Making a Break

Wednesday 1 January 2014

I don’t think the New Year even registered.  We were intent on taking this opportunity, there was a break in the strong westerly winds, one day when we could dash down the coast of Flinders Island before the westerlies came in again.

Stealing away from Killiecrankie Bay

Stealing away from Killiecrankie Bay

Leaving the beach just after 5.00am as the sun began to illuminate the eastern sky felt like stealing out of town.  I wondered what our friends would think when they came down to the beach for their morning walk.  They’d been keeping a kind eye on us; glad when we moved the kayaks off the sand and higher up the sand bank out of the way of the high tides, happy on really crazy windy days when we hadn’t left, and now we’d be gone.

Leaving Killiecrankie Bay we turned west and headed along the northern shores of Flinders Island.  As we neared Cape Frankland I observed a long line of single breakers from the Cape to the north.  My head does me in every time and I began imagining the worst.  Mental calm prevailed and I decided that this line of scary waves was further out and we’d be skirting inside it.  Of course we didn’t and before I realised it we were bouncing through some exciting waters.  And as always, I settled, told my mind to chill and focussed on relaxing my body in the kayak and doing what I do best, just paddling, picking a line through the rough seas and working my way around the cape and into the calmer waters on the other side.  Harry, naturally, didn’t even notice the challenge of the waters, he smiled and relished the fun!

Arriving at lovely Roydon Island we stopped for a break.  After all the long crossings, offwater pee breaks felt like luxury!  We checked out the hut which had two decent looking water tanks as well as contact details provided inside by locals close by on Flinders.  They were happy to provide water, so long as you were able to cross over to Flinders that is.

Brief break in the westerlies

Brief break in the westerlies

On we journeyed, heading south now along the west side of Flinders.  I’d been imagining this part of our journey for a long time, expecting to hop from sandy beach to sandy beach, lazy mornings, short days, afternoon rests, perhaps even visiting the outlying islands en route.  Sadly this was not to be.  With a brief break in the westerlies our destination was Trousers Point, and with a strong wind change forecast for later in the day we couldn’t afford to be complacent.

One more pitstop on a pretty little beach and then the Strzelecki Range became our backdrop for the rest of the paddle, Mount Strzelecki growing its own cloudtop (which we later experienced from the inside).  The winds picked up from the north, the tide turned, our sails were unfurled and our speed increased.  Landing on the calm waters of the little beach at Trousers Point was welcome after a long day, the peace of the local seas not quite appreciated until about an hour later when the winds whooshed in and the bay turned into a whitecap maelstrom.

Killiecrankie Bay to Trousers Point

Killiecrankie Bay to Trousers Point

A long day on the water

A long day on the water

Crossing Bass Strait

Trip Day 10

Paddling Day 5

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Distance covered: 58km

Launched: 5.00am

Landed:

The Good Life

Killiecrankie Bay

Killiecrankie Bay

28-31 December 2013

He reached out his hand to shake mine, saying “Welcome to Flinders Island”.  What a way to be greeted as I stepped onto the sands at Killiecrankie.  As a previous leaseholder of Hogan Island he knew exactly what we were doing and how we were doing it.

It seemed the whole world wanted to care for us: within that first hour on Flinders I’d learned about the yoga retreat I could join, regular holiday makers befriended us letting us know the local cafe had just re-opened and we’d set up camp in a sheltered glade in the Killiecrankie campsite.

The weather gods that had greatly favoured the first big week of our expedition, providing both challenging and benign conditions, chose to throw gales our way.  The enforced four days at Killiecrankie proved to be a joy… yoga, exploration, good food, music, new friends, long beach walks, a museum visit and well-earned rest.

Crossing Bass Strait

Trip Days 6-9

Saturday 28-Tuesday 31 December 2013

The Best Day

Early morning launch

Early morning launch

Friday 27 December 2013

To most eyes, this is not a great photo.  To me, it speaks volumes.

It’s not yet 5.00am, I’ve had four hours sleep, my kayak is loaded, I’m set.  I look at my kayak, I look into the sea mist and the dark, and I know.  I just know that I can do this.  I can kayak across from Deal Island to Flinders Island today.  Minimum of 60 kilometres.  This crossing could take 12 hours, I am prepared for 14 hours.  Perhaps more.  I know.

First two hurdles, minor really, launch in the dark into small surf, and the bommie just outside Winter Cove, I am fixated on not paddling over that in the dark.

It starts, the longest crossing.

The weather forecast is in our favour.  Fortunately, the five days have been in our favour.  Just as our readings and interpretations of the forecasts we’d read last Sunday had predicted.  Tomorrow, Saturday, is another story, and the days following.  Our ‘window of opportunity’ is perfectly timed.

The sun rises, briefly a red-golden orb, then lifts into the sea mist.  It’s not long before the mist engulfs Deal Island behind us, and it hides Flinders Island for most of the day.  So there is a wonderful feeling of being truly out there, no land in sight, just us two and the occasional soaring albatross.  With our day broken into hourly timeslots, I have a good day.  There are two hours where I am not enjoying myself, and apart from that, life is sweet.

Wrights Rock makes itself apparent, both by sight and sound.  We skirt west and south of it, about 500m from it, not tempted in closer by the raucous seals, sounding as if it is a Saturday-night-on-the-town.

At our halfway point, 30km from Deal and 30km from Flinders we take our hourly break, and are cheered by a pod of dolphins.  Conditions are so benign that I stretch my legs.

I fantasise…

… so tired am I that I develop a plan for Killiecrankie: land, immediately set up the tent, crawl in, place the supply of chocolate and Christmas cake alongside my sleeping bag, sleep, when I wake up hungry, eat from those two sources.

… and for the ongoing journey down the west coast of Flinders, we’ll have days of 20-30km, stopping for leisurely lunches on pristine beaches bathed in warm sunlight, setting up camp early in the afternoons, perhaps even having a late morning launch.  (Neither fantasy come to fruition).

Eventually we skirt north and east of Craggy Rock.  It surprises me, arising suddenly out of the mists, steep and green and, well, rather craggy.  Our navigation for this crossing swings us first west then east, in an elongated S shape, bringing the total number of kilometres for the crossing to 66.  The crossing takes ten and a half hours.

Light winds develop and we release our sails.  It’s just so much fun, we head further east than we should, enticed by the outline of the Sister Islands coming out of the mist.  Eventually we focus on our goal, Killiecrankie Bay, adjust our heading, cross over and through some bouncy tidal areas.  My mind plays tricks, not believing that our landing spot is actually now in view a few kilometres away, I brace myself for having to round a headland.

As I paddle onto the sands of Killiecrankie Bay, an island man stands waiting, his hand out to shake mine, “Welcome to Flinders Island.”

[Apologies for the ego-centric nature of these photos, Harry had the camera all day]

Deal Island to Flinders Island

Deal Island to Flinders Island

Winter Cove to Killiecrankie

Winter Cove to Killiecrankie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crossing Bass Strait

Trip Day 5

Paddling Day 4

Friday 27 December 2013

Distance covered: 66km

Launched: 5.00am

Landed: 3.30pm

Rest day?

Thursday 26 December 2013

‘Tweren’t really that much of a rest day, as rest days go.  We did waken at 7 o’clock, murmured “Not yet”, both rolled over and slept until 10 o’clock.  After a leisurely breakfast, we hiked 5km to the caretaker’s compound meeting Kim and Spud, from Lady Barren on Flinders Island.  (Volunteer caretakers live on, and look after, the island for three months).  They welcomed us warmly and invited us in for a cup of tea.  After a chat about the family dramas amongst the Cape Barren geese living within the compound fence, we filled our water bladders, paid a nostalgic look inside the schoolhouse, visited the museum and hiked back 5km to the campsite.

Dinner, some major planning and then we relocated our camp.  We didn’t want to risk rock-hopping in the dark the next morning, so everything was moved to the beach where we set up camp right next to the kayaks.  The damp sea mist rolled back in after dark as we readied as much as we could for the next crossing.

 

Rest Day on Deal

Thursday 26 December 2013

Crossing Bass Strait

Trip Day 4

Thursday 26 December 2013

Distance covered: 10km (on foot)