APSA Grand Tour Webinar Session 2: The Far East

Joe Yuen, Mike Simpson, Capt Paul Brackley, Nigel Beatty and Colin Dawson

One of the roles of the Asia Pacific Superyacht Association (ASPA) is to disseminate information about facilities and cruising opportunities in the region, and the APSA Grand Tour webinars are getting that message out to the global superyacht community.

Session 2 of the APSA Grand Tour focused on East Asia (Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and southern China). APSA Committee member Joe Yuen (Lodestone Yachts) introduced the session with an overview of the East Asia region and the role that Hong Kong plays with its regional Asian neighbours.

This year marks APSA’s 10th Anniversary since the Association was formed in response to comments aired at the 2010 Singapore Superyacht Conference. Building on the suggestion that the region needed one voice to promote itself, APSA was born. “That evening, after maybe a glass of red or three,” remembers Colin Dawson (Expat Marine), “we decided that there had been enough talk, and we would do something about it.” 'We', on this occasion, included himself, YP Loke and Gareth Twist, names well-known in the industry in Asia. Two more recognisable names, Simon Turner (that year’s conference Chairman) and JJ Levigne (Asia Superyacht Development) were quickly co-opted onto the original Committee.

"Ten years ago, APSA concentrated on promoting the Asia Pacific as ‘The World’s Third Cruising Destination’, discussing its beautiful places to visit and the emerging support services available, as well as assuring Captains that it was safe and not full of corruption,” says Dawson. “Just before handing the reins over to Nigel we started putting a greater emphasis on member to member connections while getting the word out about some of the best cruising on the planet, backed up by world-class support facilities. It’s great see that what we started 10 years ago is growing and going from strength to strength.”

Yokohama Harbour on Japan's east coast

One of the principal barriers to superyachts visiting Asia and the Pacific is the lack of information about the region. Quite understandably, owners may be reluctant to commit their rather expensive ‘floating asset’ to a voyage into the unknown. With this in mind Session 2 focused on three great cruising destination in East Asia. Nigel Beatty (Super Yacht Logistics Japan/YACHTZOO Japan) began with a fast-paced summary of big boat yachting in Japan. From Hokkaido to Kagoshima is 1,800km, and Ishigaki is a further 1,000km south. That’s the difference between Newfoundland and the Bahamas – a substantial climatic range, meaning that in Japan there is, indeed, cruising all year round. The north west coast is something of an adventure land, and a properly exhaustive cruise in the Inland Sea could involve months. For warm water cruising, volcanic islands, coral reefs and spectacular diving, head south to Okinawa and beyond.

Japan imposes very few restrictions on visiting yachts and when you go ashore the sights, sounds, food, culture, sports, history, people and scenery of this clean, safe, and friendly country are already legendary. Even better, the shipyards are squeaky clean, the quality of workmanship absolutely first class, imported parts can be easily moved around the country, almost every sizeable port (there are lots) is a port of entry, and crew can come and go with relative ease – visa, waivers, and passes are not a problem.

“Come and visit Japan,” says Beatty.

Penghu, or the Pescadores Islands in the Taiwan Strait

Next on the programme was Capt Paul Brackley of Central Yacht who is quite right when he said that “most people don’t know anything about Taiwan”. The island formerly known as Formosa has opportunities for cruising, but its real strength is in repair and refit facilities. Indeed, Taiwan is the 5th biggest builder of superyachts in the world. Some of the smaller yards are not so glamorous in appearance, but Taiwan permits easy access for foreign specialist contractors, and the skill level among local subcontractors is first class.

“It’s a good place to stop between cruises for maintenance,” says Brackley. Furthermore, the island allows crews to sign on/sign off, there’re plenty of crew Rest and Recreation opportunities, English is widely spoken, taxes are low, customs and immigration are neither complicated not difficult, and everyone is friendly. The prime cruising area is the Penghu Islands in the Taiwan Strait, just 50nm northwest of Tainan, locally famous for diving and seafood, but also well-beloved by the international sailing and windsurfing set attracted by the strong and steady breezes.

Brackley also mentioned his recent visits to Hainan in the south of China, the first being an unscheduled visit in the middle of a typhoon. “Checking in to Sanya is generally friendly and uncomplicated. However, cruising is somewhat restricted by the presence of a large naval base, and in any case is only allowed in daylight hours, and with a pilot.”

Hong Kong's World-Famous Harbour

Mike Simpson, the founder of Simpson Marine in 1984, talked about Hong Kong, the rest of the Greater Bay Area, Hainan, and southern China.

“Hong Kong could be the Monaco of the East, if the government would only wake up to the possibilities. ... There is much more to Hong Kong than the bustling financial and business hub, high rise buildings and great shopping for which the city is generally known overseas. Hong Kong has a beautiful, hilly coastline, great hiking trails and over 250 islands to explore.

“Although for many years there has been a lack of berthing for yachts of all sizes, there are now a few berths available for visiting superyachts at the newly opened Lantau Yacht Club. Port entry and crew regulations are straight forward with cruising in Hong Kong waters allowed once permits and crew with valid local licences are in place. Although superyachts are recognised as non-commercial vessels, there is still a lot to do to make regulations easier for visiting superyachts and crew.

"The Greater Bay Area (GBA) is an administrative construct of the China government, and consists of Hong Kong and Macau and nine neighbouring cities around the Pearl River delta. Cruising in China is currently quite complicated.

"For example, if a motor yacht is sold into China 42% tax will have to be paid. Moving from one province in China to another is subject to inconsistent inter-province cruising regulations. Not only are the rules unclear, they change. Generally, there is a shortage of qualified crew in China, and strictly limited repair and refit facilities with the exception of Kingship Marine and HeySea Yachts both of which have shipyards in southern China. Hainan is scheduled to be the main boating hub for China, and the island has been designated as a Free Trade Zone, with a particular emphasis on the city and surroundings of Sanya region opening up to 'marine tourism'."

There will be no import tax on boats arriving in Hainan, and there are all sorts of financial incentives for companies and businesses opening offices or ancillary boating facilities there. Simpson Marine have an office there already at the Serenity Coast Marina. “Hainan has huge potential,” says Mike, “but the rules are not entirely clear yet.” Watch this space.

Watch the Webinar on our Youtube channel.

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