Benoît Cantalloube, professional skipper of Captn’Boat, shares his experience aboard the NEEL 43 during his convoy from La Rochelle (France) to Pula (Croatia). After a complete presentation and an easy takeover of the boat, accompanied by his crew member Joan Touche, Benoit decides to depart on the morning of March 15, 2023, when tidal currents and weather conditions are favorable.
Embark from La Rochelle – France to Pula- Croatia aboard the NEEL 43 “Detour”.
First encounter with the NEEL 43 and preparations
“We discover a spacious technical compartment with clear identification of electrical, water, and fuel circuits, everything is orderly and identified… a captain’s fantasy! The provisioning is done, the aluminum water tank makes me give up the water packs. The refrigerator makes it easy to bring fresh food for about two weeks and frozen food.”
Before starting the boat preparation, checking the equipment on board, and studying the route/weather, a quick takeover allows to appreciate the first sensations. If the size and volume of the boat can be daunting for a significant load, the 50 HP VOLVO PENTA engine and the bow thruster make maneuvering easy.”
A logbook tracing a comfortable convoy in several stages
“La Rochelle – Porto de Cariño (Spain) About 320 Nm. With a high mainsail and a large genoa, in a nice breeze with some gusts, it was the perfect conditions to get to grips with the NEEL 43: getting familiar with reefing and using the staysail, which allows a very honorable close-hauled for a multihull with a speed of 9 to 10 knots. Rade de Cariño (Spain) – Port of Peniche (Portugal) About 300 Nm, then Peniche-Cascais (Portugal) About 45 Nm.
What a pleasure! We tease each other a little with some monohulls and a catamaran, and we reluctantly lower the sails in front of the breakwaters, but the stop in Cascais is mandatory for the first engine overhaul. What a pity! The breeze was perfect…
Cascais (Portugal)-Barbate (Spain) About 270 Nm. The wind and sea quickly drop, and we are forced to turn on the engine and refuel on arrival. But it gives me interesting information about the NEEL 43: the engine only consumes a very reasonable 3 liters per hour.
Barbate (Spain)-San Vito (Sicily) About 950 Nm. We fully enjoyed the end of the Mistral and Tramontane episode that was announced in the Gulf of Lion. Winning bet! We comfortably cross with a North wind of strength between 3 and 7 Bf and a sea 3/4 aft: pure pleasure from 5 Bf! The staysail replaces the genoa very advantageously and perfectly balances the 1 or 2 reefs of the mainsail.
My second and I (who have experience with cruising multihulls) agree: the NEEL 43 lives up to our expectations!
San Vito (Sicily)-Vela Luka (Croatia) About 580 Nm, then Vela Luka (Croatia)-Pula (Croatia) About 180 Nm. We tease a few sailboats that share our route to Stupin, then we continue solo. Upon arrival, at the bottom of the Verdura marina, gusts still reach 25 knots, but with the help of the bow thruster, mooring goes smoothly (even if it wasn’t the most elegant of my maneuvers…).”
During this trip, Benoit and Joan indulged in the pleasure of fishing. “For fresh protein first, but also for the pleasure of it. We only catch what we consume, and we reel in the line at night or if the speed is too high to safely retrieve the catch.”
The NEEL 43, a fast and seaworthy cruising boat
In my opinion, the NEEL 43 is a very seaworthy boat that navigates the sea without pounding. All maneuvers are gathered at the helm station and allow for sailing with a small crew. The jib is very effective. The steering is pleasant and the rudder is effective. The B&G autopilot works well in all situations, although it is advisable to keep a hand on the wheel in strong winds and choppy seas downwind. The 50 HP VOLVO PENTA engine is sufficient, and the bow thruster is effective (and indispensable) for maneuvering in port. The technical compartment is a model: tidy, clear, and spacious enough to access and work on all important elements. The aluminum water tank ensures drinkable water, and the gauges (water and diesel) are reliable.
In conclusion, a very pleasant and beautiful “machine” for fast cruising that remains safe even with neophytes or children on board.