Last paddle of the year: Bouley Bay

Last paddle of the year: Bouley Bay
After a Christmas break away from the Island it was good to get a quick paddle in today.  The south easterly force 6-7, which was forecast, plus the rather large westerly swell reduced the options but Bouley Bay on the north coast seemed ideal for a couple of hours out on the water.
For the last paddle of the year it proved to be a pretty reasonable choice.
 The small pier was constructed in 1828, although there had been earlier plans to construct a much larger harbour in the area.  This project was dropped due to the lack of available flat land to build on.
 The heavy rain of recent weeks has resulted in a few seasonal waterfalls appearing along this section of coast.
 Alex approaching Tour de Rozel, the wind was pushing us along quite nicely.
 Tour de Rozel is one of the iconic landmarks of the north coast of the Island.  On the flood a delightful tide race develops, which has provided hundreds of hours of entertainment to local kayakers, over the years.  Here are a few pictures taken 5 years ago.
 Fort Leicester dominated the western side of the bay, rebuilt in 1835 it is now available for hire from Jersey Heritage, as a rather unique place to stay.

December Days – one of the years final paddles

The last few months seem to have been mainly occupied with courses so it was a real pleasure on one of the last weekends of December, to just get out on the water for a paddle.  The wind, which had been such a significant feature of the last few weeks had died down to a southerly force 4 so Bonne Nuit on the north of the island was the chosen venue.
Initially we headed east, hoping to find some interesting water off Belle Hougue, but we were a bit late to have any real fun so we carried on to small bay underneath the Club’s cottage at Egypt.  A small part of the island with a rich history.  After a paddling a bit further into Bouley Bay it was time to head back west, past Bonne Nuit and along towards Wolfs’s Caves.
 Steff, Janet and Jim underneath the Canoe Club cottage at Egypt.  An area where the members of the Canoe Club have spent many happy weekends.
 Returning west.  The main headland is Belle Hougue, the tallest headland in Jersey.  In the distance is Ronez, the site of a large quarry, where chough’s bred in Jersey for the first time in 100 years this summer.
 Rachel and Dean paddling around Belle Hougue.  It was one of those December days when the light seemed particularly flat.
 Close to Wolf’s Caves there was a pretty spectacular blow hole,  Angus was the first to paddle in close but John caught the larger swells.

 

 My last photo of the day.  There was no cleaning the lens after the soaking it received from this amount of spray.

South West Delights

Although this is the closest stretch of coast to where I live, it seems to have been quite some time since I last spent a day exploring this area of Jersey so it was a real pleasure to be on the water on Saturday.  Heading out from St Brelade’s Bay we headed along the base of the south west cliffs towards Corbiere, before popping into St Ouen’s Bay for some lunch on the offshore reefs.
This is a section of the Jersey coast, which I have paddled hundreds of times but there is always something to discover whatever the season.
Paddling into a feature which we known as Junkyard Gully.  At the rear of the inlet there is a large blow hole into which was thrown a lot of scrap metal and cars in the 1930’s and 40’s.
Laurie passing to the south of Corbiere Lighthouse, a significant landmark, which dominates the south west corner of the island.  There was a bit of swell around and some tidal movement but it was a relatively calm day.
 Heading south past Corbiere after stopping for lunch in the reefs to the west of La Pulente.  A bit chilly but it is October.
 Louis looking as if he is having a good time.
Louis and Rachel playing in the small race which was developing to the west of Corbiere.
Along this section of coast there are some many great jumping spots.  This flat topped rock, known as “Table Top”, is at Gorselands.  Laurie is in mid air whilst Simone is considering his options.
Just before Beauport we were able to take a short cut through the reef at the Grosse Tete.   This is known as Conger Gully, mainly because of the stories we tell younger people whilst we are out coasteering along this section of coast.

Portelet Pizza

For a number of years the old beach cafe at Portelet gradually crumbled through disuse, it’s decline seemingly linked to the closure of the holiday camp, which used to dominate the cliff top above and the associated drop in the number of visitors to the beach.
This year has seen the refurbishment of the building and its reopening as a pizza place and the Jersey Canoe Club decided to visit the Portelet Bay Cafe for lunch on the last day of August.  A paddle from Ouaisne allowed us to visit some of the historical sites, which exist along this section of coast.
This was followed by a very pleasant break at Portelet Bay Cafe, the pizzas are highly recommended, and the paddle back assisting with their digestion.  Considering it was a rather grey day with an increasing north westerly wind we think we made pretty good use of the time.
 Leaving from Ouaisne is always fascinating as we pass close to La Cotte de St Brelade, which is one of the most important neanderthal sites in north west Europe.  Within the ice age sediments there are thousands of stone tools in addition to the bones of their prey.
 To the south lies the small stack of La Cotte Island, which has a number of short climbs on its west face.
 The first major headland is Pt Le Fret.  It is fully exposed to the Atlantic swell but today it was all calm and we able to thread our way through the gullies.  Earlier this year the swell so large that we had to keep about 200 metres out, when rounding the point.
 Noirmont Tower was completed in 1814 to help protect the southern coast of the island from potential invasion by the French.  Today the lighthouse marks the western approach to St Helier.
 Nicky passing in front of Batterie Lothringen, part of a World War 2 coastal battery.  The first part was completed in 1941 but this tower was built April and October 1943.
 On the beach at Portelet, after our pizza’s.  Today was a particularly large spring tide, when we had landed less than 2 hours before, we left our kayaks at the waters edge.
 Another Jersey round tower, it was completed 6 years earlier than the nearby one at Noirmont, in 1806.  A sergeant and 12 soldiers manned the tower, it must have been rather crowded.

Les Dirouilles – a reef to the north of Jersey

To the north east of Jersey there are two reefs, Les Ecrehous and Les Dirouilles.  Without doubt the most popular area of this Ramsar site is Les Ecrehous but today our destination was Les Dirouilles.
It was a large Spring Tide and although the tidal streams were running with significant energy we were able to use some of the speed to our advantage.  It was at times like this that confidence in the GPS is important, monitoring our drift and fine tuning of our bearing ensured that we weren’t swept past the rocks.
Very little has been written about the reef but it is known that in 1816 40 people were drowned when a ship, La Balance, which was sailing from St Malo to Canada struck the reef.  It must have been in totally different conditions to those we experienced on the reef today.
The calm waters, fast moving streams and lack of any other people combined to produce a truly memorable day.
 Approaching Les Dirouilles.  When we left Jersey the tidal streams were running at over 4 knots, fortunately they were mainly in our favour.
 Pete is just visible threading his way through one of the numerous channels.
 Janet with a rather large smile, after a superb crossing from Jersey.
 Landing wasn’t straightforward but it was a great place to swim.
 A very sheltered pool!  There can’t be many days like this at Les Dirouilles.
 Looking north across the reef.  Next stop Alderney, about 30 miles away.

Although we were on the reef for only about an hour, the tide had dropped over a metre, and this wasn’t at the time of maximum change.  The tidal range today was 11 metres.
Time to hitch a ride on the flooding tide back to St Catherine’s.  At times our speed over the ground was over 7 knots.  The joy of a free ride!

Sea Kayaking to the Paternosters Again

It has been a while since I posted on the site, the aim of a photograph everyday, went out of the window due to changing personal circumstances, but it is probably an opportune time to start to post again.
Today’s paddle was to the Paternosters, a reef off the north coast of Jersey, which is popular at times with kayakers, but is rarely visited by other boat owners, as landing would be almost impossible.
on today’s large spring tide there was a significant amount of exposed rock but Tuesday mornings tide is another 0.6 metres lower.  With a 03.27 low water , I think that it is true to say that nobody will be on the reef to witness how much of it is exposed.
For those of us from the Jersey Canoe Club who went on the paddle it was a great couple of hours on the water.

Nicky arriving at the Paternosters.  Heading west from Bonne Nuit we made full use of the ebbing spring tide, most of the time we were averaging about 6 knots.
 Looking back towards the north west corner of Jersey.  Standing here is probably one of the most isolated locations in the Baliwick of Jersey
 A merry band of paddlers.  For a couple of the group it was their first visit to this reef off the north coast of Jersey.
 Looking north towards Sark, an excellent paddling destination in its own right.
 Leaving the reef towards the north coast of Jersey, we were planning to use the east flowing tide in close to propel us back to Bonne Nuit.
This isn’t an image to show that industry occurs around the coast of but rather the scene of environmental success.  In the sheds of the quarry a pair of chough’s bred, for the first time in Jersey for approximately 100 years.  Sadly we didn’t see them today.

Belcroute Sea Kayaking again

It was another Sunday morning with strong westerly winds forecast so the options for our weekly paddle were limited.  It was another visit to Belcroute, which is sheltered from the strong winds from the west.  The winds on the day didn’t appear to be quite as strong as forecast so we were able to head across St Aubin’s Bay towards Elizabeth Castle, using the wind for quite an entertaining outgoing ride.
One advantage of living on an island is that whatever the wind direction it is always possible to find somewhere to paddle and as result of this the Jersey Canoe Club has managed to get on the water, on a Sunday morning pretty much every week since the mid-1970’s, although some weeks when it is blowing hard and the rain is falling numbers might be limited, at other times when the sun is out and winds are light we have seen over 40 kayakers on the water at times..
Jason preparing to launch at Belcroute, sheltered from the strong westerly wind which was blowing at the time.
 Looking back up the beach at Belcroute.  With winds like those forecast for this morning the kayaking options were limited.  The Jersey Canoe Club were not the only group paddling from there today.  The faster group of regular Jersey kayaker’s who paddle Taran’s had also chosen this location to leave from.
Pete just before Noirmont.  The relatively calm seas don’t indicate the true wind speed as we were sheltered by Noirmont headland.
Crossing St Aubin’s Bay.  The further we moved away from Noirmont the greater the impact of the wind.  Due to the limited fetch sea conditions weren’t too rough.
 Elizabeth Castle lies ahead.  One of the finest military fortifications of Jersey.
 You don’t see too many of these navigation marks around, an Isolated Danger Mark, just to the south of West Park Pool.

A Paternoster Sunday

The Paternoster’s are a wild reef nearly 3 miles off the north coast of Jersey which is always an interesting place to visit.  Sunday morning’s forecast couldn’t have been more co-operative with a light southerly breeze to blow us out and then dropping off, with the sun coming out.
It was a slightly longer Sunday morning paddle for the Jersey Canoe Club than usual and it did involve taking sandwiches but it was well worth the effort.  It is strange that we were only out for 5 hours in total but after a visit to the Paternoster’s you always feel as if you have had a break from the island.
 The Paternosters are just visible, with Sark on the horizon beyond
 Nicky and Kate leaving the north coast.  Sorel lighthouse is just visible on the headland behind the kayaks.
 Just approaching Great Rock from the north, landing would probably have been impossible an hour earlier due to the swell but the ebbing tide had produced some relatively sheltered areas in the reef.
 Looking south west from the summit of Great Rock.  Grosnez is the obvious headland behind.  There is a great jump into the sea from just near here but with the temperatures that we were experiencing it was sensible to remain dry.
 The view north.  Sark is visible on the horizon.  We had great memories of a delightful paddle back from Sark earlier in the summer.
Paul crossing one of the tidal flows, which contribute to making paddling at the Paternoster’s so entertaining.  We were going to use some of the flow from this current to head towards Plemont headland before following the coast back to Greve de Lecq.