some help for a Kimberly newbie

Exit Forum Forums Kimberley Coast Boating Forum. General Interest some help for a Kimberly newbie

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  • #1266


    My wife and I are currently in Gove on our way back to Geraldton from the east coast and plan to spend 2 to 3 months in the Kimberley. It will be our first trip to the Kimberlys. Our boat is a 13 m alloy power boat with twin jets and only draws 0.7m so we intend to do most of our exploring up rivers etc. on this boat.
    Our current dingy is a 4.5m inflatable with a soft floor and I am sure this will not be suitable. We are currently looking at a 3m walkerbay dingy with the inflatable tubes or something like a swift inflatable, again around 3m so my wife and I can drag it. Would prefer a dingy that rows well incase of outboard problems. Any recommendations based on your experience?
    Is there a particular time one needs to be out of the kimberleys by? I am talking here about weather patterns that make boating in the Kimberleys uncomfortable, do strong on shore sea breezes develop in Sept etc? We are considering spending July/ Aug/Sept there.
    Would people recommend fueling at Macgowans or Truscott off the barge. I will need 1000 to 1500 litres by the time I get there. Here I am wondering if there is a significant different in price and if the fuel on the barge is better quality (got a bad dose of the bug last year and now wary of fuel quality).
    Any help would be greatly appreciated

  • #1322


    Hi Graeme,
    You are right about soft bottom inflatables. No good in croc country, and you will be landing on beaches and rock bars often, which will quickly show how vulnerable they are.
    I have a Swift 3.4 RIB with a 15HP Yamaha as one of my tenders. The other is a 3.6 plastic Plaka with 25hp Yamaha. The plastic boats are almost bullet proof, but heavy.

    RIB’s have limited capabilities in the Kimberley. You always have to be wary about puncturing the tubes, which restricts the places you can take it. EG Pushing through mangroves with barnacles and oysters on the branches, or tying up against oyster/barnacle covered rocks etc. The up side is that they are light weight and can be pulled down a beach if you get caught by the tide. You have to be very careful when fishing off a RIB, with hooks, knives, fish barbes etc.

    I suggest that 3M Swift is too small. Try 3.4M at least and get a vinyl “chaps” cover on the tubes to protect the Hypalon. You will feel very uncomfortable in croc country in a 3M tender of any brand, particularly if there is any chop you have to go through. We see people out there every year in small tenders who are too scared to go any distance in them. You need to be capable of motoring several miles away from your mother vessel in your tender, or you will not get to see many of the best places, which are generally only accessible by dinghy.

    Another option is a tinny at least 3.6 long. Down side is that they are heavier and unstable compared to a RIB, but a lot more croc proof. But a Kapten boat collar can fix that. Look at One of the KCCYC members has one on their tinny and they love it.

    July and August are the best months in the Kimberley weather wise. September starts to get humid and hotter. Most days you will get 10-15 knots E to SE breezes, with the occasional 20-25 knot day or two every few weeks. Expect on shore sea breezes most afternoons around 10-20 knots, but they drop off in the evening and come back to E or SE during the night. They are nothing to worry about, because you can always find a sheltered anchorage on the Kimberley Coast. The strong W and NW breezes normally start in Nov – Dec around the start of the cyclone season.

    The fuel in the Kimberley is usually pretty clean. It comes off ships directly from the supplier in Singapore, then from well used port bunkers onto coastal barges that are constantly used and turning the fuel over. McGowan Island Camp would renew their fuel 3-4 times a wet season, so there is little concern about stale fuel or fuel bugs. My choice is McGowan. You can pull up to the beach and load straight from their 40,000 litre road tanker with a hi flow pump with about 50M of hose, a proper hi flow fuel gauge and you take as much as you like. With the Truscott barge, you have to prearrange and pre pay for the fuel in Darwin and if you don’t know how much you will need, you may pay for too much, or be left short if you under estimate. You also have to be there at the time the barge arrives from Darwin, which can be inconvenient. They wont wait around if you are late. Last time I was there in Sept 13, McGowan’s was $2.70 litre for diesel and $3.00 for ULP. Not sure of Truscott’s price, but I imagine the price will be close to McGowan’s by the time they add the freight to get it from Darwin.

    All the best and keep an eye out for us in the Kimberley this year. We will be at the KCCYC Beach Party at the Berkeley River on 30 June, then spending about 2 months cruising around.


  • #1323


    Thanks for the information Ross. Just arrived in Darwin. We will probably be at the Berkeley around then so hopefully we will catch up.
    Thanks again

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