New Year's Day Beach Barbecue

From its informal beginnings in the 1980s, the Hebe Haven Yacht Club’s annual beach barbecue is now a fixture on the club’s social calendar. It takes place on New Year’s Day at Hap Mun Bay Beach on Sharp Island – Hong Kong’s smallest island country park – and regularly attracts more than 100 members, their families and friends.

The beach faces west and is fortunate to have a landing pier and basic facilities, like showers and toilets, provided by the Leisure & Cultural Services Department. Barbecue pits have been built but the club tries, for as long as anyone can remember, to occupy the southern section of the beach where there aren’t any facilities apart from some new benches and a handrail. BBQ grills, charcoal, forks, food and drink are carried across the beach and ‘camp’ is set up. The fires are then lit and drinks served. Those suffering from the excesses of the previous night take a while to get into the swing but, by midday, most have recovered and the party is on its way.

In past years the club has engaged the services of kaido operators from Pak Sha Wan to ferry people back and forth but, this year, a new service was introduced. Hebe One, the club’s 43-foot powercat, took people from the dock out to the bay while two P4 sampans ferried them ashore.

When the party was over, Hebe One took them home again, all for a reasonable HK$50 a head.

The first group arrived at 1130 and included new GM, Paul Arkwright, dressed in a dinner suit and wearing trainers, ready to serve cocktails and mulled wine to all who needed perking up.

Out in the bay, a steady flow of boats began arriving. After dropping anchor, crews came ashore and joined the fun. By midday, there were a dozen boats of all shapes and sizes, power and sail.

The event is an opportunity to get members together from different backgrounds and to celebrate the New Year in a relaxed and friendly way. It’s not about making money. For example, 25% of the bar’s takings are donated to the sailing development fund and members are free to bring their own food, like the traditional roast pig cooked to perfection by chef, Claude Yuen.

Missing this year were some of the stalwarts from the past. Mark and Juliet Ashton are in Langkawi waiting for an opportunity to come back and Kay Patterson has family matters to attend to. A shame, really, as there were no beach games, bar and barbecue being the focal points.

Nevertheless, through the day, more than 100 people joined the fun and ex-commodore, CK Chan, was pleased with the turnout. He would like to see more expats showing up, though, and says they make the event special. In the past, more than 80% would be foreigners but this year it was the other way round.

Paul Arkwright says the venue is not too far away – all the more reason to get out there and have fun. He and his 12 staff put in a big effort to ensure that everyone had a great time and a good start to 2022.

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