After a summer hiatus, the largest catamaran in the city is available for hire for parties with a difference. Caitlyn Davey set sail to find out more.
If you’ve spotted a catamaran, a vessel made with two parallel hulls, with a large logo, spacious decks and coloured lights sailing the waters of Abu Dhabi, it could well be Belevari Marine. A whopping 23m long and seven metres wide, Belevari Marine has a capacity for 45 people – making it ideal for a group day out.
Belevari Marine’s owner, Berend Lens Van Rijin, has always had an enthusiasm for boating, so he launched the company in 2009. The name, Belevari, comes from an acronym of Berend’s name Be-Le-Va-Ri. Berend has lived in Abu Dhabi for years so he knows most of Abu Dhabi’s seascape and long-time residents.
The company offers two types of chartered cruises; a sunset cruise which takes two hours (5pm-7pm), and a family cruise, which takes three hours and sets sail at 3pm.
We join a family cruise, which departs from InterContinental Abu Dhabi’s marina, past the hotel’s Fishmarket restaurant and beach club.
The boat has a large netted area at the front with bean bags and plenty of room to spread out and relax as you watch the world go by on the water. There are four round lounges, which are allocated according to reservations. There is a bar on board, and the captain stands behind it at the helm. There’s also lots of shade, as the lounges are covered; however, those wanting to bask in the sun can lie on the netting at the front of the boat.
As the catamaran takes off, some safety instructions are relayed to passengers. Then, volunteers are requested to help – so the strapping young men aboard get to play sailor, hoisting the sail so the catamaran can cruise the waters motor-free.
Plenty of laughter goes on while Berend and his crew explain what the men need to do – pulling the ropes until they are told to stop.
‘Some music please,’ Behrend calls, before counting down for the men to start pulling. ‘Three, two, one.’
At that point, the empowering intro to Eye of the Tiger by the American rock band Survivor thumps out of speakers, making the group laugh. The boat is immediately united through humour and hard work. Within five minutes, the sail is up and everyone is back in their seats.
We sail past Etihad Towers, out into the western waterways, before taking to the open seas. The catamaran cruises for around half an hour before stopping at a quiet island with palm trees – and nothing but water and islands on the horizon.
The crew inform everyone that the boat will stay for two hours so everyone has chance to swim or play with the balls that are provided. Families and couples enjoy the beach and opportunity to swim, while music is played and lunch is served aboard the catamaran. After the two hours is up, a head count is done and the catamaran takes off to return to dry land at the jetty at InterContinental Abu Dhabi.
The catamaran is also available for corporate events, social meetups and launch parties.
It’s a wonderful afternoon out – just don’t forget to bring a towel and sunscreen.
Dhs350 sunset cruise, Dhs450 family cruise, Dhs3,500 per hour for private hire. www.belevari.com (02 643 1494).
Explore Abu Dhabi’s waterways
Abu Dhabi Sailing & Yacht Club
Charter your own yacht from the Corniche Breakwater to explore Abu Dhabi’s waters. You can also set sail on a dhow or kayak.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org www.adsyc.ae (02 658 3333).
Captain Tony’s UAE
Captain Tony’s arranges island boat trips, dolphin spotting, charters for families and fishing trips.
Yas Marina, Yas Island, www.captaintonys.ae (02 650 1715).
Delve into the mangroves with Noukhada, which offers kayaking adventures. You’ll see a side of Abu Dhabi you might not know exists.
www.noukhada.ae (02 558 1889).
Coming soon: Donut Boats
Check out the Belevari facebook page (www.facebook.com/belevarimarine) for the newest addition to its family: donut boats. The round boats seat a handful of people who sit in a circle, shaded by a canopy. They will be available at Eastern Mangroves by Anantara and the jetty at InterContinental Abu Dhabi.