20-Nov-2003 -- This confluence, the last remaining unvisited confluence in Guangdong Province, has been on my "unfinished business" list for almost a year now, ever since Tony, Aidan and I made an unsuccessful attempt at the end of 2002. Recently, things started to fall into place, and the prospect of a successful visit became a real possibility.
First of all, my next-door neighbour Theresa interviewed Tony and me for an article she was writing about the Degree Confluence Project, which subsequently appeared in the South China Morning Post. She concluded her article with the words:
On a clear day, Targ can almost see the elusive confluence from the balcony of his Lamma apartment. "We just need a boat," he says.
This article then caught the eye of Kristie, a correspondent for CNN International, who had heard about the Degree Confluence Project a couple of years before, but needed a Hong Kong angle in order to make it into a good story. She felt a visit to Hong Kong's nearest confluence would be just the ticket.
CNN very kindly offered to pick up the tab for a boat charter, which I was able to arrange through Kevin, the enigmatic "business development advisor" with fingers in more pies than you can poke a stick at, whom Tony and I met on Wailingding Island during our previous attempt.
Shortly after 11 a.m. we set off from Yung Shue Wan, at the northern end of Lamma Island, 27.5 kilometres from the confluence. We headed SSW and soon crossed into mainland Chinese waters. The captain was happy to let both Tony and Richard take turns piloting the 39-foot boat.
We passed close to the eastern end of Wailingding Island, where half a dozen manmade caves, a couple with large steel and concrete doors, were visible. Tony surmised that, like the ones we'd seen on the island before, these caves were probably left over from World War II.
We then continued southwest through a group of islands known as the Sanmen Islands, the largest being Henggang Island, which we passed on our left. There was a large quarry on the smaller island to our right (clearly visible as the light red patch on the satellite image). We saw some fish farming operations in the sheltered waters between the two islands.
From Henggang Island, it was straight south to the confluence point, where we arrived at about 12:30 p.m. With Richard giving the captain directions, we circled around a few times, trying to get as close as possible, while I snapped photos of the GPS, and Scott, the CNN cameraman, filmed me snapping photos of the GPS. I'm sure the captain thought we were all quite mad!
Next it was time to take shots in the four cardinal directions. As is unfortunately so often the case in and around Hong Kong, the visibility was atrocious. Henggang Island was only four kilometres away, but you need very good eyes to make it out on the right side of the photo looking north. There was nothing at all to the south. A lone fishing boat was visible to the east, and again nothing to the west.
So, at long last, with all the dots on the Degree Confluence Project's Guangdong map finally coloured red, we celebrated our success. Thanks go out to Theresa for engendering interest in the project through her newspaper article, and to Kristie, Scott and CNN International for finally making it all happen.
Postscript: Kristie's Tech Watch segment GPS Quest aired on CNN International on
27 November 2003. (Video clip in wmv format, broadband access recommended.)