The future of the Jumbo floating restaurant had never looked bleaker as it was towed from its home port to somewhere in Southeast Asia.
Many felt that this might be his last trip.
The feeling was that if no buyer could be found, the multi-storey floating structure could end up in a junkyard.
Few would have anticipated that the Jumbo’s final voyage would end at the bottom of the vast South China Sea.
The Jumbo was being towed by tugs to a destination its owner, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises, had kept secret when “bad weather” hit and sank the floating restaurant.
It was an unfortunate accident, according to the owner. But some were skeptical, with social media platforms awash with conspiracy theories.
Meanwhile, local politician Judy Chan Ka-pui said the incident came as no surprise to her.
Conspiracy theories aside, the South China Sea is vast and can be dangerous for any ship, not to mention the floating restaurant that was always moored in a typhoon shelter until the final days of its epic journey to nowhere.
The owner said all necessary certificates were in place before the Jumbo was towed out of Hong Kong waters. And if that was not the case, the Department of the Navy would have already issued an update.
But one thing is certain: the insurance company underwriting the voyage will carry out a thorough investigation into the incident before committing to compensate the owner – although the ship sank in a place whose sovereignty is claimed by several countries. .
For now, it is useless to speculate on how the incident could have happened.
Nevertheless, the tragic end of Jumbo reminds us that while the elements of collective memory are of great value to us, they are also fragile. Once gone, they are gone forever unless the community takes care to protect them.
This, however, is often easier said than done as there is no easy way to preserve them.
Before the Jumbo fell, there were also a number of local brands and stores that disappeared amid development. Sky-high rents have forced many famous wonton noodle shops off the streets until they disappear – the process being accelerated by periodic pandemic closures.
The loss of these “collective memories” is regrettable but can only be changed if a lasting way can be found.
Vigorous attempts had been made to keep the Jumbo afloat, including government contributions.
Its owner then offered to donate the emblematic ship to Ocean Park to preserve it, but the latter had to refuse it because it could not find an operator who could breathe new life into it.
Maintaining the status quo – mooring her in the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter without performing any duties – was never an option. Not only would this have been costly for the owner, but also unfair to other users of the typhoon shelters.
But perhaps the Jumbo could have been saved if someone had approached the Office of Antiquities and Monuments to give it a graded classification.