Breaching the Wall in China

Published 13 years ago, updated 6 years ago

We had a nice stay in both Kaohsiung, Taiwan and Xiamen, China, but not without problems in China.

As to sailing between China and Taiwan we got a problem (but not between Taiwan and China). When we arrived from Xiamen, China to Pi-Sha/Keelung, Taiwan again – we were refused entry. It is not legal to come from a port in mainland China, and we had to continue to Japan.

In Pi-Sha fishing harbor (Bisha) next door to the large Keelung port, they are building a new marina to be finished next year – 2012.

1. Taiwan – Kaohsiung

Through the SSCA I got in touch with Peter Pan, a young entrepreneur in the solar/wind vane business in Taiwan. He speaks English and is a member (owner?) of Kaohsiung Sailing School. Peter was very helpful and arranged a berth in the small city marina in town and also helped us with clearance in and out. We needed no visas (had a Russian couple onboard, they needed visas in advance though) and there were no requirements for a local agent. We just tied up to the coastguard station upon instruction on VHF, got checked by securité & immigration and then we were “free” to move to the nearby city marina.

Kaohsiung City Government Marina:

Docking fee is charged by “tons” in Taiwan – NTD: 20 tonnage/per day (about 0.7 USD), and for our sailing association guests the discount was only NTD:4 tonnage/per day!

The pre-arrival application fee is NTD:1500 (about USD:49). The marina supply fresh water and 110v power. The marina can only accept yachts under 60 feet.


Kaohsiung City Government Marina



Kaohsiung Sailing School, Peter Pan

Kaohsiung Sailing Company, Ltd

No.75-13, Sichuan St., Gushan District, Kaohsiung City 804, Taiwan

Website: [BROKEN LINK]

2. China – Xiamen

For many months I had tried to get in touch with “anyone” in China; agents, sailing clubs, authorities. Finally, I did find Iron Rock Sailing Club in Wuyuan Bay and an agent, Lai Shengfu (owner), Xiamen United International Shipping Agency Co. (See below for contact details).

We all had our proper Chinese visas, most of us got visas in Manila, a two-day procedure.

Upon arrival, we had to anchor at Anchorage no 5 where commercial vessels have to anchor just by the Special Economic Zone. We were not allowed to move and had to use official pilot boats to get to/from the boat at USD 150/trip. The Anchorage was exposed to waves, traffic, and wind.

After two days of heavy negotiation by our agent (we claimed we had no water, electricity, and food) our agent managed to get permission for Jennifer as the first boat ever to leave the foreign flagged destination spot and move to (under escort by a pilot boat at great cost, USD 500) the Iron Rock Yacht Club and the new two year old marina in Wuyan Bay, about 15 NM further north on the northeastern part of Xiamen Island.

Wuyan Bay Marina

To get into the bay where the marina is situated one has to pass under a bridge, 24 meters high during low tide and 16-18 meter on high tide. The marina has space for about 40 yachts, almost all of them powerboats, and not many guest berths (we were the very first foreign guest boat). The marina, which is government-owned, will be extended in the coming years. In the marina, there are facilities for yacht clubs, one restaurant and many dealers for yachts and equipment. We were taken care of by the local Beneteau dealer who helped in every way.

The local marine community there is frustrated with the government policies regarding visits by international yachts and there will be a few/many years before the paranoid policy of the government will change.

Visiting China is possible

However, with an invitation from a local yacht club and a good agent, it is possible, at a cost, to sail to Xiamen. I know that Hainan island, close to Vietnam, is opening up and building marinas, but it all depends on the different provinces and their policies. In Xiamen they are also building another (this time a private) marina, which they claim, will be the biggest in Asia, Shangshan International Yacht Club, with 800 berths although a manager from Hainan I talked to claimed they were building the biggest marina right now. Anyway, I visited Shangshan Marina and was duly impressed. The first phase is almost finished, the premises are huge with condos, hotels, clubhouse, and skyscrapers. When the Chinese build something they do it big.

The Cost

The catch for visiting Xiamen for us was the cost, all in all, USD 5 000 (agency fee: USD 2500.00, Traffic boats hiring: USD 150 per call, Sundries for local port authorities: USD 800.00, Pilot boat to Wuyuan bay USD 500 etc).

The agent, Shengfu Lai, promised however that the next visit by a yacht will get a lower price, Jennifer was just “breaching the wall”, hence the huge cost. With a proper invitation, Mr. Lai now knows the ropes and any yacht should ask for a quote.

There are quite a few yachts sailing from Taiwan and Hong Kong but they have different procedures though, they are, after all, Chinese.


Iron Rock Sailing Club

Wuyuan Bay, Xiamen


Xiamen United International Shipping Agency Co.

Owner: Shengfu Lai

21F, HaiCang Business Building, No.12 ZhongLin Road, Haicang, Xiamen, China

Mobile: 0086-13606030050 or 0086-18906010691

Tel: 0086-592-7795009

Fax: 0086-592-7795001

E-mail: [email protected]


I tried numerous times to contact China Ocean Shipping Agency (Penavico) a state-owned company under the Ministry of Communications and, according to Noonsite, the sole organization offering services to foreign vessels calling at Chinese ports. They never responded.


SY Jennifer

Hey Lars,

I’m sorry you found it so challenging…I know that everyone in the sailing community is a little frustrated by the situation.

As a footnote, one policy that has been adopted by a few visiting yachts is to enter the country during an international regatta. As the regattas are all interested in being “International” they want visiting international yachts to attend.

So the technique is to enter the open class of the regatta and sail your yacht to arrive at the start of the regatta in that specific port. As the regatta organizers are the government, they have procedures (although still a little sticky) in place for clearing foreign yachts and sailors on arrival. Then whether you take part in the regatta or not is down to you.

Ultimately you peel off and go where you want, now that you have cleared customs.

Bear in mind that each state is autonomous in respect of customs etc., so if you move around you may have clear customs again! However, if you have strong local contacts where you want to go, then this can help with the process.

Congratulations on being successful, even at a cost – I’m sure it’ll be an experience you will remember. And you were the first!

Best regards,

Rick Pointon

Director Beijing Sailing Center

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