Reflecting on times past, led us to an interesting family story and a voyage across four Australian states during the COVID lockdowns. This trip of a lifetime proved to be a valuable lesson in enjoying the journey, not just the destination, for Riviera 505 SUV owner Kevin Taylor and son Josh.
Reflecting on times that changed our world, and our way of life, led Experience magazine to an interesting family story and a voyage across four Australian states during the COVID state-by-state lockdowns. This adventure trip of a lifetime proved to be a valuable lesson in enjoying the journey, not just the destination. Kevin Taylor and son Josh had hoped to fly from Broken Hill in NSW, to Queensland, to collect their new Riviera, when the Sunshine State’s borders were suddenly snapped shut. So, they launched Plan B, securing a professional skipper to deliver their 505 SUV, Taylor Made, to Nelson Bay in NSW, where she stayed for four months.
“We were allowed to travel within NSW, and we love Nelson Bay; a beautiful big harbour in the Port Stephens area. With the new boat there, we took a couple of trips and stayed on for weeks at a time,” says Kevin.
It’s the Taylor’s fourth Riviera, following their 3600 Sport Yacht, a 4400 SY and a 4800 SY.
“My wife Judy and I were there with the children and grandchildren for Christmas and it was wonderful,” says Kevin. “It’s the first boat we’ve had with a full beam stateroom and it’s magnificent. The SUV is more like a holiday home; it’s so easy to live on. We’ve got double bunks on the starboard side for the grandkids and the VIP stateroom at the front for their parents. We had extra cushions made up for the saloon lounge, so we can turn that into a double bed, and out on the alfresco deck we can turn the fold-out daybed into additional sleeping for a blokes’ fishing trip,” he adds.
When the borders to South Australia finally opened, Kevin arranged for the skipper to return, with the plan for the three of them to relocate Taylor Made to her home port in Glenelg, Adelaide.
“Josh and I flew back to Nelson Bay and the Riviera dealer (Gary Lee), said to us, ‘You’re not going anywhere tomorrow, there are four metre seas and 20 knot winds forecast’,” recalls Kevin.
“But our skipper looked at the forecast, saw the wind was going in the right direction and said, ‘Let’s see at 5am’. The next morning, he said, ‘Righto, we’ll go and have a look’. So, we took her through the heads where it squeezes up pretty tight; the tide wasn’t so bad but the swell was scary.
“We travelled up, up and over a big wall of water in front of us, turned right [to the south] and away we went.
“There’s no way I would have ever gone out in that wind and swell, never. It was the roughest water we’d ever been in, but the Riviera handled the conditions magnificently and we had complete confidence in our skipper’s ability. He’s given us the confidence to know we can tackle more challenging conditions and for the first time, having an experienced skipper onboard was invaluable. Never at any time were we frightened. The boat was absolutely fantastic and now we know what it can handle,” Kevin adds.
The weather continued, so the crew decided to take a breather in Sydney Harbour. In the middle of another lockdown, with no ferries, Kevin says it was a surreal experience.
“It was so quiet,” he says. “We cruised under the Harbour Bridge and around the Opera House before turning back and heading south again. Then we took a rest in Port Hacking near Cronulla and, after looking at the forecast, decided to make a dash on to Shellharbour for the night.”
The following day was their biggest, travelling 270nm to Lakes Entrance, with a fuel stop in Bermagui. They enjoyed calmer seas and averaged 27 knots and around 7.8 litres per nautical mile.
“We both learned so much from our skipper, like how to trim and angle the boat. He taught us to look at the revolutions instead of the speed, to see if the boat was still comfortable and how she was handling it, taking 50 revs at a time. We also learned that the cutlery draw is our signal – when that rattles, we need to take 50 revs off,” says Josh.
They were rewarded with reasonable weather windows for the remainder of their voyage. Heavy fog on the leg to Melbourne proved a good time for the skipper to offer instruction on the use of the SUV’s navigation equipment.
“We’d never really used the radar before and so, in limited visibility, our skipper showed us how to change the settings, with different colours for vessels moving away or towards us. We also set up the Garmin screens to different smart modes and combinations,” Josh adds.
After a night in Melbourne, and a little online research the following day to find a reasonably priced marina to refuel in Port Phillip Bay, Taylor Made set off west.
“Bass Strait didn’t let us down,” Kevin says. “Heading straight into the sea was the roughest part of the trip and at a couple of points we thought about turning around. But our skipper assured us that it would improve at Cape Otway. Then going around the Cape was really rough; churning like a washing machine with the swell bouncing off the land and there were cray pots everywhere. We learnt a lesson there and went out a little wider to get away from the pots. Travelling in parallel to the Great Ocean Road by sea was amazing; seeing the cliffs and various famous rock formations from the water was a unique experience,” Kevin adds.
Happily, they arrived to overnight in Portland and then on to Robe, dodging many more cray pots. They later enjoyed a surf and turf dinner with fresh crayfish straight from the ocean, compliments of a friendly fisherman, and cooked on the SUV’s barbecue.
On the last day they were up before dawn again.
“I tell you, Josh had never seen so many sunrises in all his life,” laughs Kevin.
“Anyway, we took off and met Judy and the family at Glenelg marina as we were coming through the lock. That was interesting as well; the new SUV is quite a bit wider than the 4800 SY. By threat of death, it had to fit through the Glenelg lock into the marina berth, so it was a bit of a worry negotiating the lock and reversing into our berth for the first time.”
“It was great to do this with Dad; it was a fantastic bonding experience to do this together, and to take a professional skipper who taught us so much about the boat’s capabilities,” says Josh. “Some conditions we met we still may not choose to go out in but, if we get stuck, we know that the Riviera can handle it.”