Plain sailing for yachts with river cargo ship ban in Shanghai

Nanpu Bridge on the Whang Poo River, Shanghai
A downtown stretch of the Huangpu River, Shanghai, is being closed to cargo ships at certain times so that yachts can have free run of the waterway, officials said yesterday.

Starting next year, cargo vessels will be banned from between Lupu Bridge and Nanpu Bridge (approx 1.6nm) from 1900-2100 on six days each month when the tide is at its highest. During this period, yachts will have the normally busy waterway to themselves, in an effort to develop the yachting industry in the city, authorities said yesterday. In recent trials, yacht owners used this window for excursions for club members and guests and for holding river parties.

The ban does not apply to other ships, such as garbage vessels and night cruises. Usually, a large number of cargo ships gather when the tide is rising, as sailing at this time saves fuel, the Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration said. This leads to high tide congestion and increased danger of collisions, added officials.

Shanghai has created a large number of yacht berths in different areas in recent years, and developed sailing routes. But the Huangpu River is still preferred by most yacht owners for its downtown sights, said an administration official. Evening is a popular time for admiring the city night view. Since last year, the city has run trials limiting the stretch to yachts once or twice a month.

In recent years, the relocation of cargo ports and renovation programs have freed up more space for yachts. There are plans to build 300 to 400 berths at the former Expo site and another 400 at the Wusong Port area, and Chongming Island and Yangshan Deep Water Port also plan yacht berths.

At present, the city only has 60 to 70 registered yachts, most of which are owned by clubs and companies. They are often rented out for parties or weddings.

[Rough translation: Someone sufficiently high up in the Shanghai corridors of power has bought a boat, and would like an uninterrupted run at the river a few night s a month in order to do some civic entertaining, and to show off his new toy.

Point of Order: If anyone in China is really interested in 'developing the yachting industry' – a much overused phrase and one we are tired of hearing - the very first thing that needs to done is to codify a coherent POR (Policy, Organisation and Rules) covering leisure craft on a national basis. Only when a private vessel can go from Xiamen to Shanghai as easily (in administrative terms) as a yacht can cruise from Southampton to Plymouth, will boating on any scale start to develop in China. Ed].