BACK IN BUSINESS: John Clayton has worked hard to get family business Lady Musgrave Cruises up and running again.
BACK IN BUSINESS: John Clayton has worked hard to get family business Lady Musgrave Cruises up and running again. Julia Bartrim

Full steam ahead for Lady Musgrave jet boat plans

JOHN Clayton is pressing ahead with plans to launch a luxury jet boat service from Bundy to Lady Musgrave Island.

Mr Clayton is the long-time operator of Lady Musgrave Cruises, which was devastated in May 2016 when the Spirit of 1770 caught fire and sank near the island.

Despite still being embroiled in a battle with QBE over an insurance payout for the fire, he is ramping up plans for the Bundy service.

A $2.2 million pontoon is ready to be towed to the island, and Mr Clayton also plans to build a state-of-the-art 350-seat jet-powered boat to take passengers in comfort to the only coral island on the Great Barrier Reef with a navigable lagoon.

UNORDERLY: Lady Musgrave Cruises paperwork.
IN ORDER: John Clayton says he is ready to go, with approvals, permits and plans to build a luxury 35m boat in place. TAHLIA STEHBENS

He said there was nowhere like Lady Musgrave not only in Australia but also the world, and that he had rights to the top diving spot in the lagoon.

Mr Clayton has long had plans for the service but his ambitions have been frustrated along the way.

But there's no stopping him now.

"I'm here for the long haul,” Mr Clayton said.

A stunning photo by Tracy Olive of a turtle swimming at Lady Musgrave Island. Photo Contributed
PARADISE: Lady Musgrave Island is a haven for snorkellers. Contributed

He said he also had the necessary approvals and permits in place.

Once the Bundy cruises are up and running, he said he would either run the operation in the long term or sell it.

Mr Clayton said the 35m boat he plans to build, due to its design and powerful engines, would take tourists to the island in total comfort.

The NewsMail last month reported on Mr Clayton's plans to launch a multi-million-dollar lawsuit for losses caused to his business and the towns of Seventeen Seventy and Agnes Water following the fire.

He's seeking $7 million in damages.

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UNIQUE LOCATION: John Clayton says there's nowhere like Lady Musgrave not only in Australia but the world.

In February, Lady Musgrave Cruises began services from Seventeen Seventy to Lady Musgrave for the first time since the fire, albeit with a much smaller capacity.

Mr Clayton's daughter, Carolyn, who is running the Seventeen Seventy operations, said residents' response to the return of the cruises had been "overwhelming”.

Mr Clayton has another project on the go - he's building a jetty upstream of the marina at Seventeen Seventy to service the cruises.

Lady Musgrave Cruises officially re-opened on February 23 2018, using a shallow-bottomed boat to take guests out to the jet boat which traveled to Lady Musgrave Island.
ON TOUR: Lady Musgrave Cruises officially restarted tours to the island in February. Julia Bartrim