Stranded

Thursday 2 – Monday 6 January 2014

Following our dash down the coast of Flinders we knew we’d be yet again land-bound for a number of days.  What to do?  Well, the first day was easy.  With a tab on the bar at the tavern in Whitemark we headed there, walking and then hitching a lift into town.

Flinders sits on 40 degrees south, the roaring forties.  Standing on the Whitemark jetty, we looked out into Bass Strait, leaned forward and were kept upright by the winds.  Having galeforce winds blowing straight at me – this was a joyful and somehow hilarious experience.  A truly ‘living in the now’ moment.

After a quick squiz at the well-stocked IGA supermarket we strolled into the Interstate Hotel for lunch.  Thanks to our very generous friends we enjoyed having lunch cooked and served up to us, going the whole hog and relishing our sticky date pudding on their funds.  Naturally, this was all washed down by a bottle of fine Tasmanian chardonnay.  We were a rather happy pair when we sat back in the chairs, sated.  Out came our maps, charts, compasses and other gadgets.  The very pleasant dining room was the perfect spot to plan our next moves on the water, whenever the winds abated.

Second day, well that decision was easy too… naturally we had to climb Mt. Strzelecki.  With much debate amongst sea kayakers about the two types of paddlers who cross Bass Strait, those who climb Mt. Strzelecki and those who don’t, we were fortunate enough to join the former group.  It’s a few kilometres walk from the Trousers Point campsite (towards Whitemark) to reach the start of the trail.  Once off the road, the trail goes up, up and up, and then up some more.  Through beautiful forests and flowerbeds we hiked until we entered the cloudzone and could no longer see wonderful coastal views.  Once at the top, the mists blew round, toying with us, giving and taking away the views to sea and the islands, and inland to deeper mountain terrain.

Inside the cloudroll of Mount Strzelecki

Inside the cloudroll of Mount Strzelecki

With the winds still howling in from the west, what else could be done?  As odd as it felt, we hired a car for two days.  Moving from our kayak-based journey to car-based travel took some mental readjustment.  We loved the car, and how it allowed us the opportunity to traverse this magnificent place.  Exploring the south, middle and north-east, we saw much of Flinders Island, met many open and friendly people and vowed to return.

The servo in Whitemark is one of those old-fashioned servos: providing service.  Harry stood in the sideways-pelting rain and filled the tank; the servo guy stood next to me under the patch of shelter, shrugged his shoulders, “No point us all getting wet,” he commented as Harry did his job.

With one final day of slowly decreasing winds we made ready to get on the move.

Crossing Bass Strait

Trip Days 11-15

Thursday 2-6 January 2014

Distance covered: 20km (on foot); quite a few (in the car)

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 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 on Deal

Thursday 26 December 2013

Crossing Bass Strait

Trip Day 4

Thursday 26 December 2013

Distance covered: 10km (on foot)

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Wednesday 25  December 2013Wed 25 Dec

Christmas Day hardly registers, we have more paddling to do.  Setting out from Hogan in glorious sunshine we notice the upwellings caused by the movement of tides around the island.  Then we paddle towards the Kent Group.  We can clearly see our destination.  For hours it doesn’t get nearer.  The sun shines, there is no wind.  The seas have settled, and it’s as boring as the proverbial.  I’m torn – which do I actually prefer?  Endless glorious sunshine, calm cruisy conditions and hours of safe yet boring kayaking?  Or the adrenaline-filled moments of yesterday’s crossing to Hogan?  We paddle and we paddle  towards the Kent Group.

Setting off from Hogan

Setting off from Hogan

Eventually we are closer to the Kent Group.  We paddle across the northern ends of Erith and Deal Islands.  We paddle into and across the tidal flow.  We paddle towards Pulpit Rock on Deal Island.  We rename Pulpit Rock.  We rename it “A-Person-Born-Of-Parents-Not-Married-To-Each-Other” Rock.  We paddle and we paddle towards that rock.

The Rock

The Rock

You really want me to smile for the camera?

You really want me to smile for the camera? Deal and Erith Islands in the background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We paddle past the rock.  We are now flowing with the tides along the eastern side of Deal.  This is glorious!  Look at the stunning rock formations and awesome scenery!  At the turn into Winter Cove Harry dashes ahead for the final 1km, personal matters to attend to, I follow leisurely.  Third big day of paddling, rest day tomorrow.  I have arrived at Deal Island for the second time, this time under my own steam.  Finally happy, I land.

Eastern side of Deal Island

Eastern side of Deal Island

Harry lands at Winter Cove, Deal Island

Harry lands at Winter Cove, Deal Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hogan to Winter Cove

Hogan to Winter Cove

Hogan Island to Deal Island

Hogan Island to Deal Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crossing Bass Strait

Trip Day 3

Paddling Day 3

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Distance covered: 47km

Launched: 8.00am

Landed: 4.20pm