Taking It Slow in a Riviera 47

One of the greatest joys of boating is spending a weekend or even a week away on board, exploring coves, bays and coastline. But most of us would not consider exchanging the space and comfort of our home for months on board.

Peter and Narelle Williams don’t believe they gave up a single comfort after they returned from their first voyage on their new Riviera, Kaos.

They had spent six months on Kaos, a Riviera 47 Open Flybridge, and travelled nearly 4,000 nautical miles.

Peter is a businessman, now essentially retired, who has been around boats since he was just seven years old. 

“I sailed with my dad on the south coast of New South Wales when I was a boy, then did some racing,” said Peter. “But I exchanged sail for power after I discovered the excitement of game fishing. That was quite a few years ago now. But still the pleasure of cruising slowly along a coast and through islands has never left me.”

Narelle, too, enjoys coastal cruising and is comfortable at sea.

Confidence, they say, is the key to voyaging. Confidence built through experience and through planning.

“Peter is confident with handling the boat and I have absolute confidence in him,” said Narelle. “I know he is not going to put us into potential danger,”

Peter nodded.

“For example,” he said, “the classical stress point for a couple is docking. Narelle and I go over the procedure before we come into dock every single time. The fenders are set before we approach and the lines are all in place. Our absolute rule is that Narelle does not step off the boat until it is stationary beside the dock and I let her know it is safe.”

Planning is vital for Narelle’s food purchases.

“I work out our meals in advance,” she said. “I’m also very aware of garbage. Keep it to a minimum. Our longest stay away from a marina was three weeks and it was not a problem at all. I never buy foods or sauces in bottles, for example. Whatever packaging we take on board must be crushable.”

“Except the wine,” Peter interrupts.

Peter also emphasised the other vital ingredient of successful voyaging: never set a schedule. 

“If you need to be somewhere tomorrow or the next day, you open yourself to trouble. You’ll go to sea when you shouldn’t. We set a schedule to fish the Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic game fish tournament, but that was four months after we set off and we were in the region nearly a month before the comp started.” 

Lizard Island is just 300 miles from the most northerly tip of Australia. 

“You’ve got to do that tournament once,” said Peter of the experience. “We didn’t tag a marlin for the entire week of the tournament. The winds averaged more than 25 knots every day and the seas were very big. But we enjoyed every moment of it.”

Peter and Narelle were never in a hurry to be anywhere during their voyage. The longest day’s voyage was 170 nautical miles, on the way home, but many days were spent simply at anchor or cruising 10 or 20 miles from one beautiful bay to another.

“We used marinas only to re-supply, pick up and drop off friends or on the couple of occasions we needed to fly home for business.”

Their meticulous records show they spent 160 nights at anchor during the entire voyage.

“Why sit in a marina when you can be at anchor in a secluded bay?” said Peter. “It’s perfectly safe in virtually any conditions. I guess we prefer to be on our own – away from the crowds and bustle of a marina.” 

Through all the distance of their voyage, the Williams’ and Kaos averaged just 8.1 knots.

“Why rush?” said Peter. “The point of cruising is to enjoy the voyage. Something about it’s not the destination but the journey. Sure, we ran at more than 20 knots at times. It is comforting to know that, if there is a big storm coming, you can get out of the way quickly. Or if you need to be somewhere, you have the power.

“The point about these modern engines is that they use virtually no fuel if you are happy to go slowly. Our average fuel consumption through the voyage was 29.6 litres per hour, less than 15 litres per side. No wonder we didn’t have to refuel very often. Kaos has a capacity of 3,700 litres. That gives me a potential range of nearly 1,000 nautical miles, leaving some for safety.”

Peter and Narelle Williams’ rules for cruising

1. Have confidence in one another and in the boat
2. Plan – everything from each leg of the voyage to meals
3. Be flexible. Change the plan if you need to
4. Never be in a hurry; never set a schedule
5. Learn the basic maintenance needs of your boat
6. Carry spare parts and have the basic mechanical skills to fit them