Pierres de Lecq

Located to the north of Greve de Lecq, the Pierres de Lecq are better know by their other name the Paternosters.  Small boats frequently pass by although people rarely land.  I first visited the reef in 1979 and on every subsequent visit we have had the reef to ourselves.
Visits tend to take place on spring tides, in Jersey high water on springs is always in the morning and the evening, meaning that low water is around lunch time.  Visits have to take place around low water, otherwise there won’t be anywhere to land.  A consequence of going on springs is that the tidal streams will be flowing much faster so an understanding of tidal flows is necessary.
We headed east towards Sorel point as we were going to allow the tide to sweep us back to the west for what we hoped would be our arrival at the Paternoster’s.  This wind and wave swept reef is formed from gneiss, a type of rock absent from the main land mass of Jersey.  At high water there is virtually nowhere to land so it is best to arrive at mid tide on the ebb, which just happens to mean that you will be the crossing towards maximum rate.  This always adds to the entertainment.
The Pierres de Lecq have become known as the Paternosters due to a legend linked to the settlement of Sark by some families from the parish of St Ouen in Jersey, in the 16th century.  One of the boats was wrecked en route to Sark, with the women and children drowning.  At times it is said that their cries can still be heard in the wind and so it became a tradition for fishermen passing by to say a Lords Prayer.  On the day of our visit the only sound was the call of oystercatchers and herring gulls.
Although only a few miles from Jersey  the reefs have truly remote and wild feel.  All too soon though it was time to head back to the mainland.  We used the flooding tide to carry us towards Plemont headland, the speed over the ground rarely dropped below 7 knots before returning along the coast back to Greve de Lecq.
Overall we only paddled about 9 nautical miles but what quality, any visit to the Paternosters or the Pierres de Lecq makes you feel that you have visited somewhere special.

Pierre de Lecq
Approaching the Paternosters from the south east. The tide was running from east to west at close to 3 knots.
Pierres de Lecq
Once we had landed it became apparent how quickly the tide was dropping, stranding my kayak well above the water.
Looking across the reef as the tide drops. To the north the closest land is Sark.
Pierres de Lecq
Probably 20 years ago we paddled out here one November morning and we managed to climb all the way around the Great Rock, just above water level. We named the route “Howards Way” after the television programme of time but also because well known sea kayaker, Howard Jeffs, was with us on that day.
Preparing to leave. We we about to jump on the liquid conveyor belt that is the consequence of spring tides in Jersey.
Crossing the last of the tidal flow into Plemont headland, before heading back to Greve de Lecq.

Nordkapp Meet Update

As mentioned previously, the Jersey Canoe Club is running a Nordkapp sea kayaking weekend in August.  Starting the evening of Friday 24th August, followed by 3 days of paddles in the waters around Jersey.
There will be paddles at a variety of levels with hopefully the opportunity to visit some of the offshore reefs which surround Jersey, including the Ecrehous and the Paternosters.  Over the course of the weekend the tides increase in size, on the Monday evening we have a spring tide of 10.63 metres, meaning that a number of the tide races which develop around Jersey will be working, offering great entertainment for kayakers of all levels.
The weekend is free to members of the Jersey Canoe Club or £25 for non members of the Club.  This is the cost of 12 months overseas membership of the Club and it ensures that everybody has insurance cover over the weekend.  All in all an absolute bargain.
The Saturday evening talk is by the legendary Sam Cook, who was on the original sea kayaking expedition to Nordkapp in 1975.  This was a truly ground breaking expedition for British sea kayakers and was a route that was largely followed by a group of paddlers from the Jersey Canoe Club in 1986.
This is not going to be a huge event, we will be really pleased if we get 30 people on the water in a variety of different Nordkapps.  As well as people from Jersey we have had enquiries from the UK, Switzerland, France and Guernsey.

This picture was taken in 1979, just to the south of Gorey, when it seemed that you could have almost any colour of Nordkapp HM, as long as it was orange.  I think that the one red one is being held by Franco Ferrero from Pesda Press.

The summer of 1986 and a young Mr and Mrs Mansell just about to go around Nordkapp in their Nordkapp HM’s.  This was on the Jersey Canoe Club trip of that summer.
If you would like, more information on what is going to be a relaxed but enjoyable weekend of kayaking, in all varieties of Nordkapp sea kayaks, please complete the form below.


How far have I paddled?

Over the years I have come in for some ridicule as I have kept a kayaking log book. My first entry was in January 1979 and since that date I have made a record of every time that I have been in a canoe or a kayak.  Sometimes it might just be a brief note whilst at other times it might be a comprehensive record of where we parked the car, what the launch was like, any wildlife seen etc.  Due to the fact that I have kept the log book going for so long it has now become almost impossible to stop  The great thing is it is a record of how far I have paddled.
Early in 2012 I was wondering to myself as to whether I paddled the equivalent of the circumference of the earth at the equator?  First of all how far is it around the equator.  Plenty of places will give you the distance in kilometres and statute miles, it was only after a bit of searching that I found the answer in nautical miles, it is 21639nm.  My log book records have always been in nautical miles so this was an important figure to find.
I then sat down with the log books and over a couple of hours completed a table. There were 5 columns, standing for year, sea kayak, sit on top, canoe/general purpose and total.  I passed the magical distance on the 19th May 2012 whilst on a trip out to the Paternosters.
So if you don’t already keep a log book think about starting keeping a record of your paddling experiences, in a few years time it will make interesting reading.  I don’t have a log book from 1969 to 1979 sadly, as there could be some interesting reading about a number of sea kayaking adventures, including being pulled of the water by Tito’s police in the former Yugoslavia, as we naively thought it was alright to paddle on the sea in communist countries.

The oldest picture I have scanned in. The first trip to the Ecrehous, August Bank Holiday Sunday 1974. Is it really 40 years since I first paddled out to the Ecrehous. Possibly the best one day paddle anywhere. This was probably the first ever organized paddle by the Jersey Canoe Club, which we had just formed. This was 5 years before I started keeping a log book but it was a pretty memorable day.
How far
A few months after I started keeping a log book. An evening surf session in May 1979 at St Brelade’s. We were so proud of our KW7’s. So versatile, one day we would be rock hopping the next heading out to an offshore reef.
How far
One advantage of keeping a log book is that you are able to track your memorable paddles. This is dawn on the morning of my 150th paddle to the Ecrehous, we are packing away before returning to Jersey.
How far
The day that I passed the equivalent of the circumnavigation of the earth. Getting ready to leave the Paternosters.

I wrote this article a couple of years ago and since then my mileage has continued to increase and in the last 12 months, at an even faster pace. In October I passed the 26,000 nautical mile mark recorded in my log book.

How far
Passing the 26,000 nautical mile mark, whilst kayaking around Stomboli, Italy. A truly memorable day on the water.

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.

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.

A Gneiss Paddle

Just under 3 miles north of Greve de Lecq lie the Paternosters, a reef which for many sea kayakers offers their first opportunity for heading offshore.  Although the tidal streams can run with surprising speed towards low water the crossing can be reasonably direct and straightforward, which is what we had planned for today.  Leaving just before low water slack and hopefully taking a fairly direct route.
At high water only four summits are left protruding from the swirling waters but at low tide an extensive reef is uncovered.  Great Rock, which is ten metres high and Sharp Rock, four metres high, are the largest rocks and are situated in the middle of the bank.  Our plan was to have a drink and some food on the north side of Great Rock in the weak winter sunshine, taking advantage of a lull in the wind before the possible gales arrived in early evening.
The origin of their name is said to be due to a ship on its way to Sark, in the 16th century, striking one of the rocks and a number of women and children drowning.  As a result it became common practice for fishermen to say a Pater Noster or a prayer as they passed close to the reef.  Although they have two names it is the Paternosters that has been accepted into everyday use.  A more recent ship wreck occurred on the 16th September 1961.  A Dutch owned vessel, the Heron was en route to Portsmouth when it sank, with the loss of 3 lives.  The wreck lies in about 30 metres of water to the south of the reef.

Gneiss Paddle
On the beach at Greve de Lecq, ready for departure. The Paternoster’s are visible on the horizon, just over 2.5NM offshore.
Gneiss Paddle
Heading out from Greve de Lecq, the Pats visible on the horizon. This is one of a number of photos taken using a GoPro. I used on the setting for one photograph every minute, I kept a few but most were sent to the trash.
Gneiss Paddle
John the “Commodore” of the Jersey Canoe Club approaching the Pats. Although it was an impromptu paddle we still had 11 members turn up. Not bad for a morning when the temperature was below freezing.
Gneiss Paddle
Even closer to the reef. The white kayak is a late 1970’s Anas Acuta which was virtually buried for years but about 18 months ago was dug up, it has been refurbished and is as good as new.
Gneiss Paddle
Ideal paddling conditions for the first weekend in February.
Gneiss Paddle
The classic approach to the Paternosters, a ferry glide. The tide was just starting to run from right to left. A well known jump is from near the summit of the main rock. Conditions were a bit too cold for such activity today.
Gneiss Paddle
I explored the north side of the reef and then threaded my way through some shallow channels. Other members of the group are visible just above the bow of my kayak.
Gneiss Paddle
Looking down from the highest point of the reef. The rocks are gneiss which is metamorphosed granite, a type of rock which isn’t seen anywhere on the main island of Jersey.
Gneiss Paddle
We are about to jump on the tide towards Plemont headland. Although it was only a neap tide we averaged 5 knots on the 2NM crossing to Plemont headland.
Gneiss Paddle
From this distance it was difficult to distinguish most of the details of the Jersey coastline.
Gneiss Paddle
Looking along the coast. We paddled mainly in the shade but with a few glimpses of the sun through some of the gaps in the cliff top.
Gneiss Paddle
Nicky heading along the coast. We had seen numerous Razorbills along this section of the coast plus some very inquisitive Fulmars.
Gneiss Paddle
Landing back at Greve de Lecq, a great morning out followed by a well earned pint in front of the fire at the Moulin de Lecq.