Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sea bed ramblings

Saturday dawned windy yet again with the promise of substantial showers around in the afternoon so I decided to head out towards Seymour Tower, off the south east corner of the Island.  Due to the large tidal range in Jersey (almost 12 metres on the larger tides) a virtually unique coastal environment is exposed twice a day, particularly on Spring Tides.  For several hours, each day, the opportunity of walking around on the sea bed presents itself and I took full advantage of the opportunity yesterday.  Amazingly I was the only person who seemed to want to experience the delights of this corner of the Island on blustery Saturday in January. 
 Looking towards Seymour Tower, my aim was to try and reach a navigation mark, Karame, which is beyond the obvious tower.  As I headed out across the exposed foreshore I was the only person in the area.
 The rescue beacon.  In the past people have lost their lives when they have been cut off by the rapidly rising tide.  Between Christmas and New Year two German tourists were fortunate to be able to climb the tower when they underestimated the speed at which the tide rises.  The inshore lifeboat collected them from the tower which prevented them having to speed a cold and dark night 6 hours perched above the swirling waters.
 Viewed up close the superb construction of the tower is clearly visible.  The concrete additions are as a result of the German occupation.  It is possible to hire the tower from Jersey Heritage, a very unique place to spend a night.
 A quick lunch stop coincided with almost the only sunshine of the day.  The tower casting its shadow over the sandbank.
 Looking north towards Gorey, with the magnificent Mont Orgueil Castle towering above the harbour.  The shiny slopes to the left of the castle are some of the earliest fields to be planted with Jersey Royal potatoes.
 Seymour Tower seen from the south.  Painted white as a navigation mark.
 I had been hoping to get as far as Karame, it was going to be touch and go but as I stood here the atmospheric pressure was 987mb.  As many of you know, tidal heights are based on mean atmospheric pressure of 1013mb and as a general rule a change of one millibar results in a change of one centimetre in sea level.  26mb lower than  average pressure meant that the tide was 26 cm higher than predicted.
 Heading towards Little Seymour, my final navigation mark before heading back to the shore.  The clouds were obviously building to the south and west, it was time to up the pace.
Looking towards La Rocque Harbour, the end of the pier clearly visible, being painted white.  It was at La Rocque that Baron de Rullecourt landed on the 6th January 1781, an invasion which resulted in the Battle of Jersey being fought in the Royal Square in Jersey, followed by a rapid expansion of the building of coastal fortifications.  Many of the towers survive today, part of the distinctive coastal architecture.
The predicted heavy showers approaching from the south west.  A significant increase in walking speed could not prevent major soaking as the downpour hit.  A very wet end to a thoroughly enjoyable 3 hours, and the only people I saw were on the slip at the beginning and end.  There is still isolation in Jersey, waiting for those who seek it out.

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