Friday, November 4, 2011

King George River to Freshwater Bay

13th July 2011

This morning at 0600 Truansea followed her track out of the King George River and through Koolama Bay to Cape Londonderry Western Australia's most northerly point but not as far north as Cape York. Seas were calm and wind light and variable so we started off motor sailing at 5 knots. Recognizing that these were ideal conditions to troll for mackeral in went the lure and within 10 minutes a good sized spotty mackerel had found the temptation to much to resist and gave himself up to a higher cause. Two lovely meals one of fillets the other steaks followed as a result of that fish's sacrifice.

The wind increased to 15-18 knots as we rounded the cape and Stewart Island shoals and then in the lee of the shoals as the sea flattened considerably we reached at 8 knots around Cape Talbot anchoring in close to offlying rocks. A very comfortable anchorage in SE weather.

At 0600 on the 14th we were again underway and motoring in mirror calm waters across Napier Broome Bay towards West Bay passing the Governor Islands to port. It is possible to buy fuel at Truscott landing which is a privately run airstrip servicing the oil rigs and providing a strategic convenience for coastwach and SAR aircraft. We anchored a few hundred meters out from the ramp used by the landing barge that brings in supplies and fuel for the camp managed by Shore Air. after lunch we went ashore in the tender and were fortunate enough to meet Murph who is Shore Air's manager showing a new starter, Brad around the area. I say fortunate because had we not met them we may not have been able to top up our fuel supply. Shore Air require that you make prior arrangements with them to obtain fuel and we were not aware of this however Murph being the gentleman that he is made arrangements for us to be picked up at the ramp at 0900 the following morning with our Jerry cans from where I was taken to the airstrip. Now Murph as I said is a gentleman in addition to allowing us to purchase the fuel at $2.85/litre he made sure I was provided with a couple of loaves of bread and some fresh muffins before taking me back to the tender. The airstrip is about 10km from the ramp another small detail I wasn't aware of. Murph also did me a favor and sent a happy birthday email to the rear admiral. This is a remote place and to meet someone with the means and willingness to accommodate what are simple requests in more populated areas is a real pleasure. Thank you Murph. We spent the afternoon changing the crankcase oil in the outboards and fishing and although we didn't catch any edible fish we did have some sport with a few sharks one quite large. As the day wore on some aborigines came down to the waters edge and we observed two using traditional hand spearing methods to catch fish and at least one mud crab lurking within range. We thought they were quite brave walking knee deep in water in the location Murph had advised us that a large and aggressive croc had been seen recently.

Friday morning we were underway by 0630 having waited for the ebb to begin motor sailing in calm conditions towards Geranium Harbour were we would alter course west to cross the mouth of Vansitart Bay and enter Freshwater Bay. Arriving at the head of Freshwater Bay we anchored and immediately noticed a large shark circling below Truansea. This shark kept up this vigil until at least 2300hrs when I lost interest in his antics. Freshwater Bay and the approach from Geranium Harbour through a narrow passage between Long Island and Mary Island is where west bound sailors get there first real appreciation for the tides and currents in the Kimberley's. This narrow pass also has a submerged rock and the guide advises of a chart error in it's location so it pays to be very vigilant and observant else this might be the end of the Kimberley's adventure and possibly worse. The warnings and cautions are very real.

And so a pleasant night was spent at anchor before departing the next morning for the passage through Admiralty Gulf for Cape Voltaire at the head of Montague Sound. As we passed by a large unnamed bay around the north side of the headland skirting Freshwater Bay were surprised to see an extensive pearl farming operation underway. I counted 14 work boats, 2 ships with pearl raft lifting cranes and two large cruise style workers accommodation ships. Must be a lot of money in the pearl oysters gem farming business. That lustrous little sphere has created a huge industry.

Next post we move further into the vastness of the gulfs and sounds that combine to make this such a demanding yet alluring region to visit.

Fair winds

Brian of Truansea.

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