Friday, July 26, 2013

St George Basin & Prince Regent River - 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's 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 will 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 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. 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)

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