Paynesville, Victoria: Long-time Riviera fans Frank and Dorothy De Vries are still pinching themselves after taking delivery of their first Riviera, a 3000 Offshore, in October last year, just in time for Christmas.
The Melbourne couple’s love affair with Riviera began in 2007 when Dorothy’s husband, Frank, started working with the iconic Australian brand as a Volvo Penta and Raymarine technician in the Paynesville area.
A few years later, their passion for Riviera was truly ignited when they experienced first-hand Riviera’s boat-building process during a factory tour at the company’s 14-hectare state-of-the-art facility located in Coomera, Queensland.
“Frank and I are huge supporters of Australian-made products and we were absolutely blown away by Riviera’s design and innovation during our first factory tour,” Dorothy said.
“The manufacturing process is amazing and I can’t believe how advanced it all is now. We have always owned a boat but there is something special about a Riviera – the design is very stylish and we were impressed with the company’s professionalism, quality and the pride they take in their workmanship.”
In 2010 Frank and Dorothy attended the Sydney International Boat Show and while they could only dream about owning a Riviera, they bought an ‘I Love Riv’ teddy bear instead, which has since travelled the world with Dorothy and her friends.
Riv Ted’s adventures abroad featured in Riviera’s online magazine, R Experience, in 2013 and he has become one of Dorothy’s much-loved teddy bears, so when they finally purchased their very own Riv, the first thing they did was take her for a spin around the Lakes region with Riv Ted and of course their dog, Lucky Lady.
“I can’t believe we have finally bought a Riv. If someone had told me 10 years ago that we would have a Riviera, I would have never believed it,” Dorothy said.
“We organised for a truck to take the boat from Melbourne to our holiday home in Paynesville and I was so excited I stalked the truck driver. My son picked me up from work and we followed the truck as far as we could and then I headed up to Paynesville to meet Frank.
“I was so over-awed by it all. When I was very young I would marvel at all the boats on the water and dream about those lucky people fishing and visiting wonderful marine parks, I never imagined I would one day be one of those lucky people.”
Dorothy said the couple had always owned trailer boats but now that they were getting older they started looking for something they could use for day trips and overnight stays.
“The 3000 Offshore is a very safe and versatile vessel, one that Frank and I can handle on our own and it is ideal for the Gippsland Lakes,” she said.
“I am not a very confident skipper but I recently attended a boat-handling workshop with our local cruiser club and the Coast Guard came along to demonstrate how to use the fire extinguisher and perform first aid, so my confidence is improving and I am learning a lot more about the boat.
“We have also installed a bow-thruster, which we call the ‘divorce-preventer’ because they take the stress out of parking the boat, simply pull up parallel to the jetty and slide across. I would describe them as being very much like park-assist in a car.”
Once Dorothy and Frank’s confidence grows, they hope to venture outside the Lakes region and would one day like to take her to Sydney for the boat show.
“We slept on board for the first time on New Year’s Eve and we have enjoyed many day cruises around the Grand Canal in Paynesville.
“We also spent a couple of nights on board over the Australia Day long weekend and I would like to spend more time at one of my favourite destinations, Steamer Landing.”
Located in the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park, Steamer Landing is one of the most beautiful places to drop anchor or wet a line. And since fishing is high on Dorothy’s bucket list, Steamer Landing is a good place for her to practice her angling skills.
“We mainly get bream, flathead and baitfish in the Lakes, which is the largest coastal freshwater lake system along the east coat of Australia,” she said.
Dorothy and Frank look forward to fulfilling many dreams on board their 3000 Offshore, Summer Bel, named after their granddaughter, Summer (their son’s daughter), and their daughter, Belinda, but in the meantime they are content to simply live the Riviera dream with their family, Lucky Lady and of course, Riv Ted.