Circumnavigating Australia Part 9

Fannie Bay, Darwin – Anchorage at Sailing Club

(Darwin waterfront)


The Fannie Bay anchorage is a very popular spot for locals and visitors alike. Many locals have boats on moorings here throughout the dry season and it is empty during the wet season. Some live aboard their boats on a permanent basis in this location during the dry and either venture into a marina or anchor up Sadgroves Creek during the wet.
This anchorage is ideal for the SE trade winds and is not too bad during the N/NE sea breezes in the afternoon. The anchorage is no good with any west wind side of the compass. The bottom is good holding in sand, yachts with deep draft have to anchor out a fair way out from the beach so it is handy if you have a small outboard for the dinghy or it is a very long row against wind and tide at times.
When the spring tides are about there is a greater distance to cart items at low tide so pick your tides for doing what you need to do.
The Darwin Sailing Club provides for visiting yachts with temporary membership of $15 per person per week. This gives you access to the club amenities, showers, toilets and laundry. In addition to garbage disposal and water for topping up containers.
We do have 20 litre containers that are heavy, so we have purchased some 10 litre containers and each morning I top the main tanks up and take the couple of 10 litre containers ashore and top them up for next morning, this keeps our main tanks topped up each day and teaches us to conserve  water before heading out where water is scarce after not having to worry about it so much being in a marina for six months. We can monitor our usage and adjust to what is necessary.


Just a short walk from the club is the bus stops and the number 4 bus will take you to Darwin City one way or Casuarina the other way.

(Beautiful sunsets)

(On Thursday night we heard a call on VHF 16 from Darwin Harbour asking for any boat in the vicinity of 40Nms west of Darwin there was a passenger boat in trouble, 125 passengers no food no water, the next afternoon this asylum seeker boat was towed in by a patrol boat. The news stated that it was found 200kms NW of Darwin, I don’t think the government wanted people to know how close the seeker boat came without detection).

Other places

Attached to the Darwin Sailing Club is a chandlery and electronics repair and supply.
Next door to the DSC is the Trailer Boat Club
A short walk up the hill (turn left from DSC) Fannie Bay Shopping Centre, very nice cafe, The Cool Spot, there is a small supermarket and I believe a very good butcher a little more expensive that most supermarkets but good quality meat.
A little further (good 20 minute walk) turn right outside the club drive then left go up to the 1934 Qantas Hanger where there is a walkway and you will come to the Parap Shopping Centre, where they have markets on Saturday mornings where there is fresh produce as well as food stalls.
Mindil Beach markets are on now the dry season is here this is held on Thursday and Sunday nights it is possible to dinghy across to the beach from the anchorage.
Looking at a bit of history there is the Old Fannie Bay Gaol just up the road on the way to the Cool Spot Cafe, it is worth a visit the cost is a gold coin donation.

Dry Season has started.

The dry season showed signs of starting around mid April, locals stated that the dragon flies were around which is a sign of the dry although the temperatures during the night hours did not drop until a few days ago. Fannie Bay anchorage has started to fill up with yachts local and visitors like us.
The other indication is the amount of burning off, for the past two weeks the skies have been full of smoke, the smell of smoke and smoke haze is an every day event the day after I washed the boat in the marina the boat was covered in ash.

Darwin to Broome

Kimberley Area here we come.

Friday 17/05/2013

No we are not sailing today we are off tomorrow. There is an old seadog superstition regarding starting a transit on Fridays and my wife won’t sail on a Friday. We sailed once crossing the Pacific starting on a Friday and we got hit pretty hard by a storm that was not predicted so it is now banned. It’s OK to go out for a day sail or a weekend starting on Friday but not a large trip transit. So we go tomorrow on the outgoing tide at 1100 hours. Our first day will take us to Tapa Bay and then over the next two days we will reach Port Keats. This is going to be all new to us so we do not know what to expect.

We are not sure when or where we will be able to update the blog or get any phone or internet service, it may be weeks before you hear from us, there may be a few places in the next couple of days but there will be nothing in the Kimberley area. Our outside communication will be the HF radio for weather etc. I am still trying to carry out adjustment to get sailmail via the HF radio so we can send out emails, no luck so far.

Darwin to the Berkeley River

Saturday 18/05/2013

This morning was a bit of a slow start to begin with as we had a bad night sleep as it started raining at 0230 hours and we had to run around closing hatches, then the brain started ticking over of things we must do before we leave in the morning. So when we got up just after first light we were not on the ball. After breakfast we got it together. I filled the water tanks up and filled all that runs on petrol, then we went ashore filling all water containers and fuel containers for outboards and generator.

Once back on board check all is secure spare water and fuel then we got underway as planned at 1100 hours to catch the outgoing tide. It is a short trip today of 23Nms.

We weighed anchor and got the sails up although winds were slight, once the sails were up we shut down the engines and we started a slow sail of 2.8 knots, this improved as we moved further away from Fannie Bay and before long we were going 6.5 knots. Unfortunately half way to our destination the wind dropped to zero and the an iron sail had to be started which is one thing we are trying to avoid we need to conserve fuel and water from now on. It is 2,000Nms to Broome and a possible three places we may be able to get fuel. So it is important to work the tides as we did today we maintained the 6.5 knots under motor with only one engine due to the tide being with us.

The afternoon sea breeze kicked in from the north east so we got the sails out again for the last couple of miles.

We anchored off Camp Beach in 6.5 metres of water, (6.5 appears to be a popular figure today). It is not really any different to anchoring at Fannie Bay getting protection from winds NE through to South . I would say though in heavy weather it would be uncomfortable and further into Bynoe Harbour would offer more protection.

Earlier days on HMAS Attack (1968) when anchored there Mick O’Halloran and myself would go fishing in Bynoe Harbour and it was the first time I had seen sharks when on the line would swim towards you and you would think they had got off the line and as you pulled the line in they would come out of the water spin in the air and snap your line.

We had a good night sleep and was up early (0430 hours) to catch the tide.

Tapa Bay to Anson Bay – 19/05/2013

After the early start and the wind dropping as we weighed anchor we motored up to and around Fish Reef before turning southwards to Anson Bay. This was not plan ‘A’ was to go to Fog Bay, then Plan ‘B’ was to go to South Peron Island and the occasional “Whatever” came into play with anchoring in the dark late at night.

(Sailing early hours south of Fish Reef after leaving Tapa Bay in the dark.)

We had shall we say a comedy of errors and ones I should kick my own bum for. One of the first items of my neglect was that we had to run the engines first up this morning before we got some wind to sail by, I had all the spare fuel stored but when I looked at the fuel gauge on the port engine I thought we had used more than we should have. The mistake I made was whilst laying around the marina I decided to get things ready early. I topped the fuel tanks right up and later filled all the spare fuel containers then gave it no more thought. Whilst in the marina I ran the engines weekly under load spinning the props etc. Then we left the marina called into the Dinah Beach Club to drop the helpers off then motored around to Fannie Bay which all takes fuel out of the tanks that I did not replace. Goes to show six months in a marina your brain goes dead.

The next thing that happened was that I took my eye off the ball for a very short time under sail and the wind which I knew was going to change with the sea breeze coming in suddenly changed when I was plotting our course on the chart, this resulted in a harsh jibe breaking a fitting on the boom.

We reached Fog Bay and the wind was good so we kept on sailing Nancy had picked an anchorage at South Peron Island suggested by the Kimberley Cruising Guide which is on the southwest end of the island. We had been given other anchorages of note from friends Ron and Barbara but the anchorage between the Peron Islands and mainland were getting a fair beating from the north wind.

We arrived at South Peron Island and I must admit I did not like the look of it at first, I asked Nancy to show me the guide, unfortunately other than pointing out the anchorage it gives little detail. When we got to the anchorage itself there was a large break in the rocky areas and a beach, reading the guide again it stated that this anchorage gives sure protection from NE to SE winds. Well the only way to get protection from the SE winds is to enter the bay itself and it looks as though it can be done safely. I started our approach to the centre of the bay and as we neared the depth gauge went from 4 metres to oops we mounted something. Fortunately as soon as I saw the depth going I had already pulled both engines full astern. The starboard mini keel mounted something but we pulled of it very quick. We tried anchoring further out but the holding was not good, I think it is a place to be avoided. We then set sail or should I say motor sailed to Anson Bay and dropped anchor and downed a beer.

Anson Bay to Berkeley River – 20 & 21/05/2013

What happened to that Plan ‘A’ went out the window again, whatever came into play again. Our plan to go around the coastline of Joseph Bonaparte Gulf also known as ‘Blown Apart Gulf’, they say you should never sail this bay if there is a high pressure system in the Great Australian Bight. Well after sailing yesterday morning again early in the dark and conscious of my fuel mistake I looked at what we could do. The choice is we can still go around the coast and possibly go into Wyndam for additional fuel. Problem is that to go into Wyndam is a trip of 47NMS up the river and back possibility under these conditions we would have to motor. Do the sums nearly 100NMS round trip one engine at 5 knots and fuel consumption 2.5 litres per hour. It would burn nearly all the amount of fuel I require to go in and out of the place.

Then I added all the miles we need to travel around the coast and it calculated that it was less than half the distance to go across Blown Apart Gulf and at the moment there is hardly any wind. As we sailed very slowly under very light winds out of Anson Bay I suggested to Nancy that we do and overnight and go straight to Berkeley River. We had a tough sail at first light winds sailing around 2.8 knots then after the first 15NMS the wind changed and we decided to hoist the mainsail, we had been under headsail as the wind was coming from behind.

(Not knowing what fresh water is going to be available in the rivers systems we had showers on the forward deck with the deck wash pump, yes sea water then a quick rinse with fresh water from the transom shower aft.) Photo by Nancy

(The sun sets over Joseph Bonaparte Gulf)

Went to start the starboard engine and nothing, bugger. Started the port engine got the sails up turned back on course and shut the port engine down. We sailed very well, I said to Nancy I will look at the starboard engine in the morning. We had a good sail and with the wind conditions it is not a bad start point to cross the gulf, if we had left from the top end the wind would have been directly behind us where from here we had a broad reach. As the sun started to set and the moon was about the wind picked up to 20-25 knots and we were sailing between 7.5 and 8.8 knots. It started to back off a little when Nancy took the watch at midnight. By 0230 hours there was very little wind, I sensed the change and went top deck and said to Nancy to start the port engine and we continued to motor sail.

This was to continue through most of my watch at 0400 to 0800 hours then the wind went altogether. Nancy took the watch and I went to look at the starboard engine I knew it was an electrical fault. Checked most things with the multi-meter, removed and cleaned connections. I had Nancy turning the key whilst I checked things and found a loose connection and all was fixed.

(Head in the engine room checking the electrics) Photo by Nancy
(Kimberley ahead)

(Aunty and Uncle Islands near Reveley Island)

We continued to motor to Berkeley River arriving lunch time but I decided to anchor at Reveley Island out front and do a recon trip with the chart-plotter/depth sounder in the dinghy and check the depths with the way-points Ron had given me. The run proved that we had enough water to enter the river, once in the river we anchored and had lunch and a coldie.

(Setting up the depth sounder/chart plotter to check the way into the Berkeley River, I had been given the way-points by Ron and this was to prove the sandbars had not moved and there was enough water over them for us to enter). Photo by Nancy

Whilst sitting there a yacht came down river and anchored across from us, ‘Court Jester’ I have seen the yacht before but I can’t remember where we waved an hello and I think we both settled down as it was near dark and prepared dinner.

(Cart plotter showing the track in and out of the Berkeley River)

Waypoints for entering and leaving the Berkeley River

(1) 14⁰ 21.440’S – 127⁰ 48.220’E                            (2) 14⁰ 21.320’S – 127⁰ 48.100’E

(3) 14⁰ 21.260’S – 127⁰ 47.926’E                            (4) 14⁰ 21.200’S – 127⁰ 47.730’E

(5) 14⁰ 21.160’S – 127⁰ 47.400’E                            (6) 14⁰ 21.130’S – 127⁰ 47.240’E

(7) 14⁰ 21.030’S – 127⁰ 47.190’E                            (8) 14⁰ 20.951’S – 127⁰ 46.886’E

When leaving follow the waypoint backward (8) to (3) at this waypoint change course to the following:

(A) 14⁰ 20.630’S – 127⁰ 48.430’E

(B) 14⁰ 20.500’S – 127⁰ 48.500’E

There is another track shown in the guide books, the above waypoints were supplied by friends Ron and Barbara that have run charters in the Kimberley’s for many years and I thank them for their help.

Anchorages at Reveley Island.

(1) 14⁰ 22.290’S – 127⁰ 48.225’E

(2) 14⁰ 21.690’S – 127⁰ 48.193’E

Berkeley River – Kimberley’s

 Wednesday – 22/05/2013

I woke around 0430 hours (CST) as the boat started to rock slightly, it was near high tide and a tourist vessel ‘Kimberley Quest’ had arrived and went past us before anchoring a little ahead of us, ‘Court Jester’ had left on the same tide.

There is a resort near the mouth of the Berkeley River which attract the sea planes and helicopters along with the tourist boats that operate in the area. ‘Kimberley Quest’ moved upstream from us after breakfast and they have a heli-pad on the top deck they just fold the mast down.

We started to change the dinghies over putting the tinnie in the water and the inflatable on deck, the reason for the tinnie is that where we land in these waterways it is very rocky and the rocks are covered in barnacles, so we have been told. Sharp barnacles are no good for inflatable’s. Once we had completed this task we headed up river for 3NMS to the junction of Casuarina Creek and anchored there. The guide books indicate that catamarans can go up this creek but keel boats should anchor in the main river. Many catamarans have shallow drafts of around 800mm we have a draft of 1.4 metres which is the same as some keel boats. We will take the tinnie up the creek tomorrow and check the depth.

(The old second hand tinnie is good to go, bright noodles as fenders) Photo by Nancy

So far we have not actually seen a croc, we did see something go into the water near the river bank but we did not actually see it. We have seen turtle and dolphins and hundreds of large jelly fish, you can almost walk across the river on their backs they are that plentiful.

(Heading up to the Casuarina Creek anchorage, the sail did not last long as the wind died as we got further into the river)

Casuarina Creek – Kimberley’s

Thursday – 23/05/2013

HF Radio Schedules

The SICYC HF Radio net started on the 20/05/2013 for this year’s cruising season so we have been trying to reach them although I think they are in the wrong direction for the skip. The first morning we tried we could faintly hear Andy on ‘Paws’ but he could not receive us, another club member called ‘Swarrie Two’ (Not sure of the spelling), after talking to them they were at Portland Roads heading for Cape York and then Darwin. We were also picked up by American yachts that were coming across the Pacific Ocean so we had a chat with them. We have made contact with ‘Swarrie Two’ each day they were leaving Cape York this morning. The only contact with the outside world now is via radio, VHF short range and HF long range. We get the weather reports via the HF Radio.

This morning was gorgeous with the waters so still and with the sun that lit up the rock formations, our plan for the day is to wait for an incoming tide then we would take the tinnie up Casuarina Creek and check for fresh water supply and check out the track to the top of the water fall. I filled our fresh water tanks with the water in the additional containers that we carry so we can take empty containers with us to fill up if there is water available.

(As the sun rose it lit up the cliff walls, this is near our anchorage at Casuarina Creek (on the right) junction, the left is up river)

We had an early lunch and then set off up Casuarina Creek, it is a beautiful place with the high rock formations some looking ready to topple, the waterfall was flowing but considering we are just at the end of the wet season it was not flowing as strong as it normally does. This is due to the poor wet season there was little rain in the area, as I have mentioned before that the wet season went east, Queensland and NSW received the rain.

(Casuarina Falls, as you can see there is little water for this time of the year but still beautiful)

After going up to the waterfall and checking out how we could load water we went to the area where you have to climb rocks to go on the walk above the waterfall. Looking at the waterfalls ledge I thought with a little more incoming tide it would be easier to get off the boat with the ledge being a little high at the time we first arrived.

(The rock scree where you climb to the walk to the top of the falls)

(Casuarina Creek) 

We found the place where we could leave the dinghy and climb the rocks to the top. With the tide incoming we could leave the dinghy in the water, I have attached a extra long rope on the anchor so we could secure it well above the water line at high tide. We climbed the rocks and at the top we noticed that someone had made these cairns out of rocks to show the tracks, apparently there are two tracks one to the top of the waterfall and one to the Bradshaw rock art. With the vegetation growth some of these are hard to see. We started off on the wrong track going inland following the cairns which lead to the rock art but then came to an area where we could not see the next marker. I decided we would head back towards the cliff edge and that’s when we picked up the right track. Basically if you want to go to the top of the waterfall just follow the rock edge all the way around.

The views above Casuarina Creek is great with the waterfall and the high rock walls around the creek, when we reached the top of the waterfall there are large and small rock pools , they say because it is three to four metres above the creek’s high tide there aren’t any salt water crocs up there and should be alright to swim. The fact was that the pools were well covered in growth below probably because of the poor wet season that made it very slippery to stand on so we didn’t swim we just sat and dangled the feet in.

(The track is marked with these stone cairn markers)

(Casuarina Falls from a top view point)

(Casuarina Falls from a top view point)

(Nancy at the top)

(The top of Casuarina Falls)

(Nancy by one of the water pools at the top of the Casuarina Falls)

(Top of the falls)

(Top of the falls)
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(Yours truly) Photo by Nancy
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(Nancy and I at the top of the falls) Photo by Nancy

After our trekking we headed back to the dinghy, going down the rocks was harder than climbing them. We loaded the dinghy with the water containers and headed for the waterfall when we got there the ledge was just the right height to step off the dinghy. We filled the water containers and then headed back to the boat.

(Going down the rock scree) Photo by Nancy

(Going down the rock scree)
Photo by Nancy
(Filling water containers) Photo by Nancy.

We know there is a strong wind warning out for this area over the next couple of days and where we are anchored the wind could buffer us a little so as soon as we got back aboard we readied to weigh anchor and head further up the river to Red Falls which is as far as we can go up the river in the boat, you can venture further by dinghy.

(Skipper’s view, beautiful rock formations and colours)

It was unfortunate that we had a dull day with cloud cover it would have been a little better if the sun was out as we travelled up the river to light up the rock walls. However, it was still wonderful to see these high rock walls for all the 7Nms from where were anchored.

The rivers and creeks in the Kimberley’s have not been officially surveyed a catamaran by the name of ‘Topaz’ came here in 2001 and 2003 and drew some great mud maps of the Kimberley waterways which are very helpful. In the Berkeley River itself there is plenty of depth, naturally it pays to go with the tide. I found that keeping centre line in the river is best, however in saying this it pays to deviate where you have rock walls one side and vegetation the other side of the river, to deviate on the rock wall side of the centreline is where the deeper water is, which makes sense the vegetation grows on sandbars. Your best friend is your depth gauge, electronic charts are a guide but you will find in many places they show you going across land.

(One of the charts drawn by ‘Topaz’ crew)

(An example of the track and the chart plotting track)

We arrived at Red Falls just before sunset and we sat and had a coldie and talked of the beauty of this place and what we had just travelled through. I must admit it is always a little nerving entering these new places not knowing depths but the good thing is once we have come to the end of the river I now have the track marked on the chart plotter to lead us back.

Red Falls anchorage – Berkeley River

Friday -24/05/2013

We were up just before first light to try the radio schedule at 0500 hours (WST) but had no success in reaching anyone this far up the creek and with very high cliffs around us. I could hear the Americans radio schedule and they could just hear me. They are around Fiji and Vanuatu.

We watched the sun come up lighting up the cliff faces around us it is a magical place. We did a few chores in the day but mainly relaxed getting photos ready for the blog for whenever we may pick up an internet service but this could be Broome which is weeks away.

Looking up river towards Fresh Water Falls from Red Falls anchorage)

(Red Falls that is usually flowing this time of the year but there is just a slight trickle down the face of the rock.

(Early light on the Berkeley River from Red Falls anchorage)

(Under these fallen rocks is a flat rock surface that yachties used to have BBQ’s and relax, the rock fall has put an end to that)

A friend Ruth who used to be on ‘Backchat’ before she and Jock sold it, gave us a fair amount of information regarding this part of our voyage and one thing she said was if we could we should stay in the Kimberley’s for a full moon she said it is a good experience. Well she was right, it is something to see, we had it the night at the Red Falls anchorage the night before full moon and that was great. It did have some light cloud over it when it was nearly directly overhead but it did clear later.

We also heard a young croc making a noise last night we have not actually seen one yet but we think we may have seen the water move from a one or two on a couple of occasions. There are probably a few that have seen us.

(The moon rises over the cliffs)

Saturday – 25/05/2013

This morning after watching the sunrise and breakfast we loaded the dinghy with our water containers once again and headed up river about 1.5NMS to Fresh Water Falls, again the beauty of this country is wonderful. We found the falls which is not a large falls probably around 3 metres high and there was plenty of water flowing. We climbed above the falls to view some ponds with lovely water lilies, we had a good look around and filled the water containers before going back. On the way back we checked out Red Falls before the sand bars stopped us going in when the tide dropped. In the notes of the Kimberly Cruising Guide it talks of Red Falls with water flowing and a flat rock area below where you can do your washing or have a BBQ. Well the falls at the moment like a few others are dry and there has been a recent rock fall on that flat rock ledge and there is little of the rock ledge not covered with rocks. Also the track and rock climb to get to the top has gone with the rock fall.

(Fresh Water Falls about 1.5Nms further up the river from Red Falls)

(Nancy on the rock edge outside the falls)

(Nancy at the top of Fresh Water Falls with the Berkeley behind)

(The ponds of Fresh Water Falls)

(The beauty of the ponds at Fresh Water Falls)

(Fresh Water Falls)

(Filling the water containers once again)

When you look around the rock cliff faces there are a lot of rocks and columns of rocks that could be widow makers so be a little choosy where you drop anchor or where you go walking or climbing. The rock fall I mention looks rather recent and we noticed a few others that may have been recent, it may have been caused by the earth tremor that was felt in northern Australia a few weeks ago I don’t know. Don’t anchor near the walls.

(Before climbing or anchoring look up and make sure there are not any of these around)

(There are many rocks that just appear to be on a balancing act potential widow makers)

After returning on board and unloading the water we got underway to Amphitheatre Falls which is back down the river about 1NM on the right (going down river) We anchored in the three-way junction and got in the dinghy and headed into the falls again these falls are dry but they are attractive as is the anchorage with high cliffs all around us.

(‘Alana Rose’ at Amphitheatre Falls anchorage)

(Amphitheatre Falls)

We stayed the night I tried a bit of fishing without luck but we had the full moon which was good and I think a better location for the cliff faces to be lit up by the moon. We had a good night, nice dinner a couple of drinks and quite early to bed.

Sunday – 26/05/2013

After breakfast we got underway back to the junction of Casuarina Creek. Today is washing day and we need the water supply to refill our containers after we have done the washing.

We had another problem with the anchor winch again this morning after thinking that we fixed it in Darwin, it appears to have an intermittent fault, it is on the job list tomorrow I have other work today I hope I can find the faulty or at least keep it going until we can get somewhere which will be Broome before we can do anything otherwise it will be lifting the cable by hand.

The journey back down to Casuarina Creek was really good as the sun was shining, when we went up river the other day it was rather cloudy. It really is a special place. We haven’t done all the hikes that are available but what we have done has been great.

We have hardly seen another boat here, we had ‘Court Jester’ leaving as we arrived the tourist vessel ‘Kimberley Quest’ and one other yacht we passed on the way to Red Falls that I could not see its name. Looked like a lone sailor, he had gone on our return trip.

Once anchored we got ready with the washing, I got the washing machine out and started doing the washing, I have a routine to conserve water, I wash all the light clothing using and saving the water from the spin dryer, usually three small loads (the machine is a small 2kg load), then I empty the washing tub and refill with clean water then rinse what has been washed. After that is done I add a little detergent and do another three loads and so on.

After I finish with the rinsing Nancy does the hanging out to dry. When we finished we headed out in the dinghy to fill the containers with water from Casuarina Falls, due to the tide being so low I had to climb up the rocks and fill the drums, we now have full tanks and full containers of water, 800 litre in two tanks 140 litres in containers.

(Collecting more water at Casuarina Falls)

We had a quiet night read our books and just looked out at the lit up waters from the bright moonlight.

Monday – 27/05/2013

Whilst Nancy was out doing her exercises I changed the anchor winch controller with the one I purchased in Darwin, I don’t think this is the problem but at least it eliminates that just in case it is. After breakfast we moved to where we anchored when we first arrived ready to leave tomorrow the anchor winch gave us a little trouble but we kept it working.

After anchoring I pulled the anchor winch out and checked the motor I could not find anything obvious as we did in Darwin with all the carbon build up it looked clean so I put everything back together. I think the main problem is the electric motor is worn and probably requires replacing. I must admit I was a little disappointed when I did not find what the problem was. After cleaning up we sat down with a cup of tea and discussed whether we go back to Darwin for repairs or keep going, we decided to keep going if the winch fails completely we can still operate it manually or pull the chain up hand over hand.

The next job I had to do was pull the log (speed) transducer out and clean the paddle wheel as it has stopped working this is due to a barnacle growing on it. We are fortunate that we can remove the transducer from inside the boat some cannot do this and have to go for a swim and dive down and clean it. Not a good idea to go swimming in these waters too many big lizards around (crocs).

This job was followed by repairing a fishing reel, it was the one we found on the end of our anchor last year at Lake Macquarie the rod and reel had barnacles growing on it but I cleaned it up and got it working but must have missed some of the dirt inside and it locked up when we used it coming out of Darwin.

Then the rest of the day took things easy with the usual nice dinner and a red wine and great scenery.

(The sun sets lighting up the skies)
(Nancy doing what she loves)

(End of another day)

King George River – Kimberley’s

Berkeley River to King George River- The Kimberley’s

Tuesday – 28/05/2013

(Sunrises in the Berkeley River)

Up as usual before sunrise, (life is too short to sleep in), watched the sun come up as we got things ready to sail, the ketch that we saw up the river was doing the same. I take my hat off to him he uses sails only, he appears to be a sole sailor and does very well similar to my ole mate Leigh on ‘Mi Querida’. We are a little too heavy and we do not have the light sails to do the same, we have to get out in some wind to achieve the same results, 3 knots of wind will not work for us.

He also knew the short route out of the Berkeley River as he took and different route to us. I may be a little too careful but I followed the guide book track and which followed part of our track in which waypoints were given to us by friends Ron and Barbara of ‘Opal Shell’. I went with what I knew to be safe it was a little longer track but we got there. When we got out in the deeper water and some decent wind we hoisted the mainsail and unfurled the headsail and we were off. We had around 18 knots of wind on a very broad reach to do this we had to head out to sea a little then as we passed Elsie Island we changed course for a rhumb line to King George River , this put the wind directly behind us so we trimmed the mainsail and furled the headsail is it was shadowed by the mainsail.

The ketch was a little in front of us and closer to the coast we appeared to be doing the same speed as our positions between each other did not change our speeds ranged from 6.5 to 7.5 knots waves were around a 1 metre. I noticed as we neared Seaplane Bay that he changed course to enter the bay, we had thought of doing this but decided that we would go through to King George River. A little later on we felt that he was the wise one and we weren’t. The tide change and although it is not big tides they run fast. we went from 6.5 knots down to 4 knots to start with although we had the same 15-20 knots winds.

Just north west of Wells Patches there is a section of lad that sticks out like a finger, 5NMS before Cape Rulheires as I approached at a safe distance I noticed that the water was stirred up around the point and a fair way out to sea, our mate George (autopilot) was having a little trouble staying on course as the seas tried to take us closer to shore, this continued although I kept adding a few degrees to starboard. In the end I gave George a rest and steered by hand. When we got closer the seas became confused and the waves were standing up and coming from a few directions our speed had dropped to 1.7 knots. This brings the situation under such seas that one can lose steerage. I started an engine to assist we still had the same wind speeds and with one engine we still did not go more than 1.9 – 2.1 knots, I started the other engine and it made little difference and the seas were still confused with around 2 metre wave coming in different directions and making things a little uncomfortable, this lasted for near 1NM and then the waves settled down but we still had the tide against us we continued to motor sail the last 4NMS to the King George River anchorage. With both engines we still only achieved 4.5 knots. So lesson learnt work better with the tides. We had expected to work with the tides after King George River as the tides start to get rather large but here we have tides of around 2 metres difference.

We anchored in the bay at the mouth of King Georges River and after tidying the sails and covers we sat down for a nice cold beer and then watched a brilliant sky during and after sunset.

(Sunset in Koolama Bay, entrance to King George River)

King George River

Wednesday 29/05/2013

Up again before the sun was awake, we had a mission this morning to lower the dinghy a act like Captain Cook and survey the track into the river mouth over the sandbars. We originally thought that we would follow the way-points provided by the guide book Kimberley Cruising. My trick was to enter the way-points given and then follow them in the dinghy with a chart plotter/depth sonar to see if the sandbars had moved since the guide referred to 2006. I was entering the way-points into the chart plotter and noticed that the way-point outside the sandbar and the one inside had the same coordinates, obviously a misprint. So we took the first one and as we started our survey we noticed a commercial tourist boat leaving an anchorage in another bay. We had got to the sandbar and found a track across but quite shallow. When we realised that the other vessel ‘Great Escape’ was going in we called him up on the radio and followed his track in with the dinghy this placed a track on our chart plotter so we then returned to the boat and followed that track in.

Details of way-points for the sand bar will be on Sunday 02/06/2013 heading.

On entering we kept to the right hand side of the river as we have been advised through information that we have that it is shallow on the mangrove areas on the left, staying on that side for about a mile and then the water is deeper. Once across the sandbar entrance which the shallowest water was 2.1 metres (we have 1.4 metre draft), the water ranges from 4 to 11.5 metres to where we anchored.

(Topaz’ KGR mud map)

(Entering King George Falls)

We anchored at what we call Ron’s anchorage, information we obtained from friends Ron and Barbara, this anchorage is a little further along the river than the one that is marked on most guides, it does not get as much wind as the other anchorage it just means that one has to travel a little further in the dinghy to the falls which is located in the east arm that is around 2Nms from the mouth of the river. The falls are slightly hidden from the main arm and as you near the end you turn to starboard through a passage in the mangroves and the falls are near the end of that. They say there is a 3 metre croc that resides here but we did not spy it. Near the falls there is a rope ladder and a thick rope for those daring people that wish to climb a vertical rock wall. Nancy was not that keen in trying and I must say these days I don’t think I was upset about that decision. It is a pity as it would have been nice to see the attractions that are at the top that has rock pools and Bradshaw Art. (Bradshaw rock art is ancient artworks on the rocks that were before the Australian Aboriginal times, it is thought to be art made by people of like African types it has also been thought that it was painting of spacemen. There is a lot of these painting around the NW Australian area).

(Ron’s anchorage 180 degree view)

(The East Arm Falls, they say there is a croc that lives in the area so don’t fall in, again we did not see it not saying it did not see us)

(As you can see the rope climb is alright until just over half way then it is straight up with very little foot hold, I don’t think my knees would take it these days)

We returned to the boat after assessing if we could get water from these falls, we considered it difficult but not impossible but we thought we would look at the main King George Falls before we decided where to get water before we leave. These falls are not flowing as strong as what we have seen in photos of past times which is naturally due to the poor wet season this year.

It was indicated in material we had researched that near our anchorage on the shores edge it was good fishing at low tide, as always with my fishing skills I proved this to be incorrect, never caught a bloody thing.

We had a quiet night with all the lovely insects that liked our light, these gnats ignore repellent, we use Bushman’s because it is very strong, if you need a nail polish remover this stuff will do it. The gnats or midges as they are known love it. We have not had many mossies or sand flies. In the day we have the occasional bush fly visit, I spray them with repellent, it drives them mad trying to get away from themselves. (Joking).

Thursday – 30/05/2013

This morning we decided to head up river as we were getting ready the single handed sailor came by, this is the one that left the Berkeley River the same time as us and anchored at Seaplane Bay. We said g’day to him as he passed and he was heading the same place as us. He had a motor running that I could not hear, which is not unusual for me without my hearing aids. He was going quite slow.

We lifted the anchor and got underway on one engine at slow ahead which with the tide going with us we were at 3.6 knots and we passed our friend on his ketch named ‘Dharma’. I found there is plenty of depth in this river I kept to the centre of the river although where there were mangroves a tended to move a little away from them and found the deepest water. We had depths from 5.5 to 18.6 metres. Just before the King George Falls there is a stretch of river around 6 to 8 metres which is a good anchorage. The information from ‘Topaz’ shows an anchorage closer to the falls of around 6 metres, we could not locate this, it may still be there but it may not. ‘Topaz’ notes refer to their visit in 2001 and 2003. Things do change as we have seen so far in the Berkeley where rocks have taken out a place where yachties used to BBQ. However, I must point out that these works of ‘Topaz’ and others still have great information that is still relevant but all information is a guide just like our modern chart plotters.

(Arriving at King George Falls, the green slope to the right is where the climb starts, dinghy to the far end of the green and there is a wooden stake standing up, that’s where the climb begins)

(Our anchorage at King George Falls. 14⁰02.308’S-127⁰19.511’E good holding in 6 metre with sand and some mud bottom)

After anchoring we had breakfast and got organised, I topped the water tanks up with the spare containers and put the empties in the dinghy ready to see where and if we could get water.

 When we got to the falls they were spectacular but again not flowing as they probably should be for this time of year. The water was thundering down and without filling the dinghy it was not possible to fill our containers. However, on the eastern falls along its eastern wall there was another small waterfall that was basically trickling water so after trying other places we went to this place and filled our containers.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 30-05-2013-king-george-falls.jpg

(King George Falls)

(King George Falls, East Falls)

(King George Falls – West Falls)

(The watery gardens on trickle falls)

(We wedged the front of the tinnie in a crevice and had an oar wedged in another slit in the rock wall, I held the tinnie in place whilst Nancy collected the water)

On our return we noticed that our friend off the ketch was heading over to the climb for the walk which we intend to do tomorrow. We returned on board and unloaded the water, by this time it was lunch time. After lunch I did a couple of jobs and sat and read a book, Nancy went out on the tramps to lay in the sun, she has not learnt, she has always been a sun lover, she only spend 30 minutes each side. She takes a top with her just in case someone comes along and I am usually the early warning system with such matters. But today a helicopter suddenly appeared without warning, I yelled out to Nancy whilst laughing, “Did you get caught” she answered that she was laying on her stomach.

A little later our solo sailor came by returning from his hike, we asked how it was and he said good. We had a chat and he was telling us he does not carry any fuel, he uses his sails 99.9% of the time, he has converted a 3hp outboard replacing the engine power head with an electric motor from a starter motor and that is what he uses when coming into places like this where you cannot sail. He has come from Cairns and is sailing around the NW area before heading back. He told us that the helicopter that we saw was conducting incendiary drops burning off the wet season growth. Later on we could smell the smoke from the fires.

We had another nice day in the Kimberley but have yet to catch a fish.

King George Falls

Friday 31/05/2013

(King George Falls in the early light of the sun)

This morning as the sun was appearing our friend on ‘Dharma’ pulled anchor by hand and set a headsail to go down river with the tide although I think he had to use the motor as well as the wind just flapped his sail. We had breakfast then prepared to head off to the falls walk and climb.

(‘Dharma’ setting sail in the early sun)

I had the backpack with a bottle of water, VHF handheld radio, handheld GPS, first aid kit, some food, small towel, sun screen lotion and camera. We took the tinnie over to the rock climb this rock climb like others are the result of rocks falling in earlier times causing a partial slope they refer to as a rock scree. The one at Casuarina Falls in the Berkeley was made up of small type rocks, this one is a mixture of large rocks and small rocks. The climb is steep but not too taxing. However, it’s always nice to see the climb behind you. The best place to start the climb is at the falls end of the rock scree, there is a wooded stake marking the spot which is made of an old tree branch. The track up is quite obvious and where it has some choices there are cairn markers to show the way.

(Nancy on the climb up)

Once at the top the views are fantastic, there are cairn markers to show you the way, with the vegetation they are hard to see and in some areas there are worn paths in the soil bed between some of the rocks. This makes things easier although I did use the handheld GPS to track us just in case some of the cairns had been destroyed as the case at Casuarina, we replace and add new ones as we go or repair ones that are hard to see.

(Cairn markers on the way to the top of the falls)

(Some of the flowers)

(King George western falls from the top)

(The landscape at the top of the falls)

(Nancy stepping across the rocks crossing one of the ponds)

(Nancy having a drink from the flowing waters)

(More of the rock pools)
(Small waterfalls formed by the rocks)

(No she has not fallen over, she is just a crazy lady with a camera that sees things normal people do not see and she gets in these different positions to get the photo she wants. Yes that edge behind her goes right down to the bottom of the falls. She does very well with her camera)

(‘Alana Rose’ from the top of the falls)

(Some of the small woody plants at the top of the falls)

(Looking down from the top of the west falls, the low green near the water is where the climb starts)

As I have said before that the falls are suffering badly from the poor wet season the falls that are flowing are not what they should be this early in the year going on photos that have been taken in other years.

The top of the falls is very pretty with some floral vegetation and the different trees, the rock pools are flowing well but not deep. We only covered the west falls walking upstream for a fair distance before turning back. We followed our track back to the where we had to climb down, the climb down is a little tougher in places than going up as you have to slide on you bum on some large sloping rocks.

(Long way down to the bottom) Photo by Nancy

When we arrived at the bottom we retrieved the tinnie the tide had come in and it had floated on the anchor rope but was fully secure. That is another important factor when choosing times to go on walks is the tides, not so bad here but when we get further west the tides are a lot larger.

After getting in the tinnie we headed over to the trickling falls on the east falls area where it is easier although slower to top up the water containers that we had brought with us. We are conscious of water availability taking into consideration that some falls are dry we are not sure what lies ahead so we keep the tanks and containers full as it may be Broome before we get a water supply.

With all the water topped up we returned to the boat and unloaded everything and by that time it was time for lunch and a rest. Nancy went out on the tramps again daring any chopper to fly over and catch her topless I stayed in the shade of the cockpit and read my book. So we had a quiet afternoon looking and preparing the photos for the blog when we get some service.

Later we had beer o’clock and listened to the weather on the HF radio and then we discussed what other rivers we would do and don’t do. We have decided we will not attempt the Drysdale River, it is classed as for catamarans only and not keel boats, well the cats they are talking about have about an 800 mm draft, we have normally a 1.4 metre draft but with all the food, extra water and fuel we are carrying we could be around 1.5 metres or a little more. Leopard cats have mini keels which gives them the deeper draft. ‘Topaz’ notes indicate that he had 1.5 metres water depth at the beginning of the Drysdale River that goes for quite away.

As sunset upon us we decided to close the doors to the saloon to stop the multitudes of night insects getting in, we also just had one of the insect candles burning and no light on in the cockpit, this reduced the numbers bombing us and they just stayed around where the candle was.

The night was clear and we went out and looked at the sky and with no lights around the sky was lit up with bright stars it was quite something. after a cup of tea we turned into bed and had a good night sleep.

King George River – Darwin Stress Busters ‘Bar-b-q Beach’

Saturday – 01/06/2013

(180⁰ view of Bar-b-q Beach anchorage, the beach is behind these mangroves, there are two small gaps in the mangroves where a dinghy can beach, care must be taken as there is a croc that patrols this area but is not known to bother anyone, we did not see it)

(What we do with plastic items, Nancy saves the plastic contains such as these soda water bottles she the cuts up anything that is plastic and forces it into the bottle, this includes other plastic containers, glad rap, plastic food wraps etc. We then store the bottles until we get to a port where we can dispose of them. We have two rubbish small wheelie bins on board that cater for other types of solid rubbish)

(Rubbish control, we made a fireplace in the rocks to cook a little meat which is one way of burning any paper and cardboard rubbish which accumulates from tissues, paper towel, food containers, empty beer containers etc.)

(In the bay the other side of the mangroves looking back at AR with a great backdrop)

(Nearby are these structures that look like building blocks, it is like someone has just stacked them)

We got up had a cup of tea and then weighed anchor and motored down the river to where there is a sharp bend and opposite is mangroves with a waterway and there is a beach which has been named as above. We no sooner dropped the anchor when we heard motors it was four very large inflatable dinghies filled with tourists heading up to the falls. Then soon after that two more arrived and went into the beach where we were going, and there’s more. Four other headed up to the falls and then a motor boat . They are off the ‘Orion’ tourist ship. The ‘Orion’s’ draft would not permit it to enter the river mouth I guess and it is probably anchored out in the bay. Well this continued all day with the boats going to and from so we decided to just have a lazy day on board.

Sunday – 02/06/2013

We have been enjoying ourselves that much that we have not been concentrating on the new area of sailing, maybe it is due to being in a marina for six months makes the brain go dead. The fact is that it is very different sailing here due to the crazy tide system. We basically have tow tides a day but in actual fact we have a low tide and a mini low tide and the same with the high tides. Depth of tides and time of tides are very important to getting in and out of rivers. I started looking at the tides this morning to decide when we should leave, long story short if we don’t get out today we might not get out for another week. I did the quick calculation and decided if we weighed anchor straight away we could get to the sandbar by high tide which was at 2.06 metres at Lesueur Island which is less at the sandbar. As we were coming out passed our first anchorage a yacht ‘Tryphena’ was just about to anchor, Nancy called them up to see if they had just crossed the sandbar they said they had and had a depth of 1.6 metres they also stated they came the usual track which could be the one in the guide. We headed out thinking 1.6 metres we are normally 1.4 metres but with all the extras on board we could be 1.5 metres at least. I had studied the Google Earth satellite picture and the track ‘Great Escape’ showed us the other day and found that they were lined up quite well so we followed that track and the shallowest point was 1.9 metres and to give this some reference according to the tide chart at that point in time it was 2.01 at Lesueur Island. I have listed the waypoints and showed the basic track on the chart below.

Chart and waypoints.

Way-points for entering and leaving King George River, please note that all sandbars move from time to time however looking at Google Earth this sandbar has not changed much since 2011.

(1) 13⁰ 56.775’S – 127⁰ 19.033’E

(2) 13⁰ 57.166’S – 127⁰ 19.472’E

(3) 13⁰ 57.270’S – 127⁰ 19.574’E

(4) 13⁰ 57.481’S – 127⁰ 19.674’E

(5) 13⁰ 57.585’S – 127⁰ 19.807’E

Once at the No. (5) way-point stay on the right hand side of the river for around 1Nm as the left hand side where the beach and mangroves are it is very shallow. Travelling in the river we found depths between 3.5 and 18 metres. For large keel boats you would need to plan your visit around spring tides.

(The track that we took on leaving)

(Courtesy of Google Earth I have copied this for the safety of other boats that may read this before attempting to enter the crossing, it shows the sand bar in 2011 and it is much the same today, comparing these two pictures above identifies the present channel)

Note! At this point in time the directions given from the Darwin Sailing Club website gives two way-points and there is typing error that states both way-points are the same, it also states that you can enter through these way-points with the lining up of the light on Lesueur Island and staying on a course of 160⁰ true. This will get you in on a good tide however, it is shallower than the above track given by 300 mm which can make a difference with some boats.

Some guides like the Fremantle Yacht Club guide does not give any suggestions as far as tracks in, they have one comment that one skipper sat outside for a week trying to find the way in using dinghy and depth gauge before giving up and at times of very low tides there would be a problem finding a way in.

Koolama Bay to Seahorse Bay – Kimberley’s

Anchorages Koolama Bay

There are a few anchorages given in the guide books as shown on the chart below, we anchored in two places and found that anchorage (2) was good with a 25 knot SE blowing.

(1) 13⁰ 56.334’S – 127⁰ 19.714’E around 5m depth

2) 13⁰ 55.377’S – 127⁰ 19’432’E around 9m depth

(Numerous anchorages to choose from)

After anchoring and having some lunch we watched the tide behaviour in the bay to get some idea of when the change occurs, we have a number of guides that we are using and when it comes to tides there is some variations between them and considering these guides were written many years ago things can change. We noticed that high tide in Koolama Bay occurred one hour before Lesueur Island tide charts, however, still tide remained for one hour before there was any significant tide change.

As we had lunch we discussed the tides and when we can get underway as you have to go with the tide or you just do not get anywhere and we decided now the tide was starting to go out we thought we would make use of it and go up the coast to one of the bays. We had light winds by then of around 8-10 knots and it was from behind with a beam sea so we used the headsail, it was slow going but we have to save fuel, through the water we were going between 2.5 and 2.9 knots but with the tidal flow we travelled at 3.5 to 3.9 knots across the ground. So you can see why one needs to go with the tide.

The bays we are going to are unnamed and unsurveyed so we are sailing on depth gauge in many places. We chose to go into an officially unnamed bay but is known as Seahorse Bay by friends Ron and Barbara. Ron had pointed out a couple of anchorages in this bay and where we could take a short cut through close by small islands.

As we approached the unsurveyed area between the islands and mainland we furled the headsail and started an engine so we had better control if we needed to pull up fast. The only difficulty we had was when we had passed the point of the mainland and thought we were clear of any shallows we started running out of water and had to turn closer to the island, we finally found the track in to the first anchorage. Track and anchorage shown below.

(Our track taken from Koolama Bay to Seahorse Bay)

(Our track between the islands and mainland and anchorages of choice)

The following are waypoints of the track we went please note that there are shallow sandbar extending out from the mainland point this is the reason for the large arc before turning south.


(1) 13⁰ 53.453’S – 127⁰ 11.552’E (2) 13⁰ 53.613’S – 127⁰ 11.254’E

(3) 13⁰ 54’104’S – 127⁰ 10.855’E (4) 13⁰ 54.437’S – 127⁰ 10’524’E

(5) 13⁰ 54.437’S – 127⁰ 10’362’E (6) 13⁰ 54.376’S – 127⁰ 09.895’E

(7) 13⁰ 54.322’S – 127⁰ 09.539’E (8) 13⁰ 54.776’S – 127⁰ 09.153’E

Monday – 03/06/2013

We initially anchored at the top anchorage or near to it but moved this morning after 25 – 29 knots of wind came in from the east and moved to the centre anchorage near the first beach where we are still getting the wind but little fetch, we are in 5 metres of water sandy mud which is good holding. This anchorage should be good for winds ranging from SE to NE.

Anchorage waypoint. 13⁰ 56.483’S – 127⁰ 09.121’E

It looks like these winds are here for the next two days so we may stay put and stay away from Blown apart gulf.


Having sundowners in the cockpit I noticed something moving out the back, I stood up to look and it was one of the neighbours visiting, come over to check us out, a crocodile around the 3 metres in length, big solid one at that. I got a couple of pictures before he dived under the back of the boat.

(We are told that when you see the head just above the water as in the lower picture, the length of the head is one eighth of the full length of the croc, this bottom picture shows how long this croc is given that he was about 20 metres from the back of the boat)
(This photo shows the ratio of head size to body as it is straight)

We make sure we do not hang around the steps on the back. I checked a little later with the torch but no red eyes were seen so he must have just come by to check us out and let us know it’s his territory.

Seahorse Bay –

Tuesday 04/06/2013

(Sunrise this morning an incredible sky takes ones breath away)

Whilst having breakfast we were trying to work out when we can leave here to go around the top of Cape Londonderry, we have to work out the tides as they change at that point, we need the tide going out to get to the Cape which I may add is the most furthest point north of the West Australian mainland, and we need the flooding tide after we round the Cape otherwise you can get (1) 3.5 knots of current against you and (2) very rough clashes of the two tides meeting.

We have got a plan, we leave here at 0730 hours tomorrow giving us 5 hours to get to the Cape just around the time of the tide change and then meet the flooding tide as we round the Cape towards Cape Talbot where we will anchor hopefully just before dark.

Today we are still getting 25 knots plus of wind from the east, so it is a relax day.

After the nosy neighbour came over last night (the croc), I thought it would be a good idea to erect some barriers at the transom sugar scoop steps. We have these low wide transom steps which are great for swimming off and sitting on or getting gear and oneself on and off the boat, not that you would swim or sit there in this part of Australia. They also make it easier for crocodiles to come aboard or any other sea life that is capable like the sea lions in the Galapagos Islands that thought they were a great place to lie in the sun.

So this morning we decided to make them out of vinyl material so we cut some material and I put eyelets to string it across the top of the steps and then installed them. These I might add are only deterrents if a croc wanted to dive through them he could but usually if they see something solid they will not try unless there is a fish or something to eat the other side of it close by. Behind these we have put the rubbish wheelie bins and Nancy’s herb garden planter boxes which assist the material just in case.

(Making the vinyl croc deterrents, naturally in the dress of the day, jockettes)
This was our dress on board unless visitors came, made for less laundry.

(Vinyl barrier backed up with Nancy’s herb garden and the rubbish bin.)


We looked around at sunset to see if the croc came to visit and he was not seen so after sundowners Nancy got dinner ready and we were sitting in the cockpit eating our dinner when we heard the rubbish bin move. The croc had come to visit, Nancy had made a fish dish for dinner which he could obviously smell and wanted to join us. What probably did not help is that it was also dark in the cockpit as we had a small light on the table so we did not attract the insects also Nancy had washed the fish scrap down the galley sink which probably attracted him to us in the first place. I shone the torch on him and he went over to the other step then back to the first before he decided that it was better to move on but he did take his time. So I was very pleased that I put up the barriers.

The guide books state that if you are at anchor and you catch fish, clean the fish away from your boat, go ashore somewhere and do it otherwise it will attract them to your boat.

Seahorse Bay to Chimney Creek – Kimberley’s

Wednesday – 05/06/2013

We got underway early around 0650 hours we had a mission to meet the tides in the right place to get around Cape Londonderry without too rougher seas. Coming out of Seahorse Bay was done with extra care as we were in unsurveyed waters and we found a few shallow sections coming in. However, there was no problems we headed out from the anchorage steering for the 9 metre depth patch on the edge of the surveyed waters west of the island and we had depths from 5 metres through to 13 metres. It was quite a good anchorage considering the wind strength and the swell outside. We still had wind strength buffeting us but no wind waves and very little swell when we got out past the island the swell was 1.5 metres with the occasional 2 metre swell rolling in.

With the wind behind us of 10-15 knots we used the headsail as the sea was almost beam on and rocking us about quite a lot, the mainsail under these conditions would slap and shake the wind out of the sail. The headsail was good and going with the tide we went along steadily at 4 – 5 knots.

As we was leaving the bay another catamaran came out of Glycosmis Bay the next bay west of us. Nancy talked to them on the radio, the boat name was ‘Blue Bones’ 11 metre Elite from Wyndham they had been to the Osborne Islands for 6 weeks and was returning home. Nancy asked what the Cape Londonderry was like, they said it was rough but he did not have water coming over the bows. We asked about what one guide book states about going 5 Nms of the point to miss the worst rough sea, he advised against it stating that when it is rough there it goes out miles to sea and you would still get it, he said the best is to be as close to the reef as safety will allow, he actually goes as close as only having 5 metres under the keel. Naturally he has done this trip a number of times and knows the waters, I would not go in that close when I do not know the seas behaviour.

We kept going and as we neared Cape Londonderry I could see a little white water on the horizon however that turned out to be the water crashing on the reefs. I was hoping that we had picked the good time to go around this area by working with the times of the tides with the two different tides in this area being at the point of still tide or close to it.

As it worked out we got very close to it and the only rough water we had was the seas raised a little to 2 metres and was rapid other than being a little bumpy it was not too bad.

(Working with the tides, Geranium Harbour chart left and Lesueur Island to the right, these are each side of Cape Londonderry we are sailing on the ebb tide)

(Cape Londonderry where the two ebbing tides meet our plan is to get to this change point when the tides have eased.)

(The track we took around Cape Londonderry and down past Cape Talbot)

(The tide charts again as we approach the tide change point, at this time the seas were not bad a bit of increase in size of the waves but nothing to worry us.)

(The tide chart as we started around the other side to Cape Talbot riding the incoming tide that was flowing with us)

(This shows the difference in working the tides the log on the depth gauge shows the speed of 4.9 knots going through the water, the chart plotter GPS shows a speed of 6.3 knots going across the ground which is a gain of 1.4 knots)

We rounded the Capes and headed south to Chimney Creek and anchored just before sunset, once settled it was sundowners dinner and early to bed as we have to catch the tide in the morning to sail to Mission Bay.

(Chimney Creek anchorage 13⁰52.644’S-126⁰47.177’E, we anchored in about 5 metres of water, good holding sandy bottom, it is possible to go closer into the land but we stay out a little for peace of mind and hopefully less insects)

(Sunset from Chimney Creek anchorage)

Mission Bay – Mission Cove – Pago – Kimberley’s

Thursday – 06/06/2013

Up at 0500 hours for the radio schedule but could only receive the Americans crossing the Pacific anyway we wanted to get going to catch the incoming tide as high tide is at 0900 hours and we have 19NMS to sail before that happens. We had to motor sail most of the way due to the lack of wind and the wind being on the nose. It was a great morning with a cloudy red sunrise. We had the tide with us all the way which gave us greater speed across the ground by about an extra knot.

We arrived through Mission Bay to Mission Cove and dropped anchor where the chart indicates 3.3 metre that was around 7.2 metres on the depth gauge.

(Mission Cove, Pago anchorage 14⁰06.420’S-126⁰42.719’E good anchorage and sheltered from any swell. The arrow points to the gap in the mangroves where the rusty drums are where the track is to Pago Mission Ruins this point is 14⁰07.288’S-126⁰42.930’E, walk past the drums and there is a well worn four wheel drive track to follow)

Pago in Mission Cove was an original site for a mission in 1906 chosen by the Benedictine Monks from New Norcia, the ruins of the mission are still here not that there is much to see other than some posts and the floor. In later days there was a campground but this got badly damaged in 2005 by Cyclone Ingrid and then ceased to operate. Today there is a small dwelling there, no one was home when we went by, the dwelling is very close to the old carriage remains that are noted in the guide, personally now that there is a dwelling there it makes it as though one is intruding by visiting. We did not see everything as the vegetation was very high and there had been a recent bush fire through the area. This the bay is a very nice anchorage and well protected if the weather turns nasty. The landscape is low and you will get the winds but very little area for fetch.

Honeymoon Bay

Friday – 07/06/2013

Honeymoon Bay is a short distance from Pago we passed it on the way in to Mission Cove. We weighed anchor after breakfast and motored the 3NMS into this bay. As we were entering a tinnie with three people were heading out fishing and they called by to tell me to take a bit more of an arc in my track in as there was a shallow area where I was heading, they then waved and said we may catch up later.

(Honeymoon Bay anchorage 14⁰06.021’S-126⁰40.899’E, keep well to the centre of the bay before final turning into the anchorage off the campground there is a rocky ridge in shallow water where that section of land protrudes into the bay, good anchorage, may get a slight swell from the main bay north.)

As we anchored the wind kicked in from the E/NE at around the 15 -20 knots so after anchoring we did not venture ashore until we were happy that the anchor was well set as the winds are supposed to get stronger. In the end we did not get ashore until late afternoon as the wind was quite strong.

Honeymoon Bay is a dry season campground people trekking around the outback in four wheel drive vehicles and off road campervans come up this way to do a bit of fishing and see the sights.

(Honeymoon Bay Campgrounds from our anchorage)

(The beach shack)

As we went ashore a few of the campers were out the camp ground organiser collecting oysters from over the other side of the bay we met them after we came back for a walk. We introduced ourselves to the camp organiser or owner we are not sure yet, his name is George and elderly bloke who has been in the area for many years. We also talked to the campers that had been getting the oysters, two couples grey nomads, they asked where we were from and we said we were based out of Brisbane and so were they, they come from Victoria Point.

I had taken a couple of beers ashore in case people were having sundowners or we could have our own sundowners before returning on board. However, after George telling us about two crocs in the area and one will attack if it has half a chance, I was not staying ashore and getting the tinnie in the water in the dark so we returned on board and had sundowners there.

Saturday – 08/06/2013

(Sunrise at Honeymoon Bay)

Up early for the radio sched and did not hear our people but still heard the Americans in the Solomon Islands and Fiji as clear as but I did not talk to them today.

We watched another wonderful sunrise and just after George and two others headed out in there tinnie to go fishing, it wasn’t long before he was heading back, he came over to us to say g’day and show us the catch two very nice mackerel. We asked if it was alright that we come ashore to look at the campgrounds and he said fine, then one of the boys asked if we wanted to go into town they were going in an hour and we were welcome to go with them. We needed a little more ULP fuel not that we were out of it but we don’t carry that much and we are using a lot on generator and outboard motors.

(George and the boys head out to fish)

We got ready to go ashore and when we got to the beach there was some campers that arrived last night, we said g’day to them and as we walked up the road they asked if we wanted a lift up there and they kindly gave us a lift up to George’s house where we had arranged to meet. They were German tourists doing the four wheel drive trip around Australia.

(Lisa and friends camp at the Beach Shack, Lisa talking to Nancy)

We thanked Lisa who drove us a very pretty brunette, not that I noticed, Nancy must have told me. When we got to George he was filleting the fish and met Helen, not sure could be Georges partner, the boys were having breakfast so we stayed and talked to George. When the boys were ready and we officially introduced ourselves, Glen who is George’s son and his friend Barney who were up from Perth.

Off we went to Kalumburu Mission about 30kms down a narrow dirt track which was in fairly good order, I have travelled on worse bush tracks in my time.

Glen had been here before and knew the area, I would say he had been to see his father many times over the years he told us about the different places as we travelled along and asked if were in any hurry to get back. We said we weren’t so he said he will show us some places on the way back. We arrived at the mission village which is quite tidy a little graffiti here and there but that is the trend unfortunately in many parts of Australia. The mission is staffed by volunteers that come here for periods to run the service station or the store and the mission itself.

(Kalumburu Mission)

(Main office building, church, amusement hall and old farm ploughs)
(The bakery and kitchen from earlier days)
(Glen coming out of the general store)

We first went to the service station for the fuel, they have ULP and diesel, we just purchased ULP at $3.02 per litre, they are not ripping us off it actually cost a lot of money to get fuel here, to give an idea one pallet load of stock delivered by barge cost $1,000 in freight. The service station also has some grocery items and take away food. We then went to the general store they do not have large stocks but they do have frozen meats some fresh vegetables, milk canned goods, bread etc. After we got the items I asked Glen if I could pay towards the fuel, he said no we were coming here anyway, so I put $20 in his hand and said well by yourself a drink at least. He first tried to give it back but I said no, then he said, I’ll give it to Dad he needs it more than me. I thought what a good bloke this was.

The people are very friendly Aboriginal and Europeans alike they all say g’day or good morning. After we all finished the shopping Glen asked if we wanted to have a look at the mission, so we went there it cost $5 to look through the museum so I paid for all of us to go in. Glen said he wanted to show Barney around the place so we had benefitted from that.

On the way back Glen took us to a plane crash site that had occurred during the second world war, apparently the pilot was looking for the airstrip and there was a fire burning which he thought they had lit to guide him in but it was a fire in the bush and as you can see the way the aircraft is spread across the land it would not have been a pretty sight.

(This would not have been a pretty sight when this happen so many years ago the parts a spread over a very large area)
(The gorge near Kalumburu)

(Nancy at the gorge)

(The rock where the small rock painting is located)

(The rock painting)

After that Glen drove to a area that had some Aboriginal rock art there is only a small piece remaining at this site probably because over the years the rocks have crumbled. We then moved on to a gorge, I think it may be part of Dominic Creek not sure, from there we headed to McGowan’s Campground before coming back to the anchorage and back on board the boat.

This was an unexpected trip and was great of Glen and Barney to take us along with them, two very nice blokes.

Sunday – 09/06/2013

Today George, Glen and Barney headed out fishing for the whole day, we had a quiet day but thought we would go ashore and stretch the legs and have a look around the campground before the winds kicked in. Couldn’t get anyone on the HF radio sched this morning could faintly hear a few voices in the Pacific around Fiji. Could not get ABC radio to listen to Macca. It is strange we do not get radio very often unless it is from Japan or other Asian countries, but we get ABC as clear as clear if the horse racing or football is on. The ABC radio on shortwave comes in from Port Moresby.

We went ashore and talked to the campers, Lisa the German girl said she would post some mail for us, Nancy had put a little newsletter as we do not have any contact so when Lisa hits a place where mail goes out she will post them for us.

Honeymoon Bay campground is just that it has fresh water but at times this has to be carted so we did not use any of their water to top up, the people are very nice and the campers enjoy the place, it is a great bay and it has good beaches, fishing and oysters. The campground offers fishing trips, bushwalks and hires out a small motorboat.

After our wonder around we headed back on board for a quiet day.

McGowan Island Beach Campground

Monday – 10/06/2013

The wind the weatherman promised did not arrive so we had to motor sail from Honeymoon Bay to McGowan’s, we only had to travel 12 Nms and the main reason we were going there was for fuel. As we left some of the campers going out fishing came by to wave farewell. We left about halfway through high tide to catch the outgoing tide to McGowan’s. As soon as we cleared the headland you could see McGowan’s as they have a white fuel tanker (prime mover and trailer) close to the waterfront and it stands out in the sunlight. There was also a motorboat anchored off the shore as we headed down.

We had contacted McGowan’s by phone in Darwin to check with the about getting fuel which is a wise thing to do to make sure they have stocks for the boats that require fuel. Sometimes they get a number of motor boats in that require thousands of litres of fuel and they have the semi trailer that holds around 40,000 litres and that has to be filled back in Wyndham. Ph. 08 91614748, website

(Note: I believe the campground operates but no longer have fuel available 2018/19)

They have diesel the price varies and was $2.70 per litre when we filled, I have found out since that they do sell ULP fuel to amounts that you require, the guide books we have read state that they will supply 200 litre drums. Well the fuel is in 200 litre drums but they will siphon off the amount you require. I would say it is around the same price as the mission around the $3.00 per litre.

As you approach McGowan’s call them on ch16 VHF and let them know you are coming if they are near the radio they will answer you. There is one thing to remember that these places are very isolated and the people that own this are original Aboriginal landowners although they may have people working for them basically for their keep. Robert who served us fuel has been working there for nine years and they do not make very much money. Therefore the prices may seem high but it is what it costs them to get things there.

McGowan Island is a small island off the campground which is part of the mainland, it was named after Father McGowan many years ago who loved to fish off the island.

Anchorage 14⁰ 08.703’S – 126⁰ 38.736’E

It is possible to go right into the beach at some high tides and fuel straight from the tanker, talk to Alex or Robert about it. There are some rocks marked with a yellow buoy and there are markers (buoys) that lead to the beach, the boys will tell you to keep near to the north side of these if going in on high tide.

(Chart showing our anchorage, there are more rocks to the north so when coming into the anchorage sail down level to the beach before turning the marked rock is on the southern side of the buoy)

(McGowan’s Campground from our anchorage, the white fuel tanker stands out for miles)

We fuelled up via 20 litre containers I had two trips and Robert was very obliging and trusted us to come back and fix the bill when we finished. Payment can be cash or card, if using credit account there is a 2% charge.

McGowan’s has a good water supply which benefits the campground as they water lawns which makes it a nice area for the campers. We asked if we could get water and they said help yourself, there is a tap next to the fuel tanker. We took great advantage of this and did washing and topped up tanks and containers before leaving.

(One of the campsites at McGowan’s)

Just after we arrived John and Barbara came by on their way back to their boat and asked if we had seen a yacht name ‘Tryphena’, we said we had seen it entering King George River as we were leaving some days ago, they said they were waiting for them to arrive. They invited us over for sundowners on their boat ‘Murrundi’ which is a 52′ motor launch. A short while later we heard ‘Tryphina’ calling McGowan’s on the radio. They came over on the way in and said hello and they were going to sundowners there so we would catch up then.

We had a good sundowners with the other two crews and made plans to sail with them the next day, Peter and Shannon on ‘Tryphena’ said that the area around Middle Rock can be a big problem as it is nowhere near where it indicates on the chart so we said we would follow their lead, arrangements were made to leave at 0530 hours the next morning as we would be motor sailing as little wind tomorrow. John and Barbara were to leave later as their motor boat goes a little faster than us.

We had a good night and then we headed for bed.

McGowan Island Campground to Jar Island

Tuesday – 11/06/2013

Up at 0500 hours radio sched not successful so went out getting covers put away and preparing sails in hope to get some wind which does not look promising but we may motor sail.

Close to 0530 hours Peter called on the radio to tell us he was about to weigh anchor and we told him we were doing the same. When we cleared the bay we hoisted the mainsail and set it to get the apparent wind that we had, we also set the headsail and it did give us a little extra speed.

Once settled I grabbed the fishing trolling rod and put the line out we ended up catching a small shark but we let him go and we did not get anything after that. We headed up around Anjo Point and through the passage where the tide pushed us along by plus 2 knots, we now had the tide with us all the way to Jar Island. After getting through the passage we turned SW towards Middle Rock, as we neared Middle Rock Peter called and gave us a course to steer 121⁰ magnetic and a waypoint to head to (listed below). John on ‘Murrundi’ also gave the waypoints he uses which at the end of the day the two routes run parallel and are within a few metres of each other.

(This is where Middle Rock is located on the charts but it is not located there in reality it is hundreds of metres away from this point it is that far away it is hard to identify it.)

Waypoints for Middle Rock passage:

(1) 13⁰ 55.471’S – 126⁰ 23.627’E                            Steer 121⁰ magnetic from this waypoint.

(2) 13⁰ 58.155’S – 126⁰ 21.027’E                            (3)13⁰ 59.275’S – 126⁰ 19.585’E

Middle Rock is nowhere near what it indicates on the chart the actual place the rock is shown on the chart has around 30 metres of water. After going through that passage we headed to Jar Island that gave us another challenge. Paspaley Pearls have pearl farms all through these waters and north of Jar Island down is quite a large area of pearling strings. When we got near the island Peter called us on the radio and said it has all been changed since he was here last. Peter tried to call the pearl farm without reply as it is currently unmanned. Then Captain Greg on ‘True North’ a tourist vessel that we could see in the distance called Peter and gave him directions around the pearling strings.

(‘Tryphena’ headed around the pearl strings, yellow marker indicates a corner marker)

(Pearl farm strings, these will bend with tidal flow and or wind)

(Chart showing the track that we took to get to the SW anchorage, the black dots indicate the pearl strings the yellow markers are the radar reflectors and lights)

Anchorage – 14⁰ 09.717’S – 126⁰ 13.833’E with water depth of 13 metres it was good holding sand mud mixture)

Track in- (Please note that the pearl farm do rearrange the pearl strings from time to time they had moved these a couple of months ago). Head for the northern beach where there is a yellow marker.


(1) 14⁰ 08.579’S – 126⁰ 14.440’E                            (2) 14⁰ 08.428’S – 126⁰ – 13.758’E

(3) 14⁰ 08.484’S – 126⁰ 13.654’E                            (4) 14⁰ 08.670’S – 126⁰ 13.556’E

(5) 14⁰ 09.761’S – 126⁰ 13.536’E                            (6) 14⁰ 09.699’S – 126⁰ 13.822’E

The pearling strings are marked with a yellow marker which is also a radar reflector and some have flashing lights, these are the corner markers, then each string has white and black ball type floats along the strings, you need to keep at least a boat length away from the ends of the strings as they are anchored and the ropes run about 45⁰ away from the markers, you don’t want to get your keel, rudder or props caught up in those.

We followed the track in as listed below and anchored in 13 metres of water after we had all settled we then went ashore to a cave that has some of the Bradshaw rock art, it is named Bradshaw rock art because he is the fellow that found them.

Websites regarding Bradshaw Paintings.

The area where we went has to be during the low tide times because the area where you have to walk floods at high tide and blocks the track. We climbed up the rocks to the cave and the art work was amazing. We stayed and looked around for some time before heading back to the beach, the view from the cave was also wonderful.

(These are known as the Gwion or Bradshaw paintings because they were first recorded by Joseph Bradshaw in 1891, they are said to be dated many years before the Australian Aborigines, the Wandjina aboriginals first stated that they were rubbish paintings but in later years claimed them as their ancestors mainly in favour of land claims. There are some controversial issues regarding this art work and it is worth a read on the internet sites, I am lead to believe that there has been money allocated by the government to do further studies into this matter)

(Friends John, Barbara, Shannon and Peter at the rock art cave)

Jar Island – Northern side and Freshwater Bay- 12/06/2013

The plan was to dinghy up to the northern beach and go ashore to look at the rock art there which is said to be better than what we have seen. We decided that we would take ‘Alana Rose’ there and anchor off the north beach then dinghy in from there. When we got around there the ‘Orion’ tourist ship was anchored there also and the shuttle service of ferrying the tourist to the beach was happening.

Anchorage: 14⁰ 08.727’S – 126⁰ 14.447’E Good holding sand/light shell bottom, beware that sometimes NE winds may kick in around mid morning putting you on a lee shore, we had this but winds were 10-15 knots and not that much of a problem.

(View from the island with ‘Alana Rose’ and the ‘Orion’ anchored)

We dropped anchor, (info below), and then we went ashore to meet the others and we also got talking to the people off the ‘Orion’. We took coffee ashore and had coffee and biscuits before heading off in search of the rock art. The search was not hard with the tourist ships that have been in the area the path is well worn, Peter even commented saying that it looked as though someone had been through with a grass cutter.

(Anchorage north of Jar Island needs calm conditions although good holding Lat/Long as on chart)

We found that it is true to say that this rock art is better on Jar Island than what we had seen and I think it would be hard to find any better examples than what is here. After a couple of hours with the rock art we returned to the beach and the NE winds had kicked in so we headed back to AR, hoisted the dinghy and set sail for Freshwater Bay some 12Nms north of Jar Island.

(I have joined two photos here to get the full picture)

(Peter is probably laying where the artist lay to paint the picture below)
(What Peter is looking at)
(Looks like a whale)
(This is under the tail of the whale painting above)

We had the tide with us and we were sailing at around 5 knots as the wind was not that strong at around 8 – 10 knots. We got just over half way when the wind swung around to dead ahead, the sails flapped so we had to use the iron sail, (engine).

We arrived at Freshwater Bay that also has pearl farms but well to the north side leaving plenty of room for passage. We had some trouble with the anchor winch once again, because we have been anchoring in deeper waters and using a lot more chain, when we hoist the anchor the chain feeds into the chain locker and stacks itself in pyramid style then when the boat rolls in the waves the chain sometimes falls on itself so when you next anchor the chain jams. This happened to us whilst anchoring and rather than Nancy yelling out to me that there was a problem she tried pressing the up and down button to try and free it and the winch did not like it and then would not work. I then went out and took the chain off the gypsy and turned the winch by hand and got it going again. The last time it did this I pulled it apart could not see anything wrong with it put it back together and it has worked well ever since. So it looks like a job for tomorrow.

The other two boats arrived later and it was decided that we would have a quiet night tonight and have sundowners on ‘Tryphena’ tomorrow afternoon.

Freshwater Bay – 13/06/2013

We had another wonderful sunrise this morning in a beautiful calm anchorage, This anchorage has a large bay but has a rocky ridge around the shore line and that comes out for quite a distance, where we anchored it was 10 metre depth a short distance ahead of us shallowed to 4 then 2 metres very quickly. There was one comment we had on the guide book that stated that holding was better on the right hand side and that is where we anchored. However, our friends that anchored after us anchored on the left side and stated the holding was good there.

Peter and John came over in the dinghy and said that in about one hours time at half tide (tide is coming in), is the best time to go to the falls and there is good fresh water and swimming holes there and a place where boaties burn there paper/cardboard rubbish.

So we started to prepare Nancy made snacks and coffee to take with us, I filled the water tanks with the water containers and put the empties in the dinghy and the rubbish and then we all set off. The inlet to the falls is on the left hand side of the bay where there is a channel in the mangroves, keep to the left had side as you go in until you get near the end where it starts to open out you will see two large rocks below the waterline on the same left side go around into the bay at the falls. Be aware that a large croc does patrol these areas.

John and Barbara were there before us and they helped me secure the dinghy near where the fresh water was flowing so I could fill my containers, once that job was finished John got me to raft up to his dinghy which made life easy for me as I tied to his dinghy and he was secured to the shore.

(John on his tinnie trying to net some fish, the narrow channel leads back to the bay)

(Topping up the water from the fresh stream from the falls)
(Lower water hole)

We all got ashore and got into the water hole, I search for any movement of the big lizard before getting in, this pool is almost level with the sea at the high tide today so I would imagine that one reaches the other on high spring tides. At the high tide today a croc could easily transfer into the waterhole.
(The higher water hole 3 metres above high tide mark no crocs)

(John and Peter first in the water)

Whilst having a swim we talked about what plans we had, I mentioned that we would probably sail in the morning, but first I have to have a look at the anchor winch. I explained the problem and Peter pointed to John and said he used to be in electric motor rewind work. John graciously said he would help if he could. The others were staying for a couple of days they had jobs on their list to do and they wanted to miss the heavier winds approaching. I said that tomorrow is only 15 to 20 knots, it is the next day that has high winds so we might make some miles on the winds.

After the dip and coffee biscuits and cake and burning our rubbish we then headed further up to the next level waterhole, this pool the croc would not get to, it is a very pretty place and we all had another dip. After the swim we headed back to the dinghies as we reckoned it would be close to high tide.

(Looking back towards the dinghies and the tide has come in and the water level of the sea is close to entering the first water hole making it easy for the crocs to enter)

(Red dragon fly)

We all headed back and said we will catch up at sundowners on ‘Tryphena’, I asked John if he did not mind when I had the electric motor off the winch I would get him to give his opinion. He said to give him a call.

After lunch I got the winch apart and had a look at the motor the section where the brushes contact looked a little worn. I called John on the radio and he came over, he said we might pull it apart and have a closer look. Once it was apart John said that there is uneven wear and sometimes the brushes miss contact, he cleaned it up with some wet and dry sanding paper and put it back together and it is working again. We thanked John for his help.

At 1630 hours after the weather report we headed over to ‘Tryphena’ for sundowners and had another enjoyable time with our new found friends. Barbara said that a large gummy shark had been circling their boat all day and just after this it came over to ‘Tryphena’ doing the same thing. The shark would be around 2 metres long looks lemon in colour, Peter said that is what some people call them lemon sharks.

(Beautiful night sky)

Before leaving we said our goodbyes and thanked them for their help then we returned to our boat. After hoisting the dinghy I called Nancy to come out the back the shark had followed us and was going around our boat, it had about three large sucker fish with it they clean the shark of all parasites.

We had dinner and early to bed we planned to leave at first light for Parry Harbour we needed to catch the tail end of the ebbing tide to head around the headland and then pick up the flood tide to head south into Parry Harbour.

Freshwater Bay to Krait Bay – 14/06/2013

Well you know we have plan ‘A’ then plan ‘B’ and then whatever, well today went to plan ‘B’.

I woke before the alarm at 0425 hours so I got up and started rolling up the covers and getting sails ready, Nancy got up a short time after and started to get things organised. The first light in the sky had just started when we weighed anchor and motored out of the bay and we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunrise.

As we got north of the shallows near the northern point of Freshwater Bay we hoisted the mainsail, at this stage it was motor sailing as the promised wind had not yet arrived, however, the tide was with us and we sailed at nearly 2 knots faster with it. As we neared Cape Bougainville where there are many different level contours in the seabed the seas swirl and send the boat one direction then the other by a few degrees. However, we had got the tide at the right time as we were now sailing nearly 3 knots faster across the ground than we were through the water. The wind had also started so we had both sails set and engines shut down.

As we rounded the headland to head to Parry Harbour I checked how far we had to go and realised that the distance from where we were to the anchorage would be the same distance that could take us half way across the bay towards Krait Bay our next stop. Now the tide was with us it would give us the extra speed and by the time we got near Voltaire Passage the tide would be on the change to take us through safely. We sailed at speeds between 5.5 and 9.2 knots after passing Parry Harbour the seas were good around 0.7 metres so it was comfortable and covered 52Nms.

We arrived at Krait Bay and was anchored at 1500 hours. The anchorage looked good we had anchored as the guide book stated in about 11 metres at half tide there is a 6 metre difference between high and low tide.

Near sunset a NE wind kicked in of around 18 – 20 knots this eventually started a swell to curl into the bay which made things a little uncomfortable and unfortunately the boat was pointing into the wind and the swell was on the beam but we have suffered a lot worse.

This bay has fringing reef/rock around its perimeter and comes into the bay a long way as the guide said enter right of the centre line and anchor just short of the beach on the right. The chart plotter indicated a reef near where we anchored, I could not find it, not saying it is not there but I could not see it when we went close to it.

We settled down had a beer and dinner and decided if the wind does blow at 25 knots tomorrow we will use it to get to Prudhoe Island again we looked at the tides. We could leave at around 0700 hours just before low tide because the tide although is still ebbing it is near still at that point and then by the time we cleared the land we should get the flooding tide to assist us.

Prudhoe Island

Krait Bay to Prudhoe Island – 15/06/2013

We were up and about at first light, I went to bed early and got a good night sleep Nancy did not get to sleep that easy with the rolling of the boat and the noise it made. It was quite pleasant this morning a light wind from the SE with little to no swell now.

We had breakfast and listened to the HF radio for any strong wind warnings in the area but there were none for us. Strong wind warnings is winds of or better than 30 knots, we have been predicted for winds in the 15 – 25 knots.

We got underway just after 0700 hours and as soon as we got out the bay we hoisted the mainsail and set course for Prudhoe Island we had around 13 knots SE wind, unfurled the headsail started the little generator and shut down the engines. The batteries needed topping up and since we did not need the engines we use the little petrol generator.

As we crossed the bay you could see the wind coming to us as the white horses developed as the wind came it only reached about 18 knots which kicked the seas up at about 1 to 1.2 metres not uncomfortable and we sailed quite well on a beam reach.

(Chart shows us half way across Montague Sound, there are many islands and care has to be taken as the chart indicates either inadequately surveyed or unsurveyed areas)

I had the trolling line out as we did yesterday even though at times we were going too fast for it to do any good. All I have caught for days is seaweed, it is floating everywhere. It is annoying when you hear the reel rip away and haul in seaweed.

We arrived at Prudhoe Island at 1140 hours sailing 27Nms The anchorage is very good we are covered for winds other than SW a very small amount of swell is coming in but very gentle. We may have a relax day tomorrow and stay here.


Anchored as per chart position.

(Chart shows entry from the north, when we left we used the same track and turned to port to clear the headland)


(1) 14⁰ 24.707’S – 125⁰ 14.732⁰E

(2) 14⁰ 25.111’S – 125⁰ 14.702’E

(3) 14⁰ 25.267’S – 125⁰ 14.789’E

Prudhoe Island – 16/06/2013

This place is very nice well protected although we did get a small swell in during the night from a southerly wind but not uncomfortable.

(Prudhoe Island anchorage taken from the climb that we started half way up the hill, ‘Alana Rose’ a small white boat right of centre)

We could see a cave at the top of one of the hills and thought we may go and see if we could get to it in case there were any rock art there, from the boat it looked easy with some rocks to climb and green grass in places. It was a little different when we got ashore, the green grass is actually very tall and spikes of Spinifex and this hides holes between the rocks. The hill appears to be made up of fallen rocks and some are loose so after getting half way up the hill we abandoned the idea and returned to the dinghy and explored the lower levels.

What we did find in one area was crystals, the rocks were full of them and there were many that had broken off laying between the rocks that were being bashed about with the high tides. The rocks in this area appeared to have a lot of iron stone mixed with it.

(There are Crystals in the rocks)

Later in the day a motor catamaran ‘Ocean Blue’ came in and anchored nearby and shortly after Stephen the owner came over to say hello. A very nice bloke he said he owns a mooring in Broome and we are welcome to use it when we get there, he is from near Perth and he also gave us some advice of when to sail and where the best place is to start our sail across the bottom. We thanked him and he said we may catch up again on his return.

We had a quiet night relaxing after a good day.

(Another one, how beautiful is that?)

Wary Bay – Bigge Island

We sailed at first light for Wary Bay, Bigge Island as our plan was to stop there go ashore to look at the rock art and then head down to the area of Rainforest Ravine as Wary Island is not a good overnight anchorage. Most of the areas we have sailed so far have been in gulfs and bays that are quite well protected from open seas from now on we have the open seas from the west through to the north with the exception of a few areas like the Prince Regent River and the Horizontal Falls, therefore we will suffer some of the swell from these directions.

Wary Bay was incredible the caves themselves are very attractive and the art works are very good although some are fading badly.

(The rock wall of caves)
(Inside the caves)
(The unusual art work from many years gone by)
(The art is different to what we are used to seeing)
(Some have referred this as a spaceman)
(This is a more common type of art we have seen before )

When we first came ashore I said to Nancy it looks like someone has been here recently as I could see tracks in the sand above the high water mark. When we were returning to the dinghy we noticed that the tracks I had seen were not human they were turtles that had come ashore to make a nest and lay eggs. There were two fresh nests and four or five more that had been made previously.


The anchorage is easy to find and on a clear day it is possible to see the rocky outcrop closer to the beach anchor off the beach at a safe distance from the rocky outcrops. There are rocks all around the bay so be careful. We anchored in 10 metres of water.


Coming from the North-

(1) 14⁰ 27.228’S – 125⁰ 08.546’E

(2) 14⁰ 28.066’S – 125⁰ 08.675’E (This is where we anchored)

York Sound

After returning on board we got underway we had quite a few miles to go before we would find a suitable anchorage for the conditions that may occur if the weather forecast is correct. We were heading for York Sound in the area of Rainforest Ravine although we had decided not to enter the Ravine as friends had warned us not to go in there alone due to the tides that run very fast and drop in height suddenly.

As we sailed south of Bigge Island we could see two other sailing vessels in the distance ahead of us that appeared to be heading to the same place. When we entered the waterway east of Kartja Island we expected to see a lot of Pearl Farm strings as the charts indicate that they are spread throughout, this proved wrong there was not a single string. With the forecast in mind we searched for a good anchorage as there had been a strong wind warning for the area. We saw where the other two yachts had anchored and noticed that they were bobbing up and down with the swell so we decided to anchor in the southern bay well protected from south through to north west winds. We are now getting the NW sea breeze in the afternoons, west to north west will be the prominent sea breeze direction from now on until we get further south. Although we took these precautions the winds became variable and at one stage we got NE winds that gave us a little slop but it did not last long. We had a good night sleep and was up at first light as normal. We got underway as the sun was rising our plan was to head for Careening Bay to check out the boab tree that had engravings on it from the 1800’s and then to a safe anchorage at Ivy Bay where there is another engraved boab tree. However, on the way I decided to weave through the Anderson Islands in hope that we could anchor on the southern side for a quick trip ashore to see more crystals that Nancy was eager to see. However, after threading through the islands the winds kicked in from the SE which would have put us on a lee shore and the wind waves had picked up so we abandoned the idea and set off for Careening Bay. We set the sails and we slowly went with the wind having the tide with us again to help us along.

The weather predictions are still stating strong wind warnings and winds up to 30 knots but we are not getting these close to the coast, I would imagine a lot of this wind is in blown apart gulf, (Joseph Bonaparte Gulf). We could do with a little extra wind to sail by.

As we sailed around Bat Island and turned south to Careening Bay the wind backed off being blocked by the land form when we slowed to below 2 knots I started an engine.

As we approached Careening Bay anchorage it was interesting to see that the two chart plotters showed different results again. I have a Raymarine and a Garmin chart plotter at the helm and as far as location of land and sea they sometimes differ, I have found the Garmin more accurate most of the time however there has been some let down on this part of the coast with both of them. Fortunately I never rely on the electronic charts totally I do not take them as gospel , they give the correct lat/long but they show the track in relation to the land incorrectly in fact sometimes it shows us on land. As I have said many times before your eyes and depth sounder are your best friends in close waters.

(Chart showing anchorage)

Careening Bay

This anchorage is only a day anchorage unless the seas are totally calm as it will get a swell and very open to the W/NW sea breeze. It is the place where Philip Parker King careened his cutter ‘Mermaid’ in 1820 and before leaving engraved the name and date in the boab tree. It was unfortunate for us that we did not see the engraving, the tree was totally over grown with vegetation and vines that it blocked our way to the engraving.

(Nancy at the base of the tree but it was not possible to get around to see the engraving)

There is another tree that has also been engraved in more recent years by ‘Tradewinds III’ 2000 and ‘Tradewinds IV’ 2011, our friends Barry and Robin would be interested in this as they have owned ‘Tradewinds III’ for some years now and I suspect that the engraving was done by the previous owner.

(Tradewinds III & IV 2000 & 2011)

After our short visit we headed back to the boat and headed for Ivy Cove at Glauert Island. After anchoring we went ashore to see the boab tree with the engraving of the ship ‘Ivy’ which had a date of 14.10.97, it is believed that ‘Ivy’ was a pearling vessel that operated around the Coronation Islands.

(Ivy Cove anchorage)

(The Boab Tree with Ivy engraved)


This anchorage offers the better protection than other anchorages in the area but it is possible to get some wind waves and swell from the afternoon sea breeze as we did, it got rather sloppy late afternoon but settled before bed time.

(Track into and out of the anchorage)
(Chart of anchorage)

St George Basin – 19/06/2013

We knew that tides would be more crucial for us to enter the St George Basin and Prince Regent River. Our plan was to arrive at the entrance to St George Basin around midday as the tide change at White Island was around 1230 hours.

We left Ivy Cove and had a slow sail down to the entrance on the way we caught a shark a Bronze Whaler he was well hooked on the lure so I had to kill it to get the lure free so I cut the fillets off for dinner for a couple of nights.

As we neared St Georges Basin a call came on the radio (VHF) saying “Hello travellers”, it was two small motor boats that had been fishing in the Hunter River they were heading back to Derby via the Sail River. Nancy had a talk with them and gave them the latest weather report that we had.

As we turned to go into St Georges Basin a large tourist vessel was coming out ‘Oceanic Discoverer’ and as we turned into the inlet another tourist vessel was ahead of us going in from Hanover Bay. We had arrived a little earlier than planned but it worked in our favour. We had the tide against us for a short period of time but being at the end of the tide it was not that strong. The tide change about 2Nms short of the whirlpools area which can be challenging, when we reached them you could see a little swirling motion but did not upset us at all, the next concern is Fast Tide Point and again this was no problem at the beginning of a tide change.

(Charts showing track into St Georges Basin and the Prince Regent River)

We headed towards Prince Regent River realising that it is too late to enter as the tide would change in the river before we got to the anchorage and that it was getting dark early due to the overcast weather that had set in during the afternoon. So we selected an anchorage outside not wanting to be too far away from the river entrance as we needed to get the last part of the high tide to get 7Nms up the river before the tide change.

We selected an anchorage from the guide book but we did not venture as far in the creek as suggested, we probably should have as we had variable winds and at one stage a NE blew and we weren’t protected for that but fortunately it was short lived and we had a comfortable night.

Prince Regent River – 20/06/2013

We were up and getting ready in the dark at 0430 hours as soon as we were ready we weighed anchor daylight was approaching but it was overcast so it was going to be a slow process, we had 5Nms to get to the start of the river, high tide was due at 0730 hours and we needed to get to the anchorage before then. Reading guides to enter these rivers in the Kimberley put the fear into you with sandbars and rocks and different shallows and obstacles. It is not as bad as you let your imagination think they are, however, they are good guides and have great information, I think it is the way we think when you read this stuff. I have found that by following the information in the guides taking good care to relate what you have read to what you see and keep a bloody good eye on the depth gauge. There is plenty of water around you and under you as long as you pick the tides right. Coming to this anchorage in Purulba Creek in the last few hours of high tide we had depths from 10 metres through to 100 metres, turning into the creek we had 8 metres to 15 metres. As a tip I found both the Raymarine and the Garmin chart plotter quite accurate in this river and in the St Georges Basin.

(Chart of Prince Regent River)

As we anchored in Purulba Creek it started to rain light drizzle so it looks like a quiet day for us today, we did try our hand at fishing without any luck whatsoever, I haven’t even seen any fish movement in the creek. The day was cool so it was curl up and read a book.

(Purulba Creek)

Had a quiet night it rained some during the evening so we slept quite well.

Camp Creek – 21/06/2013

We caught the tide again this morning to go up to Camp Creek, we had a sleep in got up at 0630 hours and then decided that is what we would do. The weather is still overcast but looked like clearing.

We were weighing anchor and motoring down the creek when I spied a movement it was a small crocodile probably about one and a half metres or a little more swam out to check us out. I tried to get a photo but we were too far away.

We motored up to the anchorage just before Camp Creek and dropped anchor there. Personally I did not like the anchorage as when the tide starts going out it puts you on a lee shore with many rocks, the depth in the area changes quite quickly from 10 to 17 metres.

My anchor girl, Nancy, went out to drop the anchor and found the anchor winch had decided to go on strike again, I ran out and played with it and got it going. Once anchor was secure we lowered the dinghy for a two or more nautical mile trip up Camp Creek loaded with water containers, we saw some movement in the water at times that may have been crocs sliding away. As we reached half way I think the tied changed as we did not appear to be covering the ground we were earlier and the outboard started to labour a little harder. The trip seemed to take forever but when we got to the falls it was well worth it.

We filled the water containers and then had a good look around before heading back to the boat. Going back with the tied seemed to be a lot faster.

(Camp Creek approaching the falls)
(Part of the rock pools at Camp Creek Falls)
(Filling water containers)
(Nancy enjoying the scenery, get the picture one working one enjoying life)

We unloaded the water and hoisted the dinghy and got the anchor winch going again after another hic-up and we headed back to Purulba Creek for the rest of the day and night.

I pulled the anchor winch out and checked it out again but I could not see anything that was obvious and put it back together again. We can’t do much about it until we get to where there is some communication if it packs up altogether I will just have to use manual labour. Nancy will be fit by the time we get to Broome. (Joking I would not let her do that, would I?)

(I had to go down the hold to remove the winch nuts so I could move the winch forward to remove the electric motor)

We had more rain this morning but not enough to catch, but we did get some sweet fresh falls water up at Camp Creek. We have done quite well with water our tanks are full again, as I have said before we carry two 400 litre tanks and 80 litres reserve in 20 litre containers and we have eight 10 litre containers that we used to collect water, we topped the tanks up with those this morning which we got from the falls.

We find it important to keep as much water on board in case we get pinned down with bad weather that could sometimes last for some weeks, the longest we have been pinned down to the weather was for 10 days last year.

We have decided that we are not going to venture up to the end of the river and see the main falls, King Cascade as there are a few obstacles to tackle and the way the anchor winch is playing up we can do without the hassle therefore we will head out of the river and St George Basin tomorrow morning and probably anchor in Hanover Bay.

Saturday – 22/06/2013

We were up before daylight again this morning the sun when it got up tried to shine through the clouds so it may clear up. We had to wait for the tide change around 0930 hours before heading off. As we weighed anchor and moved off the croc surfaced again to wish us good morning. He was checking out what we were up to.

(Good morning croc)

Given that we did not venture up to the Cascades and that the Camp Creek Falls is beautiful, I really think that the St George Basin area is the most attractive we have seen in this area, it is such a wide area of water with incredible mountains around it.

(Heading down Prince Regent River)

We arrived at the river outlet just after slack tide and we picked up a little speed to start with about an extra knot across the ground but as we neared St Patrick’s Island we were motor sailing at 10.7 knots across the ground when actually going at 3.5 through the water, that means the tide was travelling at 7.2 knots. There was also some turbulent water as we approached this St Pat’s Island and Strong Tide Point. However, where the chart indicates eddies these are not too worrying with the outgoing tide but just after that where you change course it gets very interesting. George the auto pilot was having a little trouble steering so I had to relieve him of that, it was like driving a car on a skid patch. The boat would head off one way I would correct the steering then of it would go on another direction but it made for a fast trip we maintained speeds of 8.8 to 10.7 knots most of the way.

(The picturesque St George Basin)
(The swirling waters, there are a few miles of eddies and not always at the places marked on the charts)

We left the Basin and went into Hanover Bay to anchor for the night.

Hanover Bay

There are a few anchorages to choose from in this bay, we chose the eastern side off the beach where there was also ‘Hyland C’ a fishing charter boat this gave us protection from the E/NE winds that were predicted. However, the night stayed calm and the seas flat so we had a nice quiet night.

(Hanover Bay)

Sheep Island, Rogers Strait

Sunday – 23/06/2013

Nancy got cold this morning with a cool wind blowing through the hatch so she grabbed the covers and pulled up over the both of us. This woke me looking at my watch it was 0415 hours. I got up and put the kettle on and started to roll the outside covers ready to sail, the full moon was still as bright as bright in the clear sky. With Nancy still laying in bed I thought it would be a good idea to head off to catch the last hour of the outgoing tide to get to High Bluff before turning south into the notorious Rogers Strait. The Australian Pilot states that this is a treacherous passage. I knew Nancy had snuggled into the bed after pulling the covers up, so I just casually mentioned how nice the moon was shining on the water. She was up like a shot to take a photo, I just giggled to myself and suggested that we should set sail. Nancy said I was nice and warm in bed until you told me about the moon I was going back to bed. I laughed and we got going.

We had to motor sail up to High Bluff the wind was not quite there but as we turned into Rogers Strait and the wind picked up, we hoisted the mainsail and set the headsail again and shut down the engine, we had 20 – 25 knots apparent wind and we sailed between 8 and 10 knots across the ground with the help of wind and tide. We used the Fremantle Sailing Club Guide for the track through the passage and it was very good, we have used this guide extensively on our journey through the Kimberley’s and I have tried to better the information in these notes that I write giving waypoints etc.

It is the bottom half of Rogers Strait that has not been surveyed and this is the reason I assume that it is listed as notorious as it does have rocks here and there. In the charts I have noted our track which is similar to the guide as that’s what we tried to follow, I have added waypoints and some depths that may be of use to anyone intending to visit the area. We found that the track taken there was depths from 11 to 37 metres at around half tide with an 8 metre tide difference.

We anchored at Sheep Island at 0900 hours in 12 metres of water at about an hour before high tide.

(Chart showing track through north Rogers Strait, there are pearl strings but not through a clear passage, this area is surveyed and the electronic charts were accurate.)

(Chart showing the southern part of Rogers Strait that is unsurveyed, it shows the track that we followed and the numbered waypoints with depths that we registered at around half tide going into the beginning of spring tide. We also experienced eddies between no’s 2 and 4 waypoints, catching the tide we sailed at up to 10.2 knots across the ground and around 4 knots through the water).

(1) 15⁰ 23.946’S – 124⁰ 39.548’E                            (2) 15⁰ 24.838’S – 124⁰ 38.519’E

(3) 15⁰ 25.508’S – 124⁰ 37.989’E                            (4) 15⁰ 27.031’S – 124⁰ 37.170’E

(5) 15⁰ 28.083’S – 124⁰ 36.879’E                            (6) 15⁰ 28.927’S – 124⁰ 36.673’E

(7) 15⁰ 29.399’S – 124⁰ 36.644’E

Anchored : 15⁰ 29.615’S – 124⁰ 36.880’E

Anchorage is good for most winds and good holding in a grey sandy mud bottom.


After anchoring we went ashore to Sheep Island, this island has the burial site of Mary Jane Pascoe aged 30 who died on 4 June 1865, of fever and ague after childbirth of her daughter, her husband John originally made a headstone of wood and placed a wrought iron railing around it, this has been replaced with stone, her daughter died on the 11 August 1865, she was the first born child in the new settlement. Mary’s grave is right next to a very large boab tree, Nancy looked around for any wild flowers without result so she made a small wreath from a vine and placed it on the grave.

(The large boab tree)

(Mary’s grave left of this large boab tree)
(A note written to Mary that is a capsule near the grave)
(Small plaque on the tree in honour of a Police Constable Walter Gee who died September 1865 aged 29 from being speared by a native whilst on duty with the Scholl Expedition)

Three men are credited with the energy and forethought to spark the first attempt at European settlement in the western Kimberley at Camden Harbour. The W.A. Governor, John William Hampton, contributed men and money to a settlement scheme promoted by a slick Melbourne agent, William Harvey, based on glowing reports of Explorer George Grey.

It makes you wonder what governments knew about this country when they decided to spend a fortune setting up these settlements, they state beautiful country with plenty of water, yes in the wet season but not in the dry season. They did the same at Port Essington . Explorer George Grey must have visited the area near the end of the wet season .

This settlement was started by the arrival of three ships from Melbourne in December 1864, the STAG, the HELVETIA and the CALLIANCE, by 5 January 1865, the CALLIANCE was wrecked losing large numbers of sheep ,horses and stores many of the settlers returned south. By the 29 October 1865 the last of the settlers and government staff left the abandoned settlement.

Anchored at this site really brought home the thought of large tides, when we went ashore to a beach which is made from broken shells and coral and we went by dinghy in a straight line, later that beach was hidden by the rocks between us and the beach the tide difference over the next couple of days is 10 metres.

(Sheep Island at near high tide, Mary’s grave is near the beach on the left when you land)
(This is the view from near Mary’s grave, this whole area is quite beautiful)
(Sunset from our anchorage at Sheep Island, it is interesting to note that Granite Island centre foreground could not be seen at high tide in the morning the only thing visible was the top of the tree)

Monday – 24/06/2013

We waited for the near end of the flooding tide before weighing anchor as they say that one has to time the tides right to get through South Entrance passed Kuri Bay. As we motored along slowly following the guide of Fremantle Yacht Club looking for the markers of the pearl strings I noticed a motor vessel coming towards us when it was about a quarter mile in front of us it stopped and then I saw a large inflatable boat launch from it and head towards us. As I got closer I could see it was a Fisheries Authority vessel. The inflatable came near us and called us on the radio and said they would come along our starboard side motoring slowly if they could have a chat. They came along side and there was a young lady and a male at the helm, both very polite and just asked if we knew the fishing laws in WA, we told them that we had got all the information from them when we applied for our fishing licenses, so they explained a little to us then we just had a friendly chat with them. They told us that the pearling industry here had closed down and there were no pearl strings in the area. They wished us a happy safe voyage before they left. After they left we unfurled the headsail and shut the engine down and we sailed the rest of the way now knowing there aren’t any pearl strings to worry about. We went through South Entrance about one hour before high tide and we had no problems, they say that you have to get the tide right to go through this passage and I would imagine in high winds it could be a problem, we had 17 knots of wind from behind.

(Chart showing exit from Sheep Island through South Entrance via Kuri Bay also identifies the other anchorages)


(1) 15⁰ 29.610’S – 124⁰ 36.326’E                            (2) 15⁰ 28.904’S – 124⁰ 33.799’E

(3) 15⁰ 27.857’S – 124⁰ 31.050’E                            (4) 15⁰ 28.005’S – 124⁰ 29.637’E

Rogers Strait in general is a very attractive place with islands and good scenery, although there are radar markers for the corners of the pearl strings all strings have been removed within Rogers Strait, they may appear sometime in the future but word has it that Paspaley Pearls have closed the area down for the time being. Kuri Bay is also closed down. Kuri Bay was a major depot for the pearling industry, the guide book indicates that one should notify the pearl farm at Kuri Bay when in the area but there is no person there today.

As we went by Kuri Bay it was amazing to see how much infrastructure is there a large number of buildings and even a boat remains on the hard. Not sure why the pearling industry has reduced in size, maybe it was the economic downturn that has reduced the demand for pearls?

The bay itself is empty other than a couple of pontoons on moorings so it is possible to anchor closer in during high E to SW winds, I noticed when preparing the photo below that there is a set of leads on the buildings, I have highlighted these in the photo.

(Some of the buildings at Kuri Bay, I noticed whilst working on this photo that there are a set of leads to enter the bay itself. The bay is empty now other than a couple of pontoons so it may be possible to get closer in using these leads during high winds.)
(Needle Rock is on the left as you pass through South Entrance)
(Heading into Sampson Inlet port side of the headsail furler)
(Chart showing Sampson Inlet and anchorages, the track in is easy stay centre of the inlet with the exception of the entrance a little to right of centre to clear the reef on the northern point.)

Waypoints Sampson Inlet:

(1) 15⁰ 30.859’S – 124⁰ 27.078’E

(2) 15⁰ 30.581’S – 124⁰ 27.643’E

(3) 15⁰ 29.964’S – 124⁰ 28.613’E

Waypoints of anchorages:

(1) 15⁰30.440’S – 124⁰28.330’E (2) 15⁰ 30.053’S – 124⁰ 29.582’E

Note. There is plenty of anchorage space where the 7.4 metre datum depth indicates of the chart.

After anchoring we set off to get the fresh water, it was 2Nms to the end of the creek we finally got there and unloaded the containers. It was going to be a little difficult because the water was flowing over rocks quite a way in and not at a falls to easily fill containers. We got organised and I started to fill the containers, as I was filling the second container I looked back to check the dinghy to see it well high and dry. I asked Nancy if she had dragged it up on the rocks she said she hadn’t. I said we best get out of here before we have to stay the night. We got back to the dinghy and had to get it back to water then paddle it for a good distance before we had enough depth to use the motor. Again we have to remind ourselves about the tidal behaviour, tide difference of 9 metres in 6 hours means that the water drops or rises 1.5 metres per hour.

All the way up the creek and back we were keeping a careful eye open for the big water lizards, they say that there are a number of crocs that frequent this creek, we saw movements in the water but we did not see any crocs.

We found out later that ‘Topaz’ notes indicate fresh water at the creek at the first anchorage which may be easier to get to and get water from but we decided that we have enough water in all our containers to do the washing.

Some days later……

After looking back at our close to getting caught by the drop in tide Nancy found some more information. As we were on spring tides we had actually taken the dinghy past the rock wall which is where you are supposed to leave the dinghy, we had gone passed that and that is why the water had drained so fast. However, in stating this, care still needs to be taken because if caught below this point the inlet can dry as far back as the bend after the moorings. We have also found out that if you want fresh water it is easier to get from the creek at the first anchorage 1Nm from the entrance of the Sampson Inlet.

(Heading up the creek to get the fresh water, the rock ledge where we should have waited for the tide to drop is between those two hills)

(We went this far and parked the dinghy at the rocks)

Tuesday – 25/06/2013

Today is washing day so that is what is happening, other than that I will punch out a few notes and get some photos organised for the blog. Relax day lay back read a book.

(I do the washing Nancy does the hanging out, the 20 litre containers are a little heavy for Nancy)

Today is also a very sad day, yes I am afraid that I am down to my last beer, yes I know what you are thinking but I’m tough I’ll get through it. I thought I had bought enough to get me to Broome but I did not count on Nancy getting the taste for a couple of beers in the afternoon as well, she had equipped herself with her gin and tonic. Well I have a couple of bottle of white and red left but I don’t think they will get me to Broome either. Bugger!!!

There was also another setback the anchor winch motor has officially died, so I have to manually wind the anchor up and of course we are on spring tides and deep anchorages, hauling in 70 metres of 10mm chain along with a large Rocna anchor on the end is a good mornings exercise. Double bugger.

We will sail again tomorrow unfortunately we will miss some place we wanted to see and that is Montgomery Reef, this place has a very narrow passage to enter and it is not advisable to anchor overnight, they say it is wise to visit the 3 to 4 hours of low tide as it can cause problems with rips and eddies in the flooding tides. Unfortunately the low tide times fall into the dark hours and I am not chancing entry or exit in the dark of such a narrow passage.

(Sunset at Sampson Inlet)

Raft Point

Wednesday – 26/06/2013

I was up before light and checked the radio sched but could not hear anyone, I made a cup of tea and took one down to Nancy who lay in bed a little longer. Looking out the back of the boat I could see an anchor light of a boat that must have come in after we went to bed last night, it turned out to be ‘Great Escape’ a tourist vessel after we weighed anchor we called them on the radio to say hello and Nancy thanked them for the guidance when we entered King George River, we followed them in to find the track.

It was a very low tide this morning being spring tides but still plenty of water to enter or leave Sampson Inlet, we caught the last 30 minutes of the outgoing tide and then picked up on the flooding tide south when we left the inlet. Winds were light but we managed to sail at a good speed of around 6 knots with the tide with us.

(This is the reason we have trouble fishing as we sail, since Cape Londonderry we get seaweed all the time, I got fed up from hauling in the line to get the seaweed off every 15 or so minutes that we gave it away)

(Steep Island and Raft Point in the distance)

(Steep Island)

We had planned to sail to Langgi where there are natures natural sculptures out of the rock formations. However, when we arrived at the anchorage the swell from the west mixed with a NE wind made it a little unsafe to leave the boat and also deploy the dinghy and also retrieve it so after dropping all sails we left the anchorage and hoisted the sails once again. We then sailed to Doubtful Bay and took the anchorage around the corner SE of Raft Point.

(Raft Point, it is so named after what the Aboriginal people used to make rafts out of the mangroves and use the outgoing tide to take them to Montgomery Reef to catch Dugong and then use the incoming tide to take them back to raft point.)

The area is beautiful and the anchorage we selected is quite good but we did have a little problem, Nancy said she would got out and release the anchor (remember we have to do this manually which is no problem you just release the clutch and away it goes), well Nancy had a bit of a problem as the anchor would not release so I got out there and started it for her and she released the anchor by the time I got back to the helm I realised that it the time it took to get things going with the anchor tide and wind had shifted us back a couple of boat lengths, not a great problem only it lined us up with the wind bullets off the hill which I had tried to get away from. I decided very quickly that we would stay with the alternative was for me to manually haul the anchor and then reset it again. We did suffer early in the morning with the tide change and wind change we got some swell and wind waves because we were not tucked in far enough.

The night was pleasant but clouds formed and we got rain through the night.

Thursday – 27/06/2013

Up at first light and got underway when there was a break in the weather as we had rain squalls. As soon as we got the anchor up, my first manual exercise for the day we headed out in the bay the sea was a little sloppy then I did my next exercise and hoisted the mainsail. Again catching the tail end of the ebbing tide to leave Doubtful Bay it spat us out between Raft Point and Steep Island at 8.5 knots with mainsail alone. Once out in the open we unfurled the headsail and set a course west to Kingfisher Islands, to get the best sail we had to follow the bottom of Montgomery Reef then tack south for a while and then tack again into the swirling inlet between Kingfisher Island and Melomys Island. Nancy was a little nervous about going this way but it is about 13NMS shorter than going around and in the deeper wider entrance on the west side. I probably would not attempt it at low tide as the entrance shows a depth of 1.4 to 2 metres datum, we were about half flooding tide on a 10 metre tide difference. We used the waypoints provided in the Fremantle Yacht Club guide shown below to get through the strong swirling waters they were very valuable to us for the sole reason as we approached the islands another storm hit us and we had heavy rain. I still had good vision although rain dripping from face and glasses and could see the track through the eddies, there was one very large swirling mass of water to the north just inside the entrance, the shallowest point we noticed was 6.2 metres approximately half way across the shallow section.


Waypoints for east entrance:

(1) 16⁰ 07.902’S – 124⁰ 06.143’E                            (2) 16⁰ 07.855’S – 124⁰ 05.887’E

Anchorage :

Waypoint – 16⁰ 07.460’S – 124⁰ 05.830’E

I found that when anchoring hat the anchorage given in the guide is alright but the water depths around it drops away to different depths, trying to anchor closer in I found that it shallows very quickly. We dropped the anchor in a depth of 8.5 metres and by the time we had run out 65 metres of anchor chain we sat in 14.5 metres of water, later when we turned slightly do to wind direction we were in 24 metre depth. The anchorage was calm even with 15 – 20 knots of wind and the tidal current there was not fast running like out a little further.

Talbot Bay – Horizontal Falls

Friday – 28/06/2012

(Rainbow at Kingfisher Island)

(Rain clouds at sunset Kingfisher Island)

We left the anchorage between Kingfisher Island and Melomys Island at 0715 hours after taking 25 minutes to wind in 65 metres of 10mm chain with anchor manually, whilst doing this operation you have to occasionally get up off the kneeling position and check where the chain is then get Nancy to move the boat to take the weight off the chain, in doing this I slipped and fell, the air was blue for a short time with drizzling rain it made the deck slippery.

We motored out of the anchorage then hoisted the mainsail with a reef in it as the weather predictions are for 25 knot winds. Once out of the bay we unfurled the headsail and shut the motors down. The winds was around 15 knots so I shook the reef out and with the tide with us we sailed around 7 knots.

We arrived at the entrance to Talbot Bay just as at still tide and turning into the entrance put the wind on the nose so we dropped the sails and started one engine. It was at this time that I had my second embarrassing moment, as I was dropping the mainsail the sail got caught in the lazy jacks whilst holding the halyard in one hand and trying to clear the sail I tripped on the small hatch guard and down I went on to my back fortunately I was still holding tight onto the halyard that stopped tumbling down to the next level. Well it entertained Nancy although she was concerned that I had hurt myself it did not stop her having a laugh. It is 16NMS to through to the Horizontal Falls anchorage. Once in the entrance the waters have not been surveyed and we did not know what to expect so we again followed the Fremantle Sailing Club guide chart. The track in is quite easy and no problems there is plenty of depth of water right through, the shallowest waters is in Talbot Bay itself around where the anchorages are around 10 metres in depth. Most of the way in was 40 metres or better with the exception of the entrance where I think we had a patch around 16 metres which could be a bit of a sandbar and this was on a near spring low tide.

(Entrance to Talbot Bay, unnamed island on the left as you enter)

(Incredible views as we continue down the waterways into Talbot Bay)

(Entering Talbot Bay there is some turbulence in the water but nothing to concern us)

On the way in we passed ‘Great Escape’ coming out, we seem to bump into her all the time. I found both chart plotters were correct showing us tracking down the centre of the waterways. I have placed a chart below with waypoints, these may be very handy if you enter during dark hours.

(Charts of Talbot Bay waterways. Note waypoint 4 ends on top chart and shows again on bottom chart. Near waypoint 5 on the port side you will notice some strong eddies these can be steered around by changing course to favour the starboard side and there is water turbulence between waypoints 6 and 7)


(1) 16⁰ 09.232’S – 123⁰ 52.239’E                            (2) 16⁰ 12.280’S – 123⁰ 51.256’E

(3) 16⁰ 13.746’S – 123⁰ 50’905’E                             (4) 16⁰ 15.665’S – 123⁰ 51’060’E

(5) 16⁰ 16.679’S – 123⁰ 51.731’E                             (6) 16⁰ 19.148’S – 123⁰ 53.815’E

(7) 16⁰ 19.627’S – 123⁰ 54.947’E

The charts show pearling cultures when we visited all pearling strings and markers had been removed the last pearling markers we saw was at the top of Rogers Strait. Near the Horizontal Falls is a floating complex consisting of two vessels that resemble house boats rafted one behind the other with pontoons and the boats that do the tours, the company is Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures and during the daylight hours approximately four seaplanes are kept busy going back and forth to Broome bringing in guests, some fly in do the boating trips have lunch and fly back some guests stay overnight.

When we were anchoring one of the boats headed over to us and I had the terrible feeling they were going to ask us to move, thinking that the 40 metres of chain Nancy had just released I would have to manually bring up again, but no, a young man named Adrian came over to say g’day and asked us if we minded not fishing as they have some pets in the water, they feed the fish and have a variety that hang around including large trevally, a very large Queensland groper and sharks. We assured him we would not fish. He had a chat to us and we asked about going on one of his trips through the

Horizontal Falls, he explained it was $50 per person and we said that’s fine, so he said come over at 1330 hours when I have a trip on.

(This is the first falls it is not very wide)

(This is looking back after going through the falls)

(This is the second fall, there is about a 5 metre drop over that edge, unfortunately being a dull day the photos do not do it justice)

(The boat is backed into the falls we are on a slight incline with the bows pointing upwards and the speed of the boat through the water is 30 knots speed across the ground is zero, so that shows how fast the water is running)

(This is a photo taken by friend Leigh who climbed the mountain to take this shot, thanks Leigh you saved me a rugged climb)

Meanwhile we anchored and was getting the covers in place when Ken from ‘Penrod II’ that was anchored nearby, we had met Ken in Mackay last year when we were both on the hard painting the bottom of the boats, he did not remember. Anyway he came over to say g’day, he had been here a couple of days and was leaving heading back towards Darwin seeing places he missed on the way across. There was another tourist boat anchored ‘Lady M’, I am sure we have come across her before.

We did this and it was quite a ride, a good tip don’t sit down the front, we actually was first on and sat in the back row, Nancy sat on the port side outer seat and I did the outer seat on the starboard side. People arrived on a plane and basically boarded straight away some diving for the empty front seats, these seats give the bumpiest ride and if anyone suffers a saw back like we do don’t go to the front. There is a steady section and a very fast section of the ride, for the first part we left the same time as a seaplane and we ran alongside it until it took off, these boats have three very large outboards and can move.

The falls are narrower than I expected but something worth seeing, we went through the first of the falls slowly, then went back at speed then back through again, when we went near the second falls our driver said that he could take us down it but it would be too dangerous coming back at this time of the tide. It was about two hours before high tide, the water fall had a 5-6 metre drop over, the driver then backed the boat into the falls where the boat sat on a slight incline and held the boat in that position the boat had the throttles in the ahead position registering 30 knots and we just sat there. It was a great trip and well worth seeing.

We went back to the pontoons where we talked to the staff who are very friendly, I was talking to Keesha one of the staff and asked if they served beer at the bar they had, she said no they do not have a licence people bring their own drinks. I said I just was asking because I have run out of beer, she said we can’t have a dry ship and asked one of the pilots who apparently is her boyfriend if he minded picking some beer up for us and bring it back tomorrow (how could he refuse). He said he would so I gave him the money for a couple of cartons.

In the late afternoon we had some visitors, it started with one large lemon shark swimming around the stern of the boat and it was as though he or she was showing off, these are Adrian’s pets, we ended up with four of them gliding around the boat absolutely wonderful to watch.

(This was our first visitor it would be around 2 to 2.5 metres in length)

(The second shark came to play)

Adrian had asked us over for a beer later in the day but as we were about to go over we could see the guests sitting down for dinner and thought that we may be intruding on paying guests so we did not go.

We had a very quiet night and a very good sleep.

Saturday – 29/06/2013

I woke very early hours in the morning on a nature call, whilst checking the anchor I could see bright lights of another large ship the other side of the falls entrance. When I finally got up this morning in daylight I noticed it was the ‘Orion’ Shortly afterwards Ken weighed anchor and left catching the last half of the outgoing tide.

Today I think will be a quiet day, I have noticed a few aches and pains this morning, probably something to do with my acrobatics yesterday, my back is a little sore so to speak.

After breakfast we had planes coming from everywhere, there were four planes coming into land one after the other, a short time after we got a call on the radio from Keesha saying that the cartons of gold were there for us to pick up. I thanked her and said we would be right over.

We lowered the dinghy and went over to the pontoons and saw Keesha and she gave us the beer, I told her to give the change to the pilot to buy himself a couple of beers. I also explained about Adrian inviting us over last night and explained why we did not come, Keesha said it would have been alright and invited us to come over tonight.
We took the beer back to the boat and then went on a trip up the waterways, the rock structure here is different to the others we have seen. Nancy said the way the rocks are here it is like they have been forced up out of the earth like when a fault line moves, she remembers something from her school days about the way these rocks are.

(Two choppers taking off from the complex, they have these some days and they have four seaplanes coming and going starting from 0700 hours each day of operation)

(Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures complex)

(The entrance to Horizontal Falls)

(This is up the gorge in the bay ahead in the centre is where the cyclone anchorage is located.)

(The rock formation is very different to where we have been so far)

(Talbot Bay near sunset with storm clouds, the exit is straight ahead down the left side of the island in the centre )

At around 1730 hours we took some drinks over to Seaplane complex to have a beer with the crew, Keesha said we could stay for dinner as she had plenty of fish so we did and had a very nice night talking to some of their guests who were interested in what we were doing. Many of these people are travelling around Australia with four wheel drive vehicles and caravan. One young couple wanted to know about the waterways in the north as they are trying to talk their father into sailing his yacht up here. We had a really good night and after thanking our hosts we returned on board.

The predicted winds kicked in last night we have strong wind warnings with winds between 20-30 knots for the next few days, so we will stay here until Tuesday.

Monday – 01/07/2013

July is the cool month and the morning air is a little crisp before the sun rises. There is a strong wind warning again today not that we would notice it in this anchorage we have had some wind around 20 knots gusts here and there but it came with a cloud storm cell and we do not get any wind waves of any height here.

This morning we went and visited the crew at the seaplane base, they are a great bunch of people there and very helpful, Keesha told us that she would give us a call around 1430 hours before they leave as they close down for the next three days whilst the staff have their days off. It is worked out on the tides, the next three days the tides are small therefore the Horizontal Falls are quite sedate.

We had a quiet day and mid afternoon Keesha called us to pop over, they were getting ready to leave after their last lot of customers had flown out and they were flying out soon. Keesha gave us a couple of parcels, it was some fresh food goods that she was about to throw out, some fresh bread rolls, sliced tomatoes and other stuff that was left over from what they had not used with the days guests. We thanked them very much and we said our goodbyes.

After they had flown out a young man came over in a tinnie, I think his name was Jamie, he was staying the three days to look after the place and do some maintenance and he came over to say hello. He told us that he was the welder/fabricator that constructed the pontoon complex. He left saying if there was anything we wanted to just call out.

We watched the sun go down with a nice cold beer had dinner and had an early night as we sail tomorrow.

Talbot Bay to Silver Gull Creek

Tuesday – 02/07/2013

Cool again this morning and I got up a little late as I slept through my watch alarm, I made a cup of tea and took one to Nancy but she got up. I said I did not hear the alarm, she said she did but it was cold so she cuddled up in bed and ignored it.

We got things organised to get underway, I had my mornings exercise hand winching 65 metres of anchor chain up and we went with the tide. There was still a wind warning out for today although winds were supposed to be around 15 to 25 knots. As we motor sailed out of Talbot Bay the winds started to pick up a little but it was blocked occasionally by the islands as we passed them. As we neared the last islands where the seas are more open the winds were 20 to 23 knots and the seas a little lumpy, we shut the engine down and sailed with headsail only and we went along at 5 to 7 knots.

(Leaving Talbot Bay)

t was not our intention to go too fast as we need to be at The Gutter a passage between Koolan Island and the mainland at around noon or just before. The Gutter is a very narrow passage and with the tide running it is advisable to go through it on still tide, low tide today is at 1155 hours and with the speeds that we have achieved from Talbot Bay we are more than 2 hours early. As we neared the Channel which leads to The Gutter our speed significantly increased and I aborted the idea of going in any further. Although the tide was going with us I did not know enough about The Gutter to go through it under these conditions, it may have been alright to go through it although it would probably spit us out at a high speed. I checked the chart and calculated it would be a further 4 to 5Nms to go around Koolan Island and we would probably be at Silver Gull Creek by noon.

(Sanders Point on Koolan Island from an angle it looks like Pluto the dog)

Roberts Island north side of Koolan Island, the rock structure is amazing)

We sailed by just headsail all the way, Koolan Island is an iron ore mine and it was incredible to see the amount of material that has been removed. The iron ore here is supposed to be the richest in the country. The rock structures around this area are again so different to what we have seen, it appears the further west we go we see amazing changes.

We rounded Koolan Island and steered for Silver Gull Creek, a catamaran and a trimaran were sailing out of there and going towards the gutter and there were another couple of yachts anchored in the creek. The seas in this bay were calm compared to what was out the other side of Koolan Island, the two boats heading for The Gutter would find that they will be heading into 2 metre seas at the other end when they get there. We were anchored in Silver Gull Creek by 1230 hours so we had done quite well.

(Chart showing track into Silver Gull Creek)

(Chart showing anchorage)

Wednesday – 03/07/2013

Today we had a bit of a slow start working on the computer getting photos sorted. We decided to go up the creek to the Squatters Arms and meet Phil and Marion. This couple set up a base here some 20 years ago when they had their yacht ‘Exuma’, they set up a permanent camp near the water tanks that BHP put in many years ago where a spring runs, BHP used it for topping up barges when needed. Phil and Marion ended up taking a lease out on the place and set up a place for visiting boats. Unfortunately Marion has lung cancer and will be leaving here in September, they have got someone else to take over from them but they are not sure whether the lease will be renewed in two years time when the current lease runs out. It is not only yachties that turn up here many boats including tourist trade boats visit and have BBQ’s up at the Squatters Arms. They are a lovely couple and welcome everyone to the place. They run a book swap library and sell jewellery that Marion makes. They are colourful couple.

(L-R – Todd, Paul, Marion, Jo. Phil and Sandy)

Sandy on ‘Fayze Two’ and Todd and Jo of ‘Torba Queen’ who we had met in Darwin were also here and we spent the afternoon at Squatters Arms chatting, we also helped Phil move some gear that is to be thrown out as part of the clean up before they leave.

(Squatters Arms is in the greenery to the left of the rocky point)

(Squatters Arms home)

(Inside the home all are made welcome)

(Marion’s little shop where she makes and sells jewellery to tourists)

(Squatters Arms Boat Club of which we are life members)

(Safety sign in the boat club)

(The view of Silver Gull Creek from the Squatters Arms with ‘Fayze Two anchored)

(Squatters Arms dinghy moorings)

Near the old jetty there is a hose that permanently flows water from the spring so you just pull the dinghy alongside and fill your containers. We filled our containers and will probably top up again before we leave. We will probably stay for a few days as we only have 245Nms to go before we reach Broome.

‘Fayze Two’ and ‘Torba Queen’ left this afternoon for Coppermine Creek then on to Broome, they hope to be in Broome by the weekend although Sandy will be coming back here in the next couple of weeks. We said our goodbyes once again to them and said we would catch up in Broome.

Thursday – 04/07/2013

(On the way up to Squatters Arms there is a small gorge near Sandy’s mooring, it is deep all the way to the waterfall)

(The waterfall is only a trickle at the moment above the waterfall there are pools that you can swim in, Marion calls it Cleopatra Falls.)

(The above waterfall at high tide)

(The gorge looking out to the creek)

(Above narrow passage at high tide)

In our travels since Darwin we have seen very few other boats as you would have noticed with the comments on the blog we have met a very few people. But this place has been very busy with yachts and motor boats not that we have met them all but they have come and gone.

After Sandy leaving yesterday another monohull came in just on dark and then another catamaran followed by ‘Lady M’ a tourist boat that we had seen at Horizontal Falls.

Then today another catamaran arrived and a motorboat ‘Phoenix’ We met these people this afternoon when we went up to Squatters Arms, the owner of ‘Phoenix’ is a butcher as he states nice bloke but really he has a meat works that supplies meat to Korea and had four Koreans that he was showing a bit of Australia to, one being the manager of his company in Korea. The people on the catamaran are from Victoria and are sailing around Australia as holidays permit, so they do one section then go back to work until the next break and do another section.

(Squatters Arms is above the dinghy to the left of the rocky point, you go around the point and there is a slope where water is running down you can park the dinghy there)

(A little socialising outdoors a quiet beer in the afternoon)

(The visiting Koreans the blokes speak fluent English but the girls do not understand much in English)

(Retail therapy, looking at the jewellery that Marion makes and sells)

We had a good afternoon at the Squatters Arms with Phil and Marion, they are a couple of characters, it will be a shame when they leave here as they have probably entertained many boat people over the years. They have the Boat Club here cost $10 to join and the money at the end of the year is split between Fred Hollows Foundation, Flying Doctor and Salvation Army.

We filled up with water again and will probably do once more before leaving.

Dogleg Creek

Friday – 05/07/2013

We got things ready to go to Dogleg Creek for fuel, getting the containers fenders and ropes ready , I also topped up the water tanks in case we go up to the Squatters Arms later.

(Topping up the starboard water tank)

We weigh anchor (manually) and motored to Dogleg Creek which is next door and about 5Nms in distance to the fuel barge. We had a quiet motor around there aiming to arrive after 0900 hours as we are not sure of operating hours. When we could just see the barge through the gap in the Dogleg we called Tony on the radio, we had met him the other day when he dropped some gear over to Phil and Marion. As we approached the gap a work boat from the mines came up behind us obviously to get fuel, we waved them to go ahead, they were working we had plenty of time.

(Chart showing our track from Silver Gull Creek to Dogleg Creek and back, I could have gone between the two reefs to make the trip shorter but in these areas the chart plotters are not that accurate)

The gap has markers the idea is to keep the first marker close to your starboard side and the second marker to your port side. There is a pontoon on the starboard side of the barge which will be facing you as you approach.

(These are the locations of the markers, Tony or whoever is on duty will give you instructions)

(Dogleg Creek markers yellow points to markers orange is the track in, note there is a mooring buoy just before you get to the barge)

(Fuel barge with work boat alongside the pontoon)

(Yours truly filling the diesel containers with Tony on the pontoon, very nice bloke he does a few weeks at a time rotating with other blokes)

(Alana Rose on the pontoon all fuelled)

(Looking to the end of Dogleg Creek from the bridge deck of the barge)

I have mentioned before about the accuracy of chart plotters and how care should be taken here below is another example of the two chart plotters that I have on board, basically same Lat/Long but different position.

(The left is my Raymarine and the right is the Garmin, I took these whilst we were sitting waiting to go alongside the fuel barge the lat/longs are identical but the location on the charts a far apart, I am not saying one is better than the other sometimes the Garmin has been wrong. Care must be taken when using these units)

The fuel barge

We were told by people that the barge charges $4.00 per litre of fuel, well today the prices were as follows, diesel $3.00 per litre, unleaded fuel $3.20 per litre which is quite good considering the barge location and where the fuel has to come from. However, I must note and this is no slur on Tony as he only works there and I did not say anything to him at the time, but I do feel that his diesel pumping gauge is out somewhat as it stated I had 92 litres and I filled four 20 litre containers the most I could fit into these would be 84 litres, so it may have cost me at most $3.30 per litre in diesel. There gauges have probably never been checked. The fuel barge is a valuable thing for boaties in transit like us, we was told that we would be motoring in the Kimberly’s and this is true to a certain extent but we have done a lot of sailing, sometimes very slow but we have sailed using the tides and we probably could have gone without diesel but we needed ULP for the dinghy and generator we was down to our last 12 litres. Note….Talking to some locals later the diesel gauge has been reading approximately 3 litres more per 20 litres since the service was put into place, not a big deal for us taking 80 litres other than it cost us $36 more than it should, but the day before us a guy in a motor boat reckoned he needed 1500 litres which if he did need exactly this amount the gauge would have read an additional 225 litres which in dollar value would have cost an extra $675 that they should not be paying, ULP is not a problem as it is measured out of 200 litre drums and if you have containers that are marked there is no argument.

Tony is a farmer from NSW, around Quirindi way I think and he is looking at letting his daughter take the farm over so he gets away from there to let her run it as part of the learning process before he takes off on some adventure.

Silver Gull Creek

We returned to Silver Gull Creek and anchored and then we went to a little beach fishing on the way without a bite. We took our burnable rubbish ashore and had a little BBQ fire to get rid of it.

(Incredible rock formations)

(Hope I don’t need a permit to burn)

This afternoon ‘Penrod II’ anchored nearby which surprised me as talking to Ken at Horizontal Falls he was heading back towards Darwin no doubt we will catch up later.

It is quite a nice anchorage here and having running water from the spring up the creek is very beneficial.

Saturday – 06/07/2013

A quiet Saturday morning, I topped up the water tanks with the containers and loaded the fuel with additives into the main tanks before heading off up the creek to where we saw the waterfall the other day, it was now high tide and we wanted to see the difference and what a difference it was. We actually took the tinnie over where the waterfall was the other day as the water was so high.

We then went up to Squatters Arms and first filling our water containers before going up to see Marion and Phil. We joined the Squatters Arms Boat Club and bought a shirt for me and a singlet  for Nancy plus Nancy bought a bracelet  that Marion had made herself.

(The old jetty at high tide where there is a hose from the natural spring tank that BHP put there years ago where we top the water up)

(Topping up containers from the spring water at old jetty)

We took some books that we had read up to them and I think we came back with more new reads than we took, understandably  as Marion is trying to reduce stocks as they leave this place in September due to her health. She gave Nancy a book which she signed which is written about the Kimberly’s that has a small section on them. I think we got on with them because we were not demanding we just went to see them as yachties with good will and a chat. We really wish them well although Marion knows that she has not that long on this earth with lung cancer with one lung not functioning at all but you would not know it she does not show any signs of pain only sometimes she is a little weak and slow to get out of her seat when she wants to. She is the type of lady that does not suffer fools but has a great heart and she does not call a spade a spade she calls it a F……g Shovel, as I said she and Phil are colourful but very nice people.

We said our goodbyes with big hugs and wished them well and then returned  via another look at the waterfall area. No sooner we left the crew from a barge went to visit Phil and Marion with mail for them and then a power boat came in and they were there until after dark so they get plenty of visitors when the dry season is on. I think they like some visitors but they also like there quiet life, anyone is welcome to take gear up for a BBQ for around lunch time but they do not want night visitors other than their close friends or family. Night time is their time.

We have had a good time here and it may be a place that will never be the same in a couple of years after Phil and Marion leave.

Coppermine Creek

Sunday – 07/07/2013

I was able to listen to Macca on the radio this morning, the last couple of weeks all we have been able to pick up is Asian stations and that’s what appeared to be happening again this morning then I decided it may be time to change the batteries in the transistor radio and we got Macca on Australia All Over.

We waited for the tide to change before leaving which was around 1000 hours. I went for my exercise pulling the anchor up and as we did Nancy spotted a croc a distance away from us, we seem to see them around high tide. As we motored out of Silver Gull Creek Nancy called Squatters Arms and told them we were leaving and wished them well.

As we pulled out of the bay we set the trolling line and soon after pulled out a nice sized Spanish Mackerel which will be nice for dinner.

Our plan was to go to Crocodile Creek and when we got there, there was a large tourist boat anchored we tried to anchor and found that we were above coral or rock so I had to pull the anchor up again manually. So we gave this creek a miss and went to Coppermine Creek and anchored there.

As we approached the area my old phone that I had attached to the outside antenna suddenly went into tunes having phone service for the first time since just after Darwin.

My first call was to my sister Jeanne as a while ago I had some inside feeling that Mum was not well, Jeanne told me that Mum had not been well as she had a hernia break through her bowl and had a three hour operation but she is on the mend. I then rang my dear Mum she sounded good, she is a tough one she never complains.

At this anchorage we occasionally get internet coverage so we caught up with other information.

(Once again a difference in chart plotters, lat/longs are basically the same but the position is way off)

Coppermine Creek is where copper was mined at the Yampi Mine which I believe is now heritage listed. There is also a boat fishing club located at this creek and probably only opened during fishing competitions.

(At the beach of the fishing boat club, I don’t think this boat has seen the water for some time going on the tree growing through the transom.)

We are right into Dampier country now, whilst mentioning Dampier which I will go into a little more detail. I have recently read a small book ‘The Voyage of the Endeavour’ published in 1926, I found it very interesting how different parts of Australia was discovered by different people, the first known European to see Australia but was not sure at the time was the Dutchmen on ‘Duyfken’ in March 1606 six months before Torres sailed through now known as Torres Strait, Then Tasman in 1642 sighted the southern end of Tasmania and 1644 went from North West Cape WA through to Cape York QLD, many Dutchmen had seen the west coast of Australia calling it the southern land some ships were wrecked off the coast and Dutch geographer drew an accurate map with information given in 1628 detailing from Cape Leeuwin to Willems River near North West Cape. Captain James Cook completed the picture of others prior work by discovering the east coast from Point Hicks to Cape York.

William Dampier first visit was on a pirate ship, not that he was a pirate he went with them because they travelled places of adventure the ship ‘Cygnet’ pulled into a bay a little further west from here now known as Cygnet Bay and the islands around the area are called Buccaneer Archipelago, this was no new discovery as it was part of the coast that Tasman had discovered. But Dampier wrote a great account of what he saw other than the way he described the local natives which was not endearing. His story was found interesting by the men of the Royal Society that they persuaded the government to give him command of a ship to investigate further. But he was unfairly treated when they gave him the ship ‘Roebuck’ which foundered on the way home as the timbers were so rotted. He first started to go south around the southern coast but changed his mind as he hated the cold weather and decided to head north and see if Tasman’s information on the coast could be improved thinking then he would go along the north coast and then see what was on the east side travelling south as by then the weather south would be warmer.

He landed in now known Roebuck Bay and continued around the north but by the time he went to try going south along our east coast he found it too dangerous and his crew were home sick and probably causing problems. On his way though he found the now known Dampier Strait and a beautiful island New Britain off the east coast of PNG.

Although it was Dampier and of course Cook and Banks that gave good reports of the country all the others that visited the land said it was barren and had hostile natives, many of the early visitors only saw the west coast and mainly to the north which would have been dry country.

(Couple of friends came to visit, two lemon sharks)

We had a quiet day and had a nice fresh fish dinner, we also had some visitors three very large Lemon Sharks they swam around the boat all night they are so graceful when swimming around. During most days lately we have seen dolphins swimming close by usually around sunrise and at high tides looking for a feed of fish no doubt.

Monday – 08/07/2013

We had an easy morning waiting for high tide to go out and do some exploring and hopefully get some fish as they say this is a good fishing area. So at near high tide we lowered the tinnie and off we went , they say there is an old copper mine around here but we could not find it. We trolled a line as we went and I had a few strikes but without it getting hooked then on the way to another inlet we had a good strike another Spaniard, he put up a good fight and I just about landed it when it thrashed around and broke free, I would have had to let it go anyway as it was under size.

I think I mentioned earlier that you need a fishing license in WA and there are four types of license, also I don’t think I mentioned this that their legal sizes of fish are different to Queensland, a Spaniard here has to be 900mm in QLD it is 750mm. The rules are if you catch a fish and put it straight into a freezer you have to leave it as a whole fish other than cleaning it. If you eat some of it the remaining fish has to have the skin left on and size of fillets have to be 300mm.

It was a good job I did not land the fish and decide to keep it as this afternoon our friends from the Fisheries boat arrived, we were on the beach at the time and there were two small motorboats that have been in the area fishing the last few days and Fisheries checked all their catches. They came over to us at the beach, it was the same crew we saw in Rogers Strait, their comment was you haven’t got far, then they asked if my fishing had improved. I told them I had a score of one Spaniard that had already been eaten and had one on the line this morning but it got off and it was undersize anyway. They wished us safe sailing and went to one of the other boats.

We were ashore looking for black oysters as they say they are plentiful here, when we first arrived I thought I could see some at low tide but when we checked it out they were a black sea urchin and the oysters had been cleaned out in the area that we looked. Blokes on the other boat were in another area and they were in knee deep water and I think they were getting a few, but that is not for me I saw a croc swimming around this morning and movement in the water at other places and I’m no Crocodile Dundee.

Tuesday – 09/07/2013

Another easy day today, we did lower the tinnie and go fishing at high tide without any luck whatsoever. We will sail tomorrow although it may be with iron sails as the wind has gone for a few days which probably will work well because we have to head south and winds are generally from SE and we would not be able to sail on those winds anyway.

Edeline Island

Wednesday- 10/07/2013

We weighed anchor (manually) at first light to catch the last of the outgoing tide and hopefully get to Buccaneer Archipelago at the change of the tide to turn south towards Hidden Island and then onto Edeline Island.

What beautiful islands around this area when you think you have seen the best you find more surprises. I wonder what Tasman and Dampier thought when they saw these places, we have sailed half way around the world and seen some beautiful places but I think we have the best in Australia. It is the different rock formations that stand out. One thing I found interesting that all the early visitors to this country no matter where they approached land they were scared off by Aborigines, our early governments have a lot to answer for by rounding them up and putting them in missions and alike.

(Dorothy Island near Coppermine Creek)

(Dampier’s Monument)

(Island or rock, one chart plotter indicates and island the other a rock)

(Islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago)

(Islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago)

(Islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago)

(Passage through the islands)

(Many places have water turbulence)

When you think of it the Europeans killed off a lot of natives in the southern hemisphere when visiting islands just in spreading diseases like the common cold that natives had never experienced and had no immune system against it, literally thousands we killed this way in the Pacific.

Most of the islands here are rocky but that is what makes them attractive is the different rugged shapes and colours of the rocks. Today the seas made it more attractive as there were no wind waves and the seas were flat and shining, the tides around the islands cause eddies which makes it hard for George (the auto pilot0 to steer a straight course so I had to hand steer in some places the eddies would send us screaming to port and next to starboard which is not good in narrow waterways when there are hidden rocks below the surface.

Entering the bay to anchor at Edeline Island is quite straight forward but stay in the centre with plenty depth of water, on the chart plotters it shows a darker blue area of 5m depth don’t try to anchor there as it is a rock bottom, we found out the hard way especially when I had to bring the anchor up manually for the second time today. Where we anchored finally is very good holding.


Care should also be taken if passing the island as the reef extends a way out and sometimes only shows at low tides.

(The day ends)

Thursday – 11/07/2013

Natures sculptures Edeline Island

(Natures sculptures, this one above has a piece of rock fallen and looks like it is supporting the isolated rock)
(If in the first picture above you thought someone had stacked the stones, see the size next to Nancy walking by)

Edeline Island has some graves from the early days of Mother of Pearl divers many lost their lives whilst diving as the early days they skin dived with no equipment just holding their breathes as they went metres to the seabed. The first diver were Aborigines many lugger skippers forced Aborigines men, women and young children to dive for payment of little to eat, they said they would not know what to do with money at times if they fell sick they would be dropped off at the nearest shore and left to fend for themselves. The Japanese and Koreans that came to dive who were paid also lost lives and buried ashore. I n the 1890’s the pearling attracted boats from Thursday Island, Torres Strait and further places like Japanese, Chinese, Malays, Koepangers, and Filipinos, the Japanese becoming the dominant divers and crews on luggers their heavy suits and helmets improved the industry.

(Julio’s grave, the flowers right we put on each grave)

This morning we went ashore to visit the graves, there were five or six it was hard to tell as over the years they have been affected with the weather and the slate stone that was used has broken up with age. One grave had some engraving on the headstone A….a Julio 1889 we placed a couple of wild flowers on each grave as a sign of respect.

(Nancy putting flowers on the graves as a sign of respect, I believe if we visit such sites we should show some respect. When you think these graves may never have been seen by their families and the families may not know they exist)

The slate type sandstone along the beach has been made a work of art by the weather and seas as though some have been sculptured. The area is very attractive looking out from the island across the waters there is plenty of beauty especially today as the seas is flat and like glass.

There are many other small islands around but they are rather rocky but it adds to the picturesque views of the archipelago.

As we sat down for dinner one of the tourist catamarans pulled in an anchored a short distance away. It was one we had not seen before, it is quite surprising how many charter boats operate in the Kimberley’s today.

Cape Leveque

Friday – 12/07/2013

Early morning start with the radio sched with SICYC, since we have had some internet service we found that they had changed the time to 0745 hours (EST) due to the American group that transmitted at our normal time. So we have to get on the radio 0545 hours (WST). Straight after we weighed anchor and were going to go to Sunday Island however, we went on to Cape Leveque as it made for better sailing with the tides.

Unfortunately we are not spending much time there just anchoring as now we need to get to Broome to get the anchor winch fixed as we need to start looking at getting to Geraldton around mid August to get the weather to go down the west coast.

(Our first whale sightings for this season.)

We had a good sail during the day a little motoring at first but the wind kicked in and we sailed until we neared Eastern Point near Cape Leveque it was at the shoals there that we spotted our first whales for the season. We were lucky enough to catch a big eye tuna of 62cm. I say we as first of all Nancy stated that she catch it. Let me tell you how Nancy catches fish. After I manually lift the anchor and then get behind the helm and take us out of the anchorage I ask Nancy to put the trolling line out, which she does, then when the line rips our with a fish she yells John, John the line. So I go over and slow the running of the reel then I start hauling it in, Nancy goes on the helm and turns the boat out of the wind to slow us down, she gets the gear ready for me sharp knife glove and gaff. After me fighting with the fish for some time and get it on board, I hang it in a small bin and bleed it. I leave it for a while then I go to work and cut the two full length fillets and give them to Nancy to pack and place in the freezer. She tells me that it is just that she has a mechanical rod winder and that’s me.

(We anchored a little further out than the anchorage listed in the cruising guide, waypoint 0069, we had calm conditions and the wind in the right direction)

 (Cape Leveque lighthouse and campgrounds)

We anchored at a suggested anchorage about two thirds of a mile from the campground, this anchorage was fine for us but we were in very calm conditions I would think it is good for sheltering winds from SW through to E, but if there is any swell it could roll in.

Beagle Bay

Saturday – 13/07/2013

We left again just after the radio sched and I asked Nancy to set the trolling line as we left and as we turned the point around Cape Leveque we had a fish on the line, unfortunately as I was landing it, it broke free, I should probably word that differently as we had three dolphins hanging around whilst I was trying to haul in the fish so the fish probably got caught anyway.

(Dolphin dive)

About 15 minutes later we had another, again a big eye tuna this one stayed on the hook and was a little bigger 81cm. We don’t usually fish straight away after getting a fish we usually wait until the first one is just about gone before we try again but considering we will be in port for a week or two we thought we would get another fish if we could.

We do have another problem with fishing here and that is in WA if you catch a fish you are to leave it whole after cleaning it until the day you eat it or part thereof and you must then cut it into 300 mm fillets and leave the skin on so that fisheries can identify it. We have to cut it up into 300mm fillets straight away as we do not have a freezer big enough to fit a fish of the sizes we catch.

We had a great sail down to Beagle Bay, one thing that stands out on the shoreline is the coloured sands there is brilliant white sand for a stretch then it turns red and alternates this way all down the coast.

Beagle Bay indicates pearl leases but all has been removed, talking to fisheries the other day there is only one lot left about half way to Broome and it is well marked. So we have not seen any pearl lease marker since the northern end of Rogers Strait.

(We used the above anchorage rather than go further in and have to sail the additional distance, it is good holding but like a lot of the WA coast the beach shoals out quite a distance)

(There are plenty of places to anchor in this bay, waypoint 0070 was the original place we were heading for but conditions were fair and we elected the above)

Beagle Bay has a few anchorages and we selected the first on the south west end about a mile in from Sandy Point there was another yacht there ‘Capers’ a monohull, we were a bit tired to go over and socialise and they were probably the same.

The anchorage was good as the good book stated don’t go too close to the beach as it has grasses and weed, we anchored a little way out in shell/sand good holding and around 6.4m at low tide. The wind kicked in during the night from the SE but there was little fetch at that time but I would imagine for prolonged periods of SE strong winds it would be better to go deeper into the bay.

Cape Baskerville

Sunday – 14/07/2013

It was intended that we have a rest day at this anchorage but looking at the weather and having some winds today and tomorrow and little after we decided to make a move. The other yacht started to move also. The next anchorage was only 20NMS away as the next day would be 60NMS into Broome.

I manually weighed anchor and after the twenty minutes it took me to retrieve the 60 metres of chain we hoisted the mainsail and sailed out of the bay and then jibed and then unfurled the headsail and we were off on a good close reach. We had a good sail and arrived at Cape Baskerville at 1355 hours, the other yacht had done the same. We had worked out the other yacht was named ‘Capers’ and was returning from Bali after being in a race from Fremantle to Bali.

(Cape Baskerville with the sands glowing in the sunset)

The swell from the sea stopped us from going ashore as the waves were breaking quite hard at the beach. We enjoyed an afternoon of relaxation and watched the sunset which we never get tired of, most days they are very different.

(Anchorage at Cape Baskerville offers protection from SE to NE winds, good holding, if going ashore beware of rocks on the shores edge)

(Sunset at Cape Baskerville)

In the later hours of night the SE winds lifted a little and with the SW swell we had a bit of a rock up not uncomfortable to sleep with but the change of motion did wake us and then it took a while to get back to sleep. I got up before light of day and put the kettle on and then started to get the covers rolled. We had to wait until we had some light having to haul the anchor manually it is hard to see unless there is some light and holding a torch, manually hauling and signalling to Nancy to move the boat is a little difficult, can be done if absolutely necessary but let’s leave it simple I say.

Monday – 15/07/2013

We motored out of the shallower water and then hoisted the mainsail then unfurled the headsail and again we sailed under good winds at a close reach at times we sailed at 9.8 knots and the slowest was around 6.8 knots until we neared Broome a few hours out we had to change course and the wind was basically on the nose so we motor sailed with the mainsail.

The sail was a delight with the amount of whales that we saw. At one stage Nancy had a fit as she looked out the port side to see a large whales tail disappearing under the port bow. We had been seeing whales since Cape Leveque but not as many as what we saw on this stretch. We had a number of them that came close to the boat and swam under us and there was many more that breached numerous times but in a distance that made it hard to get decent photos. In addition to this we had dolphins not in the same numbers but we had them visit alongside.

(These whales were all different sightings and unfortunately not close)

(Whale tail, calf following on the right)

(HMAS Maitland anchored off Broome)

Arriving at Broome we motored into the mooring/anchorage area just south of Cable Beach, the mooring that we have permission to use is the one closest to the beach and Cable Beach so it was easy to spot and we went straight to it Nancy picked up the line with the boat hook and I went out to help secure the mooring.

(This is the anchorage area for SE to NE winds which are prominent up to mid August. There are a large number of moorings here but plenty of places to anchor, note that many charts do not show the northern cardinal marker where the reef starts.)

So here we are in Broome on a good secure mooring and my main thoughts now turn to getting the anchor winch electric motor fixed, however, that will have to wait until tomorrow. Now a cold beer and watch the sunset.

(Old lugger now sunset tour boat sailing passed at sunset)

Next will be going down the west coast, this has to be done August/September time.