Nautical History and the T Flag

Fort Regent overlooking the town of St Helier is a 19th century military base, which was converted into a leisure and entertainment centre in the 1970’s.  It occupies a unique place in the nautical history of not just Jersey but the in the UK because it still has a working visual Signal Station.
The first signal station probably dates back to 1708 and was used to warn Islanders of the threat of invasion.  Over the years a number of signals have been flown from the mast above St Helier, including such useful information as the fact that the mail had arrived in the Island etc.
Sadly financial cuts and changes in technology meant that in December 2004 the Fort Regent Signal Station, which was the last manned station in the British Isles closed down.
Fortunately in January 2007 it proved possible to hoist flags again, in a limited fashion including the T-flag, which signifies high tides over 38 feet (11.6 metres) and the strong wind and gale warnings.  It was also possible to re-introduce hoisting a few other flags when appropriate such as Trafalgar Day.
Today’s high tides and strong winds meant that this morning the Signal Station was flying the flag and the ball and cone indicating potentially difficult conditions for those at sea and for people living along the coast.  Driving into St Helier you very quickly get into the habit of looking up towards to Fort, treasuring our own slice of nautical history, and seeing if any flags are flying.
Signal Station
Visual warnings from the Fort Regent Signal station today. Strong winds from the north and T Flag
 The signal station above Fort Regent at approximately 12.00 today.  The T Flag is flying on the left hand side whilst the cone and ball indicates strong winds from the north.
Nautical history and the T Flag
When this flag is flying it signals that the tide is above 38 feet.

A good day for Brent Geese

Although Sunday morning is a regular time for kayaking the forecast for this Sunday was less than favourable.  Force 6 from the north accompanied by continuous rain was enough to put an end to any thoughts about paddling.  A meal out on Saturday evening resulted in the opportunity to help out with a co-ordinated count of the Brent Geese in Jersey.  These are always interesting and have been taking place for so long, that it has been possible to build a reasonably accurate picture  of the status of the birds.
In just two locations yesterday (this was written in November 2014) there were 1340 Brent Geese present, which is really healthy total, it will be interesting to see the total figures when they are available.

For the latest news check out the Jersey Birds website.

18th December 2005    1280 ( this was the highest monthly count since 1989)
19th February 2006      1131
21st November 2007    1528
13th January 2008        1267
19th December 2009    1243
16th January 2010        1566
20th February 2011      1547
Can’t find the data for 2012, if I can put my hands on it later I will update the blog
12th December 2013    1375
23rd November 2014   1795
22nd February 2015    1635
16th January 2016       1590

Brent Geese
St Aubin’s Fort, Belcroute and the fields just inland drew a blank. Not a goose in sight.
Brent Geese
Looking back towards La Haule, it was clear that there was a pretty good turn out.
Brent Geese
Not the best picture but the weather was awful and I was using my phone.

West Park Pool

West Park Pool is the colloquial name for the Victoria Marine Lake, located on the sands at West Park.  Constructed in 1897, it was officially opened on the 9th June that year, with the most of the great and the good of Jersey on the beach that day.  At the time it was probably the largest such pool in the British Isles.
Over the next 100 years the lake was used by thousands of visitors and residents for a variety of watersports.  In the late 1980’s I had a personal interest in the pool as I had the concession from Jersey Tourism to operate in the pool and rented out what were probably the first sit on top kayaks to be seen in Jersey.
From the 1990’s onwards the condition of the pool started to deteriorate, very little, if any, maintenance was undertaken and eventually the gates were left open so that instead of water being retained within the walls the water drained out in sync with the falling tide.
What we were left with was a crumbling Victorian wall on the beach.  Fortunately a group of locals, less that two years ago, had the vision to restore the Jubilee Marine Lake.  Finance was secured and restoration undertaken.
Today, quietly and without any public announcement it opened for activities to begin.  There is an official opening at the end of next week but it is good to see it up and running and will hopefully provide a valuable resource for the residents of St Helier and those who live further afield.

 The pool with Elizabeth Castle behind
 Looking west across the pool towards Noirmont.
 Sit on tops, stand up paddleboards and pedalos all for rental
The plan is to have sailing on the pool in the not too distant future.