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Exploring Rottnest Island beyond the comfort zone on a Riviera 4600 Sport Yacht

For David and Ann Upstone, a one-on-one experience exploring the nooks and crannies of Rottnest Island in Western Australia with Ryan Lloyd, Dealer Principal at R Marine Perth, was “the best experience we’ve ever had on a boat”. The recently retired couple’s intention is to build their confidence navigating the craggy coastline and maximise their experience aboard their Riviera 4600 Sport Yacht Platinum Edition.

Acraggy coastline bejewelled with wide bays and cosy coves, where turquoise waters lap white sandy shores just 19km west of Boorloo / Perth, is the backdrop for boating bliss.

Wadjemup / Rottnest Island, or ‘Rotto’, as the locals know it, has abundant marine life, and on land, cute quokkas and cafés.

Limited moorings create high demand and while anchoring is permitted in designated zones, a close inspection of the island’s chart and boating guide reveals navigable waters strewn with rocks and reefs. It’s enough to give the most confident boaters pause.

Looking to build their confidence and capacity and maximise their experience on their luxury Riviera 4600 Sport Yacht Platinum Edition, David and Ann Upstone took up the offer to get to know the island better with Ryan Lloyd, Dealer Principal at R Marine Perth.

“A year or so ago, when we took possession of Moët on Ice, Ryan offered to take us around some of the bays at Rottnest,” said David, who has recently retired.

During a quiet mid-week in January, they cruised over and moored in Thomson Bay.

“We prepared some sandwiches and off we went for a lap of the island with Ryan,” said David.

“It was the best experience we’ve ever had on a boat.” Ann Upstone

Rottnest is 11km long and 4.5km wide, and while the low-lying limestone island boasts sheltered anchorages, there are myriad more nooks and crannies to explore.

“With Ryan we had this one-on-one experience,” said Ann.

“We learned about safe places to navigate, boat handling skills and anchoring. We certainly would not have gone into any of those bays without Ryan. We’re in our 70s and we bought our first boat about 15 years ago, so we were a little late in life to start boating and we’re not the most confident.

“We know a few Riviera owners with the same fears, who also don’t want to risk damaging their beautiful boats. But with Ryan, he just oozes confidence and it’s contagious. I don’t stress one iota when he’s onboard; he lives and breathes boating, he’s grown up on the water and is incredibly knowledgeable and experienced. Ryan took us into the most magnificent stretches of beaches and bays,” said Ann.

Half-way around the island at its south-western tip, the trio manoeuvred Moët on Ice into Fish Hook Bay. Its narrow entrance is fringed with reefs and jagged limestone cliffs. “Two sea eagles live on the cliff faces. These two beautiful birds sat there watching the world go by as we moved in, like parking attendants checking if we should be in there or not,” said David.

“Before we even got into thinking about a new motor yacht, we were tossing up about a property down south but effectively this is our holiday house, and it’s five minutes from home to the yacht club.” David Upstone

The 4600SY has a maximum draft of 1.3m which allows it to enter shallow waters, and the Volvo Penta IPS permits precision manoeuvrability in tight spaces.

The luxury motor yacht, while featuring three generous staterooms including a full beam master, is also an ideal size for a couple to handle themselves.

“It was the best experience we’ve ever had on a boat,” said Ann.

“There’s probably only a handful of people in Western Australia that would dare go into Fish Hook Bay. When people see photos, they can’t believe it. Everybody is impressed with Ryan, his technique, skills and knowledge. We probably wouldn’t attempt it without him, but there are other bays we learned about that day that we will discover ourselves. That was our goal, to do more of this on our own. Without Ryan showing us what is achievable, we probably wouldn’t ever have gone looking into other bays.”

North facing Parakeet Bay and Geordie Bay are on the couple’s list as more approachable anchorages that they now feel more confident about. There’s also Eagle Bay, with its curious rock formations, and Salmon Bay to look forward to.

“It’s mapped out now on our GPS and we’re probably capable of getting into some of these bays, though not all,” acknowledges David.

“We’ll take it one day at a time, and being retired now we can come here mid-week, pick the weather well and go for a couple of nights. It’s like being on the water in inclement weather – friends of ours said you’ve got to remember it’s called ‘pleasure boating’.”

After circumnavigating the island, Ryan returned to the mainland and the Upstones remained at Rottnest.

“We just chilled out and enjoyed time relaxing on the water for a couple of days,” said David.

“Before we even got into thinking about a new motor yacht, we were tossing up about a property down south but effectively this is our holiday house, and it’s five minutes from home to the yacht club.

“We get on board, we can go anywhere, and it’s like being at home with all the luxury. We already have about 145 hours on the engines, and now that I’m retired, we’ll be using it at every opportunity.”