Forum Replies Created
Hi Kia Orana,
The southeasterlies start to drop off around October, and the later you leave it after September, the less chance of strong southeasterlies. From late November, you might even be lucky enough to get a norwesterly breeze. I’ve crossed W to E 7 times between late Sept and Dec and I’ve yet to see any sign of a breeze from anywhere near the west. People tell they do exist though.
My strategy is to sit in Gove and wait for a reasonable weather window to head across the Gulf. Anything under 20 knots for a few days is reasonable to me. Dont try it in anything from the east over 25 knots – you won’t enjoy it!
You need to consider cyclones in December. Although unusual to get a cyclone in December, it is possible. If you’re still in FNQ in Dec, keep a close watch on the weather and consult “Cruising the Coral Coast” for the nearest bolt hole if you see a cyclone forming.
The toughest part of the trip can be down the Queensland coast from Cape York to Cairns, where you’re just about guaranteed to get southeasterlies. Be prepared to spend a few days into 15 – 25 knots on the nose. If you’re a power boat, staying close to, and in the lee of the reef can significantly reduce the short, steep seas in this area. If you’re sailing, you’ve got lots of tacking to look forward to.
Have a great trip,
Hi Bruce and Kay,
Good to see you are in the best travel mode for the Kimberley, a power cat.
I look forward to meeting you at the Berkeley. Unfortunately, Ros and I will be staying “on the ground” at the Berkeley Lodge this year. R&R is in the Gold Coast on the market, so we are having a boat free year.
If you’re still in Gove with internet, I suggest you get on the net and book a hire car. June is full on tourist season in the NT and hire cars can be difficult to get at short notice.
You will also get 3G for internet at North Goulbourne Island, and as you pass some of the aboriginal settlements on the mainland, if you’re sailing close to the coast.
All the best,
Good luck trying to see much of the Kimberley in 1 month. You will just scratch the surface.
I suggest you download all the Anchorages from The KCCYC website. The info in there will keep you busy for about 2-3 months at least.
If you haven’t already got one, buy a copy of the Fremantle Sailing Club’s 4th edition of “West Australian Cruising”. It’s invaluable for the trip you are doing.
Use the list of places in east to west order from the anchorage pages in this website. You will get into most of them with a 2.1M draft. You just have to be careful entering the rivers and always go over river bars, or shoal areas on a rising tide, just in case. The really shallow places are noted as such in the anchorages.
Once you are west of the Osborne Islands, there’s plenty more places you will get into that we haven’t got around to writing anchorages about yet, but they will have basic info in the West Australian Cruising sailing guide book, and you can download Dennis and Annette Ford’s Kimberley leaflets from here. It has additional info on some of the more popular places to see.
The above should give you more than enough places to choose from for 1 month’s cruising. Have fun.
11/04/2015 at 5:13 pm in reply to: Fuel Availability between MCGowan Island and Dog Leg Creek #1647
The fuel efficiency and reliability of outboards these days is making ventures like yours possible. We have met 2 separate couples in the last few years who have cruised from Derby to Wyndham in trailable boats. I won’t mention contact details here, but I can put you in touch with one of them if you like. Many jerry cans strapped to the rails was their method of carrying extra fuel.
The barge out of Wyndham that services Kimberley Coastal Camp (Port Warrender) early in the dry season can drop fuel off at KCC for you.
Paspaley Pearls are starting up their Port George (near Kuri Bay) pearl farm again this year (2015) operating off a mother ship. They may take fuel out there in drums for you, but they don’t want to know about small orders, so you will need to contact them to ask. Again, I can give you contact details. They will not be land based at Kuri this year, but next year it’s possible they will be back there in strength.
I spoke to Dean Kemp from Dog Leg creek a few weeks ago, and he is considering putting a small fuel barge in the Sampson Inlet area with ULP, mainly because he is getting quite a few enquiries from outboard motor style boats wanting to venture further out of Derby. Give Dean a call. His number is in the “Fuel in the Kimberley Coast” anchorage leaflet.
Any modern marine GPS plotter will do the job. It’s a matter of how much you want to spend, more than anything else.
You need a good depth sounder/fish finder. You will be spending a lot of time in uncharted water, and you need to keep a close eye on depth. Also, you could be anchoring in areas with 10M tide variance, and its very important to know how much water will be left under your keel when the tide goes out, as well as how much anchor chain to let go.
Radar is handy. If travelling at night, it’s an absolute must have. (Coastal travelling at night is not recommended in the Kimberley if it can be avoided.) Some electronic charts have anomalies in certain areas of the Kimberley coast. (IE they can be up to 100M out.) My Navionics charts are out by about 100M around the Koolan Island area, and there are a few other places they are out by around 20M. When you get close to land, such as in a river, your plotter is likely to show that you are actually on the land. Radar overlay over your chart plotter will show up these anomalies – in these situations, always believe the radar, not the chart plotter.
Radar is also very handy around pearl farms. Most farms have radar reflecting buoys on the farm boundaries. They can be very hard to spot by eye in bad weather, sun glare, or low light, but a radar will pick them up.
Our boat is in the Gold Coast up for sale while our new one is being built. Unfortunately, Ros and I wont be out there this year, except for the KCCYC Beach Party at the Berkeley. We are flying in and staying at the lodge for 4 days. Someone has to keep the French puppeteers under control.
Hope this helps.
- This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by Ross.
Hi Sally & John,
Draft of 1.8M might prevent you entering a few of the shallower rivers like the Drysdale, but I think you will get into most places. You will need to work the tides to get over a few of the shallow bars such as the King George and the Berkeley Rivers. Always go over a river bar on a rising tide just in case you touch bottom. Put a sounder on your dinghy so you can survey the depth before you cross a shallow bar if you aren’t confident of the depth.
The main advantage of a multihull is the shallow draft, which is obviously handy in shallow water. But I can’t see why a multihull would make any difference related to tide and currents. There will be quite a few days with little or no wind, and you will be motoring. If your motoring speed is 7 knots or less, expect to go backwards in some spots if you don’t work the tides. (You will very quickly learn how to work the tides).
Crocs like to mouth things in their territory to test them out (probably to see how they taste). It’s not uncommon to have a fender left hanging over the side at night to get punctured by croc teeth. I have 2 on board as souvenirs. Thats how most of the reports of inflatables being bitten occur. But there are also reports of dinghies being bitten with occupants in the dinghy. The attacks are not restricted to inflatable dinghies, but I would much rather be in a tinny or GRP dinghy if a croc took a liking to it. The fact is that such attacks on dinghies are few, and you would be very unlucky to be attacked. Read these links for more info on RIBS. http://kccyc.org.au/topic/some-help-for-a-kimberly-newbie/ and http://kccyc.org.au/topic/large-crocodiles-attacks-rib-and-kayak-in-kimberley-coast/ Also read the General Information pages about crocs in this website’s Anchorages page.
There have been quite a few reports of crocs lying on the sugar scoop of a vessel, but I’ve yet to hear one where a croc has actually made its way on board into a cockpit. A cup of hot water in the face should get them off a sugar scoop.
There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of safe anchorages along the coast from Yampi Sound to the Berkeley River. Many are no more than half a day’s sailing apart, or less. A “must have” on board is the Fremantle Sailing Club’s “West Australian Cruising” guide book. Latest, 4th edition has just been published. (Jan 2015). Best $80 you will spend. It has been written by sailors of the wind driven kind, so it provides handy info on anchorages that are generally used by sailing yachts. Also print a copy of the anchorage pages on this website. It doesn’t include as many of the overnight type anchorages, but there is much more detail on many of the popular areas, mostly with details of several anchorages in each area.
Adventure is what cruising the Kimberley coast is about. Provided you, your crew and your vessel are well founded, you will love it. And living in Broome, I would put money on a bet that you will be going back for more, year after year. There is no way you can hope to see all the coast in 1 or 2 dry seasons.
Get out there and have fun,
- This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by Ross.
12/02/2015 at 5:53 pm in reply to: West Australian Cruising Guide – Fremantle Sailing Club – Fourth Edition. #1346
Glad to see it at long last. It’s a great book to have on board in the Kimberley.
03/02/2015 at 3:49 pm in reply to: West Australian Cruising Guide – Fremantle Sailing Club – Third Edition. #1345
Edition 4 of the Western Australian Cruising Guide has been published and is available through the normal nautical book outlets. 😀
We used Fannie Bay Gourmet Meats last year. (Same shops as the Fannie Bay Cool Spot Cafe). Meat was great and his service was spot on. We told him what size portions we wanted the meat cryovaced into, with labels on each pack and he froze it for us, which saves the boat freezer a lot of hard work.
I installed a EV Power LiFe 400AH house battery to replace the 6 x 100AH AGM’s on Gemini Lady last year. Saved me over 100kg. We have been delighted with the performance and our Genset run time is down an estimated 25%. We have had no trouble using the existing charging systems on the boat with a few proviso’s from the research I did.
1. Engine start battery left as AGM. Reason – LiFe battery discharge curve so flat that VSR would not isolate and protect charge in start battery.
2. Voltage ripple when charging very damaging to LiFe so only 1 charge system operating at a time. ie. turn off solar when engines running.
3. Set absorb time on all 3 smart regulator systems to zero. When LiFe reaches Absorb voltage 14.6V it is fully charged. Then drop to float at 13.7V.
4. Limit alternator output to 80% so as not to overheat alternators. Reason – LiFe will take all the amps they can get and most standard alternators not designed to run at max output continuously.
5. Limit charge rate to 20% of battery capacity. In my case 80 amps. Run 1 motor at a time as we do or use “small motor mode” on regulator to halve alternator output. Limit 240V charger to 80 amps. Reason – Battery manufacturer recommendation
6. The new battery came with its own BMS and isolator which are connected in series with existing systems and will disconnect battery before it is terminally discharged
7. Don’t rely on voltage or charge percentage for monitoring. Use only amps in and amps out and set Peukert equation in meter to 1.
The only problem I have had is when motoring for a long time my alternator reg drops off float. The highest voltage I can set the re float to is 13.00V. As the discharge curve is so flat the battery would be significantly discharged before re float. Hopefully newer regs will get around this but for now I just turn off the ignition to reset the reg every few hours or so.
Good Luck with it.
Hi Lu Ali,
Are you sailing from Qld to WA, or to Qld from WA and back again? It makes a difference to the weather planning. I don’t know any weather planners, but I’ve done the return trip Qld to Darwin 7 times, and I can’t remember how many times from Darwin to the Kimberley and back.
If you are coming from Qld after the end of the cyclone season, you can expect fairly consistent 20-25 knot east to south easterlies all the way up the Qld coast and across the top end to Darwin. Great sailing weather if your boat likes going down wind. The only dodgy part is crossing the Gulf of Carpentaria from TI to Gove. We’ve spent weeks waiting in Seisia for 30 knot E to SE strong wind warnings to drop off. My advice is wait for a window of weather less than 25 knots, leave Seisia and follow the coast down to around Weipa, then head almost directly west to Gove. If you try sailing directly from TI to Gove, you will likely have the wind and short, steep seas beam on for the whole 300NM. Not ideal in a cat. If its blowing 25 knots, expect 2.5 – 3.0M seas on a 2M swell out in the mid Gulf. OK conditions if it’s stern on, but not much fun beam on in a cat.
West of the Wessel’s, expect 15 – 25 knots most days, mainly east to east south easterlies.
Once you get to the Kimberley, weather planning becomes largely irrelevant, because there are plenty of bolt holes to get out of a good blow. July and August are the best month’s weather wise in the Kimberley once you are west of Cape Bougainville. You can expect most days to be 10 – 20 knots E to SE in the mornings, with an afternoon sea breeze. There will be many days when it will be 5 knots variable. The only stretch of the Kimberley where you need to take advantage of a lull in the SE trade winds, is crossing the Bonaparte Gulf. Don’t tackle it unless it’s below 25 knots, or better still below 15 knots. The “Blownapart” has a reputation for putting sailors off trying it twice, if their first time was in 30 knots. But it’s easy if you are sensible. Just like crossing the G of Carp, it’s sensible to hug the east coast of the Bonaparte down to around Port Keats before turning west to the Berkeley River. But if you get a few days of less than 15 knots, go straight across from Darwin. Some people don’t go to the Berkeley because it’s further south, and head for the King George instead. It’s definitely a mistake to miss the Berkeley River – it’s beautiful.
You can fairly reliably predict the weather yourself up the Qld coast and across the top. The Torres Straights region has some of the most consistent and strongest trade winds in the world, so in that area, it’s easy to predict that you will get 20 – 30 knots east to south easterlies most of the time in the dry season. The wind strength is determined by the weather in the Great Australian Bight. If there is a low approaching the southwest of WA and heading into the Bight, the winds in the north of Australia will drop off as the low crosses the Bight. This knowledge is very handy if you are trying to predict a calmer period up north, up to about 5 – 7 days out. If a high is entering the Bight from WA, the opposite is the case. A high in the middle of the Bight means strong winds up north, and the higher the barometric pressure in the high, the stronger the wind will be up north. It’s really that simple, and I think you would be wasting your money paying a weather planner to tell you exactly the same thing.
I’ve only sailed from Perth to Broome once, so I can’t comment on that part of the route, but I know people who have done it several times, and if you would like to talk to them, I can put you in touch. My understanding of that stretch of coast, is that it’s important to know where you can get out of bad weather, and wait for a good weather window to move on.
All the best,
I’m sitting around with nothing better to do after too much food and drink over Xmas and was looking thru the forum and noticed it’s been 12 months since your last post about your lithium battery system. Have you had any issues with the lithium batteries?
I was really keen to use lithium’s in my new power cat after your story and reading all the data on the net, but my boat builder’s electrician, and one of the Aussie companies that are buying lithium’s from China and packaging them with their proprietary electronics and an USA brand charger, have managed to talk me out of them in the short term. Basically, they told me that if anything goes wrong with them in the Kimberley, I would not be able to fix them myself, or bypass a faulty battery and keep going on the remaining batteries. The tech talk is a bit much for me, but essentially it boiled down to the fact that the lithium batteries and their charging system is run by fairly sophisticated electronics and software. And if the software or electronics failed, I would be unlikely to be able to fix it at sea. They also mentioned something like, if one battery fails, it takes down the whole battery bank and charging system. Which is not really that serious if you are only a day or two from a civilisation, but it becomes quite expensive and inconvenient if you are 5-6 days or more from a major port with a tech capable of fixing the problem. Most well-built boats will have independent engine starting batteries and a generator to run essential AC systems if the house battery system failed, but it would be a major pain in the bum if I had to sail back to Darwin from Yampi Sound to replace a $20 electronic part, or install new software, because I couldn’t diagnose the problem myself.
The short version of the story is that they said lithium battery systems on boats that don’t go far from civilisation are fantastic, but if the boat is heading into very remote areas like the Kimberley, or crossing oceans, then install a conventional lead acid system and wait a few more years for the lithium systems to be well proven.
I also got the story from Dan (you know him) about how he flew to Bali to fix a Mastervolt lithium system on a new yacht, because no-one up there had any idea of how to fix the problem. He said his normal tools such as a multi meter were useless on the lithium and he couldn’t figure out the problem. In the end, after many hours of diagnostics and phone calls with Mastervolt, he downloaded software from Mastervolt and rebooted the system, which fixed the problem.
I am still keen to use lithium’s on R&R II and have about 12 months to make my mind up. (Approx. 1000 amp hours @ 24 volts in the house bank of my new boat.) Has anybody else out there had experience with marine lithium battery systems and would like to make a comment?
01/04/2015 at 7:37 am in reply to: Members Beware of Increased Fisheries and Department of Conservation Presence in Kimberley Coast Waters. #1632
A recent ABC news report shines some light on drinking and driving a recreational vessel in West Australian waters. Apparently its not illegal in WA. Seems ridiculous to me. See http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-30/rescued-drunk-boatie-performed-idiot-act-police-say/6359838?WT.ac=statenews_wa
Good idea. I’ve changed the topic heading to incorporate all boats. If anybody (members or non members) is coming over this year, post a brief idea of your plans here and hopefully you will meet up with others coming over.
- This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Ross.