Boat owners accuse Discovery Bay Marina Club of refusing them shelter as Typhoon Mangkhut approached Hong Kong
Six boats were refused berths at Discovery Bay Marina Club although there was space available, according to owners and a yacht club member
The owners of three boats wrecked by Typhoon Mangkhut claim their requests for shelter at a marina fell on deaf ears although the storm was bearing down on the city.
According to the owners and a member of a yacht club, six boats were refused berths at Discovery Bay Marina Club although there was space available.
They accused the club – recently embroiled in controversy over plans to terminate memberships – of lying by saying the marina was full.
They said three of the boats were destroyed and the owner of a fourth vessel, Akasha Barickman, had to pay HK$10,000 (US$1,280) to have his 30-foot boat towed from Nim Shue Wan where it was moored to nearby Peng Chau a day before the typhoon signal No 10 was raised on Sunday.
The remaining two boats went to Hei Ling Chau Typhoon Shelter.
Barickman, 41, said he had called the club two days before Mangkhut hit Hong Kong and then again the day before, but was told the marina was full, even after he informed staff he had photos of empty berths.
He said the club had used a “mechanical net” as a gate to the marina during the lead-up to the typhoon, so boats could neither get in nor out.
“[The club] was outright lying to us,” Barickman said. “It's just an egregious abuse of a common sense courtesy law to help sailors in need. We had the biggest typhoon [on record] and they malevolently kept the gate closed.”
Barickman said the government’s nearby Hei Ling Chau Typhoon Shelter was not an option, because it was designed for much larger vessels with “heavy seabed anchors” and “massive chains”.
Another affected owner, Mattias Swedenklef, who is also a marina club member, said he first requested a berthing space for his 22-foot boat Shockwave on Friday evening and then again on Saturday morning but was also told there was no space.
“It was pretty full. But there was room for a couple more boats,” he said. “They are not taking care of the members properly.”
Swedenklef later moored his boat in the typhoon shelter after borrowing an anchor at the last minute.
His boat survived the storm but his friend Adrian Hopkinson was not so lucky. His boat Overtime smashed on the rocks.
“I know he’s very upset about losing it, he spent a lot of time on it … this was an important part of his life,” said Swedenklef, who hiked to Cheung Sha Wan Bay to cut pieces of the wreckage of Overtime for his friend as souvenirs.
Discovery Bay Marina Club, which is owned by Hong Kong Resort Company, a principal subsidiary of HKR International (HKRI), did not respond to a request for comment.
Louise Crowther, secretary of Discovery Bay Yacht Club, a group formed by enthusiasts, said: “I and many others are disgusted by the attitude and actions of HKRI and DBMC [the marina club] in this regard. The whole of Hong Kong was busy making preparations to minimise damage and losses, yet here are a group of people wilfully causing losses and hardship to sailors.”
The marina club was recently caught in another controversy after it demanded a floating community of some 200 families leave the marina by the end of this year when it would be closed for renovation.
But the boat families said they were not told whether there was any arrangement for their vessels after the closure, and demanded an extension of the deadline.