Living and working aboard the specialist expeditionary cruiser Kimberley Quest II is a rich experience for her crew, and an even richer pleasure for her fortunate passengers.

Story By Mark Muller

About 70 percent of the world’s surface is covered in water. The total length of coastline dividing the planet’s land from its sea is, very roughly, equivalent to the distance between the earth and moon. That is to say, there’s a lot of water and a lot of coast. The Kimberley coast of Western Australia is therefore a relatively small part of this big picture, but oh, what a part. It is here that the purpose-built 25-metre luxury cruiser Kimberley Quest II is in her absolute element. She is as at home along the Kimberley coast as the fish, crocs, turtles and whales that passengers and crew experience as part of their time on board. Launched in 2004, the Quest takes 18 guests and six crew, and draws a little more than two metres, which means the nooks and crannies of the coast are extremely accessible, particularly when coupled with the fleet of agile tenders that enable every guest to take off and explore under the guidance of the friendly, competent and knowledgeable crew.
The Kimberley Quest II is designed, built and operated by Jeff and Lynne Ralston and their family through their Broome-based Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises company. The Ralstons offer seven- and 13-day cruising expeditions along the coast from Broome to Wyndham, Wyndham to Mitchell Plateau and Mitchell Plateau to Broome, with variations on that theme. In all, Quest will undertake 26 expeditions during the 2011 season, which runs from late March until early October.
“We made deliberate compromises between luxury and functionality,” Jeff says. “But they were good compromises and there’s still a very high level of comfort – everyone has en suite bathrooms, for example. The size means you can get into a lot of places that are simply unavailable in a bigger ship – and we wanted to ensure that people could get in and see as much of this amazing environment as possible.
“We didn’t shut off any area of the boat – there’s an open wheelhouse so that people can go up there and relax and watch what’s going on as the ship is steaming. We thought long and hard about what we did when we built the boat. And it was always about people – we want it to be like a home that we’re inviting people into. I wanted people to feel when they’re on board that they’re out on a mate’s boat – like you’re sharing in everything that’s going on but being really well looked after at the same time.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #76

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2011