Jersey Kayak Adventures

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British Canoeing Sea Kayak Guide Courses

March 19th, 2018

Sea Kayak Guide Endorsement Success for Jersey Kayak Adventures

Sea kayak Guide & Trainer Derek Hairon

Adventure Tourism is rapidly evolving as visitors seek experiences which connect with the environment, history and culture of the area. Increasingly, a tourism product is what you buy; an experience is what you remember.

To meet these changes, Derek Hairon at Jersey Kayak Adventures has added to his extensive portfolio of sea kayak awards and experience to become the first Nationally endorsed British Canoeing guide in Jersey.

Any kayaker can access guide modules as stand-alone units, and you do not need to have a coach or leadership award.

Guide modules are an excellent way for paddlers to develop their knowledge and experience.

The guide endorsement supports and recognises the additional skills required when fulfilling a guiding role on sea kayak tours and expeditions worldwide.

To become a British Canoeing endorsed kayak guide candidates undergo training in 3 key areas. Currently, you must complete a minimum of three modules.

Select from;

Camp Craft and Expedition Skills

Environment and Sustainability

Leadership, Customer Experience

Trip Planning and Organisation

Plus, have a paddle-sport leadership qualification (e.g. sea kayak leader) and submit a detailed portfolio of their guiding experience.

Derek’s experience and qualifications allow Jersey Kayak Adventures to market training courses for local and overseas sea kayakers to become British Canoeing endorsed kayak guides.

Along with Sea Kayak Leader training and assessment courses we can now offer paddlers the opportunity to complete the following one day British Canoeing Guide endorsement modules.

Camp-craft and expedition skills

Trip Planning and organisation

Customer experience

Contact us for Sea Kayak Guide training courses and British Canoeing guide modules.

Sea Kayak Visibility at Sea

December 20th, 2017

It’s easy to spend a lot of cash on equipment to help you to be spotted more easily. With a bit of prior planning and flexibility many options can be cost effective, if implemented when buying or replacing kit.


This is one of the easiest to adopt especially when buying new kayaks and kit. If you want to know which colour is likely to be best on the sea, have a look at the colours used by search and rescue lifeboats and crew.

In 2008 Rob Mosely carried out a surf ski rescue exercise in South Africa in “realistic conditions” (5-30 kts of wind and 1-2 m breaking waves) using both a helicopter and lifeboats. From the air the red kayak was always spotted first. The white kayak was also seen but the aircrew reported it was harder to see amongst breaking waves. To sum this up: the kayaks were easier to spot, the paddlers themselves less so.

Bright colour schemes that contrast with the sea and backdrop give the most visibility. Adding day glow or reflective (SOLAS) tape increases visibility.

If you already own a dark coloured kayak, vinyl graphics are worth considering and are available for sea kayakers Designs can be produced in a range of colours and even to your own specifications. This option is also worth considering, if you want a custom colour scheme when buying a new kayak.

Spot the kayaks. Green may be good for smuggling but it is hard to see.

Be bright

At sea level you are the highest point on the kayak, so if you wear bright colours, you increase your chances of being seen by your group and others.

There has been some research on the most effective colours to be seen on the sea but as a rough guide the brighter the better and you can get a good idea by looking at the kit rescue services use.

Remember, if you end up in the water, most of your PFD is likely to be submerged so the arms of your paddle jacket may be the only bits visible. Many paddle jackets can also be bought with reflective tape which is very effective in poor light.

The 2008 South African test found a paddler wearing bright clothing was easier to spot from the lifeboat.

A brightly coloured cap, hood or helmet is very effective and will help maintain group control in rougher water when most of the kayak and paddler may be hidden by waves.

Brightly coloured paddle blades can be very useful and often people may notice the paddle flash as light reflects off the paddle blade.

Radar reflectors on sea kayaks

Radar reflector on a sea kayak

Maine Sea Grant Extension College conducted extensive tests in the use of radar reflectors with sea kayaks to aid visibility with some surprising results. The report is well worth reading, if you are considering using a reflector .

Key findings:

The higher the reflector the better.

A stronger return signal was obtained when the kayak was side on or in a group.

Around 1/4 mile range kayaks consistently showed up on radar, regardless of whether there was a reflector in use or not.

1 mile from the radar platform the sea kayaks were not visible on radar, whether or not they had reflectors.

If paddling in areas where there are motorised craft, high speed ferries, large motor cruisers and rigid inflatable boats may be travelling at up to 44 knots. At 1 mile range they have less than 1½minutes to spot you on the radar screen and react. The South African tests also found that from the bridge of a high speed rescue boat – heading into the wind and swell – the spray and movement of the boat made spotting the kayaks difficult.

In 2011 a high speed ferry travelling at 35 kts in fog ran down Les Marquises, a 9.5 m lobster fishing boat. The radar blip was visible but the boat was not spotted by the crew of the ferry. Between the first appearance on the radar and collision there was just 1 minute 41 seconds to react. <The English report can be read here. If the radar is not watched, the quality of the radar signal produced by a sea kayak is irrelevant.

When kayaking in shipping lanes or places away from the coast or where other craft may not expect to find sea kayakers, assume you are invisible unless you tell other craft/coastguard you are in the area. It is also worth monitoring Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) when near commercial ports. Engine sounds can easily be missed depending on the wind and sea conditions. Keep your VHF switched on and keep it in a place that allows immediate access.

Foil blankets

If you need to increase radar visibility, e.g. in shipping lanes or in an emergency, the Maine research found an improvised radar reflector hat made out of space blanket style foil worked very well. Dutch paddlers also report foil space blankets wrapped around a paddler will produce a stronger return signal.

Foil blankets are reported to be very effective as a means of reflecting sunlight e.g. as a helicopter approaches.

Signal mirrors

CD’s may be a cheap way of reflecting light but they de-laminate and are less effective compared to signal mirrors made of glass or lexan. Even on cloudy days signal mirrors will produce a flash and some writers report they will work with a bright full moon. In some countries they are a required item of safety kit.

Read the instruction manual and practice using the mirror to get the best results.

Invisibility is not an asset

For both group control and safety it is important to consider how easy it is for others to see our small craft. Unless you are engaged in smuggling, invisibility is not an asset, especially if things start to go wrong and the group becomes separated.

Whatever options you select no single solution will cover all situations.

Consider the area you are sea kayaking in and also the type of trip and your group.

While the ability to be seen is a vital consideration, some form of communication remains an essential component on any trip.

Sign up for our courses

You’ll learn lots on our sea kayak courses and have an opportunity to test out some of the tips in this article.

Derek Hairon.

Kayak Coach Courses

December 15th, 2017

2018 British Canoeing Kayak coach core training and discipline specific module (sheltered water) are now online. Option to run Sea Kayak Coach (old Moderate water) module if there is demand.

Dates & more details.

Epic Kayaks Bring High-Performance Sea Kayaking to Jersey

February 5th, 2017
Epic ocean skis at Corbiere light house Jersey

High performance sea kayaking in Jersey

Reflecting the growing interest in Surf Skis we have added a selection of the world famous Epic kayaks and surf skis. Paddlers can now experience Epic V5 and V7 designs in Jersey.

Epic kayaks push your paddling to a new level.

As well as a selection of Epic surf ski kayaks we also have high-performance sea kayaks produced by Rockpool and Tiderace. This gives paddlers a great opportunity to compare different designs and get advice from our staff who regularly paddle these craft.

We also have a selection of Euro, Inuit and Wing paddles for clients to compare and contrast.

All paddle kit is supplied so you can maximise your time exploring Jersey, the island of the tides.

Epic surfski kayaks to test and demo at bouley bay, Jersey

Compare Epic V5 & V7 designs

Jersey is well served by Easyjet, BA and other airlines from Gatwick, UK regional airports and flights from Europe. Add the huge range of accommodation options and attractions and you can pack a lot into a short break to Jersey.

Kayak the excellent waters and coastline of Jersey -and even to the offshore islands- in high-performance Epic surf skis.

Email Derek to book your Epic experience.

Sea Kayak Leader Assessment Dates

December 31st, 2016

Our 2018 British Canoeing Sea Kayak Leader (4-Star)Assessment dates are listed here.

book now

Sea Kayak and equipment hire is included in the price.
Additional sea kayak leader assessment dates can be arranged. Contact us for advice.

The British Canoeing Sea Kayak Leader (formerly called 4 Star) Assessment demonstrates a candidate has the skills to safely paddle and lead other competent paddlers. A sea kayak leader will have the paddling ability, safety, rescue and leadership skills to undertake trips on sheltered to moderate water with a group of paddlers who have basic paddling skills but may not have the experience, to operate in a self-sufficient manner.

Note. From April 2017 the 4-Star Sea Kayak is renamed the Sea Kayak Leader award. The syllabus remains the same.

Sea Kayak Leader Assessment

The sea kayak leader is ideal for sea kayakers who lead groups of 4-5 paddlers on 6-8 mile journeys in moderate tidal waters (winds not exceeding force 4 and sea state 4).

The award is an excellent benchmark of your leadership and sea kayaking skills. We aim to assess you in realistic conditions to allow you to demonstrate your natural leadership on the water.

Many centres and clubs now use the sea kayak leader certificate as a benchmark to indicate that leaders/guides have a good level of kayak and safety skills.

Our sea kayak leader assessment is a great way to benchmark your kayaking and leadership skills in the superb waters around Jersey. Explore Jersey’s amazing coastline of caves, cliffs, rock gardens and surf beaches.

Jersey has a tidal range of almost 12m so the coastline is never the same and there is a huge range of sea kayaking experiences available whatever the weather.

Jersey has a huge range of kayaking opportunities within 20 minutes travelling time. This makes the island an ideal venue for paddlers who want to get the most from their 4-star sea kayak leader assessment.

Add extra days to your Sea kayak leader course

Many paddlers add extra days to get more log book and leadership time and to familiarise themselves with our local waters.

We can also arrange British Canoeing Guide Modules.


Fly from Gatwick and UK regional airports. There are also connections from many European airports via Gatwick. In summer there are direct flights from Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland.
High-speed ferry services operate from Poole, Portsmouth and St Malo (France).
Use our kayaks at no extra charge
Make the most of your time on Jersey and use our kayaks at no extra charge. Our kayak fleet includes Valley Nordkapps, Avocets, Aquanaut, P&H Delphin, Hammer, Rockpool Taran, Tiderace Pace 17, Venture Kayaks Esky 15, Epic V5 and V7.

British Canoeing Pre requisites and registration for the sea kayak leader (4 Star) assessment

Before you can attend the Sea Kayak Leader Assessment you must have completed a two-day Sea Kayak Leader training course (within the previous 3 years).

When you register the following prerequisites are required:
Evidence that you have completed a sea kayak leader training course within the previous 3 years.
Safety Training: Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning or a similar Royal Yacht Association (RYA) course.
A recognised 2-day First Aid Course completed within the last 3 years.
VHF Marine radio licence (this is only needed if this is a requirement in your country).
Membership of British Canoeing, CANI, SCA or WCA.
Pay a registration fee.
You must be aged 16 years or older.

Other awards may be accepted by British Canoeing providing they are of a similar standard to the above. If this is the case you will need to submit an Accredited Prior Learning form (APL) with your Leadership Registration form.

You must register in advance with British Canoeing by completing the Leader Registration (LR) Form. Allow at least two weeks (longer if overseas) for your LR form to be processed and approved.

If you arrive on a sea kayak leader assessment without an approved LR form you cannot be assessed. No refund of your assessment fees will be made.

Help with the completion of your sea kayak leader registration

We often work with international clients and can help ensure you have the correct pre-requisites in place for your sea kayak leader assessment.

Our French and German speaking staff can assist you with the translation of certificates into English and advise you in completing your sea kayak Leadership Registration (LR) form. Contact us if you have any questions about completing your sea kayak leader (4 Star) assessment with Jersey Kayak Adventures.

book now

British Canoeing Sea Kayak Leader Training Courses 2018

December 28th, 2016

2018 British Canoeing Sea Kayak Leader Training dates.  Visit our 2018 Sea Kayak Leader Training dates page:

book now

Sea Kayak and equipment hire is included in the price.

Additional sea kayak leader training courses can often be added. Contact us.

Sea Kayak Leader Award

Explore the superb coastline of jersey on your 4-star sea kayak training course

Develop your towing and safety skills on our 4-star sea kayak courses.

The sea kayak leader (4-star) award is designed for sea kayakers who may find themselves leading/guiding groups of 4-5 paddlers on 6-8 mile journeys in moderate tidal waters (winds not exceeding force 4 and sea state 4).

This award is an excellent benchmark of your leadership and sea kayaking skills.

Increasingly, the sea kayak leader certificate is used as a standard for club leaders and centre staff to ensure they have a good level of paddle and safety skills to lead groups on the sea.

Even if you have no plans to lead/guide groups, our training course is a great way to develop your paddle skills in the superb moderate waters around Jersey.

We’ll explore the amazing coastline of Jersey with its caves, cliffs, rock gardens and surf beaches during the training course. With a tide range of almost 12m the coastline is never the same and there is a huge range of sea kayaking experiences to be had.

All the time you’ll be guided by our expert British Canoeing qualified coaches who are all local residents and have many years sea kayaking experience.

sea kayak in tide race. 4 star leader training

Tide streams and moderate tidal waters training

Add Extra Days to your Sea Kayak Leader Course

Our 2-day course covers the essential training elements of the Sea Kayak Leader (4-star) syllabus in some great tidal waters around Jersey.

Many paddlers add a couple of extra days to log more leadership hours and experience of sea kayaking in a new area.

You can also add extra days to complete the BC 3-star sea kayak and Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning modules which are pre requisites for the 4-star sea kayak leader assessment.

Sea kayaking in Jersey

4 star sea leader training Jersey

Explore the superb coastline of jersey on your 4-star sea kayak training course

An advantage of completing your 4-star sea kayak training course in Jersey is that there is a huge range of different paddling opportunities to experience all within 20 minutes travel time.

We are used to working with European and international clients and are happy to help ensure you have the correct pre-requisites in place for your 4-star sea kayak leader training and assessment.

Our French and German speaking staff and can assist with the translation of your certificates into English and give you advice on the completion of your Leadership Registration (LR) form which essential for anyone planning to complete the 4-star sea kayak assessment.

Fly from Gatwick and UK regional airports (Easyjet, BA, Flybe operate regular services all year). There are also good connections from European airports via Gatwick and direct flights from Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland in summer.

Regular high-speed ferry services operate from Poole, Portsmouth and St Malo (France) for those who prefer to use their own kayak.

Use our kayaks at no extra charge

Practice first aid skills in the outdoors

Safety training

Make the most of your time on Jersey by using our kayaks at no extra charge. Save yourself a long drive and fly to jersey. Many paddlers find that they can be on the water within a couple hours of leaving home so you can maximise your 4 star sea kayaking experience.

Choose from our range of sea kayaks which includes Valley Nordkapps, Avocets, Aquanaut, P&H Delphin, Hammer, Rockpool Taran, Tiderace pace 17, Venture Kayaks Esky 15, Epic V5 and V7.

All students will receive a Paddlers Performance Action Plan.

Additional sea kayak leader training course dates can often be added. Contact us for more dates.

Easter Sea Kayak Development Course

February 9th, 2016

Designed for the sea kayaker who wants to tune up their sea kayak skills while exploring the fantastic coastline and reefs around Jersey. Book day or multi-day options

March 25,26,27,28,29,30. 1 April

Sea Kayaking in Fog. Be Prepared

May 12th, 2015
Derek hairon. Les Ecrehous sea kayaking P1110887

Derek at les Ecrehous, Jersey

Yesterday was a great day to get out sea kayaking in Jersey. A 5 nautical mile offshore trip to les Écréhous off the north east coast of Jersey in our fast sea kayaks looked a good idea. We set out from Archirondel off the east coast with a calm sea, good visibility with barely any wind.

“I can see some grey shadows over there” said Mick. The “shadows” turned out to be a small pod of Dolphin feeding about 1 mile south east of les Écréhous.

It felt cooler once we’d stopped paddling so the extra bits of clothing and paddle jackets we’d packed proved to be a good idea. I later learned that two kayakers dressed in light clothing had been rescued off the south east coast of Jersey after one had fallen in and could not get back into the kayak. On May 11th the sea temperature was 11.5 degrees. Without extra clothing you soon lose your ability to perform a rescue so dress -or be prepared- for immersion.

sea kayaks at les ecrehous, jersey. Rockpool Taran

Mick at les Ecrehous, jersey

An evening snack while sitting on a bench looking back towards Jersey was a chance to enjoy the peacefulness of this wonderful place. We were the only people on the les Écréhous apart from a couple of yachts on the moorings.

As we sat on the bench Mick spotted another shadow. This time it seemed to be forming along the north coast of Jersey. Just a bit of haze we thought at first but as we watched it gradually crept eastwards.

After 20 minuted paddling the “shadow” had changed into a fog bank and visibility was less than 100m. At times Mick was starting to look a bit hazy so it must have been even less visibility. The last time I’ paddled in these conditions I was on a 5 hour crossing when the had been due to lift but instead remained around us for almost the entire trip. We could hear aircraft on their approach into Jersey airport repeatedly trying to land.

Sea kayaking in the fog back to Jersey

Sea kayaking in the fog back to Jersey

For the next hour we cruised across a mirror like sea on a compass bearing of 240 degrees which we’d calculated would allow for the south east running stream. Sounds of vehicles and aircraft drifted through the fog but they seemed to come from all directions. If you stopped for a moment our kayaks ended up pointing in all directions. Without a compass and a bearing to steer we’d have been in trouble.

We had a GPS was on board. However, we had a compass bearing, and knew our speed was about the same as usual. Some kayakers find there speed drops when they enter fog or head offshore so this is something which might alter the route plan and timings. In our case paddling in fog just added a nice dimension in what was still excellent sea conditions. There seemed little need to use the GPS until we were around or just past our estimated time of arrival. Jersey is also quite a large island to miss -though I know a few who have ended up well off course due to the tide streams and by not trusting a small bit of magnetised metal.

Fog lifting over Jersey at sunset

Fog lifting over Jersey at sunset

Finally the fog lifted 1 hour 20mins after it enveloped us. Directly ahead of us was our target, St Catherine’s breakwater.

Elsewhere around Jersey the fog was very thick while in other areas visibility was very good.

A superb trip which shows how important it is to carry a few basic bits of kit especially when heading away from shore. In these conditions even crossing a bay would have been a challenge without a compass. A compass was an essential item along with a spot of trip planing with a chart. A GPS was just an extra aid but with lots of previous paddling practice at night and in poor visibility it was just an extra safety device.

We had a VHF but were in the strange VHF marine radio “blackspot” that seems to be around St Catherine’s bay and missed a call from the Coastguard which we only learned about when we called in by mobile phone after landing. A good reason to carry a couple methods of communication.

A great trip so long as you have a compass and the right gear.

We run a range of intromediate and advanced sea kayak courses in Jersey

Derek Hairon

How to Pass the Kayak Coach Assessment

May 7th, 2014

British Canoeing Coach Assessment – Top Tips to Successfully Jump the Hurdle

Seymour tower and sea kayakeres

How to pass the BCU/UKCC Coach level 2 assessment

From 2018 the British Canoeing level 2 coach award is called the Coach award. These top tips to pass your kayak coach assessment remain equally valid today.

Passing the British Canoeing Coach assessment can be a daunting task even with the help of a mentor. Here are a few tips gathered from Nic and Clare who successfully passed their Coach Level 2 assessment.

If you’re not familiar with the British Canoeing coaching scheme, it’s best to look at this page. When you have got confused get in touch with me – or a Coach trainer/assessor – for advice and clarification!

Basically you can now directly sign up for the coach training course providing you have the paddlesport skills and experience.  You do not need to have completed the BC Level 1 paddlepsort coach course. Personally, I’d advise you to be around BC 3 star level before you do the core training module.

Why bother with the Coach assessment?

The Coach award allows you to operate in defined areas without supervision. More importantly, if you already have the Sea kayak leader award and complete the sea kayak module you will increase your operating limits considerably.

Top Tips to help you pass your Coach assessment

  • sea kayaking with the P&H Hammer in Jersey

    Look for opportunities to coach whenever you are afloat

    Develop your personal paddle skills up to a good standard so you no longer have to think about them. You’ll then be able to focus on your students more easily.

  • Get plenty of time afloat developing your own skills in a wide range of conditions so you build up your experience. This is a good excuse to just get out paddling with your friends.
  • Help out at your local club/youth group or centre. This will give you more opportunities to practice your coaching skills.
  • Try to coach as wide a range of people as possible to develop your toolbox of coaching styles. There is a big difference between coaching young people and adults.
  • Learn from other coaches. Spend time assisting on their sessions.
  • Keep your log book up to date and record anything related to paddlesport.
  • Work in different types of craft. This will remind you what it feels like when doing a skill for the first time.
  • You can be assessed in just one discipline e.g sheltered water, sea kayak coach – you’ll need sea kayak leader award for this-, sea kayak coach advanced water – you’ll need the advanced sea kayak leader award, surf kayak coach etc.
  • Stay in contact with other trainees on you Coach training course and also the course providers. Both can provide support and advice as well as top tips. There are also a couple of Facebook pages in existence.
  • Allow time to get any pre-requisites.
  • It’s worth doing a 16 hour first aid course rather than an 8 hour one because it is more comprehensive and will be more useful in the future, e.g. if you go on to do 4 Star Leader assessment.
  • Get a mentor who can give advice and also help you prepare your portfolio of experience for the assessment.
  • Plan, do and review your coaching sessions. Write them up soon after the session while things are still fresh in your mind.
  • If there are others in your area needing assessment, consider hiring an assessor rather than book onto an assessment course. This will allow you to – hopefully – coach students who you have been working with over a length of time. It makes things more realistic and less stressful.

If you are a level 1 coach stepping up a grade to the Coach award, this will enhance your paddle-sport and coaching skills as well as helping you find employment in the adventure industry. Clare and Nic subsequently passed their level coach award and headed south to kayak and find work in New Zealand.

Minor updates to reflect the changes in the Coach training course were made in Dec 2017.

This article was originally published in Canoe Kayak Magazine

Derek Hairon

Essential Sea Kayaking Skills and Leadership Development Courses

March 3rd, 2014

Develop your paddle and leadership skills while exploring the fantastic coastline of Jersey over 4 or 5 days. Improve your sea kayaking skills in a range of conditions along with trip planning and safety and rescue techniques.

Easter dates: April 18-21 or April 21-24 Easter offer £300 with kayaks and kit available. Courses

Click to view JKA certifications and organisations we support