Trailer Sailer in the Kimberley

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Investigator 1 year, 10 months ago. This post has been viewed 2659 times

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  • #1937


    Hi, For June next year we are planning a trip to Derby and a 6 week sail out of there to explore the Kimberley. We have been doing as much research as we can, but thought it would be even netter to get in touch with people who have done this before and can offer some advice. We will be in a 27 ft trailer sailer with a 2.9 mt inflatable tender. Some of the concerns we have are:

    • Crocodiles, we don’t intend to fish or be stationary too long in the tender, so are they are real problem?
    • The tidal flow looks phenomenal in places, way too much for a trailer sailer, can these places be easily avoided and yet still see interesting places?
    • King Sound. I am not sure how well we will go in clearing the King Sound in one tide, are there any anchorages, or places to launch further North up the Sound?

    Any other general tips of help much appreciated, and anyone planning a similar trip around that time is welcome to join up.



  • #1942


    Hi John,

    I’m not sure if you are the same John I have had previous email correspondence with regarding sailing a trailer sailor from Darwin to Wyndham. If so, I am probably doubling up on some issues.

    A 2.9M inflatable tender is on the small side, particularly if it is a true inflatable, not a RIB. Personally, I would not be using it for anything but very short and quick trips ashore. I certainly would not be in it if I saw a croc in the area. If you are out there for 6 weeks, I suggest you rethink the inflatable tender idea and go for something like a minimum 3.6M tinny, or equivalent. Tow it if you have to. We have met more than a few people who have had their Kimberley cruise spoiled because they have been too scared to get in their small tender and explore the creeks, beaches and bays, which is what the Kimberley is about. Yes, crocs are a real problem if you don’t treat them seriously, and with a large degree of common sense.

    The only way you will avoid tide problems is by working with them. In King Sound, Yampi Sound and Camden Sound you have chosen an area with some of the biggest tides in the world. If you’re there for 6 weeks, you will go through at least 2, possibly 3 sets of spring tides, so be prepared to wait, and go with the tide. There are very few places in the area you intend cruising where the tidal flow wont present problems for you. Sailing against the tide wont be an option in most areas, and motoring against it will waste a lot of fuel. You will quickly get into the routine of timing your routes to suit the tides. Because your speed will be limited, you need to carefully plan your routes and overnight anchorages within the range you can travel with the tide each day. Also expect to do plenty of motoring, so take sufficient fuel. (Fuel is available at Dog Leg Creek in Yampi Sound). The wind can be less than 5 knots during parts of the day, or for days on end. The predominant breeze is east to southeast, so you’ll be sailing into it on your way east.

    Derby to Yampi Sound is about 85NM, therefore there is no chance you will make it on one tide. And its not the place you would attempt sailing at night without considerable local knowledge. (A rule that goes for most of the Kimberley coast if you’re sailing close in). McKellar Bay, near Point Usborne is likely to be your first anchorage out of Derby – about 40NM. You then have a few bigger bays to stop at, such as Crawford Bay and Cone Bay. My King Sound local knowledge is limited to one trip into the area, so I suggest you get in touch with the guys at Derby VMR and Mary Island Fishing Club. It’s their home turf and I’m sure they’ll pass on their knowledge.

    In Yampi Sound, and further east, there are several good anchorages. I suggest you buy the latest West Australian Cruising Guide, published by the Fremantle Sailing Club, which details many of the anchorages in the area.

    There are no tracks or roads into the area you will be cruising, so Derby is your only option to launch. The area is not generally considered as trailer sailor cruising grounds, so its unlikely you will find like minded sailors to cruise in company with. But Derby is the launching area for faster outboard motor type trailer boat owners who head up to Yampi Sound and Camden Sound for fishing and camping. Many of them live in Derby and Broome and belong to the VMR and the Fishing Club.

    Have a great trip,


  • #2007


    John, if you are chasing info, send me a email and I will fill you in with a lot of details. All will be good.


  • #2008



    [email protected]


  • #2026


    Hi John

    I have just spent a few months up there in a 26ft power boat launching from Derby.  I did three different trips.  The first was 21 days, the second was 14 days.  Both of these trips were between Derby and Deception Bay.  The last trip was from Derby to Wyndham over 30 days.  Happy to share bits and pieces email [email protected]

    Ross is on the mark with the tender.  Crocs are a problem, I had one bite the transom of my 26ft boat for no reason and on two other occasions had them chase me in my RIB.  It is 2.5m with a smaal outboard. It is all workable you just need to be prepared.  Next time i go I will ensure I have tender that can at least get up on the plane.



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