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.



















































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