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Rant: boating about in a mess

Robby Nimmo

 

One of the best ways to spend a weekend in Hong Kong is on the water - the problem is thousands of other people agree.

You can bet another boat will moor right next to yours. Competing soundtracks - say, rave music and chilled-out jazz - are like (suntan) oil and water: they don't mix. The anchor chains of boats overlap like Russian wedding rings, and are just as difficult to separate.

Then there are the jet skis. If they flew, you'd swat them. Not content to stay in the main channels, they nose and pose around the bays. They're small and they're dangerous, like piranhas in a bidet.

But they're not the only threat in the water. Hong Kong's most recent fatal shark attack took place in Clear Water Bay in 1995, and, these days, of greater concern are the "brown pointers" that float by. Surely, boats should flush their toilets in a channel, not while moored near a beach. Hong Kong may be an affluent society but, on weekends, we're reminded it's also an effluent one.

On the beaches, rubbish spills out of bins, so much so that you could be forgiven for imagining you were witnessing the aftermath of Woodstock. I don't know why people don't take their rubbish home - there's usually a fibrous rice bag blown in from a ship to carry it in.

In The Wind in the Willows, Ratty says: "There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

He was right, but, as the number of licensed pleasure boats has risen by about 30 per cent in the past five years, finding space to drop anchor is getting as hard to find as a live brain coral. And it's a shame that more boaters aren't using such an organ themselves.

 

 

 

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