The Whitsunday Islands off north Queensland are a dream destination for motor yachting enthusiasts. A group of 74 tropical islands, large and small, white sandy beaches, secluded bays and anchorages add up to the ultimate motor yachting experience.
For 12 Riviera and Belize owners and their families and friends, the annual R Marine Crawley Whitsundays Migration was a very special experience. The fleet included the R Marine Crawley lead motor yacht, a Riviera 52 Enclosed Flybridge, Double Trouble.
Eleven Riviera Flybridge motor yachts, from a classic Riviera 40, two 47’s, a 48 to a pair of 52 Enclosed Flybridges, pair of 43 Open Flybridges, Two Sport Yachts and a 54 Belize Daybridge made up the impressive fleet.
To ensure the best possible voyage, the team at Runaway Bay, Gold Coast, based Riviera and Belize dealership R Marine Crawley scheduled the adventure to take advantage of weather windows throughout the Migration, staying overnight at anchor or in marinas, from Kingfisher Resort on Fraser Island to Rosslyn Bay Marina and the Percy Islands.
Voyaging north from the Gold Coast, the fleet met at Mooloolaba, a short day’s voyage from the Gold Coast, for a welcome dinner.
The following day the motor yachts crossed the Wide Bay bar for a passage through the Great Sandy Straits, inside the world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island, about 135 nautical miles to the north of the Gold Coast.
“Ben Crawley briefed us about the Wide Bay Bar at the southern end of Fraser Island,” said Darren Cain who, with wife Tracey, joined the fleet aboard their new Riviera 4800, Fun Time. “It is notoriously challenging, but Ben gave us waypoints to navigate. He even organised for a Coast Guard boat to be on standby.
“In the event, the crossing was nearly mirror smooth, but Ben’s attention to detail and our safety was reassuring.”
“We live in Melbourne and all our boating experience has been in Port Phillip Bay and lakes,” he said. “This was our first time in open waters. Any trepidation was quickly quelled by the experience of all the other motor yacht owners as well as Ben and his crew.
“Our plan is to keep Fun Time in Queensland and commute from our home whenever we can make the time to escape.”
For Lance and Jacqueline Dummett aboard their new Riviera 5400 Sport Yacht, Hailstorm, the best day of the entire Migration was the stopover at Lady Musgrave Island, a sand island at the western end of a gleaming coral atoll 32 nautical miles off the coast and 67 nautical miles north of Fraser Island.
“The water was glassy inside the atoll,” said Lance. “We snorkelled and watched the thousands of spectacular reef fish. There were even a few reef sharks.
“Some of the owners fished and took their catch onto the beach to cook over a fire. That’s fresh fish!”
Jacqueline used skills learned at a ladies’ skipper course to berth Hailstorm in marinas as well as to help with mooring lines.
A second long-distance family was Alex and Kathy Tonks and their young children aboard their Riviera 40, Mezzaluna. Alex explained the name comes from a restaurant in which they had their first date.
“We live in Sydney and had planned to take our motor yacht to the Whitsundays at some stage. Because it is a long voyage for us we were reluctant to do it alone. We saw the notice about the Migration on the Events page of Riviera’s web site and contacted R Marine Crawley. We could not have made a better decision.
“The dinner on the beach at Lady Musgrave Island was a highlight for us. Craig, Bruce, Brett and Roger from the 47 Flybridge Pearl caught several fish, including a huge red emperor and cooked them Fijian lovo style on the beach.
“We now have memories of a great group of people and have experienced boating paradise. Although we had not met any of them before, it was a fantastic group to share the journey with. This voyage has made us so happy to be part of the Riviera family.”
Ben Crawley altered the schedule to ensure the flotilla took advantage of weather windows throughout the voyage.
“We arrived in the Whitsundays a little earlier than scheduled,” said Darren Cain. “So we spent a night in Cid Harbour on the western side of the large Whitsunday Island.”
“Then we went out to Bait Reef on the inner edge of the Great Barrier Reef. Tracey and I had never been out onto the reef itself so it was an exciting time for us.
“We loved the beach events and get-togethers that Ben and his team organised for us. It was a great chance to talk with other Riviera owners and learn from their experiences.”
The Cains and the Dummetts took delivery of their new Sport Yachts on the Gold Coast just two weeks before the Migration and all are highly impressed with their new yachts.
Tracey Cain appreciated the luxurious interior of Fun Time while Darren was impressed with the Volvo Penta IPS pod drives.
“They are beautifully smooth and quiet,” he said.
For Jacqueline and Lance Dummett, the single level lifestyle design is perfect.
“Our previous Rivieras were flybridge models,” said Jacqueline. “We had six people on board at times and the single level of Hailstorm means we can all relax together in a very comfortable environment.”
Lance Dummett said the visibility from the helm of the Sport Yacht is excellent.
“She is a phenomenally good motor yacht,” he said. “We encountered some difficult seas on our way back to the Gold Coast and she handled them with ease, even at 25 knots which seems to be her sweet spot for economy and handling.”