SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES – When a fleet of eight Riviera motor yachts came together on Sydney Harbour, they were about to voyage back through history.
“It was a fantastic adventure,” said Peter Haig, owner of 52 Enclosed Flybridge Pelara. “We travelled together south from the Pittwater, north of Sydney, and through the Sydney heads. Then we anchored off Store Beach near Manly, below the old quarantine station.
“Everyone came on board Pelara where R Marine Pittwater’s Scott Dillon organised a sumptuous lunch. It was a great way to begin the weekend. As well as great food, we had the opportunity to meet and get to know one another.”
Lunch completed and the crews back on board their own motor yachts, the fleet cruised through the harbour, rounding Bradleys Head with its signature foremast of World War I warship HMAS Sydney and past Fort Denison, built in 1857. They passed the Opera House and under the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Their destination was Cockatoo Island.
The island marks the point at which Sydney Harbour officially ends and becomes the Parramatta River. It is also the junction between these two great waterways and the Lane Cove River.
Between 1839 and 1869 Cockatoo Island was used as secondary convict settlement. It was then developed to become one of Australia’s largest shipyards, operating between 1857 and 1991. The island was then abandoned until the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust took control and undertook extensive renovations before it was opened to the public in 2007. It was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2010.
“We live in Sydney but have never visited Cockatoo Island,” said Peter. “I knew the yard was used to repair submarines but we did not know they actually built warships there.”
Ross Scoble was equally impressed by the island’s history.
“Scott Dillon arranged for a guide to take us on a private tour,” he said. “It is a fascinating destination and the guide was very helpful.”
Ross has owned motor yachts for the past 12 years and purchased his 5400 Sport Yacht, Passport, 18 months ago.
“A passport is an authority to travel,” he explained.
Peter Haig said most of the group were so engrossed in the island and its history that they continued to explore after the official tour was over.
“Much of the infrastructure is gone now, but the old power station is still there. The island produced its own power during the ship-building days.”
The weekend was more than a walk through history. A special dinner on the island on Saturday evening brought the group together again to talk about their experience and share on-water stories.
“My wife Denise and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening,” said Peter. “Riviera dining experiences are always special.”
The camaraderie that began on board Peter Haig’s Pelara on Friday came to the fore on Sunday morning as the fleet prepared to leave.
“The marina on the island is tight and we faced strong, gusty winds; always a serious challenge when manoeuvring into or out of a marina,” said Peter. “David Hewitt from R Marine Pittwater and the crew were fantastic in helping us let go lines with care. I was super impressed with the performance of the Volvo Penta IPS pod drives with the joystick control on the 52. Despite the gusts, I was able to point and move exactly where I wanted to go. We were all quickly out and away.”
Scott Dillon was delighted with the weekend.
“We set out to give our owners a different on-water experience,” he said.”The weekend cemented old relationships and encouraged new friendships.”