Saturday, February 04, 2012

A Gneiss Paddle

Just under 3 miles north of Greve de Lecq lie the Paternosters, a reef which for many sea kayakers offers their first opportunity for heading offshore.  Although the tidal streams can run with surprising speed towards low water the crossing can be reasonably direct and straightforward, which is what we had planned for today.  Leaving just before low water slack and hopefully taking a fairly direct route.
At high water only four summits are left protruding from the swirling waters but at low tide an extensive reef is uncovered.  Great Rock, which is ten metres high and Sharp Rock, four metres high, are the largest rocks and are situated in the middle of the bank.  Our plan was to have a drink and some food on the north side of Great Rock in the weak winter sunshine, taking advantage of a lull in the wind before the possible gales arrived in early evening.
The origin of their name is said to be due to a ship on its way to Sark, in the 16th century, striking one of the rocks and a number of women and children drowning.  As a result it became common practice for fishermen to say a Pater Noster or a prayer as they passed close to the reef.  Although they have two names it is the Paternosters that has been accepted into everyday use.  A more recent ship wreck occurred on the 16th September 1961.  A Dutch owned vessel, the Heron was en route to Portsmouth when it sank, with the loss of 3 lives.  The wreck lies in about 30 metres of water to the south of the reef.

On the beach at Greve de Lecq, ready for departure.  The Paternoster's are visible on the horizon, just over 2.5NM offshore.
 Heading out from Greve de Lecq, the Pats visible on the horizon.  This is one of a number of photos taken using a GoPro.  I used on the setting for one photograph every minute, I kept a few with most in the Trash.
 John the "Commodore" of the Jersey Canoe Club approaching the Pats.  Although it was an impromptu paddle we still had 11 members turn up.  Not bad for a morning when the temperature was below freezing.
 Even closer to the reef.  The white kayak is a late 1970's Anas Acuta which was virtually buried for years but about 18 months ago was dug up, it has been refurbished and is as good as new.
Ideal paddling conditions for the first weekend in February.
The classic approach to the Paternosters, a ferry glide.  The tide was just starting to run from right to left. A well known jump is from near the summit of the main rock.  Conditions were a bit too cold for such activity today.
 I explored the north side of the reef and then threaded my way through some shallow channels.  Other members of the group are visible just above the bow of my kayak.
Looking down from the highest point of the reef.  The rocks are gneiss which is metamorphosed granite, a type of rock which isn't seen anywhere on the main island of Jersey.
 We are about to jump on the tide towards Plemont headland.  Although it was only a neap tide we averaged 5 knots on the 2NM crossing to Plemont headland.
 From this distance it was difficult to distinguish most of the details of the Jersey coastline.
Looking along the coast.  Mainly in the shade but with a few glimpses of the sun through some of the gaps in the cliff top.
Nicky heading along the coast.  We had seen numerous Razorbills along this section of the coast plus some very inquisitive Fulmars.
Landing back at Greve de Lecq, a great morning out followed by a well earned pint in front of the fire at the Moulin de Lecq.

No comments: