METUNG, VICTORIA – Victoria’s Gippsland Lakes district is home to a large fleet of Rivieras and when Stuart Jackson and his team sent out invitations, 18 Riviera owners and their families responded enthusiastically to plans for a weekend raft-up.
“It was a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere and a fantastic day,” said Craig Butler. “I have never been involved with a raft-up of more that two or three motor yachts so this was exciting and brilliantly organised.”
Craig and wife Rachel took their Riviera 33 Open Flybridge Tokay to the event.
“The weather was perfect,” said Craig. “It was our first Riviera raft-up and a wonderful experience.”
The Gippsland Lakes make up the largest inland waterway in the southern hemisphere. The series of lakes are separated from Bass Strait by thin strips of land.
Ian Hall knows the waterways intimately and was happy to help the R Marine Jacksons team with a site search aboard his Riviera M430 Sports Cruiser DevOcean.
“Metung is an ideal location at the eastern end of the Lakes,” said Ian. “We selected Bancroft Bay near Metung. It is well sheltered. Then we talked to every Riviera owner we could find. The response was great.”
The team from R Marine Jacksons greeted every motor yacht as it came into the bay and helped with rafting.
“We set the larger motor yachts in the middle with their anchors and positioned the smaller boats along the line,” said Stuart Jackson. “It went very smoothly.”
Neil and Jill Mitchell joined the raft-up aboard their Riviera M400 Sports Cruiser Santorini.
“We were positioned near the middle,” said Neil. “It gave us a great opportunity to meet other owners.
“I am not sure how Stuart ordered the weather. It was fantastic so close to mid-winter.
“Stuart and his team did a great job. He came aboard every motor yacht in the raft-up and presented us with a fantastic gift pack. That was a very pleasant surprise.”
Ian Hall said: “I most enjoyed simply getting together with a group of people with common interests. One of the best aspects of a raft-up is the ease of moving between the yachts. We all jumped from cockpit to cockpit, sharing food and refreshments. I fired up the oven on board DevOcean and shared a big cob loaf filled with garlic butter and chives.
“It was also a great opportunity to look over other Rivieras. I was particularly impressed by a 445 SUV rafted next to me. She is a beautiful motor yacht.”
R Marine Jacksons took its pontoon boat to the Lakes and anchored it in the arc of the raft-up where singer Leigh Thomas entertained the owners and their guests throughout the afternoon.
“It was great music,” said Craig Butler. “Aussie music and blues.”
Neil Mitchell echoed with opinion of everyone involved in the raft-up.
“We are looking forward to the next Riviera event,” he said. “Maybe we can organise an overnighter next time!”
Craig Butler agreed: “We’ve set the benchmark for events on the Lakes.”