Elling E3 review

Just before Christmas, on one of those days when you feel like living in Hong Kong forever, we arrived at Clearwater Bay Marina to see, berthed in front of the clubhouse, the dark blue hull of an Elling E3. This was our review model for the day and, on board, was the local agent, Raymond Li, suitably clothed for the brisk conditions.

The marina, at the end of the Clearwater Bay peninsula, must be the most beautiful in the territory, protected by rugged cliffs and surrounded by wild country park. The green lawns of the club’s golf course to the north and shimmering turquoise seas to the east, complete the picture.

The same can’t be said of the docks which have suffered the ravages of time and are currently under-going a programme of repair and improvement by Mark Halvorsen (yes, he of Halvorsen Marine / Island Gypsy fame) who is now the club’s marina manager.

But, on to the boat. It’s high. You step aboard and climb upwards to the aft deck. You feel in command. You look forward. There’s a wheelhouse. There’s a wheel. You want to get going, head out into the wild blue.

Which is what we did, with the 435hp Volvo D6 driving us along. Out the breakwater and into lively seas off Steep Island. Down to Fat Tong Mun and back. Up to Clearwater Bay headland, no problem at all, despite increasingly rough conditions. A good 25 knots of wind and whipped up seas — the E3 handled it all with barely a murmur. Put it down to excellent insulation and very advanced engine mountings.

And had there been a problem, the wing engine (also a Volvo, with a saildrive) would have got us home at an agreeable 7 knots. There’s a separate fuel tank for this engine.

By the way, our review model can reach around 17 knots on a flat sea but the Elling E range is not about speed. It’s about sensible boating, comfortable cruising. There’s plenty of that in Europe where the Elling comes from. Holland is full of canals and locks, lakes and rough seas if you’re feeling adventurous.

At the design stage, one of the criteria was for the boat to cross the Atlantic. In December 2008, this dream became a reality. The E series is built to the demanding CE Cat.A (Ocean) standard, with the hull being Kevlar-reinforced. On a full tank of fuel, the E3 can get you around 1,500 nautical miles if you don’t push it. The yard says that, at 7 knots, you can get a litre a mile. That’s pretty good for a 45-foot power cruiser.

Another criteria was for the boat to be completely self-righting, like a lifeboat. So, in March 2014, a larger E4 was put through a 360-degree capsize test and came through with flying colours.

Unlike most power cruisers in Hong Kong, the Elling has no flybridge. The helm is in the wheelhouse with an excellent field of vision. It’s also warmer in a wheelhouse than on an open flybridge — a big plus when temperatures can, and do, dip below 10 degrees in Hong Kong. (There’s also the wind chill factor to consider.)

Our review model had 50,000BTU worth of airconditioning which is enough to keep heads cool during our hot, humid summer months. But the 7kVA Onan generator has to work hard to lower temperatures in the accommodations because there are a lot of them. Up forward there is a cabin with two bunks and an ensuite washroom. Aft, also with a washroom, is the main cabin with an offset double bed.

There is a comfortable saloon area with an oval table but the really interesting feature, in our opinion, is the ‘study’ set under the wheel on the starboard side. It’s far more than your standard navstation. In this little ‘alcove’ you can position your computer, your navaids, your books, your charts, your toys, your sound system and much else besides.

Now, another little feature which is perfect during colder weather, is the opening wheelhouse roof. At the press of a button, the roof folds back and, voila, you have blue skies above. Great to warm up when the wind is howling around the decks and it’s too cold on the aft deck.

The corridor to the aft cabin is along the port side and this is where the galley is positioned. All it needs is for a hatch to open into the wheelhouse — something the yard may want to consider. A fridge, hob, microwave, dishwasher, freezer come standard. There’s even a wine cellar beneath the cabin sole.

Below the waterline, there are bow and stern thrusters and, believe us, they make a big difference. When we came back, even within the confines of the marina, there was a fair 15 knots between the docks. Trying to come alongside in one turn proved impossible; enter the bow thrusters. A churn here, a churn there, a few blips on the prop and it was all over. Wonderful.

With a draft of just four feet (1.2 metres) and an accurate depth sounder you will be able to navigate all those remote place along our eastern seaboard. Go where your imagination takes you!

Neptune Marine Shipbuilding was founded in 1972 and was one of the first GRP builders in the world. In 1997 Neptune launched the first Elling motoryacht. Designed by the renowned Ken Freivokh, the range now consists of the E3 (45 feet), the E4 (49 feet) and the E6 (65 feet).

So, if you want a pleasant boating experience you can always go for a sea trial on the Elling E3 (every Saturday). Just call Raymond Li on 9016 2142. Oh, and take the equivalent of E540,000 along with you and you might even be able to leave with the boat.

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