A 46-year-old Australian woman reaches Danushkodi after circumnavigating Sri Lanka

The Palk Strait witnessed its first Kayak crossing since 1935 and Sandra Helen Robson, an Australian sea kayaker became the first woman to paddle across.

The 46-year-old Robson, who was kayaking from Germany to Australia, became the first woman kayaker to paddle across the Palk Strait on Thursday evening after circumnavigating Sri Lanka as part of her expedition, which began in 2011.

“I am pretty happy that I became the first kayaker to paddle across the Palk Strait after German canoeist Oskar Speck had achieved the feat in 1935,” she told reporters after touching the shore at 4.15 p.m. here.

She left Talaimannar at 6. 45 a.m. and touched the shore at 4.15 p.m., paddling for nearly nine hours. She was escorted up to the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) by Lankan Navy and from there by the personnel of Mandapam Station of Indian Coast Guard, she said.

Retracing Speck’s journey from Germany to Australia (1932-1939), she began her solo kayaking from Ulm in Germany in May 2011. Last year she arrived in Mandapam from Gujarat after paddling her way in the western coasts and reached Vedaranyam.

Ms. Robson took a break at Vedaranyam to paddle around Sri Lanka, but had to wait for three weeks in Chennai for getting permission for paddling from Danushkodi to Sri Lanka and return. The authorities were too busy with the general elections and there was no sign of permission, she said. As she was running out of time, she flew to Sri Lanka on March 21 to circumnavigate Sri Lankan and cross the Palk Strait to reach Danushkodi. She took 33 days to paddle around the island nation and it was in this expedition, she had the longest paddling of 109 km non-stop, she told The Hindu.

Ms. Robson who had paddled to the southeast coast of India was planning to cover the east coast and the northeast in the third and fourth stages.

“I will set out for 13 months to paddle through Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia,” she said, adding she has planned to end her expedition in Australia in September 2016.

Her mentor had covered about 50,000 km, but she would end up with about 23, 000 km when she reached Australia as she could not paddle in the Middle East and did not get permission to paddle in Pakistan and some parts of India, she said.

Jehan Driver from the team of Quest Expeditions, which sponsored Robson’s journey in India, received her when she reached the shore here.