I first paddled out to the Hanois in May 1981, located off the south west corner of Guernsey it seemed like a great adventure at the time. A few years later I was running an Advanced Sea (5 Star nowadays) in the area and we were lucky enough to be invited into the lighthouse. In fact we were given the opportunity to stand on the helicopter landing pad. That was an interesting experience!
Sadly those days have gone as the lighthouse was automated in 1996. It is still a fascinating place to paddle and well worth the effort if you are visiting Guernsey. Most years though the sea has been far too rough to approach the reef, let alone land, so it felt quite special as we wandered over and through the reef.
Although granite from Guernsey has been exported for hundreds of years, for example Blackfriars Bridge in London was repaved with Guernsey granite in 1840, with London Bridge and the Strand following a few years later, the Hanois Lighthouse was built with granite imported from Cornwall. The stone was dressed on the harbour in St Peter Port before being transported around to the south west corner of the island. The work took nearly 2 years and the light was first lit on the 8th December 1862.
Since that date it has warned shipping of the dangerous reefs to be found off the west coast of Guernsey.
Hanois Lighthouse viewed from the south east. The helicopter landing pad is clearly visible. The last few years we haven't been able to get this close whilst on our annual Lihou visit.
There were several places to land but we selected this sheltered location on the western side of the reef where it was possible to moor the kayaks.
Lying on my back with my feet against the lighthouse gave an unusual perspective.
Paul, who had landed here a couple of days earlier decided to spend his time exploring the reef as opposed to the lighthouse.
Looking back through the reef towards Lihou, clearly visible through the gap in the rocks.
Paul was kind enough to bring some Tiderace kayaks over for people to try. The paddle out to the Hanois was an ideal opportunity to see how they handled.