Friday, November 21, 2014

Bouley Bay 3 Star

Bouley Bay was once considered for a major harbour development due to the deep, sheltered water but the lack of suitable land for buildings prevented the project progressing and so the only sheltered anchorage is behind the small pier which was built in 1828 to meet the needs of the oyster fishermen.  The bay was always seen as vulnerable to attack, in fact in 1549 French invaders were repulsed at Jardin d'Olivet, therefore the bay is defended by a couple of Forts.
With a south easterly wind forecast it was selected as the venue for a 3 Star as provided both sheltered conditions as well as some more challenging water if necessary.
Bouley Bay on a warm summers day is one of the most appealing places to launch a sea kayak, sadly yesterday wasn't a warm summers day so conditions were essentially less pleasant.
Heading out of Bouley Bay yesterday.  The white mark of the pier head is just visible through the November murk. 
 Landing just to the east of Tour de Rozel.  Time to check personal equipment and to cover the theory side of 3 Star.  For the first time in months there was a real chill in the air.
 When we launched the tidal stream had changed direction so as expected, the sea state increased quite dramatically, due to wind against tide, this was only for 100 metres or so but it created some entertaining conditions.  Johan powered through the waves with remarkable ease, the Taran really is a quick kayak.
Sean enjoyed the surfing in the tidal run, but sadly it was all too soon to head to more sheltered waters to continue with the assessment.  A good day on the water.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

London Sea Kayaking Day 2

After a welcome evening in Richmond and energy levels replenished thanks to Pizza Express we launched early on the Sunday morning.  Almost immediately we felt the impact of the flow of water, average speeds registered on the GPS was between 1.5 and knots quicker than the previous day.  This was more like it.  Familiar features passed quickly by and the consistent drone of aircraft departing Heathrow was soon a distant sound.
A quick stop at Vauxhall for our annual visit to a Portuguese restaurant for some of the best egg custards to be found anywhere and we were soon passing through the heart of London, one iconic landmark quickly following another.  All too soon it was time to cross the river and land back at Shadwell Basin, with a celebratory pint at the Prospect of Whitby before heading out to the airport.  A great way to spend a weekend.
The view from the balcony of Richmond Canoe Club, kayaks are being prepared for the return paddle to Shadwell Basin.  Already there was more current flowing than we had experienced all of the day before on the journey upstream.
I am not sure that I have ever seen a kayaking Club in the UK with such comprehensive facilities.  I am certain that if I was living in west London I would be looking to join Richmond Canoe Club.
 Paddling through London there are some superb bridges.  Tower Bridge is clearly the most iconic but Albert Bridge and Hammersmith Bridge (above) have a certain style.
 The Harrods Furniture Depository close to the river has some of the characteristics of the more well known building in Knightsbridge.
Just downstream of Vauxhall Bridge there is a slipway in the shadow of the MI6 building.  It is well worth stopping here because just across the road there is a Portuguese restaurant which serves the best egg custards anywhere.  They didn't blink when we walked in and ordered 21 egg custards to take away.
Approaching the London Eye.  This is probably the busiest section of the river and it is important to have pretty tight group control and an understanding of the actions of the commercial traffic to avoid conflict with other water users.
 St Paul's always looks great from the river.
 Approaching HMS Belfast.  It is surprising how quickly you approach stationary objects, including ships, in the the river.  Thinking ahead is an important part of safe paddling on the Thames.
 The huge crowds around the Tower of London were partly the result of the poppies to commemorate the First World War.  In previous years paddling past the Tower there were nowhere near as many people.
 Journey's end, back of the Prospect of Whitby.  32 nautical miles paddled in 2 days, through the capital city.  A must do sea kayaking trip.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sea kayaking in London

Over the last few years it has become a bit of a tradition that in the autumn members of the Jersey Canoe Club spend a weekend in the capital city paddling in the company of the members of Tower Hamlets Canoe Club.  Normally we do a full day trip on the Saturday upstream to just beyond Westminster whilst on the Sunday its a slightly shorter paddle downstream to Greenwich or slightly beyond.
Last year as we sat in the Prospect of Whitby celebrating another successful weekend we decided to do something slightly different and a year on the plan cam to fruition.  So late Saturday morning a flotilla of 21 paddlers set off from Shadwell Basin Outdoor Centre in search of excitement and a good night out in Richmond.
The 16 nautical miles of paddling took us through the heart of one of the world's great cities, allowing  unusual perspectives of familiar landmarks but sadly not with the assistance of several knots of tidal flow.  For some reason there seemed to be almost no movement upstream so the 16 miles took over 5 hours including a short stop just upstream of Putney.
It had been arranged to us to stop at Richmond Canoe Club, which we managed to discover in the dark before we headed out to Pizza Express, a great way to finish the day.
 Just outside the Prospect of Whitby near Shadwell Basin.  A historic riverside pub which surprisingly has been the location where a number of future kayaking adventures by the Jersey Canoe Club have been planned.
Preparing to launch from Shadwell Basin.  Sarah discussing with her cousin Toby whether she had made a mistake in agreeing to go kayaking with her dad for the weekend.
Approaching Tower Bridge, it doesn't matter how many times I paddle along this stretch of water it is always exciting.
 The section of river between Tower and Westminster Bridges is always the busiest with river traffic.  Once past the Houses of Parliament it is easier to relax when on the water.
 Battersea Power Station.  It was a relief that there was no wind on the river because we weren't receiving any assistance at all from the tidal flow.  It just didn't appear on Saturday for some reason.
A stretch of legs and a quick snack at Putney.  It also gave us time to fix the white lights onto the kayaks because daylight was fading fast and we still had a couple of hours of paddling left.
 Lovely paddling conditions on the Thames.  We reached Richmond Canoe Club just over 5 hours and 16 miles paddling after we had left Shadwell Basin having passed through the heart of one of the worlds great cities and the great thing is that we had to do it all again tomorrow, in the opposite direction.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Another couple of hours scanning some old slides has revived some great memories of sea kayaking in Jersey.  It is clear that over the years the Jersey Canoe Club has been involved in a variety of entertaining events both in local waters and further afield.
The start of the 1979 Canoe Club race from Gorey to St Helier.  It is clear that it was important to have an orange Nordkapp HM and wear a Ricard sun hat.
John Hurley at the 1982 white water championships.  Close to St Helier the white water was revealed when the tide dropped.  The water was from the power station and so it was really warm.  An ideal place to paddle on a cold winters day.  Sadly it has disappeared under the reclamation site,
In the 1980's Jersey competed in the Home International Surfing competitions.  1986 we entered a team in the slalom event for the first time.  This was training at St Ouen's in almost perfect conditions.  Sadly the week of the event was accompanied by no surf and pretty strong easterly winds.
In the early 1990's the BCU introduced the idea of a National Canoeing Day.  In September 1992 we managed to get 120 people to turn up to St Catherine's to form a raft.
The 1990's also saw the development of Sea Kayak Symposiums.  This is 1996 and Gordon Brown is demonstrating a number of Greenland rolls and skills.  We were fortunate to have John Heath at the event who gave a running commentary to Gordon's performance. 
 
Some people expressed an interest in folding kayaks.  This is a naked Feathercraft Khatsilano.
We also developed a tidal slalom course in front of the Club House at St Catherine's.  I think this is Scottish paddler Donald Thomson taking part in the closing event of the 1996 Symposium.  All competitors had to use a VCP Skerray.
The 1998 Symposium.  This is a bird watching paddle, I ended up paddling Bill Oddie around in double Spud whilst he pointed at feathered things of interest.  There must have been at least 50 people in the group, which created quite a spectacle.
An innovation at the 1998 Symposium was the making of kayaks over the weeken with people able to assist.  Howard Jeffs produced a fibre glass BAT and Duncan Winning built the "Jersey Junior" being paddled here by my daughter Lisa.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Another Bonne Nuit Sunday ( Remembrance Sunday)

It seems as if we have launched from Bonne Nuit fairly regularly over the last couple on months, which is not a problem as it is always enjoyable.  On reflection we have headed west every time, again not an issue as there is plenty of entertaining paddling along that stretch of coast.  Today though as is the tradition on Remembrance Day we headed east to land in front of the Jersey Canoe Club cottage at Egypt.
Although we were there to observe two minutes silence we still experienced a surprisingly varied paddle and only covered a total distance of 4 nautical miles.
 Bonne Nuit harbour was the departure point.  The pier was built in 1872 and today provides shelter to a number of local craft.  It is the finishing point for the annual Sark to Jersey Rowing race.
 From further away the harbour its location under the highest land on the Island is apparent.
Nicky passing just to east of La Crete Fort it was built in 1834 for the magnificent sum of £971.  Today it is available for rent from Jersey Heritage.  It sleeps 4 adults and a child under 11, when it was built it provided accommodation for 1 officer and 30 other ranks.
Belle Hougue is one of my favourite headlands and the waves which form seem just right for sea kayak surfing.  Today we had missed the best of the spring tide but still spent an enjoyable 20 minutes playing in the tidal race.
We landed on the small pebble beach in front of Egypt.  There is an interesting history in this area, which has been described elsewhere but today we were coming to pay our respects on Remembrance Sunday.
The 17 members of Jersey Canoe Club paid their respects in front of the monument which, commemorates Operation Hardtack, an allied landing into occupied Jersey at Christmas in 1943.
This nearby bench is inscribed "In appreciation of past and present members of the Special Boat Service"
 We did take time to explore the cottage at Egypt, which is looked after by the Canoe Club and is available to hire by its members.  It is just a great place to wake up and have breakfast, sitting in the warm summer sunshine.
On the way back to Bonne Nuit we did practice rescues in what was left of the moving water off Belle Hougue.  No photographic evidence though as I was busy swimming.  The water was surprisingly warm, despite it being the second week of November.


Friday, November 07, 2014

Even more old kayaking photographs

Once you are set up to scan your old slides, its difficult not to keep going and scan a few more.  So a few memories of sea kayaking in the 1970's and 80's.
This is a memory of the first paddle that I really recorded on film.  August Bank Holiday Sunday in 1974.  We decided to go to the Ecrehous. It was a big spring tide and we had no idea about tidal vectors.  We did leave from Gorey as we realized that the tide would be running north really quickly.  We survived but it wasn't an easy paddle.
5 years later and knowledge and equipment had surged forward in leaps and bounds.  Nicky off the Ecrehous in 1979.  Those were the days when we used to tie our BS3595 Lifejackets on the rear deck.
 Pete Scott had just purchased his new Nordkapp, so at Easter 1981 we rushed off to Pembrokeshire to launch the kayak.  He was keen to practice his self rescues.
 The Skerries in April 1982.  This was when lighthouses were still manned so we carried out our duty and delivered the daily papers and fresh milk to the keepers.
My first ever visit to the Isle of Wight.  November 1983, it was a quick Sunday run from Lymington to the Needles with lunch at Alum Bay.  Sadly that is still the only time that I have paddled on the Isle of Wight.
 Just north of Fishguard in Pembrokeshire.  October 1989 and Nigel Foster, Howard Jeffs and myself were running a Level 5 coach assessment.  In common with so many assessments at the time it coincided with a major storm hitting the Irish Sea.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Some more old kayaking pictures

Here is another selection of photographs, illustrating some of the places that we have been paddling over the years.  It feels like it is time to pay a visit to some of these places again, its been over 30 years since I paddled some of these trips.
 This is paddling around the Great Orme in North Wales in November 1979.  We couldn't afford specialist sea kayaks so used general purpose kayaks with home made skegs that we used to slip over the stern, when we weren't paddling the same kayaks on white water.
 I started work as a teacher in September 1980 and before my first salary check arrived I had ordered my first Nordkapp HM.  I collected it from Nottingham at October half term and this is kayak being launched for the first time off the beach in Eastbourne.
 The first summer holidays of teaching so it was time to go paddling.  This is approaching Bardsey, in perfect conditions.  The string across the hatch cover was there for a very special reason.  My Nordkapp was one of the first to be built with the new hatch covers but the mixture proved to be unstable and the rims started to collapse.  After this trip it was back to Nottingham for new hatches to be fitted by Valley.
 A rather blurred picture from the Menai Straits in October 1986.  I was on my Level 5 Coach assessment at Plas Y Brenin.  We camped at the south west entrance to the Straits and I still remember the look of horror on the face of the group when the shipping forecast for the Irish Sea was SW Force 12.
 Paddling out of Porth Daffarch at the 1993 Angelsey Symposium.  The paddlers are Andy Stamp and Graham Wardle.
 The bay at the western end of Rathlin Island, of Northern Ireland  It was a Coach Assessment in 1996.  We were looking forward to a night of traditional Irish music in the bar, but it turned out to be a karaoke evening with Japanese divers, rather disappointing.
 The Scottish Sea Kayak Symposiums used to be great family affairs.  The five children on the right are my two girls, Howard Jeffs daughters and Gordon Brown's oldest daughter.  As you can see we used appropriately sized kit.
The BCU Sea Touring Committee used to run Symposiums every autumn.  Initially at Calshot and later on in North Wales.  This is some paddlers from the 1998 event off Cricceth Castle.