West Kimberley coast, Western Australia - King Sound, Yampi Sound, Camden Sound

Supplementary notes to Western Australian Cruising, fourth edition, published by Fremantle Sailing Club, prepared by Trevor Robertson, yacht Iron Bark, July to October 2016.
All depths in metres reduced to approx LWS.
All bearing True.


Note: accuracy of charting.
The charting of Camden Sound and Brecknock Harbour from the South Entrance to Slade Island appears to be accurate, at least to reconnaissance levels, but this is not the case further east. There has been considerable shoaling east of Slade Island since the area was surveyed (1974-1979) and chart AUS730 should be disregarded in the immediate vicinity of Camden Harbour. In places there is considerably less water than charted. The Granite Islands no longer exist and are now reefs covered at HWS. This makes the final approach to Camden Harbour difficult using AUS730 – see below for directions. In addition there is considerably less water than charted in the eastern parts of Brecknock and Camden Harbours.

Approach to Brecknock Harbour/Kuri Bay from Camden Sound via South Entrance
The entrance is straightforward. Needle Rock is a remarkable pillar rock on the south side of the entrance. It is conspicuous from some angles only. A rocky reef extends approx 400m northwest of Needle Rock. Favour the New Island side of the channel to avoid it. South Channel has a least depth of 17m for width in excess off 300m. If the depth falls below 15m, you are probably too close to the south side of the channel – alter course to the north.

Kuri Bay Pearl Farm was permanently occupied in 2016 and had 10 or 12 moorings most with small workboats and barges on them. There are a few rows of pearl buoys on the SSW side of Augustus Island. They are well marked by radar reflector buoys.

From South Entrance to Slade Island
There are no obvious dangers on a course 0.5 to 0.8 miles off the south coast of Brecknock Harbour. This part of AUS730 appears to be fairly accurate. An uncharted shoal extends 0.2 or 0.3 miles north from Slade Island. AUS730 is inaccurate east of this shoal and should be disregarded.

Slade Island to Camden Harbour passing south of Green Island
Green Island is 39m high and conspicuous. The two small islands to the south of Green Island shown on AUS 730 and labelled Granite Islands no longer exist. They are now rocky reefs that dry 7m and are covered about 2.5m at HWS. A single mangrove tree on one of them may just show at HWS, other than that they can be very difficult to see at high water. The small island charted to the south of the non-existent Granite Islands and about 0.5 miles NNW of Camden Head does exist. It is low, mangrove covered and always visible.

From a position 0.5or 0.6 miles off Slade Island, steer to pass about 200m south of the drying reefs (formerly Granite Islands) if they are visible or to w.p. 15°29.54’S, 124°35.57’E if they are not. The deepest water is close to the reefs on the north side of the channel; the water shoals towards the low mangrove island. It is possible to carry a minimum of 6m on this route, but close to the route there is at least one pinnacle rock with about 4m over it at LWS, and others may exist.
Once clear of the drying reefs that were formerly the Granite Islands, turn gradually to port to pass 0.5nm clear of the south side of Sheep Island. Anchor southeast of Sheep Island in 7-8 m, muddy grit and shell, good holding.

Slade Island to Camden Harbour passing north of Green Island
There is clear channel between Green Island and an area of foul ground northwest of it. The channel has a least width of 400m and a least depth of 8m. The foul ground to the northwest is not easy to see and does not dry. From w.p. 15°29.2’S, 124°35.0’E, steer to pass 0.5nm west of Green Island then pass around its north side keeping 0.5nm off. There is a drying reef 0.6 nm northeast of Green Island. Leave this to port and steer to leave Sheep Island to port. Pass 0.2nm south of Sheep Island to avoid the drying reef on the south side of that island. Anchor as above.

It is possible to anchor anywhere between Sheep Island and Calliance Point or in the mouth of Brown Inlet, but it is choppy in a fresh sea breeze as there is a long fetch to the northwest. The inner part of Brown Inlet are shoal and it is not possible to anchor far enough in to avoid the sea-breeze induced waves. The anchorage close to the southeast of Sheep Island has the best protection from this chop.

Of interest
The grave of Mary Jane Pascoe, the first white woman to be buried in the Kimberley, is on Sheep Island. The grave with a headstone is beneath the large boab tree on the spit of shelly grit on the east side of the island. There are six other unmarked graves immediately adjacent to it, all from the failed 1864-65 settlement attempt.

The ruins of the Government Camp are on the mainland directly east of Sheep Island. A cleared slipway and ramp leading up from the high water mark are visible from offsho

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