February Sunshine

For what seemed like the first time in months the Sunday morning session of the Jersey Canoe Club took place in some bright February sunshine, although the temperature was modified by the strong north easterly wind.  11 of us paddled out from St Brelade’s heading towards Corbiere, the granite cliffs looking particularly stunning.
Although Corbiere was our destination, as we approached the south west corner it was clear that with the amount of water moving, due to the Spring tides, and the westerly swell, that we might need to cut our journey short.  We didn’t really want an unplanned journey to Sark.
Close to the causeway, at Corbiere, a plaque commemorates the attempts of Peter Edwin Larbalestier, an assistant keeper of the lighthouse, who was drowned on 28 May 1946, while trying to rescue a visitor cut off by the incoming tide, who also lost her life.  Many years ago I was landing on the slipway at Corbiere, after a Club session on a Thursday evening.  I noticed the plaque and said to one of the people who was with us, “that’s funny you have the same name as the lighthouse keeper who drowned” his reply was “that’s not surprising he was my uncle and I am named after him”.
In the Corbiere Phare Restaurant there is a photograph of Peter Edwin Larbalestier, in his lighthouse keepers uniform.  The likeness to Peter Larbalestier is really quite amazing.  Sadly Peter from the Canoe Club passed away a few years ago but every time we look at the photograph of his uncle we are reminded of the good times we had with Peter kayaking.
The paddle back to St Brelade’s against the wind and tide was a bit challenging in places but that was largely irrelevant as we enjoyed our first sunny Sunday morning paddle of 2018.

February Sunshine
Looking east along St Brelade’s Bay. An hour after high water.
St Brelade's Church
Looking towards St Brelade’s Church, which must be it the best position of any of the island’s parish churches. There is evidence that parts of the church were here before 1035. To the left of the main church is the Fisherman’s Chapel.
Beauport
Approaching Beauport, once inside the bay we gained some shelter from the strong north easterly wind. Contrast this with the views of Beauport earlier in the week
February Sunshine
Once past the Grosse Tete you become more exposed to any westerly swell. There was a few feet of swell today plus plenty of water movement due to the 11 metre tide.
February Sunshine
Corbiere lighthouse in sight. The lighthouse must been the most photographed site on the Island.
February sunshine
Rachel close to the point where we turned back. Due to the size of the tide there was a large amount of water running past the point and when combined with the swell it was creating conditions, which were possibly a bit too entertaining for the Canoe Club Sunday morning session.
February Sunshine
Returning to St Brelade’s Bay, it was a rather windy as we paddled through the gap but it marked the end of an enjoyable couple of hours in the February sunshine.

South West Corner

For what seems like the first time in months we were able to have our midweek kayaking day trip off the south west corner of the Island. There have been numerous strong wind warnings this year, issued by Jersey Met, most of them appearing to involve some south westerly involvement. The consequence of this is that day trips, along the south coast have been few and far between recently.  Fortunately today’s forecast allowed us the paddle from Belcroute to Corbiere and return.

Weather forecast
Wind warning number 101 of the year, issued at 02.47 on the 31st January, an indication of just how unsettled the beginning of 2018 has been.

It was just a few hardy members of the Jersey Canoe Club who congregated at Belcroute on Tuesday morning. Many of the regular attendees of the mid week day trip were off Island or unavailable this week. The aim was to use the last of the ebb as it flowed west, towards Corbiere, with the added assistance of the light north easterly wind. Amazingly as the tide turned and the east flowing stream started the wind also went around to the south west. It’s not often that you get both wind and tide with in both directions on a day trip. We were certainly getting our monies worth from environmental factors.
From Belcroute it was an easy run south to Noirmont Point, clearly identified by its black and white, early 19th century military tower.  Although it wasn’t easily visible today because of the low cloud/fog.  We used the last couple of hours of the tidal flow  to assist our run towards Corbiere.  This section of coast has to be one of my favourite lengths of the islands coastline, it is where I gained my original kayaking experience, starting in 1969.
It is normally a blaze of colour, the blue sea, red granite and green vegetation complementing each other but today the overwhelming colour was grey.
It was just a delight to be on the water without having to battle wind and waves, which have been our constant companions for the last few months.  Corbiere was our turning point, the iconic lighthouse was first lit on the 24th April 1874 and over the years has been the scene of a number of dramatic rescues.
Lunch was on the small beach below the Highlands Hotel, before we took advantage of the easterly flowing tide and south westerly wind to assist our return.  Overall we paddled just over 11 miles each, assisting Jersey Canoe Club’s entry into the British Canoeing Winter Challenge.  Taking the Clubs combined mileage  since the 1st December to just over 2,000 miles, a significant total considering the weather and the fact that because of geography we are limited to paddling on the sea.
I have written more information on the route between Belcroute and Corbiere elsewhere on the SeaPaddler site, so take a look for further ideas on places to paddle.

Belcroute to Corbiere
Launching from a rather foggy Belcroute. St Aubin’s Fort, the islands outdoor centre, is barely visible.
Belcroute to Noirmont.
Approaching Noirmont from the north. At this point we had the tide helping us reach 5 knots. The tower was built between 1810 and 1814, to help protect the Island in case of invasion by the French.
Belcroute to Corbiere
Approaching Pt La Moye from the east. Potato fields, covered in plastic, to encourage early season growth are just visible on the slopes.
Belcroute to Corbiere
Approaching Corbiere, the lighthouse is virtually invisible.
Belcroute to Corbiere
Even when relatively close the lighthouse was barely visible.
Belcroute to Corbiere
Nicky heading past Beauport, one of the most attractive bays on the Island but today it looked rather grey.
Belcroute to Corbiere
Adam heading past Pt Le Fret, one of the most dramatic headlands on the island, which is normally exposed to swell.
Belcroute to Corbiere
Nicky heading towards Pt Le Fret.

Atmospheric Pressure

It is not that often that we, as sea kayakers, are aware of the impact of atmospheric pressure but it was clearly demonstrated one October day, a few years ago, at St Brelade’s.  At high water, in the morning, the atmospheric pressure was 993 mb, effectively 20 mb below the level at which tidal heights are calculated.  This meant that the tide was much higher than expected and when coupled with the swell which developed over night it created some problems for those boat owners who left their craft on the beach.
The predicted tidal heights for Saturday, Sunday and Monday were much higher than the morning in question but they passed without incident whilst these boat owners were caught out by this mornings tide, with not inconsiderable financial costs  as boats and engines were damaged.
Remember as a general rule for every 1 mb below 1013 mb the tide will rise 1 cm higher than predicted and for every 1 cm above 1013 mb the height of the tide will be depressed.  We were affected on our paddle to the Ecrehous in March this year when due to high pressure the tide did not rise as far as we expected.
So the moral of the story is not to just look at the tidal height but take into account the pressure.

Atmospheric pressure
Some of the small boats which were damaged on the beach at St Brelade.

British Canoeing Winter Challenge

The 1st December marks the start of British Canoeing Winter Challenge. It last 3 months and the aim is to encourage members of canoe and kayak clubs to get out on the water during the darker, colder days of winter.
Last year Jersey Canoe Club came top, in terms of miles covered, just about fending off a determined challenge by Portsmouth Canoe Club. In the 3 months the members of the Jersey club paddled a total of 4,108 miles, with 4 members paddling over the 300 miles.  The highest individual total was 520 miles, which is quite amazing considering that there is no inland water in Jersey, so they were all completed on the sea.
Today’s forecast was less than perfect for the first day of the Challenge as 5 slightly enthusiastic kayakers headed out from Belcroute. The initial mile was fast and easy as the northerly force 5 sped us on our way towards Noirmont point, which was the gateway to more sheltered waters, under the cliffs of Portelet. Some large black clouds gave a suggestion of rain or sleet but surprisingly we stayed dry. At times even feeling the warmth of the low angled winter sun.

Winter Challenge
Today’s weather forecast from Jersey Met.

Nicky pulled out in St Brelade’s whilst the rest of us carried onto Corbiere, with its freshly painted lighthouse. The tide had started to rise quite quickly meaning we had missed the opportunity to land in some of the small bays, so we headed back to Beauport for lunch. Without doubt one of the most beautiful bays on the Island, but on the 1st December we had the beach to ourselves.
After lunch we headed east across St Brelade’s Bay as the clouds built in size.  For most of the paddle we were reasonably protected from the wind but from Noirmont to Belcroute there was no respite.  The wind was blowing at about 30 knots straight into our faces, which resulted in some demanding paddling conditions.  When we landed our total mileage for the day was 60 miles, which despite the weather was a pretty reasonable start towards British Canoeings Winter Challenge .
It is probably true to say that we wouldn’t have normally gone for such a long paddle in the prevailing conditions but the fact that we did stay out there and put the miles in is evidence of the success of the Winter Challenge, which is to get more paddlers out on the water during the cold, dark days of December, January and February.

Winter Challenge
Nicky approaching Noirmont Point. We were moving really fast at this point with a steady force 5 wind behind us.
Winter Challenge
Corbiere looked rather grey and windswept today, despite its fresh coat of paint. Corbiere must be one of the most iconic lighthouses anywhere.
Winter Challenge
These caves just to the east of Corbiere were the same ones we had been swimming into a couple of days earlier.
Winter Challenge
Tucked in underneath the cliffs on the south coast of Jersey we received plenty of protection from the wind. Lunch was just around the corner.
Winter Challenge
As the day progressed the clouds became more impressive and the wind increased in strength. This is the last picture I took before we battled into a 30 knot headwind for a couple of miles. An interesting finish to the days paddle.

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.

 

South coast kayak coaching

It was a reasonable turn out for the Jersey Canoe Club, Sunday morning session today. 17 kayakers of a variety of differing abilities gathered on the beach at St Brelade’s.  It was an early start, the changing of the clocks ensured that everybody was there promptly.  The plan was simple, head towards Corbiere and see what develops  We didn’t realize that it was going to offer an excellent opportunity for some kayak coaching.  The wind was possibly going to touch force 5 from the north west, which would blow us back, helped by the last of the flood tide.
Just before Pt La Moye the group gathered in a sheltered bay, whilst a couple of paddlers headed out to assess the conditions.  There was clearly some movement off the point, which is the most significant headland between St Brelade’s Bay and Corbiere. Normally it is a magnet for shore based fishermen but today the rocks stood empty. Perfect, we could play in the waters off the point, without fear of becoming entangled in fishing lines.
The tidal stream in shore had already turn west in close creating some entertaining wind against tide conditions. One of the pleasures of paddling with a group from the Jersey Canoe Club is the cross section of paddlers, today four of the group were Advanced Sea Kayak Leaders (5 Star in old money), whilst for 3 of the group it was possibly their first time on the sea in a closed cockpit kayak. The other 10 paddlers were mainly 3 to 4 Star level.
Leading such a diverse group of paddlers can present its own challenges but Alex and Rachel, the designated leaders for the day engaged the whole group in a constructive and educational manner.  Initially the group were taken into run off the point to practice turning and running with winds and waves.  Then followed a couple of exercises around a rock with a few small breaking waves to introduce an element of spice.  First of all simply paddling around the rock in reverse, how often do we practice reverse paddling in anything other than flat calm?
The second exercise involved working in pairs.  It involved paddling around the rock again but one of the paddlers had their eyes shut whilst the other had to offer clear guidance on which paddle strokes to use and on which side of the kayak.  Simple but effective one to one kayak coaching.  It really made the people with their eyes open focus on future water, not just theirs but also that of their partner.

Pt La Moye
Corbiere is just visible in the distance but that was for another day. Just experiencing turning in the swells was satisfying enough for most of the group.
Alex positioned off Pt La Moye as other paddlers turn to run with the swell.
Kayak coaching
Reverse paddling through a gap in the rocks with some slight movement due to the waves creating some entertaining conditions.
Coaching
Angus trying out my Nordkapp HM, possibly the classic sea kayak.

All to soon it was time to head back towards St Brelade’s, after all we had the Canoe Club Sunday lunch to attend.  As the wind pushed us to the east we came across a group out coasteering from our friends at Absolute Adventures.  The south west corner of Jersey is a real playground for anybody with an interest in water sports.

Coasteering
On the return to St Brelade’s we passed this coasteering group at Beauport.

Stand up Paddleboard Coaching

Stand up Paddleboard Coaching
British Canoeing have developed a discipline support module for those coaches who want to be involved with Stand up Paddleboarding and, in my opinion, it is one of the most sensible developments of the last few years.  Allowing existing paddle sport coaches who have experience of SUP, to train so that they can deliver SUP sessions in sheltered waters to groups who are keen to receive some coaching in this rapidly expanding discipline. 
Last weekend Tower Hamlets Canoe Club paid a visit to the Island and took advantage of the opportunity to take part in course.  St Brelade’s Bay was the venue but because of the pleasant conditions we were able to include a short trip around to Beauport, taking the opportunity to swap boards and paddles, ensuring that everybody was able to try a variety of equipment.
So if you are involved in paddlesport coaching and are looking for some professional development and the opportunity to expand your coaching remit then look at getting on one of the British Canoeing SUP courses which are running over the next few months.

 Sitting in the middle of Beauport, discussing some aspect of SUP coaching.  A rather enjoyable way to spend a Saturday

Exploring the possibilities on a SUP

Heading out from St Brelade’s

It wouldn’t be a course in Jersey unless there was a bit of cliff jumping.

Towing practice.  (Thanks to Shep from THCC for the botton 3 photos)

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.

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!

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.