In the previous edition of our Experience Magazine, we told of the advanced technology being implemented and trialled aboard Riviera 6000 Sport Yacht The Silver Fox.
Owner Jason Squire developed a highly successful online retail business and readily accepts new technology.
“I studied computer science at university and designed the structure of our online business,” said Jason. “So I am happy to be at the forefront of motor yachting technologies.”
In the 18 months he has owned The Silver Fox, he has voyaged more than 10,000 nautical miles and clocked about 800 engine hours.
Now Jason is preparing The Silver Fox for an ambitious adventure to take The Silver Fox to New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Tonga and beyond in the next few months.
To prepare for this voyage, Jason brought The Silver Fox from his home in Adelaide to the Riviera facility at Coomera in south-east Queensland to add more technology including a new downward and forward-looking sonar system.
During a seven-week voyage to Queensland, Jason tested many of his motor yacht’s capabilities in a circumnavigation of Tasmania.
Jason is not only a successful businessman and avid yachting enthusiast; he and partner Caitlin Harvey are skilled photographers and divers. Caitlin documented much of the circumnavigation through vivid photographs of the many wonders of the Tasmanian coast.
Before they ventured across Bass Strait, Jason and Caitlin cruised along the Victorian coast, visiting the pretty village of Port Fairy and rounding Cape Otway.
“Port Fairy is a delightful town and provides a fully protected harbour,” said Jason. “Cape Otway, however, was quite a different story and provided a powerful reassurance of The Silver Fox’s strength and capability. Travelling six miles offshore, we encountered huge swells coming from three different directions. We were like a cork bobbing on the surface of the water. I slowed to six knots and The Silver Fox handled the conditions perfectly. Rivieras are built to handle conditions that, often, their owners cannot!”
After a brief stop in Melbourne to check systems and take on fuel, Jason took The Silver Fox to Wilsons Promontory, the southernmost point of mainland Australia.
While waiting for optimal weather conditions, Jason tested another of his key technologies for his Pacific voyage – a fuel bladder.
“We will carry an additional 1,000 litres of fuel in the bladder,” Jason explained. “I have both electric and manual pumps to transfer fuel from the bladder into The Silver Fox’s tanks. The system worked perfectly.”
Fuel transfer completed, Jason was ready to cross the notoriously difficult Bass Strait. Seas and winds from the Southern Ocean and Antarctic are funnelled through the narrow strait, making for potentially dangerous conditions.
Jason said a key to pleasant sea voyaging is picking weather windows.
“The weather app on my phone showed a window of opportunity to cross Bass Strait.
“Wilsons Promontory offers great shelter so I was able to wait for exactly the right conditions to cross to Port Dalrymple at the mouth of the Tamar River in northern Tasmania.
Cruising around Tasmania
“We ventured along the river to Launceston for a brief visit and fuel stop. But no fuel was available there. We headed back to sea and west to Stanley where we found fuel. It was to be our last port before turning south and running a little more than 100 nautical miles along the west coast of the island to reach Macquarie Harbour.”
One of the many highlights for Jason and Caitlin was cruising through the expanse of Macquarie Harbour, six times larger than Sydney Harbour. Once through the narrows of the harbour’s entrance, Hell’s Gate, the harbour opens out as a wide expanse of water bounded by rugged hills.
“We were particularly excited to explore the famed Gordon River,” said Jason. “We cruised about 20 nautical miles along this amazing river right to the junction with the Franklin River and close to the pretty Sir John Falls. The falls are in a side tributary but we could hear them roaring.
“We were surrounded by rainforest; a very special experience.”
Better was to come. About 80 nautical miles further south, now well into the Roaring Forties latitudes, is Port Davey and, through narrow waterways, the magnificent Bathurst Harbour.
“We came out of the waterways and it opened out – it’s like a lake in Switzerland, like we had ventured among sunken mountains,” said Jason. “It is so quiet, the water was like a millpond. It is wild and rugged and uninhabited.”
The trip around the south of the island was visually spectacular but completely uneventful as Jason chose a weather window carefully and was rewarded with winds below 10 knots and very calm seas. The day following the passage, the winds on Maatsuyker Island blew up to 50 knots as a change came through.
“We were glad to be tucked away safely near Dover to let it blow over,” he said.
After navigating around the wild southern reaches of Tasmania, The Silver Fox headed north toward Bruny Island and through the d’Entrecasteaux Passage between the island and Tasmania’s mainland.
“We picked up a mooring that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere and walked up to a house – a liquor store as it turned out – that offers all the whiskies of Tasmania. There are a lot of them and they are very good.”
After about 200 nautical miles, The Silver Fox motored into Hobart, right over the finish line of the iconic Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race.
After visiting Port Arthur on board, they experienced fresh winds and a moderate swell as they headed towards Tasman Island on the south-east coast.
“Based upon some local advice, we ventured through the passage between Tasman Island and Cape Pillar rather than going completely around the outside,” said Jason. “Despite some steep seas in the passage we were advised that the strong currents that wrap around Tasman Island can make the alternative an uncomfortable option. The gap between the steep cliffs on either side is only 300 metres wide, but it felt even tighter going through with a following sea of two to three metres. The Silver Fox was straight and true as we powered through.
“As we exited the passage we were so entranced by the awe and majesty of Tasman Island and Cathedral Rock that we stopped in the shelter of the east coast for a while to take it all in.
“Everywhere we went there were pontoons, jetties or moorings that were free for us to use, allowing us to explore parts of the island and experience the food.
“Tasmania seems to understand the value of yachting tourism and the people offer some of the most magnificent food. I particularly remember a wonderful scallop pie in a nondescript cafe near Port Arthur.”
Back in Bass Strait, Jason, Caitlin and The Silver Fox experienced another challenge. Sea fog.
“We cruised for two hours through the busy Strait without being able to see much beyond the bow,” said Jason. “Yet I knew exactly where we were and where every ship, island and obstacle was. The technology aboard The Silver Fox worked perfectly as my eyes while we navigated almost visually blind for two hours before the fog lifted.”
Jason’s advice for extended cruising
After many thousands of miles under the keel, Jason has some advice for Riviera owners dreaming of extended cruising.
“Stretch yourself,” he said. “Your Riviera is stronger than you are. Pick your weather windows. Set out in good conditions and make sure you have what I call bail-out points along your route if the weather threatens.
“Build your personal confidence and your confidence in your Riviera gradually.
“And don’t worry about your sea legs. They will work after about two weeks.”
Jason also swears by the gyro stabiliser aboard The Silver Fox.
“When we were in that maelstrom off Cape Otway, it settled the yacht. In fact, in almost any conditions, the gyro makes life aboard so much more comfortable.”
As he prepares for the voyage into the Pacific Ocean and New Caledonia, Jason is already thinking further afield.
“The Mediterranean,” he said. “Not all the way by motor yacht. But it is a new dream to ship The Silver Fox over there and explore that jewel of a sea.”