First-time fun aboard Son’s Too VII

Join Chuck and Rita Anderson as they traverse the locks that join the waterways linking the US east coast with the inland Great Lakes.


First-time fun aboard Son’s Too VII

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Cruising the Great Lakes aboard the Riviera 6000 Sport Yacht, Son’s Too VII.

Chicago-based Chuck and Rita Anderson have a wealth of boating experience but admit they have enjoyed many first-time experiences in the past few months.

Whilst inspecting in great detail the luxurious 6000 Sport Yacht at the 2016 Miami International Boat Show, the Andersons experienced their first taste of Riviera Family fun when an impromptu party started onboard during the Saturday evening owners’ event.

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Rita Anderson keeps an eye on the lock-lifting procedures in the Welland Canal.

It was then they fell in love with the yacht and the Riviera life.

Shortly after the Miami show and final commissioning, they took delivery of their very first Riviera which they have christened Son’s Too VII.

They made a brief but memorable visit to the Bahamas, and then undertook an inspiring voyage up through the iconic inland waterways that connect the US east coast with the Great Lakes of Erie, Huron and Michigan … and their home in Chicago, Illinois.

And that was just their first 34 days aboard – they have since enjoyed summer cruising from Chicago to Michigan City, Ludington, Mackinac Island, Sturgeon Bay, Milwaukee, and Kenosha (twice).

User-friendly features

Chuck says he fell in love with the Riviera 6000 Sport Yacht after finding many complimentary reviews online from boating media. He then sent an information sheet on to Rita for her additional research and opinion.

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The Riviera 6000 Sport Yacht handles the Great Lakes chop with ease.

“We then met with the Riviera representatives at Chicago Boat Show and it was obvious that the Riviera design team has spoken with and listened to owner suggestions over many years,” he said.

“The design, layout and attention to detail of the 6000 Sport Yacht all work together to produce a boater-friendly motor yacht that addresses all of the needs of experienced boaters.”

More than just a name

Chuck and Rita say the name Son’s Too VII has a great deal of family sentiment.

“It has been the name on all our previous boats and it began when my father was alive,” says Chuck. “I grew up boating with my family and in 1978 Dad sold his 36’ Chris Craft and retired from Zenith Radio.

“When our family decided to purchase a boat in 1985, my father helped us choose a 25’ Sea Ray and although he was never comfortable on the little ‘plastic boat’, he had a standing invitation to use it during the week and join us on weekends.”

Sadly, Chuck’s father passed away in 1987 but the much-loved nautical name lives on … and now it has even more meaning given the couple have their own two sons – Keith and Brian.

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Enjoying family time aboard Son’s Too VII.
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Shark feeding time and lunch at Joe’s Conch Shack.

The boys – Keith with his partner Arielle, and Brian with his wife Dana and daughters Brianna (3) and Alexis (1), flew to Fort Lauderdale to join the couple for the maiden voyage of 250 nautical miles to Bimini in the Bahamas, with experienced Captain Nicole Tatum at the helm.

“It was a great trip and everyone had a wonderful time,” said Chuck, noting that watching and walking with stingrays in the turquoise water and white sands was among the highlights.

So too was lunch at a ‘conch shack’, where they were able to feast on freshly prepared conch in salads; and watching fishermen return to shore, clean their fish on the docks and feed the scraps to the sharks.

Traversing the locks

The voyage through the locks – again with Captain Nicole at the helm – was quite an adventure in itself. It was the first time the couple has cruised the inland waterway, and seeing Sons Too VII lifted or lowered to access connected rivers and canals was an eye-opener.

“We traversed five locks on the Champlain Canal, 23 locks on the Erie Canal from elevation 1.3ft to 363ft; seven locks on the Oswego Canal back down to 243ft above sea level, and eight locks on the Welland Canal that took us up to 569ft above sea level at Lake Erie,” said Chuck.

“We enjoyed many lessons along the journey, and mostly from Captain Nicole. It was fun to learn new ways of line-tying, factors to consider when docking a 60ft yacht, and using a joystick to drive and maneuver in tight locations.

“Nicole was also very skilled at making Mojitos as well as catching and cooking blue crabs.”

Turning heads at home

Of course Son’s Too VII has been quite the eye-catcher since arriving in Chicago, featuring in the In-Water-Tech show at the Chicago Yacht Club and at the Chicago In Water Boat Show at 31st Street Harbor.

“She was also the Turn 2 yacht at the 9th Annual Great Lakes Grand Prix in Michigan City, Indiana – part of the Super Boat International Offshore Powerboat Series – and was a stake boat for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Chicago.

“We also participated in the Chicago Yacht Club’s cruises for the disabled and for the sight-impaired … twice.”

The couple is now planning to cruise more of the scenic inland cruising ‘super highway’, – the Lakes to Locks Passage to Quebec in Canada.

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A double rainbow on Chesapeake Bay.

Favorite memories of the trip to Chicago

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The voyage took in some amazing sights.
  • Double rainbow following water spouts in the distance on Chesapeake Bay
  • Catching and cooking blue crabs in Crisfield, Maryland
  • Eating pizza while holding lines in the Welland Canal Locks
  • Personal tour of Painesville, Ohio Lighthouse
  • Memories of passing through Norfolk and seeing the naval ships in for repair,
  • Passing the Statue of Liberty and West Point
  • Staying at to Put-In-Bay and St. Augustine
  • Seeing the shores of Lake St. Clair
  • Seeing and sampling the east coast of Michigan

Favorite features of Son’s Too VII

  • Amount of natural lighting in the interior
  • Positioning of the galley aft and opening out to the cockpit
  • Lazarette – great for storage – alias The Man Cave (Rita’s words)
  • All sleeping quarters are below and are separated from guest activities in the salon
  • Quiet and sound ride
  • General layout and fit and finish that includes storage for guests and owner.

Amazing sites

  • Dolphins, lighthouses
  • Yacht caked in salt at the end of a day of boating
  • The height/depth of the locks
  • Contrast between the small town marinas and the big city (i.e. New York) marinas
  • Unique characteristics of towns/cities visited (i.e. St. Augustine, Put-In-Bay)

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