Sunset drinks on deserted islands, swimming with turtles in turquoise waters and amongst spectacular coral on the Great Barrier Reef, experiencing the exhilaration of true blue-water cruising, discovering new anchorages, creating new friendships – these are memories that truly last a lifetime.
Yet these fun-filled adventures are only just scratching the surface of the R Marine Riley Whitsundays Experience in which a flotilla of Riviera luxury motor yachts cruised in convoy some 900 nautical miles north from Pittwater, NSW, to Airlie Beach in Queensland.
For Miles Fink – who has now owned seven Rivieras – the voyage was ‘a dream come true’.
“My wife Cathy and I have travelled the world and we thought we had seen and done everything,” he said.
“But we’ve never done anything like this before – it certainly was something very special.”
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Cruising in complete confidence
The 900-nautical mile voyage was the farthest Miles and Cathy have cruised on their own luxury motor yacht.
“We did have a contingency plan for Cathy to disembark at Nelson Bay and fly up to Airlie Beach if she didn’t feel absolutely comfortable at sea but she felt very safe and stayed onboard for the entire journey,” said Miles.
“That really reflects the confidence you get by doing the trip with a group of like-minded people, and with experienced marine professionals close at hand.
“The way Mark Riley and his team put everything together was outstanding – from selecting marinas and anchorages to organising beach celebrations and special places to visit – they kept everyone engaged and entertained the entire way.”
Miles and Cathy undertook the Experience voyage in their Riviera 61 Enclosed Flybridge, Acquisition and plan to return with the R Marine Riley team in October.
“We have three trips planned between now and then,” said Miles.
Tim Andrews – co-owner of the Riviera 47 Open Flybridge Joint Venture – admitted to feeling a little anxious before the voyage.
“It’s a big trip and I’m so glad now that we did it with so many great people,” said Tim.
“This is our first cruising-in-company Experience with Riviera,” said Tim. “I have to say that after a lot of preparation and provision planning, the added confidence of cruising with a group of great people and boating experts who know the way gives you great peace of mind.
“We had nine people onboard – my wife Tara and our daughters Amelia (17), Lucy (15) and Sophie (11) – as well as co-owners Nick and Debbie Cusick and their daughters Holly (12) and Charlie (7).
“For everyone onboard, it was the experience of a lifetime.”
Tim said Joint Venture was loaded with a tender on the forward deck and jet ski on the boarding platform.
“The eldest girls all have their boat licences and they were off exploring at every opportunity,” he said.
“We met some really great people – friends that I have no doubt we will have for life.”
Tracey McCluskey, who made the voyage with husband Steve aboard their Riviera 43 Open Flybridge Mirage, encouraged more Riviera owners to undertake the Riviera Experience cruises.
“Don’t think you can’t do it because everyone can,” she said.
“We had a total of 21 nights on board and we will be flying up several times to enjoy the Whitsundays with our family and friends,” she said.
“It’s like a three-month adventure for us.”
Tracey said the first-sight of the Gold Coast, snorkelling the Reef, paddle-boarding and beach bonfires were among the highlights, as well as the incredible camaraderie.
“Everyone got on so well – it was a fabulous group with people of all ages, including children.
“The best thing to do is to go in a group – you learn a lot about boating and you gain great confidence from having experienced marine mechanics around if you need them.”
Stephan Becker – who with his wife Jackie owns the Belize 54 Daybridge Laduma – shared the experience with their teenagers Clarissa (19) and Justin (17).
“It wasn’t my first Experience trip and it certainly won’t be my last … although it was our longest in terms of time and distance,” said Stephan.
“We were able to share this amazing experience with our children and the islands were definitely highlights for everyone,” he said.
“Everyone was totally engaged and we had really good weather.”
Getting there is just half the fun
R Marine Riley dealer principal Mark Riley said Riviera has a genuine commitment to helping members of its global family of owners take their yachts north each year for all the relaxing rewards that abound in the calm cruising grounds of the Whitsundays.
“Getting there is just half the fun,” he said.
“Over the next three months, our RMR Club members will fly north several times to explore all that the wonderful Whitsunday region has to offer – and then we will make our return trip in October.”
Mark said this year’s Whitsunday Experience included a very diverse group of people.
“It is very satisfying to see our clients stretching their sea legs and gaining the confidence to use their yachts to their full potential – be it through cruising experiences, driver training and boat-handling courses, ladies events and even the regular Riv Kids activities.
“For this year’s Whitsundays Experience, we had a very diverse group: retired couples, couples on holidays, groups of friends and, of course, families travelling together with young and teenage children.
“Clients who were nervous about travelling at sea conquered their fears and in fact they didn’t want to stop when we reached the Whitsundays … they just wanted to go further north as it was so much fun.
“We saw whales, dolphins, turtles, dugongs and the most spectacular fish. We caught crabs and all types of fish and prepared them in the anchorages. The kids cooked marshmallows and the adults enjoyed a glass of red, or rum from our tour of the Bundaberg Rum factory.
“We toured the Riviera factory and enjoyed dinner at the Waterway Restaurant, travelled Fraser Island in a 4WD bus and swam in the fresh water lakes and walked through the rainforests together.
“Best of all we are doing it all again on the way home in October.”
- Pittwater-based R Marine Riley ‘s next cruising event is the Myall Lakes Experience from September 24 – October 8. If you would like further information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +61 2 9979 7000.