Sunday Morning Kayaking-Ouaisne

After a brief respite from the gales yesterday, it was business as usual this morning at Ouaisne. The only difference to pretty much every other day of the year so far was that the gale was out of the east as opposed to the west.  As we left the beach little did we realize what adventures were about to unfold with a couple of sit on tops.
Linked to the wind going easterly was the related drop in temperature, both real and wind chill. The apparent air temperature was probably close to zero, pretty rare for Jersey, so dry suits were the order of the day.
The large, powerful swell which had been running the day before had raised a few doubts in my mind about the sea state so I spent some time walking over Pt Le Fret, before heading to Ouaisne, so that I could scout the proposed route.  It was clear that there was plenty of wind about but under the cliffs we would be reasonably sheltered.
So it was a hardy group of 12 paddlers from the Jersey Canoe Club, who left the beach, at Ouaisne, keeping close to the shore before reaching La Cotte de St Brelade.  An important archaeological site, but today our focus was more on maintaining direction in the wind, as opposed to contemplating the activities of the mammoth hunters who used to live in this area.
Pt Le Fret was much calmer than we anticipated although there was some headwind as we turned into Portelet, one of the least visited bays on the south coast, although visitor numbers have probably increased in the last few years with the opening of the Pizza Restaurant.
Our turning point for the day was in the small bay just to the west of Noirmont but as we entered the bay there appeared to be a splash of colour on the rocks, which isn’t normally there.  As we approached it was clear that there were two sit on tops on the rocks, it actually turned out to be parts of three different craft.  We decided that it would be best to tow them back to Portelet, so Jim and myself landed and got them down to the waters edge, but it was clear that they had suffered a real battering in the recent storms.
John managed to tow one around to Portelet but as soon as I put the tow on the second one it started to sink, it became obvious why a quick release tow line is important.  There was no way that we could get it around to Portelet.  The one thing that we took away from today is that sit on tops probably need some form of internal buoyancy.  If they develop a large hole they will float semi submerged, at best.  Perhaps not quite as safe as many people consider.
The return to Ouaisne was somewhat exciting as the wind appeared to be a bit more easterly that north easterly, resulting in the loss of some shelter but what was clear was that it had increased in strength.  Looking at the statistics on Jersey Met, when we were relaxing over a pint once back at the beach, the wind had been touching 40 knots.
All in all a rather entertaining Sunday morning paddle and all that remained to do was to contact the Coastguard to inform them of the whereabouts of the sit on tops.

Looking back towards La Cotte.  Ouasine is just around the obvious headland. It was clear that paddling along this section of coast we would be protected from the gale force north easterly winds.
Pt Le Fret
This channel off Pt Le Fret can be a real challenge when there is a swell running. Today the entrance looked a bit choppy but it was clear that the exit would be into relatively sheltered water.
Sheltering from the wind just to the east of Pt Le Fret, we were about to battle the strong headwinds into Portelet.
The rest of the group waiting whilst we attempted to sort out the remains of the Sit on Tops.
One of the wrecked sit on top on the rocks close to Noirmont. This was the one I tried to tow but it sank. I was relieved that I had a quick release tow line.
Sit on top
Jim stuffing the second sit on top with foam that we discovered on the beach. Possible from a boat that sank in the area in November. This was the one, which was successfully towed back to Portelet

Some paddles in the United States

These are some further images of kayaking in the 1990’s which, I have scanned in from some of the thousands slides I accumulated over about 35 years.  These are a selection taken in the United States in the mid 1990’s.  Sea kayaking on the west coast and canoeing in the north east.  Some great memories.

United States
One of the real highlights was a couple of visits to the Port Townsend Symposium in Washington. At the time I had organized a couple of Symposiums in Jersey and was just stunned by the scale of the event. This was the view of the waterfront in 1996.
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In contrast to the Sympoiums in Europe, where there were numerous small classes, with paddlers being coached on the water things were different at Port Townsend. Here Nigel Foster is running a skills session, what is not shown is the crowd of approximately 100 spectators, Nigel was the only person on the water.
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Sea kayaking legend Derek Hutchinson, just completing one of his sessions. A couple of days later we spent a memorable few hours sailing to Vancouver Island, where we were both heading.  When Derek passed away in 2012 he warranted an obituary in the New York Times.
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The classic image of Easyrider kayaks. A similar photograph was used as the advert for a number of years in, the sadly missed, Sea Kayaker Magazine.
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There was some “interesting” developments. The white canister on the front deck was called the “Rolling Aid”. Capsize, pull the lever and it explodes in a rather large air bag which it is possible to push up on. It was a great demo and certainly drew the crowds, but I am not sure how useful it would be in a difficult situation, it might be easier and cheaper to learn to roll with a paddle.
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As we had young children but wanted to continue with multi-day paddling trips we went canoeing. Not really something that we could do in Jersey, so for a number of years we went to Maine and paddled some of the rivers in the northern part of the State.
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There were plenty of new techniques to learn, such as portaging. This is the path around Allagash Falls in the north of Maine. I have run this river several times but the last time was too long ago.
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One of the camp sites on the West Branch of the Penobscot. They were clearings cut out of the dense forest allowing easy egress from the river. A couple of tables, fire pit, somewhere to tie the tarp etc.
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Little did we realize what we were experiencing here. This was our first ever paddle on a sit on top. Nicky is on Megunticook Lake in Maine in 1995. For many involved in kayaking this was to be the future and the sit on top has changed the face of paddlesport for many people.