The final hours of our arrival were tense. I’ll write more about it when I write my real blog sometime in the next week. As I’ve mentioned in the past, it is always a priority for us to arrive, after a passage, in the daylight. On the passage to Hong Kong this was tricky because of the currents. Our estimated arrival time varied wildly as the currents had their way with us. We usually can pinpoint our arrival time within a few minutes, and adjust speed to hit our forecast, but on this passage my estimated arrival times swung by as much as 12 hours. Ultimately, we became worried about the approaching typhoon and decided to pull out all stops and run as fast as we could to Hong Kong, even though it would mean arriving at night. The last 30 miles of our arrival was spent in total darkness, dodging between a multitude of city-sized freighters, fishing boats pulling nets, and tugs pulling barges. The radar was totally useless and running the boat required two of us, with 100% focus on looking out the windows.
Here’s one moment from early in our night…
I was surprised by a little tiny boat, perhaps 15-20 feet long, which never appeared on radar, suddenly crossing my bow. The boat shot in front of me, with amazing speed, while I was in the main traffic lane, within 50 feet of my running it over. I was in shock that I could have missed it, and that the captain on the little boat would have been so stupid. I absolutely had the right of way. The boat was lit, but was dimly lit, and to be honest, in the freighter lanes I wasn’t expecting tender sized traffic. I mentioned the incident to a local and they said that the Chinese boats will sometimes deliberately cut in tight to your bow in an effort to have another boat boat clip off any bad luck spirits that might be trailing along behind their boat. Whether superstition played a role or not, I do not know. But I do know that it was a bad way for me to start the evenings cruise through heavy traffic, at night, on entry to Hong Kong. Or, perhaps it was a good occurrence, because you can bet I was highly focused on every light around me after that incident!
More when I get some time,
Nordhavn 68, Sans Souci
PS The typhoon became a non-event, missing Hong Kong entirely. I think one of the reasons there are so many stories floating around about boats that are caught in typhoons is that there are lots of false alarms. After a while you start thinking of Chicken Little, and that the typhoon will always miss you … until it doesn’t.