BOAT TEST: RIVIERA 47 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE SERIES II
JOHN ZAMMIT delivers a brand-new Riviera 47 Enclosed Flybridge from the Gold Coast to Melbourne. Here is the 380nm first leg to Sydney.
FEBRUARY, 2010 - Riviera says its 47 Enclosed Flybridge (launched 2007 and now numbering 49) is designed for extended cruising. Well, we certainly put that claim to the test when we took boat, hull no. 177 of the Series II shape with prop tunnels and underwater exhausts, straight from the factory at Coomera, on the Gold Coast, all the way to Melbourne. Oh, and we didn't just blast down in a few days, either. We spent three-and-a-half weeks on board, stopping to smell the roses or seaweed as it were, to dine out on fresh seafood, and stretch the sea legs at the fetching fishing villages along the way.
We visited Yamba, Port Macquarie, Port Stephens, Sydney, Ulladulla, Bermagui, Lakes Entrance, Port Welshpool, Refuge Cove at Wilsons Promontory, Phillip Island, and Queenscliff.
Four of us, as in two couples, made the trip from go to whoa. But along the way we had friends join us for various stages and, at times, there were five on board and, for a short while, the headcount numbered six.
So, having spent nearly four weeks on board cruising the East Coast, what do I think of Riviera's claim that the boat is designed for extended cruising? I would undoubtedly concur! She never missed a beat, nor did the Cummins QSMII 660hp common rail diesel engines, while the accommodation and layout worked a treat.
Furthermore, the Riviera 47 EF is a really nice package and about the right size for coastal cruising, doing as we did, often staying overnight on fishermen's wharves in working harbours like Ulladulla and Bermagui. With an overall length of 16.7m, a bigger boat may have had a problem at times finding wharf space.
Owners Len and partner Jane from Melbourne opted to take delivery of their new Riviera direct from the factory on the Gold Coast, and my partner Fiona and I were invited to join them for a leisurely cruise home to Williamstown on Melbourne's Hobsons Bay. Len and I drove up in a hire car, loaded with gear off Len's previous Riviera, a 41 flybridge; the girls would fly up a few days later.
We took delivery of the new Limelight on December 16 and stayed on board at the Riviera factory marina for three days, while the team from Riviera Aftermarket fitted a few extras, including a 3.6m Aquapro centre console tender, covers for the dinghy and davit, tie-down points in the lazarette, and so on.
Riviera's handover procedure and its service and attention were excellent. We went out on sea trials, there was a briefing from the engine manufacturer, then a run through of the extensive Raymarine electronics package, which includes radar, GPS chartplotter, fishfinder and autopilot. We also got a proper handover and complete run-through of all of the onboard systems and gear.
With the work completed we left Riviera on Saturday, December 19, to make the trip along the windy Coomera River and through the skinny Broadwater to Marina Oceanus aka Marina Mirage at Southport. It would be Tuesday before we had a suitable weather window to head south. Meantime, apart from the fact that they're both good deckies, it was nice to have the girls finally aboard. They settled in and soon made a trip to the supermarket to stock up supplies.
That night, the gourmet galley got its first workout, with the result being a mean vegetable rissotto. The galley, fitted with dual burner electric glass cooktop, convection microwave, separate fridge and freezer under the solid surface benchtops, stainless steel sink and plenty of clever storage, passed its first test with a thumbs up from the ladies. It was also nice to have a home-cooked meal again. We spent the next couple of days exploring the Broadwater.
SMOOTH SAILING TO YAMBA
Tuesday, December 22: Slipping quietly away from the marina at first light, we made our way through the Gold Coast Seaway out into the Pacific Ocean. Our loose plan was to spend Christmas in Port Stephens, see in the New Year in Sydney and be in Melbourne around the second week of January. But this was a holiday and, right from the word go, we'd said that we would work around the weather. So nothing is set in concrete.
Today, though, our destination is Yamba. Around 90nm along the coast, or about five hours travel time, it proves a nice first day's run for the crew and the boat. We'd picked the perfect day, sunshine and calm seas, and we radioed the Seaway Tower as we left the Gold Coast. They then passed a started tracking sheet along for us.
The tracking sheet has details of our boat, number of persons onboard, shore-based contacts and an ETA at our destination. It's faxed to the next coastal station along our route and we radio in as we go by. It's an excellent service, provided mainly by volunteers, and a great safety initiative.
We were now well underway travelling at 19kts at 1800rpm in what was a fully laden boat. By 1020, somewhere off Ballina, we had dolphins on the bow. Slowing to 8kts gave them time to stick around. They surfed our bow wave for nearly 10 minutes. I'm still not sure who was having more fun, them or us.
At 1245, we entered the Clarence River which meets the sea between the towns of Iluka and Yamba. Inside we travelled parallel to Middle Wall, a prominent rock wall, for a few hundred metres before turning sharply to port through a narrow opening known as 'The hole in the Wall'. It shoals here in parts, so we followed a winding channel past Dart and South Dart Islands, thick with mangroves, soon after arriving at Yamba Marina.
After checking in at the office we headed off for a look around. Yamba is an attractive coastal town, well serviced, with a busy shopping centre and a nice holiday feel. We picked up some nice fresh whiting fillets and some calamari that we pan-fried for dinner and enjoyed with a nice fresh salad and a suitable white from the Land of the Long White Cloud - a pleasant way to end the first day of our journey south.
We planned to leave Yamba for Port Maquarie at 0600 in the morning, so it was an early night for all. Our accommodation on the Riviera 47 Enclosed worked well. With two large double staterooms and a third cabin with two bunks we all felt comfortable with our own space. There are two bathrooms, one with an en suite to the master stateroom and the other servicing the guest cabins and serving as a day head.
Plenty of storage exists in drawers, hanging space and overhead lockers in all cabins. The third cabin also discreetly houses a Miele washer/dryer and the entire boat is air-conditioned with independent controls in all cabins, plus the saloon and
PORT MAC' FOR A FUEL
Wednesday, December 23: We were up having breakfast at dawn and the fog had set in. Yamba's waters are tricky to navigate in good conditions, let alone in a fog. Casting off at 0600 it's a pea souper, with visibility down to 30m, and it's hard to make out the channel. So it was all hands on deck keeping watch as we crept along passing the occasional fishing trawler emerging from the mist and slipping gently by. Thankfully, they were moving as slowly as we were. But we were well out to sea when we finally emerged from the fog over an hour later.
Travelling at 19kts, the boat was handling nicely as we passed South Solitary Island at 0920. We saw more dolphins, but there wasn't the excitement of the previous day. Still, it had proven to be the right decision getting away early, as we were having a good run again. We'd settled into a routine as we travelled and the fully enclosed flybridge with an aft helm position and forward guest seating was proving comfortable at sea.
The helm features Pompanette adjustable helm and companion chairs and the dashboard comfortably accomodates two 12in navigation displays as well as an array of instrumentation and the usual engine-monitoring systems, and lots more.
Forward of the helm there's bench seating to port, a sink with mixer tap and drainage board and beneath that two drawers, one deep and refrigerated that got a lot of use on our trip. A clever little feature was a small lift-out lid on the bench top concealing a rubbish chute. To starboard is an L-shaped lounge with teak table and drinkholders. The table can be lowered to convert to a day bed or extra overnight sleeping.
There's plenty of storage in the flybridge, both under the lounge and in a large area in the forepeak accessed by double doors with a set of drawers either side. All of the doors and drawer fronts are finished in high-gloss cherry timber, the same as the joinery throughout the boat. The solid GRP three-sided enclosed flybridge has sliding side windows, air-conditioning and, one feature that proved very handy, wipers with freshwater washers.
By 1300 we'd arrived at the fuel wharf at Port Macquarrie where we took on 1705lt of diesel. With the tanks full, Limelight carries 3700lt. The standard aft tank holds 2700lt, but Len had an optional forward tank fitted which holds another 1000lt. After getting squared away into a berth, we spent the rest of the day exploring Port Macquarie, with dinner that evening at the local bowling club.
PEDAL TO THE METAL
Thursday, December 24, Christmas Eve: We were up early discussing the weather. We'd planned to spend Christmas in Port Stephens, but the forecast was for north-northeast winds of up to 33kts and seas up to 2 to 3m later in the morning. We knew the boat could handle it, but thought it could get a bit messy out there. We finally decided to leave immediately and put pedal to the metal and try to get around Sugarloaf Point before the sea got up too much. Then we could stay close to shore in the lee of the land.
Leaving Port Macquarie at 0630, we wound her up to 2050rpm. It's surprising how quiet the Cummins engines are with the underwater exhaust. Travelling at 26kts we were rounding Crowdy Head by 0725, seas were still calm with 1.5m of swell and we were making good time. It's comforting to know we've got a turn of speed on tap for situations just like this. Around Sugarloaf Point at 0900 the sea was starting to get up and we went close in, right inside of Bull Rock and Edith Shoal, following the coastline and then inside of the Broughton Islands.
We'd made excellent time as we entered Port Stephens through the majestic Yacaaba and Tomaree Heads at 1015. We'd phoned ahead and booked a berth at Nelson Bay Marina and had only just tied up as the wind really kicked in. Looking out over Nelson Bay, it was just a sea of whitecaps. We certainly wouldn't have wanted to be out there in that.
Awakening on Christmas morning, Santa had left gifts for everyone under our (very small) Christmas tree. We had pancakes for breakfast before wandering up to the waterfront promenade for (real) coffee. Christmas lunch was on board with traditional turkey, ham, fresh seafood, which we'd bought the previous afternoon, and salad. Then it was time to give Limelighter, our Aquapro centre console tender, its first serious workout as the four of us explored the surrounding bays and waterways, and got up close and personal with a couple of bottlenose dolphins frolicking in Shoal Bay.
We spent the next couple of days exploring Nelson Bay, a bustling busy town, situated 30 minutes by road from Newcastle. It has an attractive waterfront, with shopping, cafes and a great place for fresh seafood. Popular with holidaymakers, the area is well-known for its fishing, diving and whale watching from late May to July each year. We also went across the bay into the Myall River to Tea Gardens for lunch one day at the legendary Tea Gardens Hotel.
PITTWATER, DELUGE AT SEA
Monday, December 28: We were almost sorry to be leaving Port Stephens; we'd enjoyed our stay and had caught up with friends. Len's son Ed was now also onboard joining us for the trip to Pittwater just north of Sydney. Going across Stockton Bight was very lumpy, but it was a following sea and the boat handled it like a breeze. At 0820 we picked up a severe thunderstorm warning over the radio and our radar showed a heavy rain-band heading our way.
It was probably less than a minute into that rainstorm, with visibility less than 100m, as we negotiated our way through a series of big ships anchored off Newcastle, that I quietly promised myself, if ever again I was in a position to buy a new boat, a fully enclosed flybridge with windscreen wipers would be very high on my 'must have' list. The rain followed us on and off into Broken Bay where we arrived at 1035. We planned to stay in Pittwater for a couple of days before making our way into Sydney Harbour to see in the New Year.
Having previously lived in Sydney, Len and Jane were soon joined by friends and family, and with the steady stream of visitors we had over the next two days, the Riviera 47 proved an excellent entertainer. The saloon is spacious and light filled, large luxurious leather seating with separate dinette are near the galley, and there is intelligent use of space and clever storage everywhere. A built in icemaker is standard as is the Bose sound system.
The finish of the high-gloss cherry woodwork, and the fittings generally, is exceptional and having lived aboard for the amount of time we did, it's obvious the quality is more than skin deep. The expansive cockpit was great for outdoor entertaining and we enjoyed many balmy afternoons and evenings relaxing there, too.
The steps from the cockpit up to the flybridge are a great improvement, even a work of art. There are stylish and substantial teak treads supported by a curved stainless steel pole with stainless steel handrails either side. It's difficult to describe but, for me, a real winner for both style and function.
We spent our time cruising Pittwater, Cowan Creek, and surrounds, which includes the entrance to the Hawkesbury River. This area is surrounded by National Parks and has countless beautiful and secluded beaches, and all-weather bays and anchorages. Our last night was on a mooring in America Bay and, after dinner, we watched the most magnificent sunset that fittingly marked the end of the first half of our journey home.
(Facts & Figures)
RIVIERA 47 ENCLOSED FLYBRIDGE II
PRICE AS TESTED
Refer to dealer for pricing
Sternthruster (bowthruster is standard), extra 1000lt forward fuel tank, teak cockpit and swim platform, 350kg davit, upgraded upholstery in saloon and flybridge, Raymarine electronics package including twin E-120 Raymarine screens (with GPS/plotter, fishfinder, 24nm radar, autopilot, and Tridata), CCTV (to cockpit, engineroom and saloon), waterblaster, and Aquapro centre console dinghy with 25hp Yamaha and cradle
$1,173,089 w/ twin Cummins QSM11 electronic diesel engines
Material: Handlaid moulded fibreglass hull w/ balsa and core matt in the hull sides, balsa and high-density foam-cored deck and flybridge.
Length overall: 16.17m
Length to ISO 8666: 15.19m
Weight: 19,600kg (dry)
Berths: 6 to 8 people
Fuel: 2700lt (standard); 1000lt forward tank (optional)
Holding tank: 151lt
Make/model: 2 x Cummins QSM11
Type: Six-cylinder electronic turbo-diesel
Rated HP: 661
Weight: 1188kg (dry)
Transmission (make/ratio): Twin Disc MGX-5114A/1.75
R Marine Jacksons Victoria, Unit 1, 36 Jetty Road, Sandringham, Vic, 3191, (03) 9598 7777, www.rmarinejacksonsvic.com.au
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