There are myriad reasons that Australia’s wonderful Whitsundays region holds such a special place in the hearts of so many people right around the world.
Beautiful white sandy beaches, stunning mountain scenery, lush sub-tropical rainforests, island escapes, world-class accommodation and many-hatted restaurants can be enjoyed year-round by almost everyone who visits.
For members of the Riviera Family of owners, the appeal extends even further.
For instance, there’s the freedom to enjoy the beautiful turquoise waters, calm cruising conditions and secluded anchorages of the iconic Great Barrier Reef in the premium luxury of your own world-class motor yacht.
You can explore the myriad, kaleidoscopic diving destinations and bountiful, teeming fishing grounds almost at will.
Of course, the exhilaration and fun of cruising there in company of fellow Riviera Family members is a major part of the overall experience.
Over two fun-filled weeks, the R Marine Crawley Whitsundays Experience saw 10 yachts travelling in convoy for the 630-natuical mile journey taking in such iconic places as Wide Bay Bar, Kingfisher Resort, Lady Musgrave Island, Lady Percy Island and Hamilton Island … to name but a few.
R Marine Crawley dealer principal Ben Crawley said this year’s Whitsundays Experience saw some participants undertaking the extended passage for the first time.
“Our aim is to help Riviera owners cruise north to enjoy the warmer weather with the security and comfort of knowing help is always at hand if they need it,” said Ben.
“Along the way we visit all the popular places, and many more that are not so well known.
“It really satisfies me to know that we are playing a role in helping people use their boats to their full potential and witnessing them creating memories – and friendships – that will last a lifetime.
“And it’s always great to have kids along for the trip – they had an absolute ball.”
John McDonald, who with wife Jill has owned a 51 Riviera Enclosed Flybridge for about five years, said the Whitsundays Experience was the farthest north he had cruised.
“We had previously been as far as Hervey Bay and this was all new to us – it was the first time we have gone with a group as well,” said John, who saidDevil’s Lair will remain at Abell Point Marina for four months before returning to Southport.
“It’s a real comfort knowing that there are experienced marine professionals right there if something happens.
“I’d recommend the Riviera Experience trips to everyone, you see sights you might not find yourself and Lady Musgrave Island was a real eye-opener.
“We’ll be using our Riviera a lot more now.”
Greg Rekers, who owns his Riviera 47 Open Flybridge Rastus with wife Vicki, said being able to enjoy blue-water cruising and inspiring experiences was definitely a highlight.
“You get to enjoy this with like-minded people who love boating and love the Riviera life – the ladies have formed a bit of a social set and are still catching up for coffees.
“The restaurants we visited along the way were all prepared for us as well – the Riviera name is very widely respected.
“I won’t forget seeing a marine mechanic leap from one yacht to another to render assistance 30-nautical miles out to sea with all the confidence in the world – that’s the degree of boating experience you have as back-up.”
Andy Smith, who has owned his third Riviera, the 51 Enclosed Flybridge Reel Dynamic, for four months, said he and wife Kristen enjoyed their first Experience journey immensely.
“I’ve been as far north as Bundaberg and I’ve never made the passage in my own yacht,” said Andy.
“I’ve been boating all my life and quite often thought I knew everything … but I’d totally recommend to anyone to pick any Riviera Experience trip and just do it.
“You will learn a great deal, especially about your own boat.
“Ben, Nick, Jason and the team are just a wealth of knowledge and they are very happy to share that with you.”
Which brings us to the tender fishing competition …
“That’s the funniest thing,” said Andy. “I was hysterical watching our tender being towed around the bay by a four-metre tiger shark.”
Ben Crawley thanked all those who took part in the 2016 Whitsundays Experience, adding that $7500 had been raised to support SANDS, a charity that works with families that have experienced the loss of little one.
With many Riviera owners staying north for the winter, R Marine Crawley has some more Experience events planned:
· 19 August: Circle Whitsundays Experience
· 16 September: Whitsunday Beach BBQ
· 1 October: Dunk Island Experience
“We now have our Riviera 47 The Boatman in the Whitsundays and we will be officially opening our new Whitsundays office at Abell Point Marina in the next few weeks,” said Ben.
“And then, of course, in December, will be the Homeward Bound Experience returning from the Whitsundays to the Gold Coast – that is always great fun too.