Sheltered waterways, picturesque islands and quiet anchorages make the boating grounds of South East Queensland a must-do. Add to this mix the pleasure of good company and a distillery tour, and you have the perfect Riviera Experience. So it was for more than a dozen Riviera owners who, led by hosts R Marine Jones, cruised in convoy to Lady Musgrave Island late last year.
The boating grounds of South East Queensland offer a mix of sheltered waterways, great fishing grounds, quiet anchorages and navigable island reefs. Throw in the pleasure of meeting interesting people, new cruising areas and a fun distillery tour, and you’ve got a tip top R Marine Jones luxury boating experience.
So it was for more than a dozen Riviera owners who last year travelled from the Gold Coast along South and North Stradbroke islands, Moreton Island, into Great Sandy Strait and to the spectacular Lady Musgrave Island – though not before a pit stop at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery.
Hosts R Marine Jones ensured the experience shone a light on meeting new friends and exploring new places.
For Paul and Ros Phelan aboard their Riviera 5400 Sports Yacht Feeling Good Again, the trip was as much a shakedown cruise as it was an opportunity to chart new waterways that they can now return to with confidence.
“It took us a couple of days to get up there,” says Ros, “taking the inward passage from Runaway Bay through to Moreton Island. It was lovely staying at Tangalooma Wrecks overnight with fresh clean green water and a great anchorage.”
From Tangalooma to Bundaberg for their second night the fleet met with some fraught weather.
“We had a two-metre sea with another one metre on top of it and it was choppy, but we could still sit on 20 knots – I believe the 5400SY is a much better vessel than what we’ve had in the past,” says Paul.
Paul says the support of R Marine Jones was particularly valuable when entering the Great Sandy Strait behind Fraser Island. The shifting sands of the Wide Bay Bar and the number of boaties to have come unstuck over the years there have earned this crossing a fearsome reputation.
“The most interesting part of the trip for me was crossing the Wide Bar Bay,” says Paul. “Being able to follow other vessels and having the experience of someone who has local knowledge was really good.”
“We’ve done a lot of camping and four-wheel driving around there – 75-mile beach and Double Island Point – and so to see it from the water was really lovely,” adds Ros.
Ros says the single-level living of the 5400SY suits their lifestyle well. “I love it, it’s just so comfortable and luxurious but not so luxurious you don’t want to use it. We’re comfortable having the grandkids run around and we can keep an eye on them if we’re in the saloon – and it’s much easier on the knees not having a flybridge.”
A night in Bundaberg was also a highlight. “It was quite interesting to meet all the different Riviera owners; we had a lot to talk about and things in common. The company was great,” says Ros.
On Dilligaf, a Riviera 4800 Sports Yacht, Brad and Kylie Hughes also gave Bundaberg a big thumbs up, more specifically, the Bundaberg Rum Distillery.
“It was great to call in there and stock up!” laughs the Queenslander.
Jokes aside, Brad says travelling as a group he learned more about his boat’s capabilities and the places they visited.
“They’re a great mob. The team show you a safe way to get to your destination. They’re a great backup – if anything goes wrong, they’re there to support you.”
Dilligaf is the motor yacht Brad has always dreamed about and Easter will mark its first anniversary.
“All of its functions, the technology, the smoothness, the quiet ride – and I give it a five-star rating for comfort, especially when you get all the extras. It’s worth it!”
With five kids, he says there’s plenty of room for everyone. “It’s awesome. The kids can be in the downstairs lounge watching TV and we can hang at the cockpit. On this trip, we threw the rods off the back and did a bit of fishing along the way too.”
The Sunshine Coast local likes to cruise at 28 knots so the fuel economy of the 4800SY was a consideration. “It’s reliable at 6.8 litres per nautical mile when we’re sitting on about 28 knots, which is the sort of speed I like.”
Brad now looks forward to the next trip with the R Marine Jones crew.
“It’s an awesome boat, something I’ve always dreamed about and I just like getting away on it. We’re hanging to get on the trip to Kooringal, but we’ll just have to see about the weather.”