Zeman splashes out to own a HK treasure

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 March, 2007, 12:00am

One of the most famous vessels of Victoria Harbour is changing hands in a deal that will help keep Hong Kong's maritime history alive while giving one of the city's high rollers a new toy.

HSBC has sold the 21-metre motor launch Wayfoong to Alan Zeman, chairman of the Lan Kwai Fong Association, and is donating the HK$650,000 sale proceeds to the Hong Kong Maritime Museum.

'I never realised how beautiful a boat she really is. It's like buying an antique,' Mr Zeman said.

The Wayfoong is in an Aberdeen dry dock being refurbished at present. Mr Zeman said workers were stripping away the old paint to reveal the boat's beautiful brass and wood accents, and he hoped to relaunch it in a few months.

'She's a Hong Kong treasure. An heirloom,' he said.

The Wayfoong has taken a long and colourful voyage through the city's history. It was built in 1930 to haul silver bullion to and from ships at anchor in Victoria Harbour, back in the days when most Asian currencies were based on the silver dollar. It is a replica of HSBC's first boat of the same name, which was built in 1898.

HSBC approached the museum last year with an offer to donate the Wayfoong, but the museum could not accept due to the boat's high maintenance costs. Instead, Mr Zeman is buying the yacht for his personal use and HSBC is donating the funds to the museum.

A museum spokesman said the money would go towards the general upkeep of the Stanley-based institution.