Ngahue IV Cruising activities in 2016

Acquiring our new boat during the winter of 2015/16

The formal handing over of Tabaluga to us took place at the end of March 2016. All-in-all it was not the happy occasion that it should have been. Because of the islamic terrorist attacks on Brussels Airport and the Maelbeek metro station in down-town Brussels (for my work I used this particular station and the bomb that went off exploded only minutes after I had gone through it on my way to work), our ING Bank had been closed down and subsequently messed up the last of our payments to the broker. So we ended up going to Kiel not knowing whether we would be considered as respectable and trustworthy buyers who had coughed up all their cash for the broker to hand over to Dr. Bierhoff, the previous owner. Or whether we would be seen as untrustworthy fraudsters who were trying to get an HR53 at a cut-rate price...

Clearly our ING Bank hadn't come through, and our reputation with the seller & broker took a definite plunge for the worse and we were treated like second-rate fraudsters. In any event, the boat needed to stay in Kiel because the rigging was not insurable and because we didn't have enough time to sail her back to Belgium in the time available to us. Throughout April 2016, the boat was "back inside" at the Knierim Yard and the Reckmann company renewed her standing rigging and Mare-Media renewed her electronics. We made one weekend trip to the boat in order to do things on her ourselves and admire the progress being made in the rigging and electronics departments. It was also on this occasion that we removed the name Tabaluga from her and stuck the new name Ngahue IV aft on the blue strip - as isusual for Hallberg-Rassies.

Friday 29th April saw us take the train from Brussels to Kiel, loaded with more essential gear to make our maiden voyage in Ngahue IV from Kiel (Germany) to Nieuwpoort (Belgium). From Kiel train station we headed towards our hotel, lugging our bags with us. And saw the Kruzenstern sailing ship all lit up in Kiel harbour. We boarded our slightly more modest sailing boat on Saturday morning and waited for Sirko Feldbinder of Mare Multimedia, our "Mr Electronics" to come and explain the last things of our new Furuno installation on board. We also needed to undertake a sea trial to calibrate the heading sensor and ensure that the autopilot would function properly.

The weather was cold, rainy and generally miserable. Our test sail/sea trial was from the Knierim yard on the Uferstrasse to the Kiel locks and back; we were desperately trying to find 3-5 minutes of uninterrupted space and traffic so as to motor in a straight line and to complete a couple of circles at slow speed so that all systems could calibrate themselves. Suffice it to say that when all was done (painfully and chaotically), it needed to be undone again because of some hitch and another test sail/sea trial was scheduled for the next morning. Mr Feldbinder left ample instructions, and things should have been simple. We went shopping at the local Rewe supermarket, spent the rest of Saturday working on our new boat and went to bed, being woken regularly throughout the night by the noise of big ships passing and/or stopping before the Kiel locks on the Canal.

Sunday 1st May brought blue skies and sunshine that stayed with us all the way to Belgium when we left the boat in her berth nearly a week later! Absolutely Wunderbar! We failed to calibrate the autopilot, so had to hand steer the boat all the way to Brunsbüttel, where Sirko Feldbinder sacrificed his Sunday afternoon, hopped on board and we calibrated the heading sensor and autopilot. Here, as in Kiel, we were again dodging traffic congregating before the Brunsbüttel locks on the Kiel Canal!

Our trip continued on Monday through the Brunsbüttel locks, on to Cuxhaven where we stayed a for two days as a strong and foul wind was blowing from the south-westerly direction in which we wanted to sail. It was in Cuxhaven that we began to see the full size of our new boat, as her mast dwarfed the quayside and our boat soaked up a fair length of the visitor's pontoon. After Cuxhaven, we headed for Nordeney, trusting our charts a little too much. The shortcut channel we wanted to take to quickly get to the marina indicated a minimum depth of 2.4m (our draft is 2.29m). Nevertheless, at LWS we well and truly ran aground. It was quite gently, but we were still stuck to the bottom. The tide was rising, so we managed to get under way again fairly quickly, and only had to face one embarrassing encounter with a local boat offering moral support. As we continued our route to the marina, watching our sounder like hawks, we witnessed one of the Nordeney ferries steaming away and getting stuck. After 45' of much agitation, she was loose again and pursued her route - probably indignant at the moral injuries suffered by going aground with many evening passengers on board... As we had to drop anchor to wait for the tide to rise enough to make it to our marina, we could watch all this with a semi-amused eye.

Our welcome at Nordeney and the dimensions of our new boat (suddenly depth and size was a matter of consideration - something that had never been the case on the 29, the 37, or even the 43) made us more cautious in our further planning. Terschelling was skipped (arrival at LW and it being a long w/e for the Dutch - were we certain of getting our boat in and out of the harbour if it were full????).And so we travelled all the way from Nordeney to Nieuwpoort in one go. Sailing through the night with a cold Easterly blowing (but at least we were sailing!). Here a nice picture as we enter the night. I think we'll leave the pictures of us progressively turning dark blue during the night in the family album!!

Before the summer holidays we only made one trip to Dover - it coincided with my daughter's 18th birthday. Dover marina was grateful for the advance warning of our boat and kept a hammerhead berth in Granville Dock free especially for us. The rest of the time before the summer vacation was spent improving things on board. Sirko Feldbinder travelled to Belgium to fit an essential part of the second autopilot and to install new software in the plotters for the latest Furuno radar scanner. New upholstery was fitted in the saloon and aft cabin. Unfortunately the quality of this workmanship was much below standards and required attention during the winter. Unfortunately, even after further attention from "Mr Upholstery, the workmanship remained poor and we are not happy with the result. Our autopilots were also playing up, so Sirko Feldbinder needed to come once again to sort out matters - the main autopilot now seems to work OK.

Summer holidays 2016

During the summer holidays we undertook our normal "milkrun", setting out from Nieuwpoort and were determined, with this new and heavy boat, to reach the Scilly Isles. And as often happens, we didn't quite make it as far as the Scillies in 2016, even in a Hallberg-Rassy 53! In fact, we only got as far as Falmouth, which was an improvement on 2015 when, in Ngahue III, we only got as far as Brixham.

Brixham marina this year told us they didn't have any space for our HR53, so we were sent off to Torquay instead. It's only on the other side of Tor Bay - so is there a difference? Well, much as we like Torquay (despite the abundant rain this year), we prefer Brixham. It'll have to be another time, as 2017 will see us concentrating our efforts to get the boat to Portugal in time for a final dash for the ARC.

In Southampton, Laura had found the full "Bergerac" series, a BBC TV series from the 1980s, set in Jersey around Detective Sergeant Jim Bergerac, played by John Nettles. From Falmouth we sailed to St Helier in Jersey (23 hours of real sailing pleasure). And walked around many of the sites used to film the Bergerac series.

Pictured here is Ngahue IV in Dieppe, on our way back to Nieuwpoort. What the picture shows pretty clearly is the relative size of an HR53 compared to all the "normal" boats moored alongside the pontoon.

In early September, Laura spent a week with Leon Schulz on Regina Laska (see also Himself/Herself page); I could not resist the temptation to take Ngahue IV out all by myself. Our insurers will allow for single-handing, but NOT during the hours of darkness. So on the day that our marina offered a statue to the town of Nieuwpoort, with lots of festivities planned, I took the boat out for a sail (and a test of our "other" (reserve) Raymarine/Mamba drive autopilot). Upon returning to Nieuwpoort, the festivities for the unveiling of the statue were in full swing. Suddenly my/our HR53 was surrounded by kayaks, jet-skies, many other boats, including the Maritime Police with their huge cutter. Manoeuvring through this mess, hanging out fenders and trusting an autopilot that was operating on "slow response" was a major challenge. Which we survived successfully: no kayaks were crushed - no jet-skies hit because of their silly & erratic behaviour - and no other boats mowed down by a 26-ton HR53 running out of control!

Autumn 2016

For the winter we decided to take Ngahue IV out of the water early, allowing us more time during the winter to start work on her. Here she is having been lifted from the water by Popeye, the crane used by Belgian Boat Service in Nieuwpoort, Belgium. Belgian Boat's next challenge is to remove the mast and squeeze the boat inside their hall. Quite a venture still ahead!!! Ngahue IV pictured here at Belgian Boat Service is in plumes of water & spray from the high-pressure hose as Karl Mussly washed her down for the winter.

Winter of 2016/17

Ngahue IV's mast is too tall and too heavy (±1100kg) for Popeye, the boat crane used by Belgian Boat Services, so they asked their neighbour Aqualift to help lift the mast from the boat, preferably on a day without a strong breeze (or more) blowing in Nieuwpoort. Early October saw such a good Saturday: an impressive crane, a mobile basket, 4 strong young men and one owner buzzed around the boat for a good hour to see the mast finally removed from the boat and put next to it (there's a film on Fb of this momentous event :-)). Afterwards, Laura started removing all the extra insulation that the previous owner had installed in the freezer. Water had leaked behind the extra insulation and made for a smelly and dirty mess. We're glad to have gotten rid of it and can now insulate the fridge from the outside and improve the efficiency of the cooling system with a better evaporator. It'll certainly be a lot more hygienic than what the previous owner had installed - and to think that he is a reputable dentist!!! While Laura was courageously hacking away at the freezer (see ARC page for a more detailed description of what we're doing in the fridge & freezer department), I was making bigger holes for the new "air only" deck ventilators that Hallberg-Rassy fits these days. See picture. As the old dorade boxes were removed, we discovered that a previous owner had painted the whole deck dark brown (we have already sanded down remnants of that old varnish from the deck and grab rails). So the final result will look better than the picture suggests! And one shouldn't be shocked by Ngahue IV developing measles in one of the pictures after getting her first Marco's-Boracol-special-treatment... Certainly when all the Air-Only ventilators were installed, the decks looked a lot less cluttered!

And here Ngahue IV is inside at Belgian Boat Service. We were all expecting her not to fit in the side hall (where Ngahues II & III had spent their winters). But by carefully folding the radar scanner to one side, and with some careful manoeuvering that the Mussly brothers are so very capable of, Ngahue IV was put inside with centimetres to spare. She fills the boat hall well, and was initially flanked by another big boat that has been fully renovated here. Over the next months we will be working quite intensely on our boat to prepare her for our circumnavigation starting end of 2017. We have a to do list that spans 13 pages.

Just three shots showing Ngahue IV inside and now surrounded by other small boats - and the first of 7 (this is the smallest of the 7) AGM batteries being installed to replace the old set of batteries... And the effect of the new Air-Only ventilators, which leave the deck much uncluttered compared to the old Vetus air vents that look like "horns"...

This now ends the postings we uploaded for 2016. Our next trips to the boat in December will be to further install the items we received from our suppliers like Victron Energy and HR Parts & Accessories. From January 2017, we'll start up again on the Activities & Photos for 2017 page.

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