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There’s a reason why Aussies and New Zealanders refer to the Tasman sea that separates their coasts as The Ditch: it’s not the type of sea you would go for a relaxing cruise on. With depressions passing West to East during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter and trade winds converging with westerlies in the summer months, calm is a rarity for the Tasman Sea.

However, these conditions did not stop Joe and Cheryl Pengelly from embarking on a 2-week adventurous crossing of the famed Ditch with their brand new and highly customized Riviera 72 Sports Motor Yacht. Equipped with a Blue Water Desalination Legend 1850 fully automatic watermaker capable of producing up to 7,000 liters (1,850 gallons) of water daily, water rationing, and storage was of no concern for this cruising couple.

A trip like this was nothing out of the ordinary for the Pengelly couple – having crossed the Pacific in a previous yacht. With a few open sea and ocean voyages in their logbook, they’ll tell you that preparation is key to a comfortable trip, and learning the new yacht was part of that preparation. “I wanted to make sure I was comfortable, so one day we ran the boat in 40 knots of weather. I was blown away with the handling and it gave me all the confidence to go ahead with the trip.”

Cheryl agrees that thorough planning and preparation is everything. “You absolutely have to be organized taking long passages. We flew in a week early and fully prepped the boat including cooking meals for the freezer. It’s best to make it as easy on yourself as you can.”

When searching for their next boat, the Pengelly’s met Dean Horgan, Riviera Yacht’s principal dealer in Auckland, New Zealand. Horgan invited them to the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show to tour the latest 72 Sports Motor Yacht.

“It has to be the highest spec’ed Riviera on the market today and has a lot of advantages over the bigger boats, which appealed to us both,” Jim said. “The engineering was very pleasing, it had all the latest technology, and great living spaces: alfresco areas between the galley and the transom, the foredeck living area, and a huge flybridge rear deck with a day bed and an aft helm.”

The modular design of the Riviera 72’s BWD Legend watermaker saved space in the engine room while putting all of the maintenance items within easy reach for these experienced owner-operators. The addition of a Media Filter and UV Filter ensured they would enjoy ultra-pure water from every fixture on the boat, whether showering, preparing meals or for drinking. “With 6 crew on-board, having two showers per day, the watermaker was well utilized each day making at least 600 liters (160 gallons) to top off the water tanks,” Horgan explains. “Having an inexhaustible supply of water also allowed the luxury of rinsing the boat of salt each day when the weather allowed.”

The time came for Our Vibe to depart the Gold Coast of Australia. The Pengelly’s had a crew of 6 which included Horgan acting as a qualified skipper. Their passage was never meant to be a straight shot, but rather a well-planned 12-day fishing expedition that placed them in fishing hot spots right at dawn. “It was designed to be more than just a passage whizzing across Tasman. We left the Gold Coast to Middleton Reef first, arranging to arrive at 6 am. We did a hot lap before cruising to Elizabeth Reef and from there an overnight steam to Lord Howe Island arriving early in the morning again,” says Joe.

Upon departing Lord Howe Island, Our Vibe and her crew traveled to Ball’s Pyramid, a volcanic remnant and rocky structure that juts sharply from the Tasman Sea at over 562 meters high (1,843 feet). This “wonder of the world” as Cheryl calls it is the tallest volcanic stack on Earth.

The next stop on this adventure is recognized as the high point of the trip when Our Vibe and her crew traversed the legendary Wanganella Banks: a series of underwater pinnacles spread over a 100 nautical mile area.

These unique underwater ridges climb from the ocean floor to roughly 60 meters (200 feet) from the surface which causes an upwelling of food and a great concentration of pelagic species. Joe and his crew landed three yellowfin tuna and pulled the hook on another 2 monster ones. Cheryl’s freezer meals weren’t touched the days Our Vibe was in the Wanganella Banks – their fresh catch was on the menu.

The final stop in this adventure was Three Kings Islands just northwest of Cape Reinga, New Zealand. The Pengelly’s and crew landed a kingfish and two grouper but lost one to a giant mako shark. “It left the head of the fish dangling on the line,” Joe recalls. “It was frightening, over 15 feet long. Of all our fishing days, this was a full-on one.”

These long-range cruising adventures with family and friends are made possible in part by the BWD Legend watermaker on board their Riviera 72 Sport Motor Yacht. “Being able to comfortably produce 285 liters/hour (75 gallons/hour) of water meant that the generator run hours were kept to a minimum thus reducing the fuel used each day,” Horgan said.

Back home in the port of Whangarei, Joe and Cheryl are already planning a return trip to the Wanganella Banks along with trips north to Norfolk Island and New Caledonia, west of Fiji. Joe laughs. “As long as we have our health, our plan is to keep cruising offshore once a year. And wherever we go, we’ve got plenty of space on the boat for the five grandkids our children have kindly produced.”

TRIP SNAPSHOT:

  • Depart Gold Coast
  • Middleton Reef
  • Elizabeth Reef
  • Lord Howe Island
  • Ball’s Pyramid (tallest volcanic stack on Earth)
  • Wanganella Banks (yellowfin tuna)
  • Three Kings Island (kingfish, 2 grouper)
  • Whangarei, New Zealand via Bream Bay and Whangarei Harbour

Our Vibe – Riviera 72

Ball’s Pyramid

Our Vibe – North Cape sunset

Lord Howe Island Adventures