EXPLORING DOWN UNDER

30 September 2019

Gemma Fottles 

When it comes to superyacht cruising grounds, sometimes it may be easy to forget that there is a big wide world to discover outside of the hustle and bustle of the Mediterranean and Caribbean hotspots. With more and more owners and charter clients opting to stray a little further from the beaten track, here we shine a spotlight on some of the more exciting cruising destinations from all four corners of the world, with the help of the expert Captain’s and Owners who have fallen in love with it. To kick off the very first of this new feature, we take a closer look at Australia with the help of Captain Bob Nabal, who takes us through the ideal itinerary for those looking to really explore the ocean and the incredible nature of

Captain Barend ‘Bob’ Nabal – 34.7m Moonen, Beluga:

I’m originally from South Africa and I’ve been in yachting since 2003, working on superyachts for the majority of this time and working my way up! Beluga is a Moonen explorer and was purchased by her Australian owner in February 2015. I came on board a couple of months later and from there we undertook a pretty extensive cruise all over the Med with the owner, where we ended up In Turkey by the end of summer 2015. All our preparation was done from there for the long haul to Port Douglas, Australia. From Turkey, we went over to the Maldives, then to Indonesia and all of her beautiful islands, and finally we made our way to Port Douglas in Queensland, Australia. Port Douglas is our permanent home base and we offer a wide range of itineraries to suit every client throughout the region.

In terms of why the spotlight isn’t shone on Australia as much as it should be… well, distance is obviously a big factor. Most charter clients have extremely busy schedules, so it’s hard to justify the travelling it takes to get here from the Western hemisphere. But in my personal opinion, Australia is well worth the journey. It’s so different to chartering in Europe, where you have a ton of high-end bars, restaurants and shopping areas: Australia is the total opposite. The main point of getting out on the sea and spending time on board a yacht out here is to explore the wonders of the ocean and the amazing nature – that’s why you go on a yacht in the first place, right?

I don’t necessarily think that superyacht cruising in Australia is only for the adventurous types, though. There is so much to do and see here – it really is incredible. It’s a beautiful, amazing place – the fishing, the snorkelling, the scuba diving, the weather, the people… It’s a breathtaking wonderland in my opinion, and somewhere where I think everybody should visit. This is one of my favourite eight-day itineraries in the region, ticking off Port Douglas, the Great Barrier Reef, the famous Ribbon Reefs, Cooktown and Lizard Island, incorporating a lot of diving and fishing for a relaxed adventure Down Under.

Day 1 

We start the day by picking up our guests at Port Douglas. Usually guests will fly into Cairns, where they can then take a gorgeous coastal route by car for about 50 minutes, or grab a helicopter for a short 15 minute flight over the Great Barrier reef and then on to the marina. As soon as everyone is on board with a welcome drink in hand, we set off for the stunning Opal Reef, which is 30 nm so about three hours cruising. After an afternoon of snorkelling and exploring the guests’ very first taste of the Great Barrier Reef directly off Beluga’s platform, we dig into a delicious meal on board and spend the night on the ocean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 

This is our first chance to show guests’ what’s really going on at the bottom of the ocean! Our chase boat takes guests out to the most southern end of Opal Reef, where everything is provided to jump in the sea and take a morning dive. After a well-deserved late lunch on board Beluga, we then start to cruise north to Escape Reef, where guests can opt for another diving experience or even try their hand at bottom fishing for Coral Trout. These trout are some of the best eating fish and well sought after – enough to make anyone’s day once they reel it in. And, of course, once we cook it up for lunch the next day, everybody is very happy.

Day 3 

After cruising through the night, we wake up at Ribbons Reef for an early morning of fishing – this area is fantastic for Spanish mackerel or reef species such as Nannygai and Red Emperor. After another delicious lunch on board, guests unwind on board as we make our way to Cooktown, where you can take a special sunset cruise on the Endeavour River with a dedicated tour company. While navigating the maze of small creeks and sighting crocodiles, guests can hear about Captain Cook’s infamous adventures in the area, certainly giving a bit more depth to the whole history of life as we know it in Australia.

Day 4 

No trip to Australia is really complete without experiencing a taste of Aboriginal culture. In the morning, guests are picked up to view Rainbow Serpent Rock, a gorgeous, dramatic landscape to six indigenous rock art sites, where the guide will also take the group on a short bushwalk. Later in the afternoon, we cruise out to Ribbons Reef #3 for a late afternoon dive at the world-famous Steve’s Bommie dive site, where it really is snapper, goatfish, fusilier and pipefish galore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5 

A well-earned relaxing cruise of three hours on board Beluga whilst we steam on to Ribbon Reef #7 – there’s 10 in total! – for more snorkelling and watersports. With a beautiful sunset Aussie BBQ in the evening, guests unwind in the Jacuzzi overlooking the Great Barrier Reef before making our way overnight to Lizard Island.

Day 6 

Waking up to the view of Lizard Island is definitely something that never gets old. This morning is generally spent onshore, exploring the island with great hiking and walking routes. After getting back to Beluga for a late lunch, we spend the rest of the day enjoying the crystal waters of Mrs Watson’s Bay before a beach BBQ.

Day 7 

As the penultimate day on board, we’ve made it a good one. For the diver’s, we head north to the renowned Cod Hole for, really, a dive of a lifetime, including Shark Alley – not one for the light-hearted! It’s truly amazing to dive or snorkel here with all these huge codfish, some up to 150kg, and they just swim all around you. It’s a memorable experience.

Day 8

After cruising back 120 nm to Port Douglas, we arrive at shore at around 12pm.

This is just one of the itineraries that have made it into my favourites over the years. There aren’t a lot of islands so you can’t hide anywhere, but the experience of cruising with miles of open ocean ahead of you and the largest living organism on the planet beneath you… well, it’s hard to top.

Cruising experiences on board Beluga are offered with Ocean Alliance.

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