Turkey Beach

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 5 Jul 2019 07:47

Position: 24 04.28 S  151 38.90 E
At anchor off Turkey Beach
Wind: SE;  F5,  strong breeze
Sea: slight   Swell: nil
Weather: overcast, showers, mild
Day’s run: 8 nm


This morning, Sylph’s daily planning meeting saw a little disagreement among the crew as to what we should do. The skipper was for staying put and going for a hike, the first mate wanted to motor around to Turkey Beach and investigate its attractions, and the SC(A) wanted to stay in the mice warm bunk.  After a little discussion, it was eventually agreed that we weigh anchor just prior to slack high water and motor to Turkey Beach. If the conditions going up Rodd Harbour were too uncomfortable than we would return to Seven Mile Creek and go for a hike.  As we rounded Innes Head and turned up Rodd Harbour the seas were not as bad as I expected so we pressed on. An hour and a half of motoring against the strong breeze (but with the remains of the flood tide in our favour) we came to anchor in eleven feet of water according to Sylph’s antique Navico depth sounder (hence feet and not meters). I had fitted a new transducer for Sylph’s more state-of-the-art digital Garmin combined plotter/sounder while hauled out at Launceston, but since then its depth sounder has ceased working, plus that of a replacement GPS plotter/sounder and am left with only the older, but thus far reliable (touch wood), Navico.  I await a response from Garmin as to what they suggest I do about their plotter/sounders but as they are both older units I am not confident that they will be very helpful – but one never knows.

Anyway, back to Rodd Harbour ... we came to anchor in eleven feet of water. Subtract three feet for the distance from transducer to keel makes a depth of water of 8 feet below the keel.  The height of tide was two meters (converted to feet, that’s 6.5 feet). The depth at low water is 0.3 meters (1 foot) so that means we lose 5.5 feet, which means at low water we should have 1.5 feet beneath the keel. Not a lot but sufficient. (Of course all this will eventually lead somewhere – just be patient.)

After allowing Sylph to settle to her anchor, conditions were assessed as to their suitability for getting ashore. Despite anchoring in relatively shallow water as close to the beach as possible, it was still a fair distance to the shore given the strong breeze. Rowing was out of the question. The other option was the electric outboard. A bit of a pain to fit to the dinghy but if essential supplies were to be brought in for a Sylph pizza and movie night then a solution had to be found and commensurate risks taken as necessary. So, the dinghy was launched, life jackets were donned, the outboard broken out from the cockpit locker and fitted to Sylphide (Sylph’s dinghy). The heavy lead acid battery was lowered gently into place abaft the thwart and secured. The outboard was connected to the battery, the crew was embarked, and we were away, leaving Oli, SC(A), to keep anchor watch.

Tidal estuaries can have some rather extensive shoal patches which can be hard to see in their murky brown waters. Of course, we found one of them with the electric outboard as we motored ashore. This required some rowing to clear the shoal then we motored the remaining distance to the boat ramp pontoon. From there we hiked the short distance to the local general store, purchased the essential supplies, and walked the other way back to the dinghy (Turkey Beach is laid out on a one loop road plan). We passed the community hall which had upcoming events advertised on a sign out the front, the highlight of which appeared to be the tractor bash. While Turkey Beach is out in the Aussie scrub, it is hardly an agricultural community. Nonetheless, it has a lot of tractors, many of which we saw parked out in the front drives of the houses. The tractors are used by the locals to get their large fishing tinnies with big outboards from their oversized garages to the launching ramp. Clearly, the fishing tractors have become part of the cultural experience of Turkey Beach as we found out behind the community hall the local tractor race circuit which appeared to be a miniature Grand Prix circuit with a long straight and a slalom. Unfortunately, the tractor bash is on next weekend so we very much regret that we will miss out on this iconic Turkey Beach event.

Back to the dinghy, shoal negotiated, and back on board. I looked at Sylph. She did not seem to be sitting quite right and the anchor chain was a little slack. Sure enough, she was touching bottom.  Oh well, no harm.  We were at the bottom of the tide and we must have only just been touching. At least we couldn’t drag anchor if we were aground. The next low water has a depth of 0.5 meters, so this should give us close to an extra foot of water under the keel.

Now for pizzas and a movie.

All is well.