A month into his new assignment, Star Ferry coxswain Yeung Ping-kan, 42, is enjoying himself, happy in the knowledge that he is doing his part in promoting Hong Kong. To attract more foreign visitors, the ferry service launched its Harbour Tour operation a month ago, and Mr Yeung was chosen to steer the refurbished 40-year-old Shining Star ferry. 'This is a really good idea for tourists to enjoy a relaxing journey on the harbour, either in the air-conditioned room or the sundeck,' he said. Since the Harbour Tour started, nearly 5,000 visitors, comprising equal numbers of locals and tourists have taken the hour-long trip, designed to showcase the Victoria harbour's attractions. Although the daily patronage is only about 190 people, the Star Ferry company is expecting the figure to rise with more tour-group bookings. Mr Yeung has always been close to the sea. Both his parents were fishermen and his family lived aboard their boat for many years when he was a child. After trying different jobs on land, he decided to return to the sea. Having only a Form Three education, Mr Yeung had to start at the bottom. 'I was a sailor in the Star Ferry 10 years ago. At that time, I never thought of climbing up the career ladder as I am not well-educated and I was inexperienced,' he said. When Star Ferry changed its policy on promotion to reflect an employee's capabilities, rather than just seniority, Mr Yeung attended marine courses to improve his chances. 'I attended classes after work so as to prepare for exams held by the Marine Department,' he said. 'As my English standards were not very good, I spent a lot of time checking the dictionary.' He set his sights on a prized posting steering a Star Ferry as a coxswain. After a few years of hard work, he earned several certificates in navigation, first-aid, radar, risk management and fire control. He was eventually promoted to coxswain three years ago. He says his job helps put life into perspective. 'I can feel the wind kissing my face,' he said. 'The sky is so high while the sea is wide, and I am so small. This is how I belittle all my worries and sadness when I drive a ferry.' After 10 years plying the harbour, Mr Yeung said that Hong Kong's most prized tourism asset needed better protection. 'The harbour with its current straight coastline is not as beautiful as its natural shape. After years and years of continuous reclamation, the harbour is becoming much narrower than before,' he said. 'Victoria harbour is a very important natural beauty for Hong Kong. The government has to think carefully before reclamation.' He says others could benefit from being more in tune with the sea. 'There is a high tide and low tide each day. It is the nature of the sea, and of life too. Sometimes we are at the top but sometimes we are at the bottom. It is no big deal, is it? Just take it easy and you will find life much easier.'