Sandringham, Victoria, Australia: Tasmania has, perhaps, the cleanest air on earth, complemented by amazing landscapes and secluded anchorages – so it’s little wonder that crossing the pristine blue waters of Bass Strait is such a temptation for Victorian-based Riviera owners.
Recent solo voyages by Riviera owners included Dale Stott in his 4700 Sport Yacht and Ray Haddrell in his Riviera 565 SUV so when Sandringham Yacht Club organised a voyage to the southern seas, to be led by Robert Ungar and Mike Percy, five Rivieras joined the fleet of nine yachts.
“The adventure started in Port Phillip Bay then to secluded Refuge Cove at scenic Wilsons Promontory for an overnight stop,” reports R Marine Jacksons dealer principal, Stuart Jackson, who supported the adventure. “In the morning the passage across Bass Strait was made via Deal Island and Flinders Island and, as the weather was ‘coming in’, the decision was made to go through to the sheltered waters of the Tamar River and to visit the yacht club at Beauty Point.”
“Everyone enjoyed their time here and watching the weather, there were reports of 90 knots at the Prom (Wilson’s Promontory), 80 knots at Hogan and 51 knots at Flinders Island airport – this was indeed the better place to be.
“There was lots of social interaction between all the crews and getting to know complete strangers was a good part of this enjoyment.”
Beauty Point is a town by the Tamar River, in the north-east of Tasmania, Australia. It lies 45 kilometres (28 miles) north of Launceston, on the West Tamar Highway. Originally established as the first deep-water port on the Tamar River, the town serviced the nearby gold mining town of Beaconsfield. After the gold rush ended, it became a centre for the export of apples, and is also a thriving fishing centre, right in the heart of a rich sheep, cattle and vine-growing district. The organised events, also supported by R Marine Jacksons, included a bus trip to a local winery and a dinner at the Tamar Yacht Club, prior to an impromptu speaking appearance from solo round-the-world sailor Ken Gourlay, and by John Joyce’s presentation of a recent cruise to the archipelago of the Louisades.
The Louisiades Islands, part of Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea, over 200 islands 120 nautical miles east of Alotau (the provincial capital on mainland PNG). John says it is easy to envisage little change since the isolated islands were first mapped for European charts. The communities have obviously lived on the islands for many thousands of years with skull caves from the days long past of cannibalism, and other noted sites indicating a long history of settlement.
With two yachts setting off for Stanley on the north-west coast of Tasmania, Riviera 43 Open Flybridge Jenisiph for Launceston and Riviera 37 Open Flybridge Imagination heading home to Melbourne, the rest of the fleet then travelled back to the seaside township of Lady Barron on Flinders Island in the Bass Strait, where a pleasant few days was spent touring the island and enjoying the finest offerings of the Lady Barron pub.
Stuart said strong winds and an early morning visit by the island trader cargo ferry from Bridport (Tas), en route to Port Welshpool on the mainland. “The first night the trader loaded and unloaded freight, departing at about 4am before returning the next night at midnight to load cattle.”
It was then across to Deal Island when one of the yachts experienced water pump difficulties and set her bow for Welshpool, accompanied close at hand by Riviera 3600 Sport Yacht Eagle III.
Back at Deal Island, the remaining boat owners and their guests took in all the sights and delights of this remote outpost, the largest of seven islands in Tasmania’s Kent Group, where tales of shipwrecked sailors are brought to life with a vast range of relics and, of course, a great deal of relish. The trio of yachts then caught up with Eagle III at Wilsons Promontory for the final 100-mile run to home port, Queenscliff, just before a forecast southerly change, arriving in time to enjoy a celebratory refreshments at their home port.