Welcome home

Going away on a kayaking trip is always enjoyable but there is always something satisfying about coming home. Perhaps it is because most times I return home it is on an aircraft, so it is a very direct transition from holiday to home.
Landing on Tuesday evening I had received my first invite to go paddling before we had arrived at the gate, the welcome vibration of a WhatsApp on the phone.  In complete contrast to the weather before I had been away and whilst I was away, the forecast for Wednesday was pretty good.  No “beast from the east” this week.
Wednesday morning dawned with light winds and cloudless skies, we were leaving from St Catherine’s, the home of the Jersey Canoe Club, and heading south towards Seymour Tower.  This isn’t a section of coast, which screams of dramatic scenery.  It is rather more gentle, with a fascinating historical background and then a unique coastal environment, which is exposed as the tide drops, particularly off the south east corner.
We headed towards Seymour Tower, which was built in 1782 in response to the invasion of Jersey by French troops in January 1781.  It is now a unique place to spend an evening, with a qualified guide from Jersey Heritage.  Lunch was a rather hurried affair as the tidal range was 9.5 metres.  Not a particularly large spring tide but we were in the third hour after high water so the water was dropping at nearly 4cm a minute.  Resulting in a potentially long walk!
Returning to St Catherine’s we meandered through the reefs towards Karame Beacon before returning north to our starting point.   It was one of those days which hints of summer, light winds, blue skies and water of a surprising clarity.
A perfect return to my Island home.

Gorey Castle
Heading south past Mont Orgueil or Gorey Castle. It is one of the finest castles to be found anywhere, occupying a dominant position on the east coast of the Island.
Seymour Tower
Less than an hour before we had paddled across these rocks. The tide drops with amazing speed in the third hour of a 35 feet high tide. I wrote about walking in this area in an earlier post.
Karame Beacon
We headed south towards Karame, easily recognized by its top mark. On the large spring tides a fast group is able to walk out to this navigation mark.
Reef paddling
Heading north through the reefs in conditions which have been incredibly rare this year. Sunshine, no wind and surprisingly good water clarity.
Heading north
Gorey Castle is visible directly in front of the kayakers whilst in the distance the long this line of St Catherine’s breakwater, our final destination, is discernable.

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.


Jersey Towers Part Three

As we continue our journey by kayak around the coastal waters of the island there are number of Jersey Towers, which we encounter on a more regular basis.  Fliquet Tower is probably the closest to the Jersey Canoe Club premises although we probably paddle past Archirondel more frequently.  Three of the towers are on offshore islets, the two shown here plus Seymour Tower, off the south east corner.
In the late 18th and early 19th century the island was clearly under threat of invasion by French forces and the authorities took this threat seriously as demonstrated by the number of towers which still exist around Jersey but they do add another dimension to our paddling.

Jersey Towers
The tower at Fliquet is seen regularly by members of the Jersey Canoe Club, who pass by regularly on their summer evening paddles. The tower looks unusual because the top fortifications have been removed. It is one of the oldest towers and was in existence before 1787.
Jersey Towers
In the centre of Portelet lies the small island, Ile au Guerdain. On its summit is the tower which is known locally as Janvrin’s Tomb, this is due to the death of Philippe Janvrin, the captain of the vessel, the Esther, from the plague. The authorities refused to allow the body to be brought ashore and so the crew buried his body on this small island, within sight of his home. The grave has long been replaced by the Tower which was built in 1808 to help protect the island from Napoleonic forces.
Jersey Towers
Another tower which is situated offshore is Icho Tower, built in 1810 to help protect the south coast. For the paddling bird watcher this is a particularly productive region during the winter months, with a wide range of species.
Jersey Towers
Victoria Tower, built in 1837 was the last one to be built in the 19th century. It is unique amongst Jersey towers because it has a moat and a drawbridge. Behind is St Catherine’s Breakwater, the home of the Jersey Canoe Club.
Jersey Towers
Looking south from the top of Mont Orgueil Castle across the Royal Bay of Grouville. This area was particularly vulnerable to attack from French forces so within this bay alone there were six towers plus two Forts.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of sea kayaking in Jersey is the historical background to the paddles.  The Jersey Towers are just one aspect to the rich and varied history of this small island.