Sailing the South China Seas – Hong Kong

In his early thirties, Zander was posted to the Crown Colony of Hong Kong as the Senior Ranking Engineering Civil Servant attached to the naval dockyard there, HMS Tamar. His workload left him with a fair amount of leisure time, with the salary to enjoy it. At last he had all the ingredients in place to follow his dreams; for the first time in his life Zander would be able to do some serious sailing.

Not long after taking up residence with his wife, Jane and their young family in the plush Government flat allocated to them, the former acting unpaid lance corporal discovered that a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army occupied the penthouse next door. This set Zander thinking.

Just a minute, he is a high-ranking Army officer.

If I qualify for that same level of accommodation, then my Civil Service rank must have the same degree of importance.

If I were a sailor then I would be the Navy’s equivalent of Lieutenant Colonel, which is a Commodore.

From then on, when he was introduced as a Director in the Civil Service he would add,

“You do know of course, that this is the civilian equivalent of a Commodore or a Lieutenant Colonel!”

Within a few days of arriving in Hong Kong, Zander discovered that many of his colleagues owned or had access to a boat, so he was fairly sure that his long enforced break from sailing was now over.

Around that time, as the Colony moved towards its handover to China, the social scene still revolved around the Anglophile-focused activities of its numerous clubs. Zander’s position as a senior government official carried with it a ‘straight in’ membership to most of the Colony’s most prestigious Clubs. One of these was the principal Hong Kong yachting club, so he promptly confirmed his membership and waited for an invitation to go sailing.

Unfortunately, even though he had let it be known that he was available to crew, no invitations were forthcoming. All the crews and friendships were already well established and a long list of experienced reserves existed waiting to fill any vacancies that came up. Although Zander promptly added his name to this list, he remained very much ‘on the beach’.

What can I do? Perhaps a day-skipper’s certificate would give me a better chance of crewing for someone.

After making a few inquiries, someone in his office told him that the local authority issued day-skipper licenses from their offices, down by the Star Ferry Terminus on Victoria Island.

Next day, after threading his way through the bustling crowds of people, Zander eventually found the appropriate office where he picked up a booklet outlining the qualification requirements. It did not refer to any test but indicated that he had to get two signed letters of support from certified local yachtsmen and present his sailing logbook to the Authority for assessment.

Excerpt taken from Chapter 16; Zander’s Ticket, Victoria Island – Sailing the South China Seas – A Storm in Any Port by Johnny Jones.

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