Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia: There’s nothing quite like the sheer exhilaration of blue-water cruising in company to idyllic destinations to remind Riviera owners why they are so passionate about the rich and rewarding boating lifestyle.
For these are the types of passages that build the confidence and skills for people to use their yachts to their full potential, that create the very special memories that last a lifetime, and, importantly, are often the catalyst for long-lasting friendships.
Indeed, the camaraderie cultivated on the regular Experience events hosted by Runaway Bay-based Riviera dealer R Marine Crawley is clearly valued by members of the growing Riviera family of owners who, each winter, travel in convoy north from Queensland’s Gold Coast to the wonderful Whitsundays.
The first leg of this exciting annual adventure is the Lady Musgrave Experience, and this year a flotilla comprising 10 luxury Riviera yachts made its way out through the Gold Coast Seaway before being joined by a further four boats en route firstly to Mooloolaba, then Bundaberg Marina and then on to the pristine turquoise waters of the second southern-most island on the iconic Great Barrier Reef, Lady Musgrave Island.
Dealer principal Ben Crawley says Lady Musgrave’s large lagoon and 1192 hectares (2950 acres) of surrounding reef provides an incredibly inspiring anchorage from which Experience participants can enjoy everything from snorkelling and swimming in the warm waters of Capricorn Cays National Park to discovering a vast array of marine life including turtles and marine mammals … and all within easy reach of prime and productive fishing destinations on the Outer Reef.
“Our aim is to help people cruise north to enjoy the warmer weather with the security and comfort of knowing help is always at hand if they need it,” says Ben, pictured here with the 2015 Riviera Dealer and Individual Sales Excellence Awards for Australia and New Zealand.
“It’s an opportunity for people – no matter if they are new to boating or experienced seafarers – to use their boats to their full potential.
“After this annual Experience event, some owners return with us to the Gold Coast while others make the extended passage north, also in company of fellow owners and members of the R Marine Crawley team, for the next Experience leg to Hamilton Island and the secluded anchorages of the magnificent Whitsundays.”
And, of course, the social events staged at beautiful locations throughout the voyage are always a highlight.
“The camaraderie keeps us coming back for the R Marine Crawley Riviera Experience events,” said Mike Bolton, who recently upgraded to a new Riviera 52 Enclosed Flybridge with his wife, Jan.
“This was the maiden voyage for our new boat, Living The Dream … and she really did run like a dream,” he said. “I have had Rivieras for many years and it is always reassuring to have that extra level of support from Ben Crawley and his team, particularly as you head into the Great Sandy Straits and through the Musgrave channel and into the lagoon.”
These sentiments were echoed by five-time Riviera owner Don Stalker, who currently owns a 5000 Sport Yacht Del-Lago and continued on to Hamilton Island in company of 10 yachts from the Lady Musgrave Experience.
“The Experience trips are always outstanding and the camaraderie is always something special,” he said. “This trip we had quite a few first-timers and they probably wouldn’t feel as confident to cruise that far north without the security provided through the leadership, support and back-up of Ben and his team.”
“For me personally it is always great to see what the other Rivieras are like out on the open water, especially the new Riviera 52 of Mike’s.”
John Goody, who with wife Shirley owns the Riviera 48 Enclosed Flybridge, Nasty III, said this year’s Experience events marked their third Whitsunday passage with the R Marine Crawley team.
“We are thoroughly enjoying it,” he said. “Initially we started doing R Marine Crawley’s Experience events to see new places because, while I’ve owned boats for many years, it is always much more relaxed travelling to new areas in a fleet with people who know boats, including your own boat.
“Ben had a fix-it man join us for this trip and he moved from boat to boat helping people with all their concerns – and that really takes the pressure off.
“To be honest it is the camaraderie that keeps us coming back – we’ll be joining the Black Reef fishing trip on Friday and we wouldn’t miss the Shag Island Shindig – we’ll probably do the Dunk Island run as well.”
- R Marine Crawley conducts a number of social, educational and special Experience events throughout the year, including Ladies on Water seminars, the popular Shag Island Shindig in August and a Percy Island Experience in September. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.