Saturday, July 27, 2013

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)

It 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.
(Note...I found later some local knowledge that you can go through The Gutter at any time but to keep well away from the reef areas)
(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 with 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)

Silver Gull Creek

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 19 - 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 Too' 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.
It is incredible being out in the Kimberley's where commercial radio is weak and we have not picked up any news since leaving Darwin, here at Squatters Arms they have internet via Optus service from the site on Koolan Island mines and we were informed that we have a new or is that a used Primeminister. Oh it is bliss not to here  the politics that would have followed that change.
(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)


Happy Birthday Steve, sorry I can't phone or send a message there's no bloody service up this way.

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 few but very few. 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 meatworks 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 workboat 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 workboat 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.
(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 took 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
(Incredible rock formations)

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.

(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 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.



















































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 get 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 is around where the anchorages are at 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 it 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 which would be quite safe to do.
(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.
Meanwhile we anchored and was getting the covers in place when Ken from 'Penrod II' that was anchored nearby came over, 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 went over at 1330 hours  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.


(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)
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 skipper 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 skipper 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 gummy 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 on 'Penrod II' 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.

(Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures complex)
(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)
(The entrance to Horizontal Falls)
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. We then returned on board for the quiet afternoon.

(This is up the gorge in the bay ahead in the centre is where the cyclone anchorage is.)
(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, below worked on photo-shop)
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.