Saturday, July 27, 2013

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.


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