My favourite mode of transport in Hong Kong has to be the Boeing 929 Jetfoil – a passenger carrying waterjet-propelled hydrofoil that speeds across the waves between Hong Kong and Macau.
About the Boeing 929 Jetfoil
Boeing launched the first Boeing 929 Jetfoil in 1974, with three vessels entering service in the Hawaiian Islands until 1979, when the company collapsed.
The three hydrofoils were acquired by Far East Hydrofoil (now TurboJET) for service between Hong Kong and Macau, with further vessels entering their fleet in the years since.
Each jetfoil has two Rolls-Royce Allison 501KF gas turbine engines, propelling the vessel at speeds of up to 45 knots (83 km/h).
Off for a ride
Services depart the Hong Kong–Macau Ferry Terminal at Sheung Wan.
Then head west out of Victoria Harbour.
Building up speed, until the foils lift the hull of the vessel out of the water.
Leaving the city skyline behind.
Passing the southern shore of Lantau.
Then out into the open sea.
An hour later, we arrive into Macau.
Slowing down to pass beneath the Amizade Bridge.
And then berth at the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal.
A few videos
Here we see TurboJet Jetfoil ‘Cacilhas’ arriving at the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal, followed by the departure of classmate ‘São Jorge’.
The startup noise from the two Rolls-Royce Allison 501KF gas turbine engines is music to *my* ears.
But the passengers onboard might not agree.
Yet something everyone should agree on – watching the Jetfoil rise out of the water is magical.
(landing is pretty cool too)
Tracking down the Jetfoils
TurboJet operates a number of different vessel types in their fleet, including a number of high speed catamaran ferries – so if you want to ride a Boeing 929 Jetfoil you can’t just jump on any Hong Kong – Macau service – you need to check the departure board.
And then consult the TurboJet fleetlist to see which departures are being operated by a Jetfoil.
Update for 2022
Since I first drafted this post, a lot has changed regarding the TurboJET fleet of Jetfoils – the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge in 2018 saw many passengers switch to bus services, and the COVID-19 pandemic saw the ferry service suspended indefinitely in February 2020.
But March 2021 saw the first Jetfoil scrapped – ‘Santa Maria’.
The Jetfoil Conservation Concern Group has issued a statement on Saturday expressing their sorrow over the dismantling of the Jetfoil “Santa Maria,” which was due to have started last Friday, according to the group.
Titled “Goodbye Santa Maria,” the statement hints that the dismantling of the longest-serving ferry between Hong Kong and Macau should have happened on March 19 at the Wang Tak shipyard in the neighboring region of Hong Kong.
Santa Maria was one of the two Jetfoils directly purchased by Boeing from the manufacturer known at the time as Far East Hydrofoils (it is now TurboJET) under the initiative of gaming tycoon Stanley Ho.
The ferry, named after one of the islands of Azores Archipelago in Portugal, serviced trips between the two regions from 1975 to 2019, without any significant failures or accidents in its record.
According to the group which is knowledgeable of the history of this type of vessel, the “Santa Maria,” is the record holder of the longest-serving jetfoil in the Hong Kong-Macau ferry route.
The last sailing of Santa Maria was a return journey to Hong Kong from Macau on August 14, 2019, at 6:30 p.m.
It was later followed on the scrap line by Jetfoils ‘Balsa’ and ‘Urzela’, with classmates ‘Pico’ and ‘Guia’ to follow.
- Boeing 929 at Wikipedia
- TurboJet at Wikipedia
- The Hong Kong Jetfoil Story by Nick Shearman
- The Last Chapter of the Hong Kong Jetfoil Story by Nick Shearman
- Hong Kong Jetfoil infographic by Nick Shearman
- Jetfoil Conservation Concern Group at Facebook
- Hong Kong to Macau trnasport information at ‘Hong Kong Extras’
- History of the SeaFlite ferry service in Hawaii