Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Clarke Island

On Sunday we woke to a perfect dawn and set off to paddle around Badger Island. We had spent the night before camped on the island which is overrun with mice. It was not a restful night.
After Badger we visited Goose island then headed off for Clarke Island as the next day's forecast wasn't good. We spent the next day relaxing and drying gear. Yesterday morning was the final crossing, Banks Strait. We crossed in perfect conditions with Tidetech once again proving of great worth and made a landing on good old Tassie soil at 15.28. It was great to be home!
My wife Lyn drove up today to pick us up and now I am home again. Time to relax :)

Weather update from Karel Vissel
updt tues mrng nw 10 to 15 knts noon n to nw 5 to 10 knts aft nw 10 to 15 knts seas 0.50 to 1 mtr frm ene

On Clarke Island

A good job, well done :-)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Badger Island

We left Trousers Point this morning and paddled across to the infamous Mt Chappell Island today, home of the largest tiger snakes in the world. I was really rapt as I did see a tiger and even got a photo of it as proof :). After lunch we made the short hop to Badger Island in perfect conditions. We will spend the night here, the view is gorgeous, white sand, turquoise water and Flinders Island and Chappell Island in the distance.

Approaching Mt Chappell Island
A "local"
Mt Chappell Island

Sunrise over Flinders Island


Points of interest

NextG phone access

Refuge Cove - from the track heading south on a clear slab of rock 10 minutes above the bushwalker's camp.
Hogan Island - from the low saddle above the hut.
Erith Island - from the saddle overlooking Wallabi Cove, a favourite place to just sit and look and absorb the atmosphere.
Winter Cove, Deal Island - from the hill to the north overlooking Winter Cove.
Also from the track leading up to the caretaker's buildings from East Cove.
Killiecrankie - next to the shed at the back of the campground and along the beach past the stream.
Emita campground - at the campground.
Trousers Point - in the carpark above the electric BBQ's.

Tidal calculations are made using Tidetech figures. These provide current speed and direction every half hour for all regions. Firstly we estimate how long the crossing wll take and plan to begin at a time that will have us arrive at slack water.  Then we note the speed/direction of the current for each hour at the point we expect to be at with an estimated 3 knots speed. Noting the total push for the ebb and the flood and subtracting the lesser from the greater tells us how much the overall push will be and in which direction. For example,  the result for the paddle to Hogan island was a push by the flood of 12 kms so we aimed east of Hogan by 12 kms (20 degrees east of a straight line bearing) and hit Hogan perfectly after one big continuous curve. If we had aimed straight for Hogan we would have had to have battled upstream against the flood to get to the island.  

Weather forecasts are taken from the BOM site , text forecast for Bass Strait, the computer generated forecasts and also the Victorian Explorer (Vic. BOM site) as well as from those supplied by Karel Vissel. Karel's forecasts are exceptional. We also carry a SSB radio which duplicates the BOM Bass Strait text forecast. 

Water supplies

Refuge has water at the bushwalkers camp
Hogan has poor water availability, the tank doesn't look too flash
Erith has good tanks 
Winter Cove has a brackish stream
Emita has good tanks 
Trousers Point has a good tank
We each have the capacity to carry about 18 litres of water. 

Trousers Point

Yesterday I climbed Mt Strzelecki in pleasant conditions then hitched into Whitemark for the first shower in some time. I explained to the woman that gave me a lift that I was heading in for a shower and apologised for any smell. Her reply was that it wasn't too bad. I think she was being polite....

Mt Strzelecki vegetation
Trousers Point from Mt Strzelecki
Trousers Point and Mt Strzelecki

Friday, March 25, 2011

Trousers Point

Yesterday we had a brisk paddle from Emita to Trousers Point at the southern end of Flinders Island. The winds were a forecast 15 to 25 knots from the west and as a result some of the headlands were "interesting". Rounding Settlement Point at the beginning of the day had lots of bumpy rebound and further along as we neared Trousers Point the seas were getting a bit on the BIG side so I was relieved to get into the shelter of Trousers Point bay. Today is another rest day with some climbing Mt Strezlecki and hitching into Whitemark with others just exploring the area. 
We are heading further south tomorrow with light winds forecast.

Allports Beach, Emita

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Moving on...

Tomorrow we will be up at 6 am and hope to be on the water by 8am en route to Trousers Point 42 kms south of here. Last night was a wild night with winds recorded at nearby Whitemark airport of up to 50 knots. There are quite a few trees down and one of our party had a small branch come down and tear their tent, fortunately not critically.
Our campsite is well sheltered and although it sometimes sounded like a freight train coming through the wind actually hitting the tents wasn't too bad.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I thought it might be of interest to some to hear what equipment I used on this trip and how it has fared.
The first and main item is the kayak, a Welsh designed and built boat, a Rockpool GT. This is a serious expedition boat that consumed 30 days food and equipment with relative ease. It handles beautifully loaded with 60 kgs of gear and 90 kgs of paddler edging and responding to paddler input responsively and decisively. It showed it's true worth after leaving Deal Island sailing in a quite boisterous sea with a rear quartering 15 to 20 knot wind causing this paddler to have a permanent grin affixed as I played and bounced among the waves. The boat simply felt fantastic and it was so much fun to paddle, feeling very secure, responsive and fast. And it clearly confirms that an expedition boat doesn't have to have a rudder as some would suggest, sailing or otherwise. Plus even when fully loaded it responds happily to all the usual steering strokes..bow rudder, stern draw/pry etc :)
I am using a Werner Cyprus 210 carbon crank shaft paddle. A lovely light high angle paddle. Whenever i felt a bit tired I simply concentrated on full rotation and maintaining a good high angle style. Long distance paddling doesn't always mean low angle :)
My sail is a Flat Earth Kayak sail, well made and designed and completely unrestrictive with all paddle strokes. I did reef it on the windier days.
My paddle clothing consists of the best cag out there, a Goretex Kokatat Tectour.I also wear a Kokatat Outfit Tour PFd which is comfortable and efficient. This is teamed with Reed Aquatherm pants, Aquatherm sox (to keep the bootie smell down) and Reed thermal top. It all works well.
For colder trips I would have bought my Kokatat Goretex drysuit or Whirlpool Bib, both of which are brilliant pieces of kit.
My tent is a Mont Moondance III. A brilliant 3 man tent perfect for an extended trip. Packs up quite small and has loads of room.
For sleeping I use a One Planet Cocoon 500 sleeping bag (ultralightweight but good to about -5) and the ultimate luxury, an Exped Downmat 9. This mattress is like sleeping in your own bed at home :)
I am using a new stove on this trip and it is proving to be a really good stove. It is a Primus Etapaclite and it is fast, economical(the first 227gm gas cylinder lasted 10 days) and easy to use with great design features. It's great to use good gear :).

A wet day :)

Another layday today with 25-35 knot winds forecast and plenty of rain. Mark and I hitched into Whitemark for the long awaited counter meal at the pub and it was a ripper :) We walked a couple of k's in pouring rain and strong winds but the famous Flinders Island hospitality shone through and the first car that was able to stopped and gave us a lift (the very first car didn't stop but the owner made the point of coming up to us in Whitemark and apologising because they didn't have room for us!)
There are no laundry facilities in town but the pub allowed us to use their washing machines. The friendliness, generosity and helpfulness of these people is outstanding...even if they do think we are mad for paddling across "the Strait".
We spent the rest of the afternoon with the other members of the group in the Furneax Museum at Emita reading documents about island life and history. It will be much the same tomorrow with strong winds again forecast easing in the afternoon but we should be able to paddle down to Trousers Point on Thursday.
Unfortunately my means of charging my netbook from mains power has failed. I was hoping to spend today loading images from this trip but that is going to have to wait until I get home.
Mark getting some "culture" at the Emita museum.
Sunset at Allports Beach, Emita

Monday, March 21, 2011


The day before yesterday we had a rest day at Killiecrankie. Some of us went into Whitemark for some shopping and a beer and then we had a meal at the "cafe" at Killiecrankie. Superb views from the cafe.
Yesterday we had planned on paddling down to Emita but the weather decided otherwise. We got halfway then ran into very strong headwinds so we made camp. We paddled to Emita today in slightly more benign conditions and will spend a couple of days hereas we have a forecast of 40 knot winds tomorrow. Another trip to Whitemark for a counter meal I think :)

The wind at Bun Beeton's Point
Main Street, Whitemark

Stunning view from the restaurant at Killiecrankie
Killiecrankie Beach

Killiecrankie Beach
Wind patterns
Sunset, Killiecrankie Beach
Castle Rock, near Emita

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Killiecrankie, Flinders Island

 Well today was a real “Bass Strait” day. We woke early at Winter Cove planning to get on the water by 8 am. Our destination for today was Killiecrankie on the northern end of Flinders Island, 58 kms away. This was the biggest crossing and the one we approached with the most trepidation. The forecast for the morning was 15 to 20 knot wsw winds, higher winds than ideal but if we stayed put the weather was not expected to improve for another week. High tide was due at 9.28am although it takes a while after high tide for the flood to go to slack so we could expect some rather upright waves for an hour or two, and that’s what we got, 2m breaking waves on a very boisterous sea with the occasional bigger set going through. Fortunately through Karel’s forecasts we knew that things would settle by 11am which they did to the extent that by midday we had very little wind at all to sail by.
The previous evening I had taken the time to set my sail up so it could be reefed to 2/3 of its normal size and this was a good move as I was able to use it successfully during the windier time in the morning, letting the reef out in the afternoon to get what assistance was available from the wind.
The tides were expected to push us in both directions fairly equally so our main consideration for today’s heading was drift due to the wind and we altered our bearing by 10 degrees to the west initially, correcting a small amount later as we could see how we were going in relation to our direct course line. Intelligent use of the information available for currents and winds in Bass Strait makes the crossing so much more predictable and safer.
The total distance for the day was 62.4kms and we were in the kayaks for 9hrs and 19minutes, not our longest day but long enough and we were all glad to get out of the kayaks and elated at having put the biggest crossing behind us.
We are now camped at the Killiecrankie campground, a basic little campground run by two of the most helpful ladies you could hope to meet, nothing is too much trouble for them. We plan to visit Whitemark tomorrow to buy some more supplies. We had planned to have a counter meal but the only pub in town doesn’t serve counter meals at midday on weekends. Bummer! So it will be a pizza then around to the pub for a couple of beers.
Sunday we will start working our way down the west coast of Flinders Island, probably camping at Emita on Sunday night.

update mrng WSW to W 15 to 20 knts 11 am WSW to W 10 to 15 knts 2 pmW to NW 5 to 10 knts 5pm NW 10 to 5 knts 8pm E 5 to 10knts 11pm ENE 10 to 15 knts seas 0.50 to 1 mtr frm SW late aft chng to E dir
have a good one :-)

Beginning the longest crossing
First light on the cliffs of Deal Island

Killiecrankie Beach at last :-)
That tiny little boat.....


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Winter Cove

Today we moved camp from West Cove, Erith Is to Winter Cove, Deal Island.
As we packed our kayaks this morning a pod of 10 dolphin playedin the bay. Once launched, we paddled over to them and they came across to check us out then swam alongside and under the kayaks for a distance. It was a blustery morning with a few nice gusts but we were fairly sheltered by the island as we paddled. I am now sitting on the side of a hill about 200 metres above Winter Cove, a magnificent deep inlet with a broad white sand beach and turquoise water. It doesn't get much better. Past the headland I can see Wright Rock 20 kilometres away and Craggy Island 37 kilometres away with Flinders Is faintly visible behind. That's where we hope to be tomorrow evening, 65 kilometres away. The forecast isn't fantastic but at least the winds are expected to ease. We plan on leaving around 8 am to miss the chance of large breaking waves caused by a 2 knot current setting to the SW against a 20 knot SW wind. By 8 am the current will be close to slack and we should have an easier time.

Winter Cove

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Erith Island

Yesterday we had an easy day exploring this marvellous area. In the morning Mark and I paddled around to the Swashway (the low point between Erith Is and Dover Is that goes underwater at high tide). Some of the others did it on foot, our way was easier!
Also today the caretakers and ranger dismantled the toilet, a real shame, now we have to go bush again!
In the afternoon we all paddled across to Deal Island to do a little exploring. We walked up to the lighthouse to see our next destination a looong way away. Then we took a look at the fascinating museum and took a short walk down to Little Squally Cove. Visited the Swashway on the way back and paddled through it just because :)
Today a very lazy day, currently watching 4 paddlers down below struggling against a strong tidal flow at the end of a long day. Company tonight. Looks like we won't be out of here until Monday at least.

Museum on Deal Island

View from Deal Island lighthouse back towards Dover and Erith Islands
Deal Island lighthouse globes
View to the lighthouse from the museum
A sad history
Little Squally Cove
Deal Island haulageway
Erith and Dover islands, Deal Island in the background

Looking across to Dover Island
Curtis Island at sunset
Wright Rock and Craggy Island in the far distance, our next destination