Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Aboard "Watermark"

This was the first year that we've had the chance to have a tree and the full traditional Christmas decorations in Hong Kong. Lots of home cooked food and get-togethers with friends,  have made for a particularly warm and cozy feel for our Christmas at home on "Watermark", in the Typhoon Shelter.

Joanna and I are wishing our families and friends near and far away a Christmas just as wonderful!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Light-Up

Our junk "Watermark" lit for Christmas, moored inside Hong Kong's Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter.

Wishing all a peaceful and happy Christmas.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

White Christmas in Hong Kong

Getting ready for a White Christmas in Hong Kong.  Joanna collecting our Tree and Wreath from Santa's Yacht.  This will be our third Christmas aboard "Watermark" in the Typhoon Shelter.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Fisherman in the Typhoon Shelter

I've photographed this gentleman several times from the deck of "Watermark".  We now always exchange waves and smiles. I only see him on Sunday afternoons, paddling his small boat with it's "one of a kind" paint job.  A single oar slowly but steadily gets him around to a likely spot, where he throws out his hand line.

also see:  Fishermen in the Typhoon Shelter

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Home by Sampan

Joanna, arriving home to "Watermark" by sampan.

Sampans are the usual means of getting around for those of us with boats moored offshore within the Typhoon Shelter.   They can be called by their mobile phone, if you have the number, or by waving and shouting.   Our favorite way, and maybe one we can take credit for starting, is by blowing a whistle.  At night, waving a flashlight may also attract one that is passing passing by.

When leaving "Watermark", for a day at the office, or a short trip ashore to the marked, I've learned to always carry my charged mobile phone, a small flashlight, and my sampan whistle.  One of them will get me home.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Festival in the Typhoon Shelter

A band of Taoists make the journey by sampan around the Typhoon Shelter, going boat to boat to collect donations for the Mid Seventh Month Festival.  The book is the ledger of those who have donated and the amounts contributed.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rose Sunset at Anchor Watch

At the end of the day, the momentary glow of a rose colored sky at sunset.   The beacon marks the entry to the safety of the Typhoon Shelter for those boats coming home to anchor before nightfall.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Singapore River Boatman

Living on a boat in Hong Kong, and commuting daily to shore and back by sampan, I'm constantly aware of the necessity of the small boats and their crews to the working life of the Typhoon Shelter.

During my most recent visit to Singapore, where I've lived for many years, I was taken by how much development is now completed along the Singapore River, with luxury hotels, high rise condos, restaurants, and manicured landscaping, to the point that it little resembles the area of rundown "godown" warehouses that I use to photograph years ago from muddy foot paths along its banks.

The  Singapore River has been highly regulated for decades now, with no private, commercial or recreational usage permitted.  Even the old wooden bumboats, Singapore's version of the Hong Kong Typhoon Shelter sampans, have disappeared. A number of these small open boats had operated for years as tourist sightseeing rides, and to provide some scenic appearance of activity on Singapore's small inland waterway.  The periodic efforts to promote their use as "water taxis" never was successful.

In recent years, the bumboats were removed and experimentally replaced by everything from brightly colored plastic tour boats, sleek enclosed air conditioned European canal boats, to even a Venice style gondola.  To me, all of these looked very out of place, and had nothing in common with the history of the Singapore River.

The latest incarnation to Singapore's river transport is a return to wooden boats, with efforts of vintage design, but now with enclosed cabins.  They look very similar to the small boats that ferry diners to Aberdeen's Jumbo Floating Restaurant.

While the authentic, if little used bumboats of the past are now gone, I was able to spot and photograph a lone boatman working on his more modern reproduction of a vintage river ferry that has replaced them. The tattooed boatman at least appeared to be the real thing, and perhaps to be himself the most authentic reminder of the River's working past.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Typhoon That Did Not Happen

Typhoon Season has begun for the South China Sea and the regions around Hong Kong.  Last week, as Tropical Cyclone Talim approached in the  morning hours of Wednesday, the Hong Kong Observatory raised its Typhoon Signal 3 alert.   Businesses and government services would remain open, but preparations for higher winds and torrential rains should be made.

My wife and I prepared Watermark, tightening the mooring lines to the neighboring boat, folding the canvas deck canopies, and lashing the deck furniture down, before calling a sampan and going on to work in the morning as usual.   I fully expected to return home in the evening under a heavy rain and a possible Typhoon Signal 8, which would close offices and transportation.

From my office in Mongkok,  all of us watched the weather during the day, which continued to be windy, grey and overcast with light rain.  But during the late afternoon, as I was working at my desk, I sensed the light in my office change. Looking up from my laptop screen and directly out my window, I was amazed to see the most impressive rainbow I have ever experienced.

Hong Kong had been missed by Talim, and the weather cleared.  I can't predict what the rest of Typhoon Season will bring to Hong Kong, the Typhoon Shelter, and Watermark, but I do know that this particular day ended with another of nature's spectacular displays, which was by far better than the one of high wind and heavy rain that was expected

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rolex 50th Anniversary China Sea Race

The Crew of "Red Eye" departing the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter to join the race from Hong Kong to Subic Bay, Philippines.

The first running of the China Sea Race was in 1962, and has been held every two years since.   This year "Red Eye" is among the 26 boats starting the race from off shore of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club on Victoria Harbour. Boats from Australia, Singapore, and Philippines are competing alongside those from Hong Kong.

The course is approximately 570 nautical miles, and may take up to four days to complete.

"Red Eye" at her home in the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter.

Wishing our friends on the crew and local Typhoon Shelter favorite, "Red Eye",  great sailing and a great race!

For more information about this prestigious and challenging Blue Water Sailing race, see:

and an update - "Redeye" successfully completed the race arriving at the finish in the Philippines on Easter Sunday at 11:32 am.   Well done "Redeye" and Crew!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

From Desk to Deck (Part 2)

My view of the streets of Hong Kong Island

My journey home from my office in Mong Kok, takes me from the Kowloon side of Hong Kong under the Harbour to the Hong Kong Island side.

By bus, I have a night view of the lights, traffic, and street front retail shops during their peak hours.
As my bus makes its way from Admiralty MTR Station to the Aberdeen tunnel, I share the view with passengers riding in the double decker coaches of the Hong Kong Tram Lines.

Just before the approach to the tunnel leading to Aberdeen, I pass the Happy Valley Race Course, with its statues of colorful horses prancing in a circle.

For more about this journey see  Kowloon Kommutin' Sampan Blues

(continued from Part 1)

Friday, March 2, 2012

From Desk to Deck (Part 1)

My view from my desk

I began writing about and photographing my neighborhood in and around the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter as a way to share what I feel is a unique part of Hong Kong.  Along the way, I've discovered that other parts of Hong Kong have their own character that also call out to be noticed.

My office is in Mong Kong, Kowloon.   I work in an ultra modern towering office building, 50 floors above the streets.  What struck me early as I began my Hong Kong experience is the difference in my view of my surroundings between working the day almost above the clouds, and the daily journey of traveling home to a village-like floating community across the Hong Kong Harbour  and on the far side of Hong Kong Island.

I've written about my feelings making this journey in  The Kowloon Kommutin' Sampan Blues

My view from the streets of Mong Kok

The Streets of Mong Kok, the most densely populated place on earth, are a Blade Runner's world away from the view seen from the splendid isolation of the Tower.  Here the colors and the details, the variety and the exoticness (to me, at least), draw you in for a closer look, a what-will-happen-next anticipation.

(continued in Part 2)