More B****y Sea Kayakers:
Meeting the Locals in Bass Strait

By Nick Gill

Allan Wheatley, the Mr Big of northern Flinders Island is getting edgy.

The title of this story, more or less expressed as we landed at Killirankie, encapsulates his views on sea kayakers who try to paddle across Bass Strait.

Over the next two days as we waited at Killikrankie we were well treated to Allan's views on sea kayakers.

It does seem he has some basis for his views.

In recent months he has assisted one of a pair of kayakers who got into strife near Killikrankie after setting out from Deal Island with a poor forecast.

It seems this kayaker had rescued his companion, who subsequently left him.

A plane was sent out but Allan ended up picking him up off a beach north of Killikrankie.

Of course we only have Allan's version of events but the story served to bring home the point that when you are paddling through eastern Bass Strait, you are travelling through a thoroughly uninhabited part of the world.

After thirty odd years of growing numbers, people you meet hardly blink at the sight of more kayakers, and yet a dominant theme is a concern that they'll have to come out and rescue you at risk to themselves.

Allan's story is one of several that demonstrates to locals that sea kayakers are generally idiots.

They have little appreciation of the dangers to which they are exposing themselves to in Bass Strait.

Not that that many people really cross the strait; the logbook at Hogan Island recorded only ninety-six in the last ten years.

However, there has been a steady growth in the annual numbers.

By the time we hit Hogan Island in mid-March, there had already been five groups and seventeen paddlers before us in 2004.

No wonder Allan is getting edgy.

We were off!