Friday morning stand up paddleboards

Friday morning stand up paddleboards
It is amazing how a sunny morning with light winds will encourage you to get out on the stand up paddleboards.  That is just what happened on Friday morning.  It was hard to believe that less than 48 hours ago the Island was being battered by a significant storm.
 Heading out on the early morning spring tide.
 With the high spring tide we were able to enter one of the small caves in St Brelade’s Bay.  One of the great things about paddle sports is the opportunity to do new things.  I first paddled in St Brelade’s in 1969 and up until today I had never paddled into this cave.
 Laurie entering Beauport
Beauport is possibly my favourite bay on the Island and today it looked particularly special when viewed from the stack in the middle of the bay.
Heading through the gap, back into St Brelade’s and time to refresh some skills such as rescues and towing.

East Coast Kayaking

East Coast Kayaking
Today was the first day this year that I have been out kayaking off the east coast of the Island.  It was just a gentle paddle around the area to the south of St Catherine’s, the base of Jersey Canoe Club.  The breakwater is the most visible reminder of a grand project by the British Admiralty in the middle of the 19th century.  It was due to join up with the southern arm, which was due to be built out, from the coast, close to Archirondel.
On the way south we passed the small cottage, L’Hopital, which was built as a hospital to meet the needs of the hundreds of workers who were employed on the construction of the breakwater.  It has had a chequered history including being a tea room and as a private residence.  Today it is a self catering property, helping to meet the needs of the tourist industry.  It must be one of the best places to stay on the Island, if you are a sea kayaker.
Continuing south the next obvious building also has a role to play in the tourist industry.  Archirondel Tower.  Built in 1792 as part of the Islands coastal defences against the French military it has recently been refurbished for basic accommodation for up to 10 people.
The small headland between Anne Port and Archirondel is interesting from a geological perspective, providing evidence of some volcanic activity in the distant past.  The columnar rhyolites are easily visible from the sea but are missed by the thousands of people who drive along the road above.
Once past the rocks of the Jersey Volcanic Group we crossed Anne Port, a small bay, which must have seen more attempts at preventing coastal erosion than anywhere else on the Island.  The authorities have used rock armour, cliff pinning, netting, beach replenishment, gabions and a sea wall to help prevent erosion, all is needed is a groyne and there would be pretty much every type of coastal protection.

 L’Hopital is in a superb position, just above the shoreline.
 The white building is the base of St Catherine’s Sailing Club.  Originally it was the carpenters sheds whilst the Breakwater was under construction.
 Looking into Anne Port.  Some of the coastal defenses are visible at the rear of the beach.
 Paddling past the columnar rhyolites at La Crete Point.  There is a much better view from a kayak than from the road.
Arriving back at Archirondel.  The end of a rather pleasant way to spend a March afternoon.

St Brelade’s Bay on Mother’s Day

St Brelade’s Bay on Mother’s Day
Today was one of the first Sunday mornings this year which didn’t have strong winds forecast so the Jersey Canoe Club Sunday morning session headed west from St Brelade’s along one of the most pleasant stretches of Jersey’s coastline.
 We changed in perfect spring sunshine but by the time we launched the clouds had gathered.  we were paddling along the stretch of coast which is close to the hotel where the Jersey Sea Kayak Symposium is going to held in May.
 Part of the group under Corbiere Lighthouse.  I know that I am biased by I reckon it is the most beautiful lighthouse in the world.
 As we headed east the sun did manage to break through.  This section of coast is perfect for coasteering in the summer months, fingers crossed for warmer weather.
 Cliffs just to the west of Beauport.  Always a pleasure to paddle past these granite faces.
Time to head in for the Mother’s Day beer!

John Muir Award in Jersey

John Muir Award in Jersey
John Muir, the father of the modern conservation movement, was born in Dunbar Scotland on the 21st April 1838 and moved to the United States when he was 11 years of age.  His impact on environmental issues is hard to underestimate, he was an inspiration for thousands of people both through his writing and his actions.
In 1983 the John Muir Trust was formed to celebrate his life whilst at the same time preserving some of Scotland’s wild places.  The Trust is now the owner of some of the most iconic Scottish landscapes include the summit of Ben Nevis, Sandwood Bay and areas of Knoydart.
As part of the educational programme the Trust started the John Muir Award, which has gone from strength to strength in Scotland.  Over the last 12 months I have started to introduce the Award into schools in Jersey, as well as about to launch a project with the Jersey Canoe Club.
Today sees the conclusion of Invasive Species Week, which is quite opportune as most of the projects that I have developed have revolved around Hottentot Fig, a South African species, which is gradually smothering the native vegetation of the south west cliffs of Jersey as well as destroying the habitat for species such as the Dartford Warbler.
Various groups have been working on the removal of the Hottentot Fig, with it becoming possible to see a reduction in the spread of the plant and a gradual re-establishment of the native flora.  The young people I have been working with are making a difference to their local environment.
It is not all about pulling up the plant though, there is the exploration of the area, which includes 19th century industrial archaeology, in the form of the quarrying, more adventurous activities, which has included scrambling over rocks, walking out to Corbiere Lighthouse, abseiling down cliff faces, kayaking into more difficult locations and cycling.  Too name just a few of the opportunities.
The activities are then shared with a wider audience, this has included a school assembly, a parents evening, a notice board, a film, model making, writing in the parish magazine etc.  Once this has been completed the participants receive a superb certificate celebrating their achievements.  Amazingly this is is all free.
The John Muir Award is a fantastic resource not just for schools but for anybody who has an interest in their environment.  The Jersey Canoe Club project is to collect rubbish off the more remote beaches and caves along the north coast of the Island.  It is something, which we might have done anyway but this provides a framework and means of celebrating everybodies commitment and effort. So really consider getting involved, you don’t know how far it will take you.

 Looking west along the cliffs.  Much of the dark green vegetation is hottentot fig.
 Looking east along the cliffs of the south west coast.  The small granite building is part of the desalination plant.
 An usual view of the quarry at La Rosiere.  It has been drained for maintenance.  Some of the rock from this quarry was used for the Thames Embankment in London.
 
 A normal view of the quarry.
The remains of the quarry infrastructure.
 A pile of hottentot fig, the result of the work of year 6’s from St Peter and St Lawrence Primary Schools.
If you spend enough time walking around an area there is a good chance that you will see some fascinating creatures.  This slow worm seemed totally unconcerned about my presence.
  These two Green Lizards were also oblivious of my presence.

First Paddle of the Year

First Paddle of the Year
Today was one of those days when it would have been so easy to stay in bed or to go to the gym, but it was well worth making the effort to head out in to the rain.  With strong winds from the south blowing the north coast was the only really viable option.  Bouley Bay to Rozel and back.  A good run out for my first paddle of the year.
 Kate inside Rozel Harbour.   Just about to head back.
 Kate trying to get a bit of help from the following wind.
 The north side of the harbour wall provided some shelter from the strong offshore wind.
 Relaxing paddle back, not rushing as the thought of getting changed in the rain wasn’t too appealing

 

 At times the rain was so heavy that it obscured the finer details of Bouley Bay.
 Water was running down the road with some considerable force and then amazingly after we had tied the kayaks on the cars the rain stopped and we were able to get changed in the dry!

 

 Water pouring down the steps and onto the beach had discoloured the sea.

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!