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South East England & Channel Islands Guide Book

April 21st, 2015
Routes included in the South East England & Channel Islands sea kayaking guide book

Routes included in the South East England & Channel Islands sea kayaking guide book

I’m busy proofing the Channel Islands section of the South East England and Channel Islands Guide book.

Pre order your copy for £19.99 here.

More details about the book is here.

Author: Derek Hairon et al

ISBN: 978-1-906095-50-5

Format: 272 pages

Published: 1 June 2015 by Pesda Press

Pre order you copy. Buy online for £19.99

Note: Copies will be distributed as soon as they arrive. The estimated publication date may be subject to revision.

New Introduction to Kayaking Course

April 21st, 2015

Our next course starts on Sunday 26 April at 0930-1200. 6 classes with all kit supplied. £247. More details.

Free Essential Kayak Skills Safety Class

April 7th, 2015

Saturday 11 April 1400-1630. Details

Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney & Sark Sea Kayaking Guidebook

March 6th, 2015

South East England & Channel Islands Sea Kayaking Guidebook (Pub: Pesda Press)

Jersey,Guernsey & Channel islands sea kayaking guidebook

South East & Channel Islands Sea Kayaking Guidebook

Jersey, Guernsey and the other Channel Islands form over 130 pages in this sea kayaking guidebook.

The Channel Islands section is written by Derek Hairon. He has sea kayaked throughout the Channel Islands for over 42 years and passes on his knowledge and passion about this superb sea kayaking destination.

The two areas covered in this guide are as different in character as it is possible to conceive.

For many sea kayakers living in London and the South East of England the Channel Islands are easy to reach from regional airports and by fast ferry. It therefore seemed logical to combine these two areas into a single guidebook.

The larger Channel Islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark also consist of a vast number of islets and reefs. Here we are talking pink granite, white sandy beaches and very strong tidal streams. Closer to France than to England (a mere 12km between Les Écréhous reef and Normandy) they are all that remains of the ancient Duchy of Normandy. The French eventually recovered mainland Normandy but the Islands retained their independence and their links with the UK.

Most Channel Islanders speak English as their mother tongue but you will still see French and Norman French place names everywhere. Many of the routes here are very committing but there are also a good number of gentler paddles.

The South East of England has a varied landscape of chalk cliffs, pebble beaches, vast expanses of sand, mudflats, and river estuaries. At one extreme the Tidal Thames runs through the densely populated City of London and at the other the deserted North Norfolk coast. It is true that some parts of this region are more attractive to sea kayakers than others, but we have been selective. All of the routes in the guide are worthwhile and many of them are real gems.

As well as providing essential information on where to start and finish, distances, times and tidal information, the book does much to stimulate and inform our interest in the environment we are passing through. It is full of facts and anecdotes about local history,geology, scenery, seabirds and sea mammals.

Author: Derek Hairon et al

ISBN: 978-1-906095-50-5

Format: 272 pages

Published: 1 June 2015

Pre Order your copy online from the author for £19.99

Pre order you copy. Buy online for £19.99

Note: Copies will be distributed as soon as they arrive. The estimated publication date may be subject to revision.

on as they arrive. The estimated publication date may be subject to revision.

BCU 4 Star Sea Kayak Assessment

January 26th, 2015

Our next BCU 4 star sea kayak assessment is on March 21/22.

Christmas Kayak Gift Voucher Offer

December 3rd, 2014

Paddle away with a 33% saving.

Buy Christmas gift vouchers to give as festive presents, or treat yourself.

BCU Foundation Safety & Rescue Training Course

November 29th, 2014

This practical and fun 8 hour course is designed to tune up your personal skills. It’s also a pre requisite for anyone considering the BCU Level 1 coach award. 6-7 December 1000 -1400. Details. Cost: £55 if you provide own paddle kit. Email to book.

Armistice Day paddle and Operation Hardtack

November 11th, 2014
Operation Hardtack memorial at L'Egypte

The memorial

L’ Égypte -or Petit Port- is a place of history.

During the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands (1940-1945) the allies had little information about the troops and defences. On 25th December 1943 28 British and French Commandos led by Captain Ayton landed by “small boat” (kayak?) to reconnoitre the island. While on Jersey the plan was to capture Nazi soldiers but none were spotted. Attempts to obtain information from the nearby farm failed because the inhabitants thought the commandos were German soldiers trying to trick them into revealing information. Following the raid the Nazis blew up the farm and the remains of the farm can still be seen.

As the commandos returned to the beach Captain Ayton stepped on a mine and was killed. A friend once met a colleague of Captain Ayton and learned that Ayton was another of those remarkable people who was always willing to step forward for the most dangerous missions. We have much to thank people like this for.

A memorial and bench donated by the British Special Boat Service Association commemorates the landing. Every year a remembrance ceremony is held.

The memorial for the British/French Commando raid at L'Egypte or Petit Port

The memorial at L’Egypte

It seemed fitting that we should arrive by kayak today from Rozel and make time to remember these brave people. A south east 6-7 from Rozel to Petit Port with swell on the beach only served to remind us just how difficult and dangerous the raid must have been. To land in darkness in mid winter was a huge risk. Had the commandos been captured the Nazi orders were to treat them as spies and therefore subject to execution.

We sat on the bench in silence to reflect.

Derek Hairon

BCU 4 Star Sea Training November 15/16

November 9th, 2014

Use our sea kayaks at no extra charge. Drysuit hire available. Option to add/include extra days to cover the Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning (CNTP) course and/or 3 star awards. £190 Details.

New Sea Kayaks and Equipment at the International Paddle Expo 2014

October 8th, 2014
Canoe Expo 2014

Canoe Expo 2014

The annual international Paddle Expo -or Kanu Messe- held in Nuremberg is the place for the paddle sport industry to showcase their products to retailers for the 2015 season. This is the trade show for manufacturers and retailers to network and do deals. If you want to be seen this is the place to be.

I’ve split the what’s new in the world of sit inside and sit on top sea kayaks into two sections. However, given the range of entry level sea kayaks now appearing on the market with very large cockpits this distinction is becoming blurred.

New Sit on top sea kayaks

The bad news is that Ocean Kayaks classic the Scupper Pro is out of production following the closure of the New Zealand factory. Whether it will still be available via the USA is unclear. The good news is RPI Kayak  are producing from the old Tunisian moulds a range of sit on top kayaks. According to staff the Shelba (retail Euro 449) is made from the old smooth Scupper Pro mould. The company also produce a range of sit on top kayaks. However, the website is not ready and I can only find a few shops selling in France.

RTM kayaks displayed a selection of kayaks both for recreational use and fishing. The Abaco range are very much built for kayak fishing and you can spend a fortune on accessories. The RTM Tempo mould was damaged this summer but was repaired and production has resumed.

Tootega kayaks are built in the UK

Tootega kayaks are built in the UK

British built Tootega kayaks were worth visiting. They are keen designers who want to produce some good quality sit on top kayaks and the build/prices look good. A big plus is that the designers recognise the importance of a range of designs with different hull shapes rather than opt for a one hull design suits all approach. Tootega are also producing in the UK and I hope to demo a kayak soon.

Venture kayaks have got the Islay sit on top kayak in pre production stage. The demo version clearly needs some work and was a surprise to see a mount on the hull for a dagger board for kayak sailing. The hull looks like it is going to be a very stable craft to paddle and the design does not seem to reflect the lines of its sister Islay sit inside kayak. However, pre production designs often undergo many changes and hopefully some on the water testing will take place before going into production.

Pre-production Islay sit on top kayak

Pre-production Islay sit on top kayak

For sit on top kayakers wanting a lively play boat, Pyranha have developed the Fusion sit on top. This kayak won the coolest kayak of the show award and is already getting good reviews.

Tahe Marine displayed the FIT series of sit on top kayaks. I hope to try some out as they look good with some nice lines and features as an alternative to our Ocean Kayak Prowlers.

Kayak fishing sit on tops

If you are after a sit on top for fishing the main problem is the increasing range of designs on the market. Many are huge and very stable with a plethora of bolt on accessories available. I suspect most are only going to be suitable for calm water angling. It was worrying to see some designs fitted out with anchor systems that do not appear to offer quick releases. Many designs are actively sold as enabling you to stand up and cast and some out rigger options are also available. A few come with electric motors which are a great idea so long as you remember to keep the batteries charged. Otherwise you will be faced with a long paddle home.

sit on top sea kayak by RTM

Vincent from RTM kayaks. Note the high and adjustable seat as well as the stand up bar

Some manufacturers firmly believe that you need a camouflaged kayak when fishing. On the sea this is just going to make you harder to see from passing boats.

Comfort is king and seating designs recognise the kayak angler needs a decent seat. Both Jackson kayaks and RTM have seats that can be adjusted in height to suit angling and paddling use.


Given the width of some sit on tops on show I’d seriously re-consider needing an outrigger. If you need one perhaps it is time to buy a boat. On the boat note it is worth mentioning that a few designs must weigh a lot and had they fitted some oars they might easily be sold as a small boat. I’ve no wish to try and transport some of these beasts.

Sea Kayaks

Anyone based in the UK who has paddled in northern Europe will have noticed sea kayaks and equipment produced by Tahe Marine and their ever growing stable of companies. They are now Europe’s biggest producer of paddle sports equipment and the 240 page catalogue thuds onto the door mat. Until now, the product range was hard to access in the UK but this has changed following the appointment of Andrew Dron who will be supplying UK retailers. Both the Zegul and Tahe Marine roto-moulded and composite layup prices look very competitive while the Egalis paddles and Beluga clothing is also worth a look.

Nicolai Ilcus designer of some of the Zegal sea kayaks

Nicolai Ilcus designer of some of the Zegal sea kayaks

Rob Feloy’s Inuk sea kayaks may well set standards in terms of their speed and handling. The kayaks are built in Italy by CS Canoe. Features such as a bow paddle park and both rudder and skegs fitted to the kayak will get people talking. Rob’s latest design, the Inuk Ultra 20ft long sea kayak, was not on this stand as it is being produced by Seabird designs in Norway. For paddlers wanting a blast from the past, CS Canoe are producing Derek Hutchinson’s Baidarka sea kayak. For ‘younger’ readers this was a classic design in the 1980’s with an equal share of admirers and detractors. It may still be worth a test paddle, if you can locate a retailer.

Rainbow kayaks are also based in Italy and displayed a range of roto-moulded sea kayaks rarely seen in the UK. The retail price looks like they will be of interest to sea kayakers wanting a basic kayak (Euros 750).

Inuk sea kayak skeg and rudder system

Inuk sea kayak skeg and rudder system

Last year P&H launched the Hammer sea kayak targeting the shorter tripping/rock hopping and coastal paddling market. This year Robson Kayaks arrived with the Karma RG. This is a very well kitted out kayak which is already generating a lot of interest and is worth considering if you are looking for an ocean play boat.

P&H kayaks won the coolest kayak of the show award for their innovative Fusion sit on top white water/recreational kayak. The Venture kayak Islay design has undergone a few modifications and featured the improved “Skudder” a combined rudder/skeg system.

Skim Kayaks and Miks Kayaks are house brands of Charger Composites who produce light weight designs which are worth checking out. They also displayed a neat quick release system for holding down a paddle during a self rescue.

Skim sea kayaks

Skim sea kayaks


Some view accessories as those added bits manufacturers love to sell to add value. Anyone who is into sit on top kayak fishing was very much in their sights judging by the remarkable range of products on offer to help you catch more fish, or at least help relieve you of a few £’s in the hope of improving your catch rate. Personally I am not sure a shiny bait, rod or coffee cup holder or fish finder mount will help me catch more fish.

For me perhaps the most interesting accessories producer was Kajak Sport who produce deck fittings and hatches.

Self rescue quick release sea kayak  paddle straps on a Skim kayak

Self rescue quick release sea kayak paddle straps on a Skim kayak

I liked a neat quick release paddle float/self rescue system and also a small clip on deck ball which can be used to help slide spare paddles on the deck. Their range of hatch covers is considerable and even the same size of hatch cover is available in a number of versions to suit polyethylene and composite constructions as well as weights. As a result you need to check their catalogue before replacing a hatch cover. Best of all Kajak Sport now produce the Valley round and oval hatch covers in a very long lasting plastic.

Nookie have tidied up the cut of their semi dry pants and salopettes to make them less baggy along with some modifications to their spray decks. Over at Palm a huge selection of brightly coloured PFD’s and clothing grab your attention. One change Palm announced is that the 2015 women’s kayak kit will be marketed under the same product name as the men’s range so you will need to look out for ladies or men’s sizing.

Who loves accessories?

Who loves accessories?

Kokatat’s stand continued to buzz with interest from northern European and Scandinavian retailers whose customers demand and expect the best from this top producer. Having kayaked in Finland and judging by the number of paddlers wearing Kokatat’s dry suits I’m sure the local distributor must be a very happy person.

Having kids is a major life changer. Pete Astles at Peak UK launched a range of kids PFD’s in Ladybird and Shark designs and I suspect a few parents will want an adult version!

Paddles looked very much as last year though more stands displayed Inuit style wooden paddles. Northern light paddles on the Reed Chillcheater stand have taken this further and now produce Greenland and Aleut carbon fibre designs which should become available in the UK in 2015.

Howard Jeffs Designs has expanded his range of kayak repair kits which are sold in handy sizes. Anyone attending a BCU 4 and 5 star assessment has no excuse to not have a suitable repair kit. Howard’s Beaufort Tulik jacket is also worth a look as a result of the blending an ancient design with the modern needs of a sea kayaker.

Think I might go and buy a boat...

Think I might go and buy a boat…

Coming away from the Canoe Expo one trend in kayak design which seems to have continued from last year was the increasing number of entry level style sea kayaks. Many, in my view, seem much of a muchness with price being the main determinate. Whether the demand for volume production will eventually lead to a narrowing of innovation and small scale production to meet interest groups is open to debate. Some designs of kayak also seem to have had limited on the water testing.

On a positive note there continues to be a healthy production of composite layup sea kayak designs though many seem to be targeting the northern European and Scandinavian market. Equally positive was the number of UK producers who are keeping production in the UK and Europe in order to maintain quality control and changes in customer demands.

More photos are on our Facebook page.

Derek Hairon

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