'It's sickening - it was like one of the family'

IN the most audacious raid yet on Hong Kong's yachting fraternity, the commodore of Aberdeen Boat Club has had his prize-winning 12-metre yacht stolen from its mooring.

Wayne Thompson last saw the Taiwanese-built Deliverance on January 26 - but did not realise it had been stolen until a week later when he went to take out some friends.

''We went down to go sailing and it was gone,'' Mr Thompson told the Sunday Morning Post yesterday.

''It was secured at its mooring with no key for the ignition, It's sickening - it was like one of the family.'' As commodore of the Aberdeen Boat Club, Mr Thompson has become increasingly concerned about a spate of yacht robberies. Nine luxury cruisers were stolen last year and many have ended up in mainland waters being used as public ferries.

He said boat owners had become aware of the dangers in territorial waters of theft and robbery and had increased security. Deliverance was recently refitted with safety equipment, but it was not enough to stop the thieves taking what Mr Thompson believeswas their first sailing boat.

Deliverance, which has competed in four San Fernando races, was taken from its mooring near the outer wall of Po Chung Wan, not far from a marine police station in Aberdeen typhoon shelter.


''My life savings have been sucked away,'' said Mr Thompson.

''Everything was customised to what I wanted.'' American-born Mr Thompson, a Vietnam War veteran, said it would cost about $800,000 to replace the white-hulled boat, which was individually tailored to specific designs, including a ''unique'' teak deck.

''I have had the boat for seven years - I had it built for me and the family to have a recreational vehicle and I even lived on it for a few years,'' he said.

He believes the green-trimmed Deliverance, registration number C 1151 and sail number KH 1151, was stolen by an experienced mariner as the engine was not very powerful and there was little fuel on board.


''Our opinion is that it was taken by someone who understands sailing,'' he said.

''A few days before two other yachts were broken into and some charts were stolen from one of them.'' Mr Thompson said his boat is well known in Hong Kong and throughout the region and he is hopeful of getting it back.


He has faxed a description of Deliverance to yacht clubs throughout the region and has had details of the theft broadcast on ''Rowdy's net'', an informal radio network covering the Pacific through Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, there have been no developments in the return of the luxury motor cruisers stolen from Hong Kong last year.

At least four of the vessels have been confiscated by Guangdong authorities and are being held at a marine police base in Dongpu, on the Pearl River, while negotiations between Hong Kong and China on their return continue.


But the most expensive craft to be stolen from Hong Kong, tycoon Allan Zeman's Zea Breeze II, is still missing and is believed to be being used as a floating casino near Hainan Island.

Mr Zeman had the $20 million craft, which was moored not far from where Deliverance was tied up, constructed for his wife.