changeable weather on Jersey

Last Thusday saw us launch from Coutainville in Normandy at the start of our crossing to Jersey, the wind picked up to a good force four on the nose creating A lively passage. An update for the Jersey coastguard proved impossible, our transmissions were heard, but we heard nothing just 3 miles off the east coast.
A safe landing eventually and a great bivi for the night.
A warm reception from Jersey Kayak and later from jersey canoe club as we arrived at their open day.
Today we enjoyed a paddle in glorious sunshine around the North east coast.
(photos to follow)

Just one hour before we launched, there was a striking calm and flat seas but with winds forecast to rise 2-3 Bf NW. A transit report was made to Jersey Coastguard informing them of our intentions, which at that point was to cross to Gorey, wait for the tide to slack and turn then move down to our destination on Seymour Tower.

True to the forecast the wind rose and effectively stole our tidal assistance, in fact it became a little bouncy for an hour at the centre of the crossing which provided for some interest during this long crossing. Jersey was mostly in sight from launching and from half way across we could make out Seymour Tower, Gorey and St Catherines point.  The wind delayed us but never reached a level where any concern was felt. At 3 miles short of Gorey, we did however call Jersey Coast with an update to our passage plan changing course to go direct to Seymour Tower.  There were difficulties with the communication, surprisingly J Cgd received all my transmissions , most of what I recieved was unreadable, on both their working chanels, Ch 16 was better but not perfect

The landscape around the Tower is surreal, it immediately brought thoughts  of TinTins adventures at the ‘Black Tower’  We spent two nights on the Tower, the seccond evening saw the arrival of Derek from Jersey kayak Adventures (Wearing his “Guide Trainer” hat ) who brought along with him some of his candidate Walking guides.

Sunrise over France

The walks look interesting but should not be undertaken lightly, there are many channels on this stretch of intertidal zone that fill remarkably quickly and can cut people off. I heard a tale of two horse riders stranded on the tower to be rescued some time later by a farmer and Donkey, perhaps I can get Derek to relate it on his blog …

Jersey Channel islands UK: Some of the highest tides in the world from Jersey Walk Adventures on Vimeo.
This is some real time Video of the rising tide by Seymour, it really is worth while to watch it through to the end the rate of rise is fast.  We launched from this spot on both days, here you see the rate during a spring tide,  whilst our trip was closer to Neaps we still only waited for 18 minutes to paddle over these rocks.

Tidal planning and launch times were critical at this location, too much water made it difficult to land, too little means a very long walk, I used the Tide Plan 11 app for the iphone using the graph to identify tide height at the critical time it made it quite simple and was reliable with the predictions, as ever an allowance was always added to account for pressure differences

Probably a good time to thank Derek and Trudi for giving us the benefit of their  extensive local knowledge both on and off the water.

Saturday 14th April was Jersey Canoe Clubs open day, we set off from Seymour for a rather leisurely paddle along the East coast, the sky was blue, some low clound but bright.
We reached Mont Orgueil Castle, a fortification built over 600 years ago to protect from the French.

After all the renovations it looks quite magnificent, especially at night when illuminated.

We continued on into St Catherines bay, over the Breakwater the sky darkened, with 1 km to the slipway thunder started, then a couple of flashes of lighting, a fierce squall was heading over fast… first torrential rain (We saw the canoe club groups wisely getting off the water )  then hailstones, we dug in deep and soon found shelter from the huge breakwater wall  and were immediately welcomed by Jersey Canoe Club.

In no time at all we were drinking hot tea, meeting old friends and making new. JCC have a Cottage on the North coast, it is probably best described as a “very well appointed Bothy”

It is however a fantastic resource which for a nominal rent and temporary membership can be hired out. There is a great kitchen with gas camping cookers, a wood burning stove and some fascinating features.  A small solar charger in the window charges a battery supplying LED  lighting over the kitchen area and main room quite innovative !

We did prefer however the warm glow of the candles and the comfort of the woodburner.

We spent the next four nights here, really hoping for a break in the weather so we could get out and explore the North coast, but the depesion centred over central england didnt allow. There were still short periods when conditions improved a little and we joined a few members of the Club on paddles.

We were due to paddle back to France on Thursday 29th, each time we checked the weather conditions seemed to deteriorate. With work commitments we needed to make a decision, which was to travel back by ferry.

This proved to be the most difficult part of the trip, first the Thursday scheduled Ferry from St Hellier to Granville was cancelled, then they informed us they would not take Kayaks rolled on.  Condor Ferries do take kayaks with foot passengers but the destination port is St Malo some 160 km from the van

The end result was taking the Granville ferry on Friday, canvassing a lift to Coutainville whilst on the Ferry, then driving down to St Malo and going across as foot passengers to collect the boats and remaining kit.

In terms of cost the single foot passenger  from St Hellier to Granville (No kayaks allowed ) was £28,   and the day return as a foot passenger wheeling kayaks on from St Hellier to St Malo  was 45€

If that sounds complicated then it was !  Now a special thank you to Alan Blampied whoose help and hospitality really made everything run quite smoothly, Di worked her special magic at the  table where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch,  we are grateful for the friendship and look forward to seeing you in France.

It is always difficult when announcing thank you’s …  always a danger of leaving someone out, so in this case I am very happy to thank all the members of Jersey Canoe Club who made our stay so enjoyable .

This crossing is a great paddle, but I should add that under French navigation rules, it does mean you exceed the 6 mile limit by just under 2 miles. the likely hood of being challenged on this route is quite remote, but the implications of course are more serious if you find yourself being rescued by the French authorities in French waters outside the limits. This is a judgement call you need to make and take responsibility for

 

 

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