Most of Captain Ngai's recent experience at sea has been as a weekend sailor in a yacht which he recently refused to stop when the family's dog fell overboard. The 52-year-old mariner has spent most of the past 18 years teaching at Hong Kong Polytechnic, now the Polytechnic University, and working as a maritime adviser to businesses. Captain Ngai was born in Guizhou, China, in 1944, and came to Hong Kong with his rice merchant parents at the age of four. He began his career in the early 1970s and became a captain after obtaining a master's certificate in marine studies from Hong Kong Polytechnic in 1974. After four years at sea he returned to the polytechnic to teach nautical studies. In between teaching he studied in England and obtained higher marine management qualifications in 1982. After giving up teaching in the 1990s, Captain Ngai ran a consultancy business and founded a firm called Marine Investigation and Consultants. Captain Ngai's wife said his family fully supported his actions in taking the ship to the islands. She said he took the family sailing in their small yacht almost every weekend. Recently the family dog had fallen overboard, but he had refused to stop for the animal. She said he had ruled it was not always easy to stop a vessel and it was sometimes safer to continue rather than suddenly cut the engines.