A Bass Strait Crossing 2001

Today we had a rather leisurely paddle from Whitemark to Preservation Island. We had all slept extremely well except for those who decided to sleep out in the open. The irony was that Phil was late getting started after telling Ian that we would be going at 7.00am so that Ian would finally be ready to start at the same time as everyone else.

The water was flat calm with so little wind after a short while we took down our sails. It is a good idea to try and arrive or leave Whitemark at high tide as the whole coast along here is very shallow.

Out to the west was Chappel Island, the home of the biggest Tiger snakes in Australia. The sea became mirror smooth as we quietly paddled on to Trousers Point. At one stage we had a kayak race with only hands to brreak the monotony. Everything was something of an anti climax after crossing from Deal to Flinders Island.

We stopped at Trousers Point and had a swim in the crystal clear water. Jamie even practised walking on water. We had many pleasant memories from previous trips of this great camping spot. Matt tried to creep up on Ian who had lagged behind taking video.

Crossing from trousers Point to Cape Barren Island would have taken ages except Matt and Phil decided to slip stream Jamie and I in the double. This was too much of a challenge for us and we eventually broke away from them. Landing just below the new shop on Cape Barren we couldn't see the others, particularly Ian who had been videoing a pod of Dolphins.

The pies were quickly comsumed as we waited for the others to catch up. Eventually we could just make out some small dots way in the distance. We tried to convince the shop keeper to tell the others that they were out of pies but it didn't work out.The others also stocked up on some carbohydrates from the shop, mainly pies, icecream and coke..

We could hardly believe how calm it was rounding Cape Sir John, last time we were here there were huge breaking waves everywhere, in fact some of the group took their kayaks around the cape by road. The channel between Preservation Island and Cape Barren Island has strong tidal currents and we ferry glided across to the island.

The shack on Preservation Island is also one of well known haunts. It has comfortable bunks, water and a sheltered outlook. We have met the owners a number of times and they don't mind us using the shack when they are away provided everything is left as it was.

Some off us walked over to the signal fire bulit in 1796 by the survivors of the wreck of the Sydney Cove. Their ship had sprung a leak around the south west coast of Tasmania while enroute from India to Sydney. In those days Bass Strait was unkown. The ship lurched its way up the east coast with lascars manning the pumps. Eventually the ship was run aground to stop it from sinking near Preservation Island. The crew and cargo were got ashore. Two longboats set off to get help but only a couple of the crew made it back to Sydney. The rescue journey prompted the futher exploration of the area resulting in the discovery of Bass Strait and the rich sealing grounds around Tasmania.

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