LADY MUSGRAVE ISLAND, QUEENSLAND – “There is something magical about the cruise to Lady Musgrave Island,” said Emma Weel. “You lose sight of land and there is nothing but the blue sea across the horizon. We cruised the wide ocean for about 90 minutes and then a tiny speck of land appears.”
Emma, husband Paul, their two young daughters and friends our dear friends James, Jenny and their daughter were heading towards the Lady Musgrave atoll and island aboard their Riviera 6000 Sport Yacht, Grey Goose, to join a flotilla of 10 Rivieras at the annual R Marine Jones Great Sandy Straits Experience recently.
“On the way we were joined by a small pod of dolphins that played around our bow for about 15 minutes,” said Emma. “We slowed simply to watch them playing.
“Of course we saw lots of whales, too. At one stage I was driving when a mother and calf appeared. I came to a stop and used the Volvo Penta IPS station hold system to hold our position and observe them together.”
Wayne James took dive buddy David Fox on the Experience.
“Unfortunately, my wife and children could not make this trip, but I knew there would be great dive opportunities,” said Wayne.
“It was my first long voyage aboard our Riviera 45 Open Flybridge, Virtue, and a good opportunity to learn more about offshore travel in the company of more experienced people, especially the team at R Marine Jones. They offered training over the VHF radio along the way. On the few days we were in marinas there was also the chance for further tuition.
“During the Experience voyage I spent some time calculating fuel burn and our remaining range. We learned more about tuning my radar for rain conditions, tuning the fish finder and the need to carry spare parts and be prepared for many eventualities. Fortunately, none occurred and we had a safe and trouble-free week.”
The 10 Rivieras, ranging from a 3600 Sport Yacht to the Weels’ 6000 Sport Yacht , with about 40 people on board, spent 10 days together. The flotilla cruised north from the Gold Coast, over the notoriously challenging Wide Bay bar at the southern end of Fraser Island and through the Great Sandy Straits between the island and the mainland.
“The bar was a bit rough, with wind against an outgoing tide,” said Shane D’Evlin. “This was our first offshore voyage and a great adventure. We were apprehensive but excited. Randall Jones was fantastic with his reassurance. He explained the courses to steer and led us through. In the end, the crossing was simple.”
For Shane and wife Rachel the voyage to Lady Musgrave was one of the three highlights of the Experience.
“Being out on an ocean with no land in sight was a special feeling,” he said. “Then the animal life was amazing, the whales at sea then the incredible number of turtles at Lady Musgrave – and the birds!
“Most of all, it was about the people we met during the 10 days. They are an extraordinary group of people and they made us feel right at home. Many of them already knew each other from past Experiences, yet we were made to feel part of the group immediately.”
Wayne James and David Fox donned their dive gear at Lady Musgrave.
“We dived the entry channel at the atoll,” said Wayne. “We saw great corals and colourful fish and many turtles.”
With the flotilla safely on moorings at Lady Musgrave for a few days, four Rivieras took a day out to fish on the outer reefs.
“Sharm from the Jones team organised us to go offshore fishing” said Wayne. “Everyone caught a lot of fish. I think we will all be eating fish for weeks!”
The catch included red emperor, parrot fish and coral trout. There were so many that most were kissed and released.
The days at Lady Musgrave inevitably included a raft-up party.
“We joined Randall Jones’ new 5400 Sport Yacht and everyone came on board, hopping between the two yachts and enjoying the camaraderie,” said Emma Weel.
“We love entertaining. That is why we updated from a 5400 Sport Yacht to the 6000. She offers even more space and accommodation in four staterooms.
“We bought our first Riviera three years ago, mainly to join an Experience adventure. We love these events.”
Shane D’Evlin agreed.
“We spent three years of research before we bought our Riviera,” he said. “It was always going to be a Riviera, for the finish of the motor yachts, the service we receive well after the sale, and mostly because of the people we are meeting.”