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 Justine's Journal

CackleTV Productions


Sun & Fun in Flinders
Friday, April 13, 2007

Alun and I are taking it easy for the day in Whitemark, the capital of Flinders Island in the Bass Strait. We're nearing the end of our Bass Strait adventure, although we still have some very tidal crossings to make, especially the 13mile crossing of the feared Banks Strait. In many ways, we've had it pretty easy, enjoying sun and light winds in a beautiful part of the world, but we've glimpsed the seriousness of this shallow sea & still have much respect for it. My most lasting impression is how easy it is to get to wilderness in this part of Australia -so many times we've had a stretch of golden sandy beach completely to ourselves, with a flat soft campground under the pine trees, warm sunrays & an inviting turcoise sea as a bonus. We've had all sorts of friendly neighbours - from wallabies who sit for hours and watch us cook, to penguins who we rarely saw but who had a hell of a barney all night in burrows a bit too close to our tent. And of course the rats on Hogan. Thankfully we were warned about them and they didn't really bother us because we packed everything away carefully into our kayaks. Pete Provis had a rat on Hogan eat through his buoyancy aid just to get to a museli bar wrapper so we took his advice and hid anything with any hint of food on it. Although we did leave the wooden cooking spoon outside one night and the edge has been completely nibbled off!! I must be a really good cook!

As usual the people we've met have been really friendly and interesting. The caretakers on Deal Island gave us some of their precious home-grown vegetables so we could taste fresh food again. They live there for 3 months with no resupply so have to be pretty self-sufficient. As we arrived at Deal after six and a half hours on the water, we appoached one yacht anchored there. As soon as we said we'd kayaked from Hogan, one of the guys got out two bottles of beer and handed them to us! It went straight to my head!

Our most challenging paddling day ( so far!) was the 68km crossing from Deal Island to Killiecrankie on Flinders. We pushed off in near darkness at 5.30am, trying to time a lull in 3 foot surf, and trying to work out how much the force 3-4 North Easterly would affect us. We decided to set off and see how fast we were going and how we felt. The forecast was actually slightly better for the next day, but it also showed a bad weather front arriving that afternoon or evening so we didn't want to risk missing our chance. I was surpised at the choppiness of the sea and the size of the swell for the wind strength. The Bass Strait is rarely deeper than 30 metres so it really kicks up in a storm. Despite a few waves up to 2metres and quite a bit of white water, we were making good progress and both felt good. I enjoyed the exhileration of the waves after 2 flat calm crossings. We were travelling SE, in a NE wind and swell, with the tide predominantly taking us SW, so we aimed a bit further north than usual to compensate. All went well although we both felt fairly tired after the first 5 hours! We passed just north of Craggy island and as the tide swept us into the sea to the East of it, we found ourselves in a rough patch of confused water. Wondering if it was particularly shallow here I glanced down and was horified to see the bottom!! I can only imagine how rough that would be in a real storm. About this time, after 2/3 of the way Alun's wrist started to ache. He was using the Lendal Kinetic wing paddle for extra speed ( as opposed to the wooden Greenland style blade he usually used, but it seemed to aggrivate an old injury. By the time we landed at Killiecrankie it was noticeably swollen and we were both worried he wouldn't be able to paddle again. But fortunately after 2 days off, lots of ibuprofen pills, a good bandage while paddling and reverting to his greenland paddles.... he says it's no worse than it was, and is maybe slightly better! so on we go.... to Tasmania!!


Blogger Michael said...

Enjoying your postings, as usual! Best of luck.

2:52 pm  

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