I am the owner of the boat (NEEL 45) shown on the youtube videos.
The problems documented on the videos are not the only problems.
They do however accurately depict the build quality of the boat and the complete lack of quality control in the build process. In my opinion, they say even more about the manufacturer/builder, the company management and the knowledge, experience and standards (lack thereof) of those involved in all aspects of the build. That said, I can't imagine how anyone in their right mind would ever consider ordering/purchasing a new model from NEEL. My NEEL experience clearly demonstrates the complete incompetence of the builder
. After having built many boats of the same model they still didn't have their act together. I have communicated with other NEEL 45 owners who's boats shared many of the same issues uncovered and documented on my boat. Unfortunately, for the boat buying
community, they are not anxious to share their issues publicly because they are "worried about the resale value of their boats". Yes, that is what I have heard from a few owners. The NEEL "sales pitch" is very cleverly crafted and is seems to appeal to first time boat buyers who are going thru the process of determining which boat is best for them. Monohull
? Cat? Wow! A "cruising" trimaran
is the best of both worlds! Well, perhaps in theory. But certainly not what I found in execution.
As troubling or perhaps even more troubling than the hull
breach suffered on our first trip was the heater incident that occurred on our 2nd trip - our return sail to the NEEL factory for repairs
. The heater was incorrectly installed and we were almost completely overcome by carbon monoxide. Heck! I could have done that in my garage. It certainly would have been cheaper than buying
a NEEL! We were sailing north in the bay of biscay in early november. It was cold outside and we had the factory installed heater on. It was mid afternoon. I had just come on watch and was finding it impossible to stay awake. I was slapping my face a few times every minute to stay awake. I looked over at my other crew member
and he was out cold (sleeping/unconscious). I had that thought you have when you are exhausted - "I'll just close my eyes for a minute, it will be ok". Except - I wasn't exhausted, I just couldn't keep my eyes open. I stood up from the nav chair, slapped my face a few more times and started pacing around the salon
. As I passed over the "tech area" door (in the middle of the salon
floor) I detected a very slight burning smell. I reached down and opened the "technical area" door. The entire hull
beneath the salon floor was full of smoke!! I shook awake my unconscious crew member
and grabbed a fire extinguisher. We didn't detect any flames so i didn't deploy it. We immediately shut every system on the boat down and opened all door and hatches to clear the interior
of the boat. The webasto diesel
heater had been incorrectly installed. The fresh air intake hose was never connected to the fresh air intake on the heater unit. The heater exhaust
which daylights (exits) the boat near the top of the main hull, below the wing to the starboard ama ( so relatively close to the waterline in an area often flush with water
in seas over 4') had taken in seawater. There was no sump installed in the exhaust
line so it became plugged. The result? Diesel
exhaust came out of the fitting where the hose attached to the heater unit. Diesel exhaust was coming out of the left side of the heater unit and being sucked into the fresh air intake on the right side of the unit. It was then being heated and delivered to the entire inside living area of the boat thru the corresponding duct work. - watch the corresponding video on youtube
When we arrived back in la rochelle, I personally informed eric bruNEEL of this incident face to face. He offered me a confused expression (which I would venture to guess all NEEL owners are very familiar with) and his #2 person gaelle, actually laughed aloud. Eric said "we will take a look at it". I contacted webasto, sent them photos of the installation
and they confirmed the installation
was incorrect. The surveyor
said it was installed incorrectly and didn't comply with EU standards/regulation. NEEL insisted it was installed correctly however, a later date installed a sump in the exhaust line and extended the fresh air intake hose to the fresh air intake on the heater unit.
Unfortunately, this was demonstrative of my experience with eric bruneel and with NEEL. Many items on the boat were not installed per manufacturer instructions. Many systems were not checked - I don't think anything was checked! Of course, eric bruneel had claimed "tight quality control" and to have a "team of professionals" building NEEL boats. From what I hear, he continues those claims (and many more).
The hull breach on my boat could have occurred in the middle of the atlantic. Fortunately, it did not.
We were nearly overcome by carbon monoxide from the incorrect installation of the heater.
the boat hasn't sailed since it returned to la rochelle - where it sits today
In my opinion, eric bruneel should not be allowed to build boats and anyone who considers purchasing
a NEEL needs a good wake-up slap! or 2 or 3