An underwater haven awaited Riviera owners at Lady Musgrave Island

The 7th annual R Marine Jones Great Sandy Straits Experience certainly provided a sea change for Riviera 51 Open Flybridge owners, Michelle and Mark Bissaker who traded 40 acres of farmland in NSW for 50 nautical miles of pristine ocean in tropical Queensland.

Mark, Michelle and their 11-year-old son, Aaron met the R Marine Jones team just outside the Mooloolaba Marina where they joined 19 other Rivieras ranging from 36 to 56 feet and in convoy travelled to Gary’s Anchorage where they spent their second night. The Bissaker’s spent their first night at Mooloolaba, while R Marine Jones and the rest of the fleet travelled from the Gold Coast to their first anchorage, Peel Island, which is a heritage-listed island located in Moreton Bay. The following morning they headed north to meet the Bissaker family at Mooloolaba before continuing on to the next stopover, Gary’s Anchorage at Fraser Island and then on to Lady Musgrave Island.

R Marine Jones dealer principal Randall Jones said they had been trying to reach Lady Musgrave Island for the past five years.

We were absolutely thrilled to have such perfect weather this year which allowed us to venture out to Lady Musgrave Island, which is some 50 nautical miles off the coast of Bundaberg, he said.

We spent our second night at Gary’s Anchorage and with good weather predicted we upped anchor on day three and headed to Bundaberg to refuel before heading out to Lady Musgrave, which was definitely one of the highlights of the Experience.

This is the Bissaker family’s 4th R Marine Jones Experience and Michelle said Lady Musgrave Island was even more beautiful than she had ever imagined.

We have been snorkelling in the Maldives, Great Barrier Reef and Hawaii but nothing compares to the untouched beauty of Lady Musgrave Island, she said.

We had the whole lagoon to ourselves to explore the beautiful colours of the coral and the fish and then beyond the lagoon we enjoyed deep sea fishing within an hour away from where we had anchored. We had the best of both worlds, the tranquillity of the lagoon and its white sandy beach and the adventure of landing a Red Emperor.

It was just so calm and clear, the sunsets were magnificent, the weather was perfect, the company was great – what more could we ask for.

Michelle said they had made many lifelong friends through the R Marine Jones Experiences and it had also given them the confidence to explore Queensland’s ocean playground.

When we bought our 51 Open Flybridge two years ago, we organised for Sharm from R Marine Jones to come out with us so Mark had some back up, because prior to the 51 he was driving a tinnie. The confidence Mark has achieved from Randall and Sharm through these experiences and workshops hosted by R Marine Jones has just been invaluable, Michelle said.

We own a hobby farm in Martin’s Creek, which is about an hour north of Newcastle so we either fly or drive up to the Gold Coast whenever we want to use our boat. We berth our boat at the marina located within the Riviera factory and the team from R Marine Jones do a fantastic job at maintaining her and ensuring she is fuelled up and ready to go when we arrive.

This year was look forward to spending New Year’s Eve on our Riv and since meeting up with some of our friends during the Great Sandy Straits Experience we have some new anchorages and marinas to explore.

Randall said each year there was a different marine animal theme for the annual Great Sandy Straits Experience, and this year it was the fish.

Each of our owners are given a special commemorative t-shirt with the marine animal theme embroidered on it and we all wear them to the annual dinner, which was held at Bundaberg this year, he said.

We organise these experiences exclusively for Riviera owners who support our dealership based at the home of Riviera and we look forward to our Christmas celebration at Jumpinpin in December.

For more information about the R Marine Jones Experiences call the team on 07 5502 9544 or visit www.rmarinejones.com.au for more information about upcoming events.