Cruising on The Island Gem
One of the best ways to enjoy the spectacular natural beauty of Bribie Island’s Pumicestone Passage, a 35-kilometre channel of pristine, calm water brimming with marine life, is by boat.
At GemLife Bribie Island, residents have exclusive use of a luxurious custom-built pontoon boat, The Island Gem, perfect for pleasure cruising along the placid waters of the passage.
GemLife Bribie Island residents Neville Wessling and Neil Avery recently registered as pontoon boat drivers and underwent orientation training to make the most of the sunny days ahead, enjoying sessions out on the water with friends.
Both Neville and Neil said many people felt intimidated by the idea of learning to drive a pontoon boat, but shouldn’t.
“It’s really not hard. It’s simple and enjoyable,” said Neil.
“There’s a bit of paperwork to do and procedure checks but it’s all pretty straightforward,” added Neville.
“Like anything, the more you do it, the better and more confident you get.”
For those starting out, Neville recommends asking a more experienced resident to come along for the first few trips.
Last month, residents and friends Andrew, and Toni Farrell, who’ve used the boat before, accompanied the Wesslings’ maiden voyage, which doubled as a surprise tenth anniversary
for Neville’s wife, Therese.
“I thought we were going on a picnic but instead we went on the pontoon boat. It’s absolutely beautiful – there’s plenty of room, the cushions on the seats are deep and comfy and it’s beautifully finished,” said Therese.
“It has a full canopy and blinds that can be zipped shut if the wind whips up. It’s simple to use and you can relax in the shade or go on the front or back decks for a bit of sun,” she said.
“The scenery is gorgeous. We saw dolphins, a stingray, and so many fish. We even saw black swans, which is very unusual. Plus we saw Clive Palmer out on his lavish, Titanic-sized boat!”
Pumicestone Passage, which stretches from the tip of Bribie Island near Caloundra in the north, to Deception Bay in the south, is renowned for its bountiful marine life, including dugongs, turtles, 24 species of migratory shorebirds and 11 species of native shorebirds. In fact, the passage is considered one of the most important bird and marine life habitats on Australia’s eastern coast.
Neil and Neville are keen to encourage more residents to experience the pleasure of pontoon boat cruising.
“What could be better than chilling out and relaxing on the water. The marina can even supply a platter on request,” said Neil.
“Coming back, it feels like you’ve been on a holiday – it’s so relaxing,” said Therese.
The Island Gem is berthed at the Spinnaker Sound Marina at Sandstone Point. Due to COVID-19 social distancing rules, a minimum of four and maximum of five people can use the boat. Usually, the boat comfortably accommodates 12.