Sea Kayak Symposiums of the Past

Whilst continue to look through my old slide collection I came across a number of photographs, which help to illustrate what informative and entertaining events the Jersey Sea Kayak Symposiums have been over the years.  In addition they have attracted a number of paddlers who are well known throughout the sea kayaking world.
The next Jersey Sea Kayak Symposium will be held in May 2019, it should have been May 2018 but the organisers of the Scottish Symposium asked if they could use the slot and we readily agreed.

Symposium
1992 was the year of the first Symposium, attracting about 60 participants. Unusual sessions include this one being run by Dave Collins, who became better know through his work with UK Athletics. Also in the picture are Kevin Danforth, at the time editor of Canoe Focus and Martin Melling who was Secretary of the BCU Sea Touring Committe at the time (I think).
Symposium
The social side has always been important, the 1992 BBQ. The person in the blue sweatshirt is my dad (Ray Mansell) who was Chairman of the Jersey Canoe Club at the time. This picture was taken outside the Club cottage at Egypt on the north coast of the Island
Symposium
In 1994 we were fortunate enough to have French paddler Didier Plouhinec talking about Greenland paddling. At the time it hadn’t really been seen that frequently in the UK.
Symposium
Based at the Canoe Club premises launching was sometimes a problem when the wind was in the east. Monday in 1994 was borderline, for some people, particularly if you had a composite kayak.
Symposium
The weather had been kinder earlier in the weekend. Derek Hairon is running a towing session, off the same slip. Peter Midwood is one of the paddlers observing.
Symposium
Rolling sessions have always been popular, they remain so to this day. This is rolling 1994 style with Graham Wardle.
Symposium
By 1996 we had a swimming pool for the Greenland session but still didn’t have enough kayaks and paddles to go around. Gordon Brown is demonstrating the techniques whilst world authority, John Heath gave a running commentary. We were really fortunate to have two such icons of the sea kayaking world.
Symposium
Gordon setting up for another roll.
Symposium
1996 was the third Symposium and Derek Hutchinson had been to all three. His on water sessions were always popular but it was his talks which were the most memorable. Anybody who heard his North Sea Crossing talk will never forget it.
Symposium
Graham Wardle and Donald Thompson clearly discussing the finer points of a particular stroke, outside the clubhouse of Jersey Canoe Club.
Symposium
Cliff jumping has always been a popular Jersey sport. Here is Barry Howell jumping off the Paternosters. Derek Hutchinson is the paddler.
Symposium
1996 was the year that we finished the event with a sea kayak slalom. Possibly the only slalom ever held when every entrant was in a Skerry.
Symposium
Pete Scott ran a sea anchor session, the first time it appeared on the programme in Jersey.
Symposium

Howard Jeffs discussing paddling with Terry Harlow from the United States.
Symposium
The 4th Symposium was 1998 and were fortunate to have Bill Oddie as our personal guide on the sea birds paddle. I paddled him around in a double Spud which proved to be ideal for the task.
Symposium
Gordon Brown was back, in 1998, and here he is working on a small wooden kayak which had been designed by Duncan Winning. It was completed over the period of the Symposium. In following events Duncan stuck to making Greenland paddles as they take less time.
Symposium
The event has always attracted coaches who have been able to offer something different. Mike McClure from Northern Ireland has been a popular and regular contributor.
Symposium
As well as visiting coaches local paddlers have also worked on many sessions. Nick Queree is running a navigation session in 2002.
Symposium
Chris Jones is running a rolling session in 2006, as popular then as it was 12 years earlier.
Symposium
In 2008 the BBQ was still going strong on the Monday night, prior to the start of the extended paddling programme. Now the Monday night is the Symposium meal with the BBQ normally on the Thursday.
Symposium
One of the most popular paddles in the following week is always the day trip to the Ecrehous. In 2010 on at least one day we had great weather.

The 2019 Jersey Sea Kayak Symposium will be the 13th time that the event has been held over a period of 27 years and it all came about after Bill Small and Pete Scott had attended the Anglesey Symposium in 1991 and decided that Jersey Canoe Club could do something similar.

British Canoeing Winter Challenge

The 1st December marks the start of British Canoeing Winter Challenge. It last 3 months and the aim is to encourage members of canoe and kayak clubs to get out on the water during the darker, colder days of winter.
Last year Jersey Canoe Club came top, in terms of miles covered, just about fending off a determined challenge by Portsmouth Canoe Club. In the 3 months the members of the Jersey club paddled a total of 4,108 miles, with 4 members paddling over the 300 miles.  The highest individual total was 520 miles, which is quite amazing considering that there is no inland water in Jersey, so they were all completed on the sea.
Today’s forecast was less than perfect for the first day of the Challenge as 5 slightly enthusiastic kayakers headed out from Belcroute. The initial mile was fast and easy as the northerly force 5 sped us on our way towards Noirmont point, which was the gateway to more sheltered waters, under the cliffs of Portelet. Some large black clouds gave a suggestion of rain or sleet but surprisingly we stayed dry. At times even feeling the warmth of the low angled winter sun.

Winter Challenge
Today’s weather forecast from Jersey Met.

Nicky pulled out in St Brelade’s whilst the rest of us carried onto Corbiere, with its freshly painted lighthouse. The tide had started to rise quite quickly meaning we had missed the opportunity to land in some of the small bays, so we headed back to Beauport for lunch. Without doubt one of the most beautiful bays on the Island, but on the 1st December we had the beach to ourselves.
After lunch we headed east across St Brelade’s Bay as the clouds built in size.  For most of the paddle we were reasonably protected from the wind but from Noirmont to Belcroute there was no respite.  The wind was blowing at about 30 knots straight into our faces, which resulted in some demanding paddling conditions.  When we landed our total mileage for the day was 60 miles, which despite the weather was a pretty reasonable start towards British Canoeings Winter Challenge .
It is probably true to say that we wouldn’t have normally gone for such a long paddle in the prevailing conditions but the fact that we did stay out there and put the miles in is evidence of the success of the Winter Challenge, which is to get more paddlers out on the water during the cold, dark days of December, January and February.

Winter Challenge
Nicky approaching Noirmont Point. We were moving really fast at this point with a steady force 5 wind behind us.
Winter Challenge
Corbiere looked rather grey and windswept today, despite its fresh coat of paint. Corbiere must be one of the most iconic lighthouses anywhere.
Winter Challenge
These caves just to the east of Corbiere were the same ones we had been swimming into a couple of days earlier.
Winter Challenge
Tucked in underneath the cliffs on the south coast of Jersey we received plenty of protection from the wind. Lunch was just around the corner.
Winter Challenge
As the day progressed the clouds became more impressive and the wind increased in strength. This is the last picture I took before we battled into a 30 knot headwind for a couple of miles. An interesting finish to the days paddle.

Wednesday Coasteering

A strong, cold northerly wind meant that it was cold as we changed in the car park close to the German Tower at Corbiere.  This was our selected venue for our Wednesday coasteering as we knew that once we dropped down the cliffs we would be sheltered from the strongest wind.
Our initial plan was to swim and scramble out to the Jument Rock, the obvious rock, which is painted white as a navigation mark.  To get there involved a couple of short swims, with the opportunity to play in some of the narrow constrictions, which were funneling the swell.
I must have paddled past the white rock, almost a thousand times in the last 48 years that I have kayaked in the area but today was the first time that I have climbed to the top of this unique landmark.  This was quickly followed by another first as we swam into some narrow caves, which I had never explored prior to today.
Despite the strong northerly wind and low temperatures our Wednesday coasteering session was thoroughly enjoyable.  What was particularly memorable was the fact that we were able to visit a couple of locations that I hadn’t been to before.  I have lived within a couple of miles of Jument rock for over 40 years and for the last 15 years have lived within a mile of the rock but had never found a reason or the time to go there, before today .
Sometimes we travel thousands of miles in search of adventure, often costing hundreds, if not thousands of pounds.  The reality is that there might be plenty of adventure and places to discover much closer to home.  Many years ago we coined the phrase “adventure in your own backyard”, to describe the sea kayaking trips we were undertaking in the Channel Islands.  In the last 18 months we have explored Jersey’s coast by kayak or swimming, several times each week, realizing that within a few miles of where we live there are so many special places.

Wednesday coasteering
Swimming out towards the offshore reef. It was a very wintery sky that greeted us this morning
Wednesday coasteering
Jim swimming in one of the gullies we had to cross to reach the outer edge of the reef. At times conditions were quite entertaining!
Wednesday coasteering
On top of Jument Rock. Painted white for navigational purposes, I have paddled past this thousands of times but I had never stood on top before.
Wednesday coasteering
There were a few pleasant rock scrambles over the rocks. Generally we were sheltered from the northerly wind so it felt quite pleasant in the sunshine despite the 7ºC air temperature.
Wednesday coasteering
This cave is underneath the Radio Tower on the headland at Corbiere. It was another area that I hadn’t explored before

Kayaking Contrasts

It has been a weekend of kayaking contrasts, Saturday was very windy and sunny so we spent the morning paddling off the east coast.  Heading south from St Catherine’s to Gorey where we stopped for coffee and cake.  This is a section of the coast that we paddle most weeks during the summer months as it is the location for the Jersey Canoe Club Tuesday evening training sessions.  In contrast we rarely paddle along this section of coast during the winter but it is a couple of miles steeped in history.
For over 40 years the Canoe Club has paddled every Sunday morning at a variety of locations around the Island.  For the last 10 or 15 years the focus has been on using sea kayaks, hardly surprising as Jersey is a superb sea kayaking destination.  Today was a throw back to the 1970’s and 80’s as we used smaller play boats, as we headed out from St Brelade’s.  It was good to get out in the small kayaks as it gave us chance to hone our skills.  So it really was a weekend of kayaking contrasts.

Kayaking Contrasts
Paddling past the Jersey Round Tower at Archirondel. It was the 22nd Jersey Tower to be completed when it was built in 1794. We used it as one of the lecture venues at the first Jersey Sea Kayaking Symposium in 1992.
Kayaking Contrasts
Nicky paddling past the eastern margins of Mont Orgueil Castle. The most spectacular castle in the Channel Islands.
Kayaking Contrasts
Mont Orgueil Castle dominates the waterfront in Gorey. Gorey Harbour was the centre of the oyster fishing industry at the start of the 19th century. Up to 2,500 people were employed in the oyster industry at one time.
Kayaking Contrasts
Crossing Beauport, Janet and myself decided to paddle the Topo Duo. Another link to kayaking in the 1990’s, Jersey Canoe Club won the award for the best stand at one of “Sport for All” days at Quennevais Sorts Centre. With the money we won the Club bought the Topo Duo.
Kayaking Contrasts
Playing in the rough water just to the west of the Grosse Tete.
Kayaking Contrasts
Pete paddling through the surf at the Grosse Tete.

 

Friday Coasteering

It appears that we have merged into a Friday coasteering group. Heading out each to explore another section of the Jersey coastline at sea level. As with kayaking, living on an island has its advantages as it is almost always possible to find somewhere appropriate, whatever the weather.
This week it was a return visit to the cliffs just to the west of Portelet Bay. This section is always best to do just a couple of hours either side of high water. The tide has just started to drop as we hit the beach, which was perfect. In the middle of the bay is Ile au Guerdain, with its 18th Century fortifications. Often referred to as Janvrin’s Tomb.
After a short swim around the rocks in the middle of the bay we were soon onto the coasteering.  A stretch of coast with a variety of jumps, caves, scrambles and swims.  A perfect place to spend a couple of hours on a overcast November Friday morning.  What surprises me about this coasteering route is that I have never seen anybody else in the area whilst we have been there or even heard people talk about it as a possibility for coasteering.

Friday Coasteering
This is the first jump as you traverse off the beach. The flat rock is clearly linked to the quarrying industry.
Friday Coasteering
When there is some swell running it is not always easy to jump into the water. Sometimes the easiest and safest is to a modified form of a belly flop when the swell is at its highest.
Friday Coasteering
Where the cliffs face directly out to sea there are a couple of superb jumps. Janet is flying through the air.
Friday coasteering
Sometimes getting out of the water is not as easy as it seems. Assessing the swell is essential to a safe and relatively easy exit.
Friday coasteering
The final jump of the day was from the rocks off Pt Le Fret. Getting to them required a swimming ferry glide across the ebbing tide.

Southerly gales

The forecast for Wednesday was for southerly gales building during the course of the day, with the main impact being felt from about 15.00 onwards.  Wednesday is the day when we try to go on day trips so we didn’t want to give up to easily.  An option appeared to meet at Rozel, head west, use the tide, tuck in under the cliffs, eat our sandwiches and make a hasty retreat to the east before the full force of the gale struck.
What was a real surprise was the stunning November sunshine we enjoyed all day, it was only on the drive home, as the wind speed significantly increased that the cloud banks started to move in from the west.
Lunch was at Bonne Nuit, somewhere we hadn’t expected to reach when we set out from Rozel.  Possibly the most interesting incident during the day was an encounter with a grey seal, close to Bouley Bay.  The toggles on my Nordkapp are carved from reindeer antlers I collected on a trip to Svalbard in 1983.  Clearly they attracted the attention of the seal, which was attempting to lick the toggles, sadly it was the rear toggle it was interested in.  Meaning that it was difficult to see, let alone photograph.  Still a memorable encounter.

Southerly gales
Approaching Egypt. A delightful cottage between Bouley Bay and Bonne Nuit, which is looked after by Jersey Canoe Club.
Southerly gales
We weren’t certain that we would reach Bonne Nuit, but it was where we eventually had lunch.
La Crete Fort now available for holiday accommodation from Jersey Heritage. 4 of the 5 kayaks in the photographs are Nordkapps. 1 is a classic Nordkapp HM and 3 of the plastic variety.
Southerly gales
Approaching Belle Hougue from the west.
Southerly gales
Belle Hougue is the tallest headland on Jersey and today we appreciated being able to shelter from the southerly gales, under its cliffs.

Some more memories of Jersey sea kayaking

Another couple of hours scanning some old slides has revived some great memories of sea kayaking in Jersey.  It is clear that over the years the Jersey Canoe Club has been involved in a variety of entertaining events both in local waters and further afield.

Jersey Kayaking
The start of the 1979 Canoe Club Middle Distance race from Gorey to St Helier. It is clear that it was important to have an orange Nordkapp HM and wear a Ricard sun hat.
Jersey Kayaking
John Hurley at the 1982 white water championships. Close to St Helier ,the white water was revealed when the tide dropped. The water was from the power station and so it was really warm. An ideal place to paddle on a cold winters day. Sadly it has since disappeared under the reclamation site.
Jersey kayaking
In the 1980’s Jersey competed in the Home International Surfing competitions. In 1986 we entered a team in the slalom event for the first time. This was training at St Ouen’s in almost perfect conditions. Sadly the week of the event was accompanied by no surf and pretty strong easterly winds.
Jersey Kayaking
In the early 1990’s the BCU introduced the idea of a National Canoeing Day. In September 1992 we managed to get 120 people to turn up to St Catherine’s to form a raft.
Jersey Kayaking
The 1990’s also saw the development of Sea Kayak Symposiums. This is 1996 and Gordon Brown is demonstrating a number of Greenland rolls and skills. We were fortunate to have John Heath at the event who gave a running commentary to Gordon’s performance.
Jersey Kayaking
Some people expressed an interest in folding kayaks. This is a naked Feathercraft Khatsilano.
Jersey Kayaking
We also developed a tidal slalom course in front of the Club House at St Catherine’s. I think this is Scottish paddler Donald Thomson taking part in the closing event of the 1996 Symposium. All competitors had to use a VCP Skerray.
Jersey Kayaking
The 1998 Symposium. This is a bird watching paddle, I ended up paddling Bill Oddie around in double Spud whilst he pointed at feathered things of interest. There must have been at least 50 people in the group, which created quite a spectacle.
Jersey Kayaking
An innovation at the 1998 Symposium was the making of kayaks over the weeken with people able to assist. Howard Jeffs produced a fibre glass BAT and Duncan Winning built the “Jersey Junior” being paddled here by my daughter Lisa.

Octopus Pool

The evening of Saturday 18th November is the annual dinner of the Jersey Club Club at the Prince of Wales, Greve de Lecq. A number of us decided to stay the night and so to take full advantage of the area we decided that an afternoon’s coasteering out to the Octopus Pool was in order.
The Octopus Pool is one of those places where generations of young people have gained experience of exploring the coast line of Jersey, jumping into rock pools and scrambling through caves. Over the last few years it has become increasingly popular with commercial groups. During the summer months it has probably reached full capacity on some days but on a Saturday in November we were fairly certain of having the place to ourselves.
Greve de Lecq is a popular venue with the Jersey Canoe Club because of the quality of the sea kayaking which is easily accessible but today the focus was on rock scrambling and swimming as opposed to paddling.
A great afternoon’s sport setting us up for a good annual dinner.

Octopus Pool
Jacob is really enthusiastic about coasteering and is really confident for a 6 year old, when moving across the rocks.
Octhopus pool
This stone always fascinates me as the letters have been carved with such care. It says the following ASL HFM 1839
Octopus Pool
It is always a challenge to dive to the bottom to get some sand or seaweed. Most young people fail as they don’t know how to dive. In this day and age it is almost impossible for young people to learn to dive, due to health and safety concerns diving is banned in virtually every swimming pool.
Octopus Pool
At low tide the Rhino was quite a reasonable jump today, about 10 metres in height.
Octopus Pool
Its always great to be able to return to Greve de Lecq through the cave which runs underneath the headland.

Grosnez Coasteering

The cliffs of Grosnez mark the north west corner of Jersey, and it is an area rarely considered as a coasteering destination. Fully exposed to the westerly swell and with virtually no escape routes, this is not an area for the inexperienced. Today’s light winds and decaying swell drew us north in search of some watery entertainment.
We decided to travel west from Plemont to Grosnez, it meant that when we climbed up the cliffs we arrived at the cars, as opposed to having a 20 minute walk along the cliff path whilst wet.
This is a great section of the Jersey coastline for sea kayaking but today our progress was much slower but probably much more intimate as we scrambled along this remote section of the Islands coast.

Grosnez
Just to the west of Plemont there is some entertaining scrambling. Coasteering is not all about big jumps and long swims.
Grosnez
There were a number of sections where scrambling along semi submerged reefs allowed us to make relatively fast progress.
Grosnez
Inside La Cotte a La Chevre, one of the the most important Neanderthal sites on the island.
Grosnez
Descending from La Cotte a la Chevre, in preparation for our next swim.
Grosnez
Scrambling along the rocks to the west of Le Vyi. We were beginning to feel the impact of the westerly swell hitting the cliffs when we were in the water.
Grosnez
The further west we moved the more the jumps appeared. This was apleasant, small jump into one of the small gullies to the easy of Grosnez.
Grosnez
Underneath Grosnez lighthouse. I would imagine that there are very few days in a year when peiople stand here. It is not an easy location to reach.
Grosnez
The exit point just to the south of Grosnez. There are some really big cliffs around here.

 

Another Wednesday on the Ecrehous

I paddled out to the Ecrehous this morning, it was my 7th visit of the year so far but interestingly the 5th time I have been on a Wednesday. I have only visited once at a weekend and that was way back in January.
It would be interesting to conduct a scientific study and hopefully come up with some fascinating conclusions which indicate a correlation between the passage of areas of high pressure over the Channel Islands shipping area on the third day of the week. In reality though I think that the reason for the popularity of the Wednesday visits is due to the fact that a number of people in the Jersey Canoe Club had retired or are working significantly reduced working weeks. We have put Wednesday aside as our day of choice for day trips, hoping to go out somewhere every week.
Looking at the weather forecasts as soon as there is an indication that the winds might be reasonably light on the Wednesday our thoughts turn to offshore paddles.  This week was no different, a quick WhatsApp on Tuesday and this morning saw 8 0f us paddling away from St Catherine’s towards the Ecrehous.
I have visited the reef numerous times over the years, the last time was just a few weeks ago but always jump at the chance to go again.  It was a relatively smooth crossing and a great lunch spot but it was the return crossing which was particularly memorable.  The encounter with the pod of bottle nosed dolphins was as good as I have ever seen, they remained with us for probably 20 minutes, at times approaching within a metre before suddenly changing course and diving.
What a great way to spend a Wednesday in November.

Ecrehous
Paddling in through the outer reef of the Ecrehous. It was a quick 5 nautical mile crossing.
Ecrehous
Arriving at the Ecrehous. There was only one other boat visiting the reef on this Wednesday in November.
Ecrehous
The classic view north from near the bench on the Ecrehous.
Ecrehous
Preparing to leave the Ecrehous for Jersey. The French coast is visible behind.
Portugese Man of War
On the return to Jersey we saw 3 Portugese Man of War. In 48 years of kayaking in the Channel Islands I had only ever seen one other.