Day 89, Thursday, 16.04.2009

12.13 143.15.  Kay Island.  50km,  7am to 4:30pm. Smallest island so far!

Captain Steven Henebery and his brother Michael sampling the night’s catch of delicious prawns with me


Launching from Restoration Island quite late at about 7.20 am, the plan was to reach Haggerston Island 70 km awy that day. Currents were bad that morning, and I didn’t really feel very energetic to beat the estimated arrival time way after darkness…so I changed my float plan to split the distance to the I thought compulsory landing on the Home Islands before heading to Boydong Island and Sadd Point in two different legs. There was Kay Island on offer, a little to the west, convenient 50 km away, but I haven’t checked it on Google earth before or heard about it…a small risk.

But my common sense and “island experience” told me a small island on the northe-west edge of the reef not marked with mangroves can only be accessible and sandy, if not I would have to paddle on into the darkness to the next island.

On my arrival quite early at 4.30pm, there was a prawn trawler anchoring next to the island for their day’s rest. As I was not sure about their wake-up time, I didn’t say “hi” that day and landed in a lovely sandy bay, but felt a bit blocked in my freedom to strip and bath and change :-)) – I reckoned a pair of strong binoculars belongs to the equipment of a prawn trawler?

It was hot as hell on the sand, and I hurried to put up tent and hide in the shade a bit. Not much to see on that island, no croc slides… 

Next morning I took it very slow, as the original plan was paddling only 30 km to the Home Island group. Preparing my maps in Germany, I cut a bit too much off the eastern part with many more islands, as I guessed at that stage I would follow an island course way more to the west or even along the coast. So I couldn’t see on my map if there were other islands behind the Home Island group to th east. Checking on Google Earth on a different route on Restoration Island was too short in time, and my small GPS display gave me only a rough idea about alternative routes.

I was launching from Kay Island at 8 am, and guessed now it’s a good time to say “hi” to the trawler, who was already back to the same spot from the night’s shift!

I saw three young guys on deck, busy with impressing each other (or me?) with gymnastic efforts on the deck…prawn trawler crew’s sporty evening entertainment!

Coming closer, I was wondering where the captain was, until Steven Henebery introduced himself as the one…only 23 years young! Impressive…he and his younger brother Michael plus young Vietnamese deckhand Tony were the whole crew! Steven and Michael have learnt on their father’s trawler since they left school at the age of 15, and since some time Steven got the trawler to operate on his own from his father! Well, I started my ice cream cafe’s at the age of 22… 

They invited me on board, and as I guessed I would have only 30 km to paddle today, I had a bit of time to spend.

I got a quick tour of the boat, and was impressed about the modern equipment for work and living. TV, washing machine and dryer, full equipped kitchen, computer with internet, music…everything there! They are staying out on sea for weeks or months until heading back home on the sunshine coast. The living area was almost like my motorhome… 

23-years young Captain Steven Henebery on his “Diamond Lil”

Steven was showing me his chart computer, and I got the idea about checking on an alternative route with two days only than the three days via Home Islands, Boydong Island and Sadd Point on that large screen…I didn’t feel happy with that 30 km leg only for today. We found Saunders Island, 60 km away, and for the next day another one (forgot the name…) 65 km away, as Milman Island, only 60 km away was not allowed to be entered. Thanks for checking the chart computer and your hospitality, Steven!

As it was 9am already, I knew I had to hurry up!!! The day’s paddle was a constant monitoring of the estimated arrival time, but eventually I made it in last light (see next day’s entry)


Steven, if you read this, did you get some nice pictures from me paddling?? Please send them to my e-mail!

The crew of the “Diamond Lil” waving “good bye”