A 1969 Citizen New Master 0200, 17 jewel hand winder with silver sunburst cross-hair dial.
Original owner Tan Boon Ho, who bought it to impress his boss.
Our story begins on the floors of the Hong Kong Exchange where Tan Boon Ho worked as a junior assistant to his boss Kwok Huong Loh. Kwok was a senior partner for Chowyang Securities and was very wealthy.
Money, power and position were all trappings of the business that Tan aspired to. He looked up to Kwok as his mentor and did everything he could to keep himself in his employers good graces. Kwok had a beautiful wife, a beautiful mistress and a Mercedes. He wore a very expensive diamond studded Rolex and was always dressed in the latest designer clothing.
Tan, being merely a much lower paid employee with a very small portfolio, could not afford to yet flash the signs of success his boss did but he made do where he could. He drove the most expensive 10 year old Toyota Luxury car he could afford and he wore the very latest fashions from Guchi(a very reputable knock off designer). When it came to his wristwatch, Tan not only didn't understand that a $10,000 Rolex was far superior to a $100 Citizen; but he thought they looked better and that's what he wore. His Citizen New Master looked extremely elegant and very expensive when it was new and Tan was sure it gave the impression that he was on the fast road to success.
Kwok watched his apprentice with amusement and tried to encourage him whenever he could. It was a difficult job as Tan wasn't really the brightest bulb in the marquee. One weekend after a particularly profitable week of trading, Kwok invited Tan aboard his yacht for a couple of days sailing as a reward for his hard work.
The Opulent Pearl; as Kwok had named his Cheoy Lee 41 sloop; was a veritable pleasure palace on the water. It's master had bought the boat as a run of the mill sailor then completely gutted it for a refit that would make an Arab oil prince blush.
The interior was completely finished with black and pink upholstery, mirrors fit into the mahogany wood work and gold plumbing fixtures throughout. The galley had all the modern appliances available for the period and a special wine cellar built into the cool recesses of the lower bilge. All creature comforts were taken care of.
The hull was pushed through the water with enough sail power to almost put the deep-v hull onto a plain and for those times when the winds were lazy, there was a 350hp marine diesel engine to smooth the journey...a pirate's dream!
Shortly after trading closed for the weekend, Kwok gathered Tan and his packed bags then headed to the North Point Marina adjacent to Victoria Park Road. The Opulent Pearl was waiting for them and had been fuelled and made ready by the marina staff. Immediately upon boarding, Tan discovered two beautiful young women lounging in the aft cockpit. He had met Kwok's wife and another employee had pointed out Kwok's mistress; but these were two complete strangers. Even Kwok was slightly surprised but soon gathered his demeanour and intoduced the young ladies to Tan. They were Morioki Yamada and Yoshi Sumoto.
After casting off, they motored through the busy traffic around the harbour and headed east to round the main island of Honk Kong and out through the passage between the mainland near the Hong Kong Museum of coastal defence. There leisurely journey took them east and south past the island of Tung Lung Chau and then 20 minutes more to Sung Kong Island where Kwok had built a small but palatial residence. This was a place intended purely for entertaining business associates and potential clients.
The Opulent Pearl pulled abreast the modest jetty on the west side of Sung Kong where Kwok moored the vessel then invited everyone ashore for the evening.
By this time, Tan was beside himself with visions of a night of wine, music and two beautiful Japanese ladies. All seemed to be going well; a wonderful dinner had been prepared and carried aboard, there was a fully stocked wine cellar in the residence and the weather was co-operating beautifully.
After the delicacies of the dinner had been consumed, the vintage wines had been sampled and the foursome were relaxing around a fire pit in the large open living room; Kwok broke Tan's reverie when he introduced a business proposition to Yoshi Sumoto. Morioki soon got involved in the conversation and Tan finally realised this wasn't going to be quite the weekend he had been envisaging.
The four conversed for several hours and around midnight; Kwok, feeling that he was close to a deal, suggested everyone get a good night's sleep for the voyage in the morning. Tan was now ready to sleep..since nothing else was likely to happen.
No sooner had Tan slipped between the satin sheets of his very comfortable bed than he was dead to the world...then he was wide awake; the sound of a boat motor; voices; feet on the jetty; screams that sounded like the two ladies in their company...then silence. Tan sat up and strained to hear something; anything. But there was no sound other than the night. He wondered if perhaps it had been a dream. Not sure; he got up and went to check and see if things were as they should be. He carefully and bashfully peeked into the rooms the ladies had taken, only to see them lying peacefully asleep. Kwok's door was wide open and Tan could hear his snoring before he even saw his boss prone across his bead with his chest rising and falling rhythmically with each breath.
All a dream; nothing to worry about. Tan returned to his room and quickly fell asleep.
A loud knock on Tan's door woke him from his sleep and he felt like he had just gone to bed; but it was already 5:30am. He showered and dressed then made his way to the patio off the kitchen area where the ladies were already sipping coffee. Kwok had not made his appearance yet so Tan poured himself some orange juice and sat beside Yoshi. He tried to make some light conversation but noticed that her demeanour was not quite the same as it had been the day before. Today, she was slow with her answers and then only with single words where the day before, she had been quick to answer and quite loquacious. Perhaps she would warm up to him once her coffee had kicked in. Morioki was completely aloof and seemed not interested in talking with anyone; even ignoring Kwok when he finally stumbled out to the patio complaining of a bad head ache and a stiff neck.
Oh boy, this was looking like it wasn't shaping up to be much of a pleasure cruise.
The plan was to head south for about an hour then cruise along the chain of islands stretching south and west. Sailing down the outside of the islands would provide some lively sailing and beautiful views of these isolated and sparsely populated bits of land poking up from the ocean depths. About four hours sailing would bring them to the western most island and then they could turn and run north for a while then head back north and east along the inside of the islands heading back to Sung Kong.
Once breakfast was done and Kwok had prepared champagne and orange juice to liven everyone up the day looked more promising to Tan. The Opulent Pearl was loaded with a prepared feast for the voyage and the mariners boarded while Kwok once again cast off.
The first hour of the journey was relatively quiet and all the sailors kept pretty much to themselves and their thoughts. After about an hour and as the Opulent Pearl neared the northern nost of the chain of islands, Kwok came up to Tan and quietly asked if he had said or done something to the two ladies. Kwok had noticed they were not behaving the same as they had on the initial voyage and later, dinner the night before. Tan said he had noticed the same thing but had figured it was just him.
Another hour and a half passed with beautiful beach scapes passing before their eyes and stiff enough breezes to cause the bow of the vessel to splash the occasional spray across the decks. Tan got a good soaking from one particularly big splash and went below to dry himself off and change his shirt. His trusty Citizen was a little wet but a quick towelling took care of it.
Just as Tan turned to head back above decks, there was a hard thump on the side of the hull followed by a sharp crack. He heard Kwok bellow in a rage as he headed up the galley steps. Then he felt a sudden pain behind his ear followed by blackness...
Consciousness returned slowly through a red mist and a lot of pain. Tan couldn't move his arms; something seemed to be holding them. He soon realized he was laying on his side and his arms were bound behind his back. It was quite dark but there was a little moon light coming through some sort of opening above his head. He looked around and in the dimness he could make out large sacks and wooden crates. The smell of dampness, burlap and sea water told him he might be on a boat or in a warehouse near the water. After a little while as his head cleared, he could sense the motion of the boat as it moved on the water.
Where the heck was he and what happened to Kwok and the two beautiful Japanese ladies? What of the Opulent Pearl? These things shouldn't be happening to a junior floor trader from the Hong Kong exchange; it was too unreal.
Tan managed to sit up and as his eyes adjusted to his surroundings, he could see that he was inside an old wooden boat of some sort. The room he was in was about 15 feet long and had a ceiling that slanted up and away towards the back wall where he saw the moon shining in. As he looked out through the opening, he could make out the dark outline of a huge rudder. The opening was a port through which the crew could service the rudder when needed. He was on a junk!
No sooner had this realization dawned on him than the door at the far end of the room opened and a short swarthy man stepped inside and closed the door. The stranger was dressed in a sharkskin business suit. He wore a crisp white dress shirt with silver cuff links that looked like crossed bones. His breast pocket had a black handkerchief protruding from the top. And on his wrist was the very Rolex that his boss Kwok had worn so proudly. Tan's immediate thought was to look at his own wrist but since it was tied behind his back, he decide to ask the stranger what was going on.
The stranger introduced himself as Azumo Mazda, master of the Pink Dragon. Azumo was obviously very proud of his vessel as he began telling Tan of her specifications; The Pink Dragon was a 50 meter junk with, three masts, three 1000hp marine diesel engines and a crew of 17 hardened ex Japanese Marines and current members of Yakuza.
Tan didn't like the looks of things and wasn't particularly pleased when Azumo told him he was only being kept alive to be sold as a slave. When Tan asked of the others, Azumo just laughed and said that the rich man was feeding the fishes. What of the ladies Tan asked. Azumo told him they were working for him and had replaced the original ladies during the first night on Sung Kong. During that night, Yoshi and Morioki(obviously not there real names) had slipped Kwok a truth serum and had extracted much financial information from him that would prove most profitable to Azumo and his associates.
Azumo turned to leave but Tan asked what happened to the Opulent Pearl. The luxurious vessel would be used for a large haul of opium from Thailand into Hong Kong then it would be scuttled. Azumo left with Tan wondering what he was going to do; slavery wasn't in his plans...
To be continued