!"
     coming for to carry me home

"Octopus Card ain't no EuroRail Pass"
      coming for to carry me home
"just jump inside, but watch your a##"
      coming for to carry me home

Doors won't close, please take a step back
       coming for to carry me home
at the end of the ride, it's "Mind the gap"
        coming for to carry me home

 Under the Harbour in this rocking steel tube
         coming for to carry me home
it's standing room only, no way to move
         coming for to carry me home

Then stand in que for the "75"
         coming for to carry me home
 stare out the window until I arrive
         coming for to carry me home

Wanchai's night markets and Happy Valley's Race Track
         coming for to carry me home
til Aberdeen's tunnel welcomes me back
         coming for to carry me home

Look for the sampan that's barely afloat
          coming for to carry me home
Ah Ying coasts slowly in her ancient little boat
             coming  for to carry me  home

If windy and rainy, gauge the waves' chop
           coming for to carry me home
make the leap on the rising, not on the drop
            coming for to carry me home

Dragon Boat racers paddling past
         coming for to carry me home
started out slow, but learning to go fast!
         coming for to carry me home

Junks passing in darkness, yachts in bright light
           coming for to carry me home
they've rounded the sea wall, come home for the night
           coming for to carry me home

Cradled by the Islands, protected from the Sea
            coming for to carry me home
    the Shelter is a refuge for all in its lee
               coming for to carry me home                   

'Watermark' is there waiting, moored to her buoy
           coming for to carry me home
come along side now, give a shout "Ahoy"
            coming for to carry me home

Holding the stanchion as I stand by the prow
            coming for to carry me home
climb over the railing onto the bow
            coming for to carry me home

Train, bus and sampan from my desk to my deck
            coming for to carry me home
the journey is the adventure, I'm not tired of it yet
            coming for to carry me home

Some men dream of home in a castle with towers and moat
coming for to carry me home
for me it's this Shelter, and my teak wood boat
coming for to carry me home

No more verses for now, this is the last
           coming for to carry me home
Aboard 'Watermark' , happy, with Joanna and cats
            coming... for... to... carry... me... home...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jumbo Floating Restaurant

Perhaps my most famous neighbor in the harbour is Jumbo, the floating restaurant, reachable only by small boat.

Jumbo's lights twinkle on as the sun sets, and are visible from all parts of the Aberdeen Southern Typhoon Shelter throughout the evening.

The typhoon shelter has a long tradition of dining on boats, and even a unique "typhoon shelter style" cuisine.  Most of this has moved to shore over the recent years.

Jumbo remains, as a landmark, an attraction for tourists, and as a home for popular restaurants offering both formal traditional Chinese and casual Western atmospheres.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Night in the Typhoon Shelter

At night the view of the shore lines of Hong Kong and Ap Lai Chau Islands sparkle with the light of luxury high rise condos.  The Shelter is quiet, only a very few of the boats have anyone aboard, and fewer still show any sign of activity at this hour.  There is only the sound of the occasional sampan passing by, and sometimes the sight of a sailing junk's lights ghosting in to her home anchorage after an evening's dinner party cruise.  The Shelter sleeps peacefully while the city is wide awake.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Gentle Evening in the Typhoon Shelter

Typhoon shelters are a refuge for boats and small ships from severe storms.  The surrounding hillsides shield small craft from the direct impact of gale force winds, while the partially enclosed harbour and manmade breakwaters protect them from storm surge waves driven in from the sea.

As a home, the typhoon shelter can also be a peaceful refuge from the frantic pace of crowded modern Hong Kong.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rainy Morning in the Typhoon Shelter

Welcome to the beginning of "Sheltered from the Typhoon"

I hope this will be an opportunity to share my view of a small but unique part of Hong Kong, the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelters and surroundings.