Tuesday, March 15, 2016

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)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Sunny Sunday Kayaking

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.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Friday morning stand up

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.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Night paddling

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.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Water-to-go

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.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Jersey Activity Guide

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.

Monday, March 07, 2016

East Coast Kayaking

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.