First Leg – Gold Coast to Cairns:
The weather wasn’t perfect but John Stein and Shane Eacott were confident their new 47 Enclosed Flybridges Catch N’ Groper and Playin’ Hard would easily cope with the rough weather conditions on the first leg of their 6000 nautical mile maiden voyage.
Best mates, business partners and brothers-in-law, John and Shane do nearly everything together including buying the same boat.
This month they took possession of their new 47 Enclosed Flybridges at Riviera’s Coomera facility on the Gold Coast where they prepared for a voyage half way around Australia some 6,000 nautical miles and an adventure of a lifetime.
This is the first time the pair has embarked on a journey of this calibre but they are confident skippers with 40 years combined experience between them, and having both previously owned Rivieras, they are familiar with Riviera’s legendary seakeeping abilities.
In preparation for the voyage, both 47s have had long range fuel tanks fitted that can hold 3,700 litres of fuel, 2,700 in the aft tank and an additional 1000 litres forward plus they have two diesel fuel bladders containing about 800 litres each.
They spent their final day at Riviera’s Coomera facility fitting bait boards, barbecues and an extra freezer.
“The boat comes pretty highly equipped with game poles, hydraulic Marlin board and live bait tank,” John said.
They also have 180 metres of anchor chain with a 28kg Delta anchor.
“We upgraded the anchor because of the strong tides, up to 12 metres, in the Kimberleys,” John said.
“We have customised a lot of the electrical equipment and have installed night vision cameras, satellite TV, we have our EPIRBS and we will be travelling in convoy and constantly on the UHF radio so we have covered all safety and navigation precautions.
“We have a generator connected to the Cummins Smart Craft gauges to monitor generator power output and a HRO watermaker so we feel we are well prepared for the journey.”
They also have a hard bottomed tender for when they are cruising through the crocodile infested waters of the Kimberleys.
The only concern for John and Shane is floating debris from the recent Queensland floods which poses a navigational challenge and the looming danger of crossing unchartered waters in croc territory when they reach the Kimberleys.
“There are a lot of unchartered areas near Wyndham in the Kimberleys. It’s very dangerous up there, which we are a bit concerned about. Another challenge could be the run from Weipa to Gove which is a very long run, about 600 nautical miles going straight across the top end of Australia.”
Despite the poor weather conditions with 20-30 knot winds forecast, John and Shane departed Riviera’s Coomera facility on the Gold Coast on April 6.
“We are going to have a following sea so the wind will take us up to our first stop which is Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast,” John explained.
John and Shane expect the voyage will take about four months and they look forward to catching some Billfish around Cairns and Darwin.
When they are not moored in marinas they will raft up together and share the cooking and other routine activities of living aboard.
“We are pretty excited about the whole adventure. We have plenty of steak and beer on board and we have packed too many fishing rods,” John said.
“We are heading up to Airlie Beach on the Whitsunday coast, which is our first major port of call and is where our families will join us on board for three weeks. We plan to cruise around the Whitsundays and from there we will fly back to Perth for a week or so.
“The kids are really excited. They are taking a week off school and then they are on school holidays. Cruising around the Whitsundays will be a great learning journey for them.” (had to take out the part about catching Coral Trout as there are fish free zones in the reef)
John has two sons Michael, 9, and Mitchell, 6. Shane also has two children Ryan, 6, and Zara, 3.
Shane said Zara had her very own pink fishing rod and she looked forward to testing it out.
After spending a week or so in Perth, John and Shane will return to Cairns where they will meet some mates for the second leg from Cairns to Darwin, which will be a fishing trip.
“We want to catch some Marlin, Billfish and Sailfish as they are very hard to get in Western Australia,” John said.
The third leg will be from Darwin to Broome where once again the family will join them. The fourth leg is from Broome to Karratha, fifth leg Karratha to Jurien Bay and the sixth and final leg from Jurien Bay to Perth.
John and Shane are co-owners of Direct Trades Supply, a family business they started 12 years ago. Direct Trades Supply manufactures mining supplies, farm fencing, engineering supplies and hardware.