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A huge thanks to Integrity 490 Grand Sedan owner Chris Newton for sharing with us a story about his recent trip up the might Murray River. It’s fantastic to see how far and wide our boats are taken.
Integrity asked me to write a few lines on a recent trip up the mighty River Murray.
This trip will be the third we have taken since taking delivery of "Scorpio " our Integrity Motor Yachts 490 Grand Sedan some 18 months ago
Many years ago we did a lot of boating in the lower lake system primarily in a racing 25ft yacht and a Sea Ray 36. Then the deep blue water which I had sailed on as a child and teenager called me back so I bought a Fairlane 46 Fly Bridge followed by a Princess 57 Flybridge in which we had some great offshore cruises to places such as Kangaroo Island - Pt Vincent - Pt Lincoln and Coffins Bay on the west coast (home of the best oysters). Then calmer waters - secure anchorages and a wish to once again cruise the Murray once again became attractive.
The Sanctuary Boat Show was the place to find a replacement for the Princess and having looked at 8 or more possibilities the Integrity stood out as the winner due to its appearance, open plan layout and the willingness of Brett and his team to add modifications and equipment that we had on the Princess. The finished product was just brilliant and has proved to be just that in service too.
This February we again left the Hindmarsh Island Marina at Goolwa South Australia in a stiff North Easterly (unusual for the area) and headed upriver past Narnu Bay clearing Clayton Narrows and Rat Island. As we approached PT Sturt, the last land mark to Port as you enter Lake Alexandria, the pressure increased to 35-45 Knots and the wind met the current and the swell increased to a metre plus, and being typical lake water was very short and potentially wet for smaller vessels. This was the first time we had encountered "sea" conditions in Scorpio and she handled it beautifully as expected given its offshore capacities.
Then on auto helm for 24 nautical miles across Lake Alexandrina averaging 8-9 knots with fuel burn of only 18 LPH - a very welcome change from looking at gauges on the Princess telling me we were burning 230 LPH at cruising speed! The entrance to the river entry takes a little caution particularly as there are some shallows on the way in. The Chanel is marked reasonably well but previous experience and 2 large Raymarine screens made it much easier as to the naked eye, and no navigations aids, it’s is easy to take the large waterway into dead water.
Once you enter the River the water is deep and wide as you pass "Wellington Lodge", a beautiful and very old pastoral holding with great history. From then on the banks feature dairy grazing land and scattered "shacks" that for many decades have been the venues for family entertainment with a focus on skiing and all the other water sports, these days however they are hardly shacks but in the main very nice holiday homes with lovely lawns and gardens down to the river edge. That's the case all the way along the river right up to Mildura and the Victorian Border where the station country becomes more prominent as you head on towards Wentworth in NSW.
There is always something to look at on the river and pulling into the willows for a tie up for lunch or overnight stop is so easy and peaceful - no anchor drags or swell!
Next town is Wellington where the ferry handling traffic from the Coorong crosses the river, then It's Tailem Bend passing all the sail and rowing schools along the way, then under the Swanport Bridge (main Melbourne highway) before arriving at Murray Bridge. There are several marina facilities before Murray bridge at Riverglen Marina and Long Island Marina both of which have fuel and water supplies.
With 2000 litres of diesel and same for water we have an enormous range, if we cut boat speed to 6 knots the fuel burn drops to the same number for LPH, needless to say to lift a semi displacement hull out of the water to get up on a plane to our max speed of 15 knots fully loaded the gauge jumps to 70LPH - but that speed takes some of the fun out of cruising the river. I should add the boat showed 17.4 knots on the Broadwater in Qld when first launched and packed light.
After Murray Bridge we had another overnight stop in perfect weather with the excellent ice maker cranking out cubes for the Gin and Tonics and listening to the bird life that comes alive at dawn and dusk. It was an easy haul the next day to Mannum to top up on supplies get some newspapers and enjoy a couple of cold beers on the outside balcony of the "The Mannum Club" which I can thoroughly recommend.
All along the way we see houseboats and several very impressive Marina and Housing developments including the new "Mannum Waters", being a warm weekend the ski boats were plentiful but they all go home at sunset then the river is ours again.
On previous trips we have gone further up the river to Swan Reach and the river views change as you progress to the north east.
We had a leisurely 3 days cruising back to Wellington with swims and long lunches with the odd afternoon nap, and we had planned an overnight there but the forecast for the next day was fresher winds on the nose so in flat calm conditions we went straight over the lake round Pt Sturt down to anchor in Clayton Bay for a swim and lunch and then late afternoon motored back to Hindmarsh Island Marina.
The trip was a duration of 11 great days on the boat, which is beautifully equipped for long distance cruising with all the good comforts including excellent air conditioning and its "openness"and great outside vision just let the miles slip by.
If you want some great boat life and wonderful safe cruising take a trip up the Murray and if you really want the ultimate experience talk to the team at Integrity Boats.
Skipper - Scorpio