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A new world of boating in Seattle aboard a Riviera 575 SUV

by Riviera 8 Oct 09:00 PDT
Riviera 575 SUV © Riviera Australia

After a lifetime of owning American-made motor yachts, and all by the same boatbuilder, making the move to something new was a carefully considered decision for Laurie and Brian Robertson.

Based in Seattle in the Pacific north-west of the US, the Robertsons have a mooring in Lake Washington, which fringes the city's western perimeter. Seattle's boating grounds are fascinating and varied. There are lakes, locks, large bodies of water such as sounds and straits, and the expansive North Pacific Ocean. But boaters face challenging conditions: mercurial seas, debris and extreme tides that lead to swift currents and even whirlpools. For the Robertsons, Riviera promised the seakeeping ability to handle these conditions in luxurious comfort.

"We've had great lake boats, but we really wanted a more solid and substantial boat, something that could handle different conditions," says Brian.

The couple started their search by looking for a suitable hull. In Riviera they found handcrafted strength with hulls that are hand-laid with varying structural fibreglass mattings over the top of high performing PVC core materials that are sealed with vinyl ester resin, making them immensely durable.

Having selected a 575 SUV, the Robertsons ordered Summer Salt II in the spring of 2018 and then travelled to Australia in autumn 2018.

"We did the Riviera factory tour, which was very informative and gave us a better idea of how well the boat is designed," says Brian. "The Riviera hull is much thicker than we have had and it's a much heavier boat. It was the first time we'd ordered a boat made to our specifications and then waited for it to be built."

The Robertsons had specific requirements for the interior of Summer Salt II.

"Our other boats were great, but you still felt like you were glamping," says Laurie. "I wanted a real bed, a full-beam master and a boat that was going to be comfortable when we hit weather. Now I don't feel like I'm living on a boat; it feels like a beach house. We also have a beautiful walnut timber finish, satin for the cabinets and gloss on the horizontal surfaces; it keeps the interior looking clean and neat."

The SUV concept and single-level entertaining also suited their lifestyle.

"We do a lot of entertaining, and this is all on one level; we really like that style," says Laurie. "The openness of the saloon and the galley out to the deck flows really well. And you can have people stay on board and not feel like you're camping."

"The first year we had the boat we went up to Desolation Sound, halfway up to Alaska in Canadian waters. Friends of ours flew in on a sea plane and stayed with us for a week and it was great. We like our privacy and the way the SUV is designed you don't get in each other's personal space - you want to make sure you stay friends!"

Enjoying the wilderness, safely

Canada's Desolation Sound is a vast body of water featuring inlets, isles, coves and an abundance of wildlife. "We see hundreds of bald eagles and salmon; it's really pristine and not at all commercial," says Laurie.

It's a remote and unique environment the Robertsons can now enjoy in complete comfort, safe in the knowledge their Riviera is built for the conditions.

While it's protected from North Pacific swells, the area can prove problematic for boaters.

"The tides here can run 12 to 14 feet low to high," says Brian. "The further north, the more the tide shifts and there are huge currents. It's the most important thing to learn about boating up there. You can be cruising in an area that's 20 feet deep and the next day there are rocks showing. Or there can be rapids in between islands and whirlpools big enough to pull a large boat under. So, you really want to avoid certain areas in certain tides and travel at a slack tide. With this boat we know that we have the power to get through it if needed."

"The electronics help you to determine the tides and when not to go," adds Laurie. "We really use the electronics a lot. We have fog here, dramatic changes in tides, logs to watch for; the weather can change in an instant and all of a sudden, you're dealing with three to four-foot waves and you need a ship that's going to deal with all this and make you feel safe."

"The Riviera takes it like a champ; we used to see a wave coming and we'd be bracing ourselves, but the Riviera just ploughs through it like a tank. We feel really safe in this boat. And the one who really likes it is Cooper, our beagle. He doesn't shake so much as he used to!"

The Robertsons took possession of Summer Salt II in March 2019. With 2020 offering limited opportunities to go boating and international borders with Canada closed at the time of writing, the couple made the most of their third summer in local waters, learning a little more about their Riviera each day.

After more than 30 years driving a traditional shaft drive, Brian says the Riviera's Volvo Penta IPS system took some getting used to.

"It does drive differently and after our first sea trial in Australia I realised it was going to be a change - not so much the size of the boat but the new systems and technology. It was a big jump for us, but we learned very quickly!"

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