Visit any major sailing area in the world and you’re likely to find a Moonen. Among those furthest away from ‘home’ is the Moonen 114 Explorer yacht Beluga. Currently based on the north Australian coast, she is used for cruising by her owner as well as regular chartering. We caught up with Beluga's Captain Bob Nabal for a chat.
Originally hailing from South Africa, Bob had skippered Sunseeker and Princess motoryachts before being asked to take the helm on Beluga in 2015. “This was a dream come true for me: Moonen is one of my favourite boat builders and has an excellent reputation. We’ve certainly put Beluga through her paces over the past two years. We started by exploring Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Greece and Turkey. Next was the crossing to Southeast Asia via the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, stopping in the Maldives. Then came Indonesia, which was simply spectacular: from bright green islands to pink beaches, the incredible nature held us spellbound for a month, after which we headed to our final destination in Australia.”
Has Beluga met Bob’s expectations for Moonen? “Yes, for sure. Her long range means she can sail very far – we covered about 18,000 miles in the first year and a half – and she’s also very comfortable. Beluga feels more voluminous than you’d expect from a 35-metre boat. We’ve had 12 guests on board fishing, scuba diving, relaxing, and it never felt remotely crowded thanks to the ingenious layout.”
Beluga is currently based in Port Douglas in tropical north Queensland, Australia, close to the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics. Her owner is a passionate sports fisherman, and the yacht comes with two 13 and 16-metre fishing boats with berths for five or six guests and gear for marlin fishing, bottom fishing and scuba diving. During the marlin season Beluga serves as mother ship to the fishing boats, which go out during daytime and come back in the evening for a party or dinner. Watch the video here.
The Rolls-Royce of yachting
“Like any Moonen, Beluga is very well put together,” says Bob. “Dutch builders are the Rolls-Royce of yachting. With a steel hull and aluminium superstructure, she’s a very solid boat that can weather almost any storm, with state-of-the-art stabilizers and Lloyd’s ice class certification. We had some really bad weather in the Gulf of Aden – 55-60 knots and three-to-four-metre swells – and Beluga came though without a scratch. Being in a storm in the open ocean is a true test of a boat’s mettle.”
Captain Bob is also delighted with Moonen’s service levels. “Service manager Jan Tielemans is easily the best guy I’ve even met for solving problems and giving advice. Even here in Australia we pick up the phone and he responds straight away. And it’s not just Jan – the whole structure at the yard works very well. I would highly recommend a job on a Moonen to any captain.”