Sea Kayaking – Henning Island

by Rod

in Sea Kayaking

Saturday 20th August Shute Harbour was the meeting time and place for our weekend camping trip to Henning Island. Henning Island is across the

Eric, Anchoring his kayak off Long Island

Eric, Anchoring his kayak off Long Island

Whitsunday Passage from Shute Harbour on the western side of Whitsunday Island and just north of Hamilton Island. On this trip we had Pam and Eric paddling the double and David, Collin and I in single sea kayaks. After packing our kayaks for the overnight excursion we headed out in a slight south easterly headwind. We decided to make our way via the northern end of Long Island where we had a stop over for a short smoko break before heading across the passage.

Instead of bringing his kayak onto the rocky beach and risking scratching it Eric uses a technique where he anchors his boat at each end. He does this by putting a large rock from the beach into a mesh bag which is tide to the each each end of the kayak with a light rope. You can see Eric positioning the kayak while Pam brings the Smoko ashore, South Molle Island in the background.

After a refreshing break we headed around the northern point of Long Island to find the breeze had pick up quite a bit and we were now heading into about a 15km/hr South Easterly. We hoped as we crossed the passage the tide would give us some assistance as it was now rising and heading south. Although we had almost one meter rolling swells coming through we made good time and landed on Henning Island by 12:00. This meant we had taken about three and half hours for the trip including our half hour smoko break.

Henning Island was named in 1866 by Commander G. S. Nares, RN, in HMS Salamander after William Henry Henning, assistant paymaster on Salamander. Henning had the dubious honour of creating medical history while in the Whitsundays. On 4 April 1866 while the Salamander was anchored off Olden Island, Henning and a shipmate went ashore on a shooting  expedition while Nares and others were carrying out survey work. ‘In fun’ the shipmate fired a shot-gun at Henning from about 70 yards away, not thinking  the shot would reach Henning but Henning

Henning Island Campsite

Henning Island Campsite

was in fact peppered with the shot, one pellet entering his left eye through the eyelid and lodged in the eyeball. While this caused him discomfort for a while and he lost the sight of the eye, the presence of the pellet in the eyeball did not inconvenience him and presumably he carried it there for the remainder of his life. This information was taken from a website on the Whitsunday Islands and the History was from a book by Ray Blackwood. Interestingly they stated on the website that there is 160+ islands in the Whitsunday Group not the commonly stated 74.

After some lunch and setting up our tents or in Col’s case his new Hannessy Hammock we all went our separate ways exploring the island. Dav put on his walking shoes and headed across the island to a beach on the other side. Eric and Pam did some exploring around the shoreline. I went back out in my kayak to do some fishing. If you are fishing anywhere around Queensland you must be aware of where you are and which fishing zone you are in. There are some big fines if you are caught with the wrong species fish, the wrong size fish or too many fish for the zone you are in. The Fish Zone maps are freely available from all fishing shops and some service stations. I am going to cover more kayak fishing in future posts and I will go into more detail about the fish zoning. For more information you can try The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park site or EPA website. All around Henning Island is zoned as yellow which means one hand line or rod and only one hook per person. You are only allowed to catch 4 fish. There was no worry of me exceeding that limit as I didn’t get one bite. I did some casting along the protected western side of the island and then trolled as I paddled around the southern end . Then I sailed and trolled along the  eastern side of the island back to the camp site.

As the sun went down it was time for a glass or two of wine. As I have spoken about previously, wine is popular amongst sea kayakers. The evening meal, a couple of stories and then it was time for bed.

The morning brought another glorious day in paradise although the breeze had already picked up. After a leasurely breakfast and packing up the gear we set out for the paddle back to Shute Harbour. This time we decided to head more northerly to catch more of the breeze so we aimed for the southern tip of South Molle Island. Because we wanted to sail back and David didn’t have a sail on his kayak we decided to raft up. So once we were a couple hundred meters off Henning Island we rafted the

Sailing the Whitsunday Passage

Sailing the Whitsunday Passage

kayaks together and put up the sails and didn’t paddle another stroke until we were within a couple hundred meters of South Molle. The wind by this stag was up around 15km/hr. Pam spotted a whale a couple of kilometers away on the northern horizon and later Col said he saw one between South Molle and the mainland, but they were the only sightings for the weekend.

We stopped in on a beach on the southern end of South Molle for a smoko break before continuing onto Shute Harbour. As we were unpacking our kayaks and loading them on the cars another goup of 11 kayakers were heading out. They were a group from Sydney of bushwalkers who had just recently taken up the sport of sea kayaking . They were being taken by boat out to Sid Harbour where they were hoping to spend the next few days. Unfortunately for them the weather forecasts were predicting stronger winds.

We had a great weekend with beautiful weather and as Eric said it is hard not to be amazed by the scenery around the Whitsundays.

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{ 1 comment }

Pam Faulkner August 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm

A great weekend with a lovely bunch of people.What a hoot it was rafting up and sailing almost the entire way back to Shute Harbour!
Thanks Rodney for organising a fantastic trip.
Pam and Eric

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