Final Preparation for Yacht Delivery

The final stages of our project have been extremely stressful. Nobody could explain how the process would go for a yacht delivery to Hong Kong with a tug. We had no details of how our boat would cross the small stretch of water between Zhuhai in China and Hong Kong.

Normally, the shipyard loads a new boat onto a barge and transports it as cargo across the water. From there, they transfer the yacht straight to another ship in Hong Kong. Most new owners are shipping their boats to other parts of the world or to dealers and that means yacht delivery is different for them. Although the shipyard insisted they had delivered before directly into Hong Kong, we believe this was only for local owners, who again have different requirements. Jet Tern did not seem to have any experience with foreign yachts remaining in Hong Kong for a short while and we had to work out how to do the majority of things ourselves.

Chinese Rules

The first important thing is that it is impossible for the yacht to travel on her own bottom all the way. The boat has been built in a “tax-free book” in China – and all equipment has been imported for the construction without any tax or VAT added. When the yacht is complete, it is the shipyard’s “product” and needs to be exported from China, closing the tax free book in the process. The yacht can never return to China without payment of a huge bond – equivalent to 100% of the VAT and tax which would have been due.

Chinese skippers are not licenced or insured to sail outside of Chinese waters – so it isn’t simply a matter of sailing her over to Hong Kong. Conversely, foreign skippers are not allowed to cruise inside Chinese waters, so you can’t just go and pick her up yourself. A frustrating 25 miles 🙂

We were unable to establish how these rules can be adapted – from Jet Tern there was a hard and fast NO! We don’t know if this is only under the current Covid-19 restrictions – or whether it is a permanent fixture. Of course, we know about a big and famous Nordhavn 120 (The Aurora) which left the shipyard in Xiamen on her own bottom and travelled to Canada via Hong Kong – but we have no idea how they managed to do that.

Hong Kong Rules

First of all, a little about the rules in Hong Kong and the constraints we had to work under. The biggest issue is that you cannot drive your own boat unless you have a Hong Kong issued skippers’ licence. No matter how highly rated your skippers’ licence is or how many years of experience you have! You can’t even drive your dinghy – unless it’s less than 3m and less than 4hp engine.

You have to hire a local captain for every movement of the boat. He doesn’t have to touch the wheel, just has to be sitting onboard somewhere. If you have RYA Yachtmaster Offshore or the equivalent US qualification, then you can apply for a local endorsement. But – there is a 6 months’ waiting list for a space to sit the exam! Not a realistic option for the majority of people. If you are staying more than 6 months in Hong Kong, you will have to register your boat under a local flag.

If you are considering a similar new yacht delivery process to ours, we advise you to try and register for the local exam before you arrive in Hong Kong, if possible. Having that licence would make life a lot easier and cheaper! As a visiting yacht, unofficially you only have two “freebies”. When you first arrive in Hong Kong you can go straight to the marina. When you leave Hong Kong again, you can drive over the border. Any cruising in between – you need that captain.

Introducing MARDEP

The Hong Kong Marine Department – or MARDEP – take care of all shipping and maritime administration for the region. Their website has a lot of information and downloadable forms for most procedures but it is difficult to work out what is applicable, given their work also covers commercial shipping. Many of the procedures also require a Hong Kong resident card – and of course the local captain as mentioned. Although technically we could have completed everything ourselves, we decided it was easier to use a yacht agent. We chose Justin Tse from M-Yachts to work on our behalf.

He charged a minimal fee to complete and submit all the paperwork and communicate in Cantonese with the locals. His local knowledge, help and advice trying to work through the minefield of the new yacht delivery process were invaluable right from the start. His local network for everything “yachts” has been helpful – from sourcing people, providing a bunkering service for fuel at a good price, to advising us where to find chandleries, local weather patterns and just generally how things work in Hong Kong. We had enough stress anyway without having to deal with the border formalities, so money well spent.

Pre-Arrival Notice

On arrival in Hong Kong (well actually 24 hours before arrival), you need to lodge a pre-arrival notice with MARDEP. This applies for all foreign yachts arriving in the territory, but in the case of a new yacht delivery from a Mainland Chinese shipyard, it’s a bit complicated!

As mentioned above, the yacht leaves the shipyard as “freight” – and is declared together with its mode of transport – ie. tug or barge. The shipping agent of the shipyard/shipping company does this, whoever they are. However, after they have cleared as freight into Hong Kong it becomes a “yacht” in its own right and needs to arrive again in Hong Kong as a visiting yacht, and not cargo.

This means in fact there should be two pre-arrival notifications – one for tug and yacht, made by the shipping company. The other just for the yacht made by the owner. Registered arrival notices are published online so you can check that the shipping agents have done their job and confirm the permissions which have been granted.

Cruising Permit

In order to have the boat on the water in Hong Kong, you need a “cruising permit” which MARDEP also issue. Originally, we intended just to lay at anchor somewhere for most of the time to reduce the cost. But you can’t do this because you need a berthing permission letter from a marina for the duration of your cruising permit! So if you are laying at anchor, then you still have an empty paid marina berth sitting somewhere.

The further complication of the cruising permit is that you can only apply for renewal once every 30 days. So, it didn’t work for us to keep things flexible and minimise the length of our marina stay, by booking the marina on a weekly basis. We had to renew a full month at a time – we would not be able to request another renewal in the interim

Prior to the yacht delivery, we had to provide Justin with original copies of:

  • Our registration document for the yacht. In our case, we provided the Isle of Man registration paper. This document is a digitally legalised PDF, which MARDEP are familiar with as they are now widely used in the commercial sector. If your flag registration still uses paper documents, then you need to provide the original and most likely have it notarised.
  • Proof of Ownership. In our case, we own Destiny through an offshore company structure. We therefore needed to provide a certified Incorporation Certificate. We also had to give the original company stamp (“chop”) to the agent so he could stamp the documents.
  • Power of Attorney to allow the agent to act on our behalf
  • Builders’ Certificate from the shipyard
  • Bill of Sale from the shipyard (= proof of ownership)
  • Engine details with manufacturer and serial numbers
  • Photos of the yacht – port and SB sides
  • Information about the VHF installation. This includes the radio licence and photos of the VHF and AIS equipment, MMSI number and call sign
  • Licence and ID card of the local captain – in our case, Justin provided this
  • Certificate of Insurance
  • Last port clearance and manifest. Coming from the shipyard that was the clearance document for export from China. Only available once the yacht was on its way.

Justin completed all the forms and hand delivered them to the MARDEP offices. He arranged the clearance, arrival notice and cruising permit ready for completion of the yacht delivery,

Trade Declaration

It isn’t part of the actual yacht delivery but you also need to make an import declaration within 14 days of the arrival. This is only for the trade department in Hong Kong and a Customs and Excise document, rather than a maritime document. For this you need a customs agent, and not a yacht agent. Even though the yacht is only staying temporarily, the owner has to make the import declaration. We had asked the tug company agent to take care of everything we needed – but several weeks later the Trade Department contacted us and we discovered they had not done so.

There is no duty or VAT payable – just a small administration fee. We asked Mr Huang of Coast Shipping Ltd to help us out. He dealt with everything for a total cost of 500 HK$ (about 60 euros). This included his fee as well as the filing charge with Customs & Excise. In our case, they also applied a fine because the original agent had not done his job on time!

Yacht Delivery Process by Tug

We wanted to avoid a crane movement on arrival in Hong Kong, so the plan for delivery where she would remain “on her own bottom” meant using a tug service and not a barge. The Jet Tern crew would drive the boat from the yard to the customs pontoon in Zhuhai where Chinese Customs dealt with the export administration. After clearance, the tug ties up to the yacht and tows her across the water to Hong Kong.

At first, nobody could tell us WHERE in Hong Kong – or how this would work. Was there a line in between? Was anybody onboard the yacht for the journey? If so, who was that and did they know how to work Destiny? How did we take her over? Where did we take her over? When would we know when she had arrived and was cleared? How did we liaise with the tug crew? What time would we be able to take over? How long would it take? Was there a procedure to check over the boat for damage and do acceptance testing? What paperwork did we need? How did we take care of the temporary importation to Hong Kong?

We thought all these questions were normal and reasonable to ask, but nobody seemed to know the answers. We were very clear about what we had to do once we were in Hong Kong, but the tug delivery process up to that point remained murky right to the end!

Planning the Yacht Delivery Date

We agreed a date of 28th April with Jet Tern. Ed decided to stay in China until the last minute. He wanted to make sure the shipyard finished the final things to his satisfaction before shipping – as best he could. Destiny was on the land, safe on her cradle – so the shipyard would first need to be re-launch her for the delivery. The launch happened without incident, although always a scary moment! At Jet Tern this is especially the case as it means driving the wrong way down a dual carriageway on a lorry! The painting team touched up the Coppercoat to cover the areas where the cradle had been and left it to dry overnight. Sunbird Shipyard launched Destiny for the last time, and she was finally back in the water where she belongs.

Ongoing Covid-19 Restrictions

The Covid-19 regulations were still impacting everything. With recent outbreaks in both Hong Kong and Mainland China, the rules are still very strict. The rest of the world has just got on with life as normal – but somebody needs to explain that to China and Hong Kong! The crew of the yacht delivery tug were working in some sort of “isolation bubble”. They were not allowed to get off their boat or physically interact with anybody during their turns of duty. This made things more complicated.

There was only one tug and crew which was operating in the isolation bubble. It seemed impossible to get the tug company to give an exact date for the delivery. “Maybe Monday” “Maybe Wednesday” “Maybe next week”. Impossible to deal with all the administrative arrangements we needed to do at the other end! What date could we cancel our serviced apartment? When did we need to book the marina? When did we need the chase-boat and crew? More normal questions without answers 🙂 The shipyard carried on the discussions with the tug company. We had to push ahead and made all the arrangements for 28th April arrival in Hong Kong.

Travel from Mainland China to Hong Kong

Ed’s travel back to Hong Kong was also not simple. To avoid having to quarantine for two weeks in a hotel, he had to travel under the “Come2HK” scheme. Only a limited number of people are allowed to travel across the border without quarantine each day (currently 1000 people) on the Macao-Zhuhai Hong Kong bridge. Along with Shenzhen Bay, this is the only open border between Mainland and Hong Kong since March 2020. Assuming you satisfy the conditions as to your travel history within China and your vaccine status, you can pre-book a quota place. You then take a PCR test the day before travel at one of the approved hospitals. And you book a bus ticket. Simples 🙂

The government releases quotas and bus tickets only a week or so in advance. We had to jump onto the system as soon as allocation was issued to secure a place. Armed with a quota, we could book a bus ticket. Neither the quota nor the bus tickets are flexible. You have to travel at the time/date allotted or cancel the booking and start all over again. We successfully booked for Ed to travel on 28th April and crossed our fingers.

Hong Kong Marinas

We booked and paid for the marina – confirming the booking was the easy bit! I had already researched all the possible moorings in Hong Kong and had chosen Gold Coast Marina (GCYC) in Tuen Mun. We will be writing a blog with more detail on the marinas in Hong Kong, so won’t go over them here.

In Hong Kong, there are very few marinas built with walk-on/walk-off pontoons as we would consider “normal” in Europe. The majority of boats moor with so-called “fore and aft” moorings. This is a secure fixing in the middle of the water with a mooring buoy at the bow and the stern of the boat. There is usually no shore-power and no movement possible off the boat. Sometimes these moorings have a small boarding platform, the length of the boat or less. In the following photo of the “marina” in Aberdeen, you can see what we mean!

Aberdeen Marina, Hong Kong – photo courtesy of SCMP

Due to the licencing rules in Hong Kong, you can’t even use your dinghy. As we’ve mentioned before, unless it is less than 4hp engine and less than 3m – you are relying on water taxis (Sanpan) to bring you to the boat with supplies. Even if you do have a small dinghy, there is nowhere to tie it up ashore and leave it safely.

Personal Possessions

We had shipped all our possessions from Europe. This was an exercise over the last two years of consolidating our belongings from our old yacht, our house and new equipment we purchased for Destiny. With the endless help of our very good friend Les, everything we owned had been packed and shipped from the UK in July.

We had five pallets sitting in a storage facility at the container port in Hong Kong already for months, awaiting delivery to the boat. There was no way we would be able to deal with this at any marina without a walk-on/walk-off pontoon! Just the idea of ferrying things backwards and forwards a bit at a time by water taxi was unthinkable. Five pallets, with about 90 heavy boxes in total and about 2 tonne of equipment.

A lot to ferry! This included valuable items like our water maker, outboard engine and electric bikes – where could we even leave that safely ashore? The logistics exercise involved would be a huge challenge as there was also not enough space on the boat to accept delivery of it all at once. GCYC has a small area ashore in its maintenance yard which is a covered awning. We could deliver our pallets and leave them there, under cover, protected from the weather by tarpaulins. From there we would be able to pull-off what we needed ourselves a bit at a time with our trolley.

I arranged for the delivery of our stuff based on the 28th April delivery date. When things went wrong (as detailed below!), the marina agreed they would accept delivery in our absence and allowed us to store our stuff there free of charge for a few days. In the end it took us weeks to clear everything, but this didn’t seem to be a problem. With the onset of huge monsoon rains, we had to pick our days to collect stuff a box at a time. The maintenance yard also has a large skip for waste disposal. This was a perfect solution as we could get rid of all the cardboard and the pallets as we went. I can’t imagine we would have found such a good solution for this problem elsewhere.

Making the Arrangements for Yacht Delivery

Back to the delivery process, the marina rules were “no refunds” once a booking had been confirmed. We didn’t have much choice but taking the risk as nothing could happen without a berth to go to – too many chickens and eggs going on here already. Justin made the arrangements for the yacht arrival at MARDEP. He found a local captain to accompany us and a chase boat to ferry us out to the yacht on arrival.

The tug delivers the yacht to the Tuen Mun Immigration and Customs Anchorage. This is a huge area in the New Territories where all incoming ships from the Pearl River Delta zone are required to anchor while they are cleared into Hong Kong. Fortunately, Gold Coast Marina is next to this anchorage – just a mile or so across the bay. The chase boat would take us out to the anchorage so we could take over Destiny when she arrived. At this point, we thought we had everything under control for the yacht delivery!

All change … !!!!!

We finally had everything in place – but then unfortunately, the plan for 28th April fell flat on its’ face! The shipyard were unable to confirm a tug booking for the yacht delivery. They also informed us they did not have any insurance for Destiny travelling outside of Chinese waters. Once it left Zhuhai it would be uninsured until taken over by our own policy! They expected us to be insuring the boat and this only came to light when they asked us for our policy for the tug company records. Clearly, our own insurers were unable to provide cover until the boat was in Hong Kong and under our ownership. There was a big black hole …..

So ….. this was a major issue and one we could not solve in the timescale. We can only imagine that no other owner has questioned this before, since it was clearly a new issue for the shipyard. The shipping terms in the contract were FAS Hong Kong – which means “free alongside ship in Hong Kong”. These terms are designed for a client who is shipping his boat elsewhere – delivering the yacht to another ship. But even when used in our situation – where “alongside ship” was not appropriate – it’s still clear that the responsibility for all costs and insurance lies with the shipyard until the yacht is Hong Kong. This was just one of many technical details which had been overlooked!

A new date for yacht delivery….

The tug company were able to confirm our booking for 3rd May – just a few days later but it meant we had to change everything at our end. Ed decided he would stay at the shipyard for the extra days to make sure the last things were done. Each change of travel arrangements meant applying again for a “quota” for quarantine free travel. Re-booking a bus ticket (which were in short supply) and re-arranging PCR tests. In the end, we were able to make this change quite easily although we lost the cost of the bus ticket of course!

We decided to make several quota and bus ticket bookings to keep our options open – on different dates, so we could keep some flexibility. We booked for 3rd, 4th and 6th May and I became pretty adept at fighting with the very bad Chinese online booking sites! The bus tickets were only 65RMB (about 5 euros) each time so the loss of the ticket was a not a concern. We just had to remember to cancel the quotas each time and rebook a new one. You could only ask for one date at a time.

Fortunately the marina was understanding and agreed to change the arrival date to 3rd May without cost as a one-off. Justin cancelled the chase-boat and crew and re-arranged for 3rd May. Luckily he was very flexible with his people! He understood that the whole yacht delivery situation was out of our control.

But then … all change again!

Sadly, on 3rd May, the yacht delivery was cancelled again! Bad weather was forecast in the Pearl River Delta so the tug was unable to cross safely. We groaned – but of course we didn’t want any risks with this journey. Winds gusting 25-30 knots were on the forecast and waves swept up to 4m in the river delta. Unthinkable to cross with a tug in those conditions, especially with the insurance situation – so agreed to postpone again to 4th. We were already very nervous about the stress on the yacht being tugged and the capability of the tug crew to look after it. Our marina berth remained empty and paid for – and we rescheduled the captain and chase boat for the following day.

On 4th May, Ed made the journey across to Hong Kong as planned– but still Destiny didn’t make it! I woke very early to check the departure of the boat from the shipyard. At least we could track with AIS as we are a “Marine Traffic Mobile Station”. We transmit our own AIS data via our internet connection and don’t rely on ground transmitters, which are few and far between in China. The shipyard had been told to leave all systems running so we could see where she was the whole time.

What is happening??

Destiny had not moved!!!! She was still tied up at the shipyard when we had expected her to be on her way to the customs dock by now. Frantic WeChat calls to China to find out what was going on. We discover the tug had a fault with the propulsion system and was unable to undertake the tow for the moment. They had told the shipyard not to begin the transport and to remain where they were until further notice. The tug company were making a repair and they assured us we would be on our way as soon as it was completed.

It turned out the temporary repair failed and the tug company had no spare parts. They had no idea how long it would take to make a repair. We waited patiently but in the end the yacht delivery was just cancelled again. No idea when they would be able to do it. Maybe two weeks …… who knows? So, once again we were just left in limbo.

Tug boat repair

And so it goes on …..

The marina berth was still empty and paid for. In addition, we had ended our serviced apartment rental in North Point so had nowhere to live. The chase boat and captain had to be paid for nothing. The official customs documents and arrival notice were cancelled. We extended our serviced apartment again. The shipyard set about looking for an alternative tug company who could deliver to Hong Kong.

They succeeded in finding a new tug – but the word “cowboys” comes to mind! A tug based in a city just north of Zhuhai confirmed they could do the job but not until 9th May. This meant starting the whole process all over again. Destiny also had to be kept safe in the meantime as she was now outside of the shipyard on the public dock, ready to go.

We had managed to break through all of the red-tape with the help of the shipping agent from the original tug company. Their agent was Mr Huang from Coast Shipping (HK) Ltd and he had been very patient with me to explain what was going on. He had guided me through the process for export/import that needed to take place both for the tug company and for us for the yacht delivery. Unfortunately, the new tug company used a different agent who was not forthcoming at all with details about the planning or administration. Getting the required documents was like getting blood out of a stone.

Keeping Destiny safe

Jet Tern stationed a worker onboard Destiny permanently. He was told to stay there until such time as the boat could be handed over to the delivery skipper. He used the time wisely, sanding and varnishing the teak and doing a deep clean of the exterior of the boat. It was also a chance to take a lot of nice photos which cheered us up a bit! He was one of the really good guys Ed had worked with throughout the build, so I guess he felt a personal responsibility to look after our boat. We’re grateful to him as he could also keep us informed of what was going on.

Jet Tern also decided it was a good opportunity to take some publicity shots of the yacht in its finished state! So we received a collection of really nice photos to whet our appetite even further for getting our hands on our boat. It’s safe to say that the inside of Destiny is unlikely to look as beautiful as this for some time to come 🙂

All change to 9th May

Eventually the documents were provided. We re-booked the chase boat and captain for 9th May and informed the marina of the new arrival date. Still no insurance for the yacht delivery journey. Jet Tern seemed to have given up trying to find any and we are also out of options our end. Since our insurers were unable to provide cover until the boat was handed over to us in Hong Kong, we were in a black hole. We had no choice but to accept that we were crossing uninsured and just hoped any damage resulting from the tug delivery would be covered by them. We didn’t dare to think about the implications of a serious incident ….. ! Although we still had a final instalment retained against the boat, it was peanuts compared to the cost of potential damage.

The evening before, the shipyard delivery skipper moved Destiny outside of the lock so she could get an early start the following morning.

Finally on the way ….. our yacht delivery is happening!

On 9th May, we woke to see that Destiny was already half way to Zhuhai customs from the shipyard. Finally we are a GO!!!!!! She left Jet Tern at dawn and travelled the first part with the shipyard skipper on her own bottom. The idea was to arrive at Zhuhai customs before lunchtime so export clearance could be done before they closed for two hours’ lunch. This would give the whole afternoon for Destiny to make the 25 miles crossing over the Pearl River Delta to Hong Kong with the tug.

We pushed the button to activate everything at the Hong Kong end. Justin called up the chase boat and he jumped in a taxi from Aberdeen to Causeway Bay. We grabbed our stuff and jumped in a taxi from North Point to Causeway Bay marina. Together in the chase-boat we had a pretty nice trip on the water through Victoria Harbour up to Tuen Mun and Gold Coast Marina.

At just after 11am, we got the message from the shipyard that the rendez-vous was taking place with the tug and the skipper was handing over to the tug company. Destiny was tied securely at the side of the tug, buffered with all our fenders and finally we had the answers to some of our questions! The Jet Tern team left to return to the yard, their job was done.

Stop again …..

It didn’t take long, however, before we realised something was wrong again. Destiny had not moved from the anchorage where the handover had taken place. She was still in Zhuhai tied up at anchor with the tug. Even though we had been given all the clearance documents for export and told she would be on her way. The tug company had not filed any pre-arrival notices in Hong Kong at this time – we could check online with MARDEP. They didn’t seem to have an official plan for moving the yacht. Clearly the customs agent knew something we didn’t but just hadn’t bothered to communicate. When we chased him, he said they were still waiting for export clearance from Zhuhai. An outright lie, as we had the paperwork in our own hands, but not much we could do! He suddenly was unable to speak English any more 🙂

The yard and the tug company seemed completely oblivious to the fact that we had people in Hong Kong waiting to do the final yacht delivery leg to us. We had already messed them about considerably, now we couldn’t tell them even a rough time of arrival! Or even if they should cancel their plans for the evening! For us to be fully flexible personally is easy – it’s just us. But when you need paid people to assist you, it is impossible and certainly unreasonable to work in this way!

Still not moving …..

After lots of chasing we finally established that the boat was not moving today. No explanation was given but that was the fact. The yacht was laying at anchor beside the tug in an anchorage just outside the Zhuhai customs dock. That was where they planned to stay overnight. We stood down the team at Gold Coast.

George, the chase-boat skipper, moored in our marina berth overnight and Justin and his crew made their way back to Aberdeen in a taxi. We agreed they would leave again at 7am to meet back at Gold Coast the following day unless advised otherwise. Once again we had to pay for the team to come back another day. 6000 HKD for the chase-boat rental. Another 6000 HKD for the supervising captain (to be on our yacht and deal with the paperwork). 2500 HKD for the skipper of the chase-boat. 14500 HKD each time (about 2000 euros) and we had an empty paid for marina berth at 1755 HKD (about 200 euros) a day since 3rd May. On top were the taxi costs back and forth for everyone as well as our apartment rental.

The costs were escalating rapidly and so were our stress levels!

Another day dawns …..

We woke up early on 10th May again to check progress and discovered Destiny was already half way across the Pearl River Delta! Frantically, we called Justin to make sure they were on their way and then jumped in a taxi from our apartment in North Point back to Gold Coast. We were joined by Simon Chen of Neptune Marine Services who was carrying out the survey inspection on behalf of the shipyard (for the tug movement) as well as the CE Certification. We were fortunate to have him aboard as at least we had a person in authority who could communicate with the tug captain.

The tug arrived at the anchorage with Destiny at around 11h45 as we tracked using our AIS. But, we were shocked at the speeds the tug had been making! Our AIS records as well as the Vessel Data Recorder showed they were making 10-11 knots all the way over – under tow, with nobody aboard! That’s about the maximum hull speed of the yacht – and much faster than our normal 8 knots cruising speed. We were worried about damage – as was Simon. He was shocked when I gave him the information and challenged the tug captain. Of course, there were denials – clearly he had no idea we had been able to track the journey and take screen dumps at every point. However, further argument was pointless – we just had to hope there had been no damage.

The route was also crazy on the face of it – they had taken the yacht right up the bay almost to Shenzhen, before turning back down again to Hong Kong. We assume there must be some traffic separation scheme regulations but this seemed rather odd, and there was no explanation.

She’s ready …..

About an hour or so later we got the text message from the shipping agent that clearance was complete and we could go and collect our boat. We all piled into the chase-boat and headed out of the marina. The agent hadn’t given any specific instructions or location information, but of course we could track where she was with our AIS. We located her visually in the distance, tied up against the tug and we made to approach.

We hadn’t taken into consideration that the customs anchorage would be choppy! There was a reasonable swell, rolling Destiny around against the fenders and the tug in a very unhappy way. Our own big Defenda inflatable fenders were all on one side against the huge truck tyre fenders of the tug. Our delicate gel-coat was taking a bashing. I worried again about the 10-11 knot bouncy yacht delivery journey that had just happened, but there was nothing we could do.

We approached and were told to back off by the tug crew. They first had to deal with the paperwork in a no-contact manner so as not to break their isolation bubble! We were not allowed to board the tug and they were not allowed to board our boat either. The tug captain sent the paperwork over with the help of a long poled fishing net and I was asked to sign it, before we could board the yacht.

First landing on Destiny

We may have been desperate to get our hands on our boat by that stage, but we aren’t stupid!

I refused to sign anything until we could board and check things out. George had to manoeuvre the chase boat close enough to Destiny that we could jump from the side decks onto the swim platform. From a small chase-boat being rolled around in the swell, to a yacht that was lurching from side to side, tied up to the tug was no mean feat!

This was an interesting and dangerous challenge, particularly given my mobility issues at that time! More on that later, but it turned out I was in need of spinal decompression surgery so jumping aboard was really a stupid thing to have done! George, the chase-boat skipper, made several attempts for an approach alongside. Finally we were in a position where we just had to go for it, and we jumped. Suddenly we were all onboard Destiny at last – fortunately with no injuries.

Tug separation

The chase-boat backed off and Justin sent George back to the marina to prepare for our arrival. Justin stayed onboard with us as our “local captain” for the short trip to the marina. Simon set about doing his checks and noted a few damage points (stern light broken and an issue with the windlass hydraulic oil leakage). It was impossible to do a thorough inspection while lurching against the tug and eventually there was no choice but to sign the document so the tug would release its’ lines.

Given the speed the tug had travelled over, we were concerned about damage. But this would have to wait until we had properly moored. There was a real risk of doing more serious damage just sitting there as Destiny and tug were lurching in opposite directions. Each lurch made a cringing noise on our cleats and our lines. Our poor inflatable fenders were certainly getting a workout but they appear to have risen to the challenge – so far so good Defenda! We had to get away from the tug, or we’d have a completely broken boat before long.

First time at the wheel …

Ed checked the engine was running and got into his pilot seat for the first time. A nerve racking position to be in with a dangerous situation against the tug, but there was no choice. Although he had spent a lot of time onboard Destiny at the yard during the build, he had not been able to drive her. He was not familiar with actually working the engine and systems as most of the time she had been on the land. So this was really his first time at the helm!!!

I just went into auto-pilot mode and started running round the deck clearing fenders and lines until we were free. I haven’t set foot on a boat for three years now, but it seemed like it was only yesterday and all so natural still. Guess when you love being on a boat as much as I do, it’s just like riding a bike – you never forget. I set about prepping for arrival at the marina. It was only a mile back to the slip – so not much time to prepare anything, on an unfamiliar boat – but we managed it. At least having been to our slip already, we were familiar with how we had to moor and where the dock cleats were.

Ed brought the boat into Gold Coast like a pro and we docked finally without much difficulty. This despite the fact that our steering and autopilot isn’t calibrated, neither is our docking system, nor do we have our cameras or radio communication headsets operational. Back to old school trying to shout at each other and wave hands which is much more difficult on a 65ft trawler with a pilot-house and cabin in the way 😊. Ed had to deal with left being right and vice versa! The thrusters were not in balance and went to starboard when they should go to port. A job for later ….

Docked in the Marina at last

Once we docked, Simon set about checking over the boat a bit better, as did Ed. The shipyard delivery skipper had started the engine and generator. Apparently the tug crew had just left them running as they had not even been onboard. Two full days without stopping makes for a hot engine room! Not to mention using a lot of fuel, which we did not have much of. It hadn’t quite been the romantic yacht delivery I had dreamed of 🙂 But we did finally have Destiny in our hands, albeit with many issues left to solve. There had been no time at all to stand in the cockpit together with a glass of champagne and smile for a photoshoot ….. we had to jump right in and just start driving!

Within a few hours, Simon, Justin and his team had left and we were able to walk over the boat for the first time together. For me, this was an emotional thing and I had a few very happy tears 🙂 I hadn’t seen how things had come together in the last couple of years. It was an emotional thing for me to see all the work that I was only familiar with from photos, drawings and schematics there in real life. The systems we had spent so much time designing together on paper had come to life in real equipment and looked very different!

I stood in awe in the engine room and electrical room at what Ed had achieved. Battling constantly against the brick wall of the shipyard, to try and get things done. Sadly, for him the feeling was different. All he can see are the faults and the things which weren’t done in the way he wanted and planned.

Now the work begins ….

The culmination of the stress, emotional turmoil, medical issues and our separation for the last two years has taken its toll. But differently for each of us. For my part, I feel so much gratitude to Ed for what he achieved. Alone at the yard, in very difficult circumstances, fighting that brick wall in a language he spoke not a word, he has delivered us a stunning boat. I love Destiny and I’m prepared for the work we need to do ourselves to get her close to the perfection we want.

For now, Ed just feels like he has failed. Despite his best efforts there are many things which are not right which Jet Tern should have done better. He blames himself for that. At the moment the boat only represents the stress and hassle it has taken to deliver her. He keeps thinking of the lost years which he thinks will irrevocably impact our dream. I hope we can manage to recover the feeling we thought we would have when we got our boat together …. time will tell. It will be a very sad conclusion if we allow our dream to be destroyed by the shortcomings of Jet Tern and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve been through hell and this boat has cost us so much more than money …. But we need to put that behind us and move on now.

For now, Destiny is in Hong Kong and we have moved aboard. The hard work now begins. I am just praying that Ed falls in love with her again, when we actually start cruising.

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