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Sea Kayaking in the Channel Islands



Sea kayaking in the Channel Islands and further afield.



Last Build Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2017 04:13:47 +0000

 




Sat, 21 Oct 2017 22:06:00 +0000

The blog has moved to a new location at www.seapaddler.co.uk, and the aim is to up date the site on a more regular basis.  Please take a look at the new Sea Paddler website.



Stand up Paddleboard Coaching

Tue, 15 Mar 2016 06:16:00 +0000

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 SUPHeading 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)[...]



Sunny Sunday Kayaking

Mon, 14 Mar 2016 08:27:00 +0000

A group of 29 sea kayakers is an impressive sight as they prepare for departure even more so when 6 of them are in the brand new orange Tiderace Vortex kayaks, which have just been unwrapped in the car park at Ouaisne.This was the annual visit of Tower Hamlets Canoe Club to Jersey and the plan was to head east from Ouaisne, have lunch on Elizabeth Castle before taking advantage of the increasing north easterly wind to aid our progress back.  As it was the wind and tide slowed us down earlier than we anticipated with the result that it was sandwiches on St Aubin's Fort.That really didn't matter as we had a really entertaining paddle along a lovely section of the Jersey coastline in conditions, which were quite interesting at times.  As we paddled back into the bay you could feel the warmth of the sun on your face for the first time this year, it really did feel like spring had finally arrived.   Its Christmas, in March!  Unwrapping the six new kayaks ready for our friends from Tower Hamlets Canoe Club to use. With 29 paddlers in the group, a clear pre-trip briefing is pretty essential. Angus just off Noirmont Matt paddling in front St Aubin's.  Less than 72 hours earlier we had gone in the opposite direction on our night paddle. Janet enter St Aubin's Harbour.  This was a pretty big tide so the water level was dropping at about 90 cm every 20 minutes, so we didn't hang around.  Within minutes it was dry.  Lunch at St Aubin's Fort.  Thanks Matt for this photo. Approaching Noirmont, wind and tide with us.  It was a pretty quick run back to Ouaisne.Nicky passing through one of the narrow channels off Noirmont. [...]



Friday morning stand up

Sat, 12 Mar 2016 01:01:00 +0000

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.



Night paddling

Fri, 11 Mar 2016 06:46:00 +0000

Thursday evenings during the winter months are the regular pool sessions, apart from one week in March when it is the local Swimmarathon.  A huge community fund raising event so we normally have a week without midweek paddling but last nights forecast raised the possibility of a night paddle out from Belcroute Bay.Belcroute is a perfect place for a night paddle, sheltered from the prevailing wind and swell and out of the strongest tidal streams, but with plenty to explore including St Aubin's Harbour a few hundred metres to the north.  There are also plenty of navigation markers in the vicinity if you wish to improve the accuracy of your bearings and timings.We met at Belcroute at just before 7.00 pm and it was clear that the major issue was how we were going to launch.  The 11.8 metre tide meant that the sea was pretty close to the wall and there was the occasional larger swell.  In a plastic sea kayak launching down the slip was a distinct possibility, particularly with assistance.  Launching with a fibre glass kayak was an entirely different proposition, the best option for preserving kit appeared to be to throw the kayak into the sea, jump in after it, hopefully timing your entry into the water so that the retreating swell sucked you away from the slip and then perform a self rescue, all in the dark.  Although there was some initial reluctance regarding the assessment of the situation everybody managed to perform the task without any major drama.Once afloat we had a delightful paddle around St Aubin's Fort, built during the English Civil War and extended in the 18th and 20th Century it now serves as an outdoor centre for the Education Department.  From there we headed across to St Aubin's Harbour, which thrived as Jersey fishermen returned from the fishing grounds off eastern Canada. The splendid merchants houses along the waterfront known as Cod houses.  A paddle around the harbour is always pleasant, particularly during the hours of darkness.The return to Belcroute was simple and the landing at Belcroute was easier than anticipated as the tide had dropped slightly but it was still entertaining, having to time your arrival in the steep pebble beach with one of the smaller sets of waves, not always easy to achieve when you can't see what is coming.  A delightful way to spend a couple of hours on a mid-week evening in March.Listening to Derek's briefing whilst contemplating the upcoming swim.Plastic kayaks could be launched down the slip although timing was pretty important.Ruth swimming for it with Alex ready to help.St Brelade's Parish hall, in a previous life it was part of the railway station.Heading back to the entrance. On the outside of the harbour, passing the Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club, as we head back towards Belcroute. [...]



Water-to-go

Thu, 10 Mar 2016 05:59:00 +0000

I was fortunate enough to spend nearly 3 weeks in India with a group in October, which included an 8 day trek up to 4,000 metres in Himachal Pradesh.  Prior to departure there were several visits to the doctor for the inevitable innoculations, but what he spoke about most frequently was the inevitable upset stomach.  It seemed everybody I spoke to had stories of the unavoidable "Delhi belly."Now I am probably not the most hygienic camper so I thought I needed to be a bit more pro-active.  So I was ruthless in my use of hand sanitizer and purchased a "Water-to-Go" water bottle, which I used throughout my time in the country.  Success, I managed to leave India without the slightest hint of an upset stomach whilst other members of the group were not so fortunate.I could write plenty about the science behind the Water-to-Go bottles and filters, a 3-in-1 system constructed using nano technology and how they reduce the contaminants in water by over 99.9% but if you are interested in this sort of thing I would recommend you pay their website a visit. What you really need to know is that they make bottles in 2 sizes, 75cl which filters 200 litres of water and lasts 3 months and the 50cl bottle which will filter 130 litres and last 2 months.  Effectively this means that they will last for the duration of most paddlers sea kayaking holidays. I can honestly say that they next time I go away on a trip this bottle will be with me ensuring that I can drink safely from mountain streams or in some countries from the hotel taps.  It could be the end of plastic water bottles on your travels. My only slight grumble is that at times I like to add fruit juice to my water and that adding juices etc to the water can result in the filters becoming inefficient, but that is a small price to pay for stable insides.If you are looking for one really item of essential kit that won't break the bank this could be it.  Looking down on our high camp.  We were spending the night in the huts, which were used by the shepherds during the summer months.  We retreated from here due to an approaching storm.  Water at this camp was from a nearby stream.  Observing some of the local birds in flight.  At this camp site a number of the group were hit by stomach problems. In conditions like this you need a simple solution to your water needs.  I would have no problem recommending Water-to-Go, it worked for me. [...]



Jersey Activity Guide

Wed, 09 Mar 2016 17:23:00 +0000

I was hoping to get some time in on the water but with winds forecast to gust up to 70 mph a day on land was probably more sensible.  A quick drive around the south west corner of the Island revealed some interesting conditions.  Getting photographs proved to be a challenge.  The tide was out when I visited the slip to the north of Corbiere but the wave recording buoy a few miles to the south of Jersey was recording a wave height of 8 metres at this time.A number of roads were blocked around the Island, either by fallen trees or roof's deciding to part company with the rest of the building.  This toilet was clearly not designed to withstand winds that were peaking at over 60 mph.I spent some time putting the finishing touches to a new book on the activities, which it is possible to experience on Jersey.  The plan is pretty simple, take a range of activities, plan 5 suggestions for each activity at a range of different levels and finish your visit to Jersey with a final day experiencing some of the Islands history.Activities, which are covered include sea kayaking, surfing, coasteering, rock climbing, fishing, SUPing etc.  Some of the suggestions are suitable for beginners whilst others require more experience.  So just decide whether you want 5 days of one particularly activity or 5 different activities for one day each.The plan is to have the book completed in the next couple of months, ready for the summer season, a few more days of appalling weather can only help to speed the process up.  There are plenty of opportunities for coasteering around the coast.  Either with or without a guide.  In the summer it is a great way to spend a few hours. I suppose I might be biased but the sea kayaking in Jersey is as good as anywhere.   Cycling along part of Route 1, just above Greve de Lecq.  The Island has a great network of cycling routes.The final suggestion is to spend a day visiting some of Jersey's dolmens, either by car or cycle, finishing your weeks visit sipping a pint and watching the sun set over the west coast.[...]



East Coast Kayaking

Mon, 07 Mar 2016 17:31:00 +0000

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

Sun, 06 Mar 2016 20:51:00 +0000

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

Sat, 05 Mar 2016 18:02:00 +0000

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. [...]



Some more aerial shots

Thu, 03 Mar 2016 06:57:00 +0000

I can never understand why people would ever request an aisle seat on an aircraft as the best entertainment is generally from looking out of the window.  These are a selection of the photographs taken on some recent flights, they certainly provide inspiration for some future kayak trips.A rather bumpy departure from Jersey, we were quickly into the cloud, re-appearing just before landing at Gatwick. My first flight into London City, with the descent taking us close to Dungeness.  A superb example of a cuspate foreland. Approaching London from the east, passing over the River Medway, close to Rochester.  One day I must try to visit this area to go sea kayaking. Flying over the deserts of the Middle East.  This was on a Qatar Airways A380, which is a great aircraft but not the best for taking photographs from. Sunrise over the Loire.  I have paddled on the white water of the Upper Loire but never on this section which is more famous for its Chateaux.  This was an interesting flight as we climbed to 34,000 feet after take off from Toulouse and then dropped down to 24,000 feet just north of Bordeaux and stayed at that height all the way back to Heathrow.  There was no announcement as to why we were flying back at such a low level. Late afternoon approach into Warsaw.  The River Vistula is the longest river in Poland.  In the early 1980's I visited one the Canoe Exhibitions at Crystal Palace and came across the International Long River Canoeists Club, an organization run by Peter Salisbury.  He used to produce numerous expedition reports, the first one I bought was his report of paddling down the River Vistula in the 1970's.  I still have it somewhere and must dig out for a read.Some seats just aren't great for photographs, descending in Jersey we passed over Guernsey with Lihou just visible off the west coast.  I am looking forward to another weekend of paddling off this delightful island in June.Cowes, on the Isle of Wight.  There were great views as the plane banked as it turned south towards the Channel Islands.[...]



Anything but boring

Wed, 02 Mar 2016 06:18:00 +0000

It is obvious that some mountains are more interesting and/or challenging than others and at times the write up they receive in guide books is less than complementary.  Ben Chonzie is one of the mountains which falls into this category. We decided to ignore the written cautions, believing that any mountain in full winter conditions has to be interesting.As we drove up the narrow Glen Lednock a red kite flew up in from of us, surely a positive omen.  Other people had clearly had the same idea as the small car park was virtually full.  The initial route followed a well defined track which gradually disappeared under a covering of snow.  The snow was largely unconsolidated as we floundered our way uphill.  The thought of breaking a trail through the snow without the benefit of walking poles didn't bear thinking about.Ben Chonzie is the highest point in a large area of moorland and reputed to have a healthy population of mountain hares, although we didn't see any on our day on the mountain.   Cameron McNeish, in his book on "The Munros", states that it has ".... a reputation of being one of the dullest Munros in the land".  It is easy to imagine that in the summer the long walk in along the land rover track wouldn't be the most interesting way to spend a day in the mountains but on a bright winters day, with the snow down low, then Ben Chonzie (the 250th highest Munro)  is a hill well worth considering.Beautiful walking conditions.Cutting a track through the deeper snow, our route had followed the line of the valley , which is discernible behind Nicky.  Heading up the slopes, using previous footsteps was no guarantee that you wouldn't fall through to your waist.As we followed the broad ridge towards the summit, snow was blown across the slopes and at times stinging our faces.On the summit.  It was bitterly cold in the wind so it was a case of a quick sandwich before heading for the shelter of the lower slopes.[...]



Memorable Mountain Day

Tue, 01 Mar 2016 10:20:00 +0000

The last few weeks have seen some superb conditions in the Scottish mountains and we were fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of some of them.  There are two mountains, which dominate the A82 above the Bridge of Orchy and are a familiar sight to those people who drive along this trunk road.  Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh were selected as our target for the day.The forecast was perfect for a day in the mountains so it was a matter of packing the rucksacks and heading up.  Conditions couldn't have been much better.What followed was probably the best day I have ever spent in the mountains in the UK, at least I can't remember any which were better. I suppose any day when you wear crampons for six hours has to be a good day. Leaving the Bridge of Orchy.  Our route took us right from the col initially before dropping back down and heading up to the left. On the ridge towards the summit of Beinn Dorain.  Views of distant summits were starting to appear. Looking along the summit ridge of Beinn an Dothaidh.  At this point the wind had dropped completely.   Nicky approaching one of the summits along the ridge. We left the summit just after 3.00, we were the only people remaining up apart from one other person heading down the snow slope.  He is the black dot just below the ridge.  Apart from him we had the mountain to ourselves. Nicky on the descent.A summit photo taken by somebody who isn't used to using an iPhone, judging by their finger in the bottom right hand corner.[...]



Breton Canoeing

Mon, 29 Feb 2016 22:47:00 +0000

The forecast for the weekend was pretty dreadful, we were questioning whether the ferry would be able to sail for St Malo, and even more importantly would we be able to get home on the Sunday.  As it was the ferry did sail on the Friday and the sea state was calm enough that most people were able to enjoy a beer or wine on the crossing.The aim for the weekend was to enjoy a couple of days of canoeing on the inland waterways of Northern Brittany, with a few people having the opportunity to take their 2 Star, mainly as a pre-requisite for their Level 1 coach course in May.  Amazingly two of the people had their 5 Star (Sea) but not their 2 Star.  In Jersey there is no inland water, suitable for paddling, so it is very difficult to get the appropriate experience, you either have to travel off island or we have to start encouraging people to paddle canoes on the sea, something which sits uneasily with me, due to the size of the tides, exposure to swell and changeable weather.We had arranged to rent canoes from the Canoe Club in Dinan, there were 16 of us and luckily they had 8 canoes in their spacious facilities.  We headed downstream, fully aware that the forecast on French TV was for winds possibly reaching 100 kmh during the afternoon.  Clearly we needed to exercise a degree of caution.Shelter was found inside a small inlet where it was possible to work on a few skills and also by coincidence to receive a phone call from the ferry company informing us that the sailing on Sunday had been brought forward to hopefully avoid the rapidly deteriorating weather conditions, particularly the increasing wind strength.  We would get home but it meant that there would be no paddling on Sunday.Lunch was taken further downstream before we had to fight our way back to Dinan.  It was a pleasant contrast to the sea kayaking that we normally experience in Jersey and most of the group felt that we shouldn't leave it too long before returning to France to hone our single blade paddling skills. Louis and Lisa getting ready to head downstream.  At this point the wind wasn't too bad.  We found shelter in a small inlet where we were able to practice a few skills such as rescues, as well as receive a phone call from Condor (the ferry company) that our ferry was leaving earlier on the Sunday due to the strong winds which were forecast.  The main consequence, apart from getting home, was that there would be no paddling on the Sunday.  Tracey having a go at gunwhale bobbing.  Clearly the days that she spent canoeing down the Yukon has had a significant impact on her skill level.  She looked really competent. Once off the water there were a couple of choices, head to the local bar to watch a Six Nations rugby game on the television or head to Decathlon in search of kit. Sunday dawned sunny and still, a walk around the walls of St Malo was the option in the time that we had with the forecast of a rapidly increasing wind. Once on the ferry we headed out past Cezembre, a small island off the coast of St Malo, which is an interesting place to visit by kayak. Le Grand Jardin light marks the entrance channel into St Malo, for us as we headed out to sea it marked the start of a decline in the weather, with an increasing wind and a deteriorating sea state, but at least due to our early departure we made it home.[...]



North Wales Wanderings

Tue, 12 Jan 2016 23:26:00 +0000

My Salewa adjustable crampons, which had seen service since 1976, were finally replaced today as I purchased a lovely pair of yellow crampons from the Cotswold Store in Betws Y Coed.  It was clear that there was snow on the mountains but the weather forecast was just abysmal.  It was one of those days when an afternoon with a good book by the fire was preferable to struggling up a wind blasted Welsh mountain side.Amazingly though the torrential rain, which had been a pouring down for the last couple of hours, stopped as I walked out of the shop and so the reasons for not going on the hill were rapidly disappearing.I decided to follow the path into Cwm Tryfan, hoping that I would get some shelter from the wind and if at any time the conditions deteriorated too much it would be relatively easy to retrace my steps.  As it turned out I had an interesting few hours and didn't see anybody else all the time I was walking.  Sadly though I didn't get to use the new crampons.  Leaving the A5, conditions were really wet under foot but it was clear that there was snow higher up.  The east face of Tryfan, disappearing into the cloud. Looking up towards Glyder Fach I headed up this slope to Bwlch Tryfan.  On the way up I has considered crossing the col and heading back to the car by Cwm Bochlwyd but the gusts of wind were so strong I preferred the shelter of my ascent route. Just starting the descent, back into the relative quiet of Cwm Tryfan, trying to seek some shelter from the strongest gusts of wind.It almost appeared as if there was some sunshine in the Ogwen Valley but it had certainly disappeared by the time I got there.  Replaced by heavy rain and a howling wind.  It was just past this point that I was blown off my feet by a particularly strong gust.  Time for coffee and cake in Capel Curig.[...]



First Paddle of the Year

Sun, 03 Jan 2016 16:49:00 +0000

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

Mon, 28 Dec 2015 22:13:00 +0000

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 approach 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.  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.



India Walk About - Day 4

Sat, 19 Dec 2015 23:39:00 +0000

After another cold night it was an early start as we aimed to reach our highest camp of the trip before crossing a col tomorrow and starting our descent into another valley.  We knew that the crossing of the col would be the most challenging part of the whole trek so we needed to be in a good position if the weather was in our favour.In the bright sunshine we walked through an increasingly rugged landscape.   One section of the walk was particularly exposed but we did manage to get a phone signal at one of the bends in the path.  The information wasn't good, poor weather was heading our way and above a certain level the precipitation would be falling as snow.We spent the night in some huts but were concerned about the incoming poor weather so we decided to get up before dawn ensuring that we were ready to head towards lower pastures at first light.Just above where we camped the previous 2 nights and preparing for the first section of uphill of the day.  The peak behind is the one we had climbed the day before.Some distant views of the Indian Himalaya's as we walked along some broad ridges.  The temperature had been modified by the altitude, resulting in perfect walking conditions.One of the few steeper sections.  Just before starting this ascent there was plenty of evidence of bears in the area although unfortunately we didn't see any.Traversing towards are high camp.  Small patches of snow indicated the weather conditions of a few days previously.  Just before this position we had manged to get a mobile phone signal so were able to check the weather forecast.  It was not good.There was a feeling that we were at the heart of some significant mountains.Just below our high point of 3907 metres.  We knew that this would be our last night at this altitude.  We were due to go over a col tomorrow, which required further ascent but in light of the weather forecast we were heading downhill in the morning.Looking down on the huts where we were going to spend the night.Celebrating Maureen's birthday before going to bed early.  We were due to get up at 5.45 the following morning, with the potential for it to be quite a hard day.[...]



India Walk About - Day 3

Fri, 18 Dec 2015 08:01:00 +0000

After a bitterly cold night, I can't remember the last time I slept in my down jacket inside my sleeping bag, we woke to a beautiful blue sky.  We were camped at 3390 metres, with some of the group starting to feel the impact of the altitude.  Today had been planned as part of the acclimatization process, walk up a nearby peak, which was just over 3700 metres before dropping back to the camp site.  For some relaxtion before moving higher the following day.As we were pretty much above the tree line, the walk had a totally different feel to the previous couple of days.  Open mountain sides and distant views, it was almost like walking in the British mountains apart from the occasional glimpse of glaciers.The climb up the peak took much less time than we anticipated so the afternoon was spent catching up on sleep, reading and just generally relaxing.  Tomorrow we head higher.It took quite a while for the frost to melt, particularly in the shady areas.The toilet tents had a superb view.  Our route for the day was along the ridge to the right of the tents.It was always good to start the day with some group stretching or, as on this day, with some laughing yoga.This could almost be the Welsh mountains, if it wasn't for the altitude.This was our high point for the day at 3740 metres.  It had been quite warm as we climbed the ridge and lunch on the summit started off as a very pleasant affair with great views and some reasonably warm sunshine.Within minutes though the temperature plummeted as the clouds swept in, obscuring distant views and forcing a speedy search for warmer clothing.  This wasn't a day for hanging around for too long.Clothing for the descent was somewhat different to what we had been wearing about an hour earlier as we came up the ridge.  People were generally looking forward to a couple of hours relaxing in the tent or reading during the afternoon.Back at the camp site at 3390 metres.  There were some pretty large clouds building on the surrounding peaks, fortunately where we were camped remained clear but the weather indications for the next few days were not looking good. The views across the mountain ranges were always quite special.  What surprised me at night though was just how many lights appeared on the hillsides.  During the day you could pretend that you were the only people in the area but at night the lights indicated just how many people called this area home.[...]



India Walk About - Day 2

Thu, 17 Dec 2015 08:30:00 +0000

After a good nights sleep we woke to another beautiful day, which wasn't all good news as we would be exposed to the sun at times as we gained nearly 1,000 metres in height.  As the height increased there was a corresponding expansion of the view.  Snow capped peaks started to appear in several directions.The young people were quite amazing, despite how strenuous the day was I didn't hear a single complaint or negative comment as we climbed through the forest.  It was interesting to note that in several places trees showed clear evidence of being struck by lightening.  Thankfully the weather was looking settled with not a cumulo-nimbus in sight.As we broke through the tree line we emerged onto a col where we were going to spend the next two nights, part of the acclimatization process, as we climbed higher into the mountains.  We did attract the attention of some of the local wildlife.  This gives an idea of the gradient of the path.  Overall we probably spent 5 hours walking uphill at this angle.  The trees offered some welcome shade from the noon day sun. Above the tree line we reached a col, with a particularly steep drop into the next valley.  Although some of the summits were covered in cloud it was clear that there had been a fresh snowfall higher up, which wasn't particularly encouraging. Tents were pitched on the col and it was immediately time to find the down jackets, the temperature was dropping like a stone.  By 6.00 pm all of the tents were covered in a layer of ice and the thermometer kept going downhill for the next 10 to 12 hours.  It turned out to be one of the coldest nights I have ever spent in a tent. The tents did catch the last of the suns rays. The food tent was pitched on the flat roof of one of the huts.  During the warmer summer months the local shephards bring the animals up to the higher pastures but in the autumn we were pretty certain that we would have the area to ourselves.As the sun sets over Pakistan we retired to the food tent to warm up, knowing that this would also be our camp site the following evening.  Tomorrow was meant to be an easier day after two long up hill treks.[...]



Indian Walk About - Day 1

Wed, 16 Dec 2015 13:02:00 +0000

After the heat and madness of Delhi it was a pleasure to arrive in the Chamba Valley, in Himachal Pradesh, in north west India.  We were here to trek for 8 days through the mountains of this Indian State.  On the drive from Pathenkot, a town we had traveled to by overnight train from Delhi, there had been some distant views of snow capped peaks, but now they seemed within touching distance.  Initially we stayed at the beautiful Orchard Huts, which is a superb place to stay if you happen to find yourself in this corner of the Indian sub-continent.Our convoy of jeeps traveled to the road head, from where we started our climb.  We caused quite a stir, with local school children coming out of the classroom to watch us pass by.  Camp that evening was at 2,450 metres, we had climbed nearly 1,000 metres from where we started in the morning. The first part of the trek involved some sections of downhill as we followed the course of the river, prior to heading up the ridge towards higher land.  Fortunately a lot of the route was through trees, providing welcome shade from the Indian sun. This water mill was busy grinding local flour.  It reminded me of the old tidal mills in northern Brittany, some of which have been lovingly restored. This was the last village we passed through as we climbed out of the valley.  Little did we realize that we would be camping in this village a week later.  Looking back to the village.  It was clearly a rich agricultural region.  It never failed to amaze, the steepness of the slopes that villages clung to.First night's camp.  The horses were free to wander after their efforts of carrying some of our equipment.Before it went dark some of the distant snow fields were lit by the final rays of the sun.  Hopefully promising another good day tomorrow.[...]



Jersy Sea Kayak Symposium 2016

Tue, 15 Dec 2015 09:12:00 +0000

The Jersey Canoe Club organized its first Symposium in May 1992 and over the years has attracted hundreds, if not thousands, of kayakers to the Island.  Over the years we have also been fortunate enough to attract many of the top coaches to the event such as Frank Goodman, Derek Hutchinson, Gordon Brown, John Heath to name just a few.People have traveled from all over Europe as well as further afield to attend, with participants from New Zealand, Hong Kong, Canada and the United States with the vast majority returning home after a real enjoyable weeks kayaking in our waters.Bookings are now being taken for the 2016 event,  which starts on the evening of Friday 27th May.  We are going to be based in the delightful Highlands Hotel, which has superb views over the west and south coast of the Island.  There is a swimming pool, if you haven't spent enough time in or on the water plus a bar and the most amazing lounge.The format for the week is the same as in previous years, on Saturday, Sunday and Monday there will be coaching sessions ranging from forward paddling, stand up paddle boarding, tide races, sea kayaks and cliff jumping etc, as well as coastal paddles.  Then from Tuesday the focus shifts to paddles including hopefully the opportunity to visit the offshore reefs or some of the other Channel Islands.Every evening there is something arranged including talks, quiz night, music bbq etc.  All in all it is a full on week.Bookings can be made online here.If you haven't been to Jersey before we look forward to introducing you to our local waters and if you have been before you can be certain of a warm welcome.Corbiere Lighthouse is visible from the hotel we are using.  Great paddling within a couple of hundred metres of where you will have breakfast.  The Highlands Hotel is a perfect location for the Symposium.  There are probably 5 completely different launch spots with a few minutes drive.A visit to the Ecrehous will be high on most sea kayakers list.  If weather permits there will paddles to this delightful reef most days.[...]



December Days

Mon, 14 Dec 2015 20:22:00 +0000

The last few months seem to have been mainly occupied with courses so it was a real pleasure at the weekend 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.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 Steff, Janet and Jim underneath the Canoe Club cottage at Egypt.  I wrote about the history of this area in an earlier post. 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 winter 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

Sun, 11 Oct 2015 06:10:00 +0000

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.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, which marks 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 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 when out coasteering along this section of coast.[...]



Wildlife sightings

Wed, 07 Oct 2015 10:35:00 +0000

Over the years I have seen numerous species of bird, animals and other wildlife at quite close quarters whilst out paddling in my kayak.  In common with many other sea kayakers I thought that paddling in a sea kayak was the ultimate green vehicle.  The one form of marine vehicle, which was going to cause the least amount of disturbance to wildlife, either along the shore or on the water.On reflection though I am not so sure we are as environmentally as friendly as we think we are.  I remember the indignation I felt when a wildlife watch boat off Shetland approach us and told us we were disturbing the birds.  I then watched the boat approach much closer to the cliffs than we had been with no visible impact on the thousands of birds, which were in the area.On another occasion I recall paddling off the south coast of Skye.  There were numerous seals hauled out on the rocks and although we paddled out from the rocks there was some disturbance with a number of the seas entering the water.  One of the small boats which operated out of Elgol passed reasonably close to us before approaching the rocks so that the passengers could get a better view of the seals.  Surprisingly although the boat was closer than us the seals weren't at all concerned.Thinking of other meaningful interactions with wildlife of various shapes and sizes many of the closest encounters have been whilst have been sitting still in my kayak.  Puffins swimming close by, seals approaching the bow my my kayak, whales surfacing nearby, the list could go on.So why didn't these larger boats with engines disturb the wildlife?  One theory is that we are not a fixed shape, our paddles are rotating and at times the sunlight catches the blades.  We are a moving image and perhaps the wildlife concerned becomes confused whereas a boat is a fixed shape and so the animals become accustomed to the shape and less agitated.Of course this might be complete rubbish but I think that it is worth considering the impact we have on wildlife, our environmental credentials may not be as robust as we think they are.  With the winter approaching be particularly thoughtful about those small wading birds who have traveled thousands of miles to find a regular food supply along our shoreline and then we paddle along, passing close to where they are roosting, causing them to take flight and wasting some of their hard earned energy resources.Seeing wildlife in all its forms is one of the most memorable aspects of sea kayaking but lets slow down, give a bit more space and reduce the anxiety to those animals which call our seas and shoreline home.Paddling in Shetland.  There were literally thousands of gannets plus numerous other species such as Puffins and Great Skua's.  We didn't need to approach the cliffs as we slowed down the birds came closer of their own accord.This was a memorable day heading south along the west side of the Sleat Peninsula in Skye, for several miles we were accompanied by dolphins.  We didn't follow them or chase after them, they just decided to be with us.Basking Shark off Wiay.  Sitting and watching this magnificent creature swim alongside and underneath the kayaks was a very special experience. Whilst launching after lunch two whales appeared alongside us.  We sat for 30 minutes watching an amazing display and then as if they had had enough [...]