The Henty firing in a big swell

Henty Reef is about 3kms south east of the harbour at Apollo Bay. In big swell on a low tide it can be seen on the horizon as a bump, and sometimes there is some white water if it is breaking. But today, right on the high tide, two sections of the reef were breaking (they are about 800m apart) with every set as the swell rolled through. I haven’t seen this before. There are two birds in this image – one at top centre, and the other in silhouette in the centre of the image just above the line of white water. This image was taken with the 24-70mm zoom lens. The rest were taken using the 150-600mm telephoto lens.
Henty Reef-15
The big swell breaking over Henty Reef, or simply ‘the Henty’ to local fishermen and surfers, is pictured on the left.  There was also some action on the reef just offshore at Point Bunbury, shown on the right foreground of the image. I took this photo from Point Bunbury (near the golf course and the boat ramp). A few others with an interest in the sea were there to catch the spectacle.
The 150-600mm telephoto lens captured the majesty of the swell marching across Henty Reef.
Henty Reef is obviously quite an interruption to the smooth passage of swell lines when they get big enough.
In the background is a big set breaking over Henty Reef, with the nor’westerly blowing a massive plume of spray over the back.  In the middle foreground is a very solid line of swell about to break over the southern edge of Little Henty Reef. In the foreground is the white water of a wave which has reached the reef.
Henty Reef-9
Another shot taken from Point Bunbury with a smaller set still marking out the three breaks which were visible simultaneously.
What a difference a bit of sunlight makes! Despite it being a high tide, the waves were hitting the reef off Point Bunbury with real force. That gap in the broken water on the right is part of how waves are designed, to provide a spot for surfers caught inside to paddle up and over the wave without any dramas.
Another little know feature of how waves are designed is this tunnel (just right of centre in the image) which is there to allow swimmers a spot to duck-dive under the wave and get out the back without getting a flogging from the white water.
So much water moving. Such force.
A short-lived barrel with exit options rapidly diminishing.
Water weighs one tonne per cubic metre. The waves hit the reef at around 20kph. The water accelerates markedly as the top of the wave throws forward and down upon reaching shallow water such as the reef. It’s a wonder humans can cope with this. But they do.
Some sets were pretty orderly, others not so much. Another good barrel about to disappear.
Another wave of consequence doing the unexpected.
This was all of Little Henty Reef that was (sometimes) above water level, and that was only when the larger sets weren’t coming through.
Seals struggling to stay dry
Some days are better than others for the Australia fur seals. Their home, on Little Henty Reef,  offers nowhere out of reach of the larger waves on a high tide.
Australia fur seal representatives discussing climate change and its implications.

3 thoughts on “The Henty firing in a big swell

    1. Thanks Jesso. It’s not often the Henty bombie fires up like it did yesterday morning. Could’ve used a bit more sunlight, but I’ll have to settle for ‘atmospheric’.


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