A Bass Strait Crossing 2001


Once again we would have to start before dawn to catch the right tides for the 47lm crossing to Erith Island. We were going to use the 50/50 rule again, that is, time our crossing so that we had half the journey on an outgoing tide followed by half on an incoming tide. We wanted to be well east of Erith Island as we arrived. We were going to paddle on a compass bearing.

The NSW guys had set off about an hour before we did but we gradually caught up and passed them about half way through the journey. Our larger sails were obviously an advantage.

A slight breeze had developed during the morning and it was just enough to give us assistance. By watching the coast of Erith we could tell that we were now being taken westward by incoming tide. At one stage Matt said that according to the GPS we were doing 11km/hr, but only 7km/hr towards Erith Island. The tides are certainly something to be reckoned with in Bass Strait.

Although we were paddling a compass bearing initially, Jamie and I in the double, decided to investigate what we thought were some other paddlers as we approached Erith Island. This was a mistake as we then had to paddle hard against the incoming tide to get into Murray Passage. Phil had also followed us so he found it even harder in the single kayak.

We stayed close to the shore of Erith Island as we entered Murray Passage before swinging round into West Bay. This was the most convenient and sheltered campsite in the Kent group of islands. We could see back across to Deal Island, there was a hut with a water supply and a sheltered beach for swimming.

It wasn't too long before the four NSW guys turned up and we compared notes on out paddle. The NSW women had decided not to paddle today because of the predicted change. They were a little nervous after being caught in rough weather back at Wilson's Promontory. It had taken us about 6 hours to paddle from Hogan Island in near perfect conditions.

We had set up our tents in some sheltered clearings under the trees some distance from the hut. We thought the hut might have been infested with rats like the one on Hogan Island but the NSW guys didn't have any problems.

After a leisurely lunch we explored the hill above the hut. From the top we had a panoramic view over Murray Passage to deal Island and the lighthouse. Off to the south was Dover island. Some people went on to explore the large aboriginal cave in the cliff on the northern end of the island.

From the top of the hill we found that our cdma mobile phones worked so we took the opportunity to ring friends and family and confirn our location and that everything was going to plan. We also discussed our strategy for dealing with the tides and how it was important not to get side tracked from the compass bearing. We also notes that the group had split up somewhat in the last few kilometres of the journey.

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