South Africa via St Aubin
Members of the Jersey Canoe Club have a tradition of entering some of the world’s more challenging kayaking races such as the Devizes to Westminster, the Yukon Challenge and the Liffey Descent but next year for the first time 4 people are planning to enter the Dusi Canoe Marathon in South Africa.
My role was to spend a few hours paddling with the group and then make a recommendation as to whether I think that are competent to enter the race. This seems to be a common way of ensuring that paddlers entering these races have the experience to do so. I had to find somebody who was prepared to sign to say that I had enough experience to enter the Liffey Descent. This was actually quite strange because I had signed the forms for previous races for a number of other paddlers but I still had to get mine signed.
We went out from St Brelade’s heading towards to St Aubin’s with the opportunity to play in the tidal race off Noirmont, for Steve it was a real moment of achievement as he performed his first roll in moving water after an accidental capsize.
For the last Saturday in October conditions were ideal, warm, light winds and beautiful sunshine. They were conditions which were perfect for exploring this unique stretch of Jersey’s coastline. Interesting water conditions set against an historical backdrop.
The stretch of coast between Noirmont and Belcroute is unusual in Jersey because the trees approach the waters edge. At times it could almost be the west coast of Canada as opposed to the west coast of St Aubin’s Bay.
Belcroute Bay, a delightful east facing bay which unfortunately looses the sun quite early. This is 10.30 in October. In the past there was a superb diving platform on the rocks just to the right of the photograph, obviously in the days before Health and Safety took off.
The plan was to circumnavigate St Aubin’s Fort before heading back to St Brelade. The fort is just visible to the right of the rocky point.
St Aubin’s is one the most beautiful villages on the island. In the 17th and 18th centuries the Jersey fishing fleet, which worked on the cod banks off Newfoundland, over wintered here. Many of the houses were built by the merchants and ships captains. For the older readers one of the buildings, the Old Court House, achieved fame as the Royal Barge in the BBC series Bergerac.
Work was started on St Aubin’s Fort in 1542 and wasn’t finished until the Second World War, as there are a number of German additions. Today it is used as an activity centre by Education, Sport and Culture, although despite its great location for kayaking the main emphasis is on sailing.
The main tower was extended during the English Civil War, it now provides the main accommodation block for visiting groups.
The entrance to St Aubin’s harbour is marked by the white mark on the end of the southern pier, work started on this in 1754 with the north pier added in 1816. Up until the building of St Helier harbour this was the principal commercial port on the island.