Monday, July 8, 2013

Berkeley River - Kimberley's

(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 waypoints 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 waypoints by Ron and this was to prove the sandbars had not moved and there was enough water over them for us to enter).
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)




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)
We also changed the clocks today to WA time zone turning back 1 hr 30 mins.

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)
(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)
After a while we headed back to the dinghy, going down the rocks was harder than climbing them. We loaded the dinghy 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)

(Filling the water containers at Casuarina Falls)

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.

(The skippers view as we motor up the Berkeley River)


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.
(Early light on the Berkeley River 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.
(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)

(Looking up river towards Fresh Water Falls)
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 couple 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)


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

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

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.
(Amphitheatre Falls)

('Alana Rose' at Amphitheatre Falls anchorage)

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 load (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)










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