Jersey Kayak Adventures

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Sea kayaking in Jersey. Reconciling Conservation and Recreation – Video

April 4th, 2013

I’ve uploaded this informative video because it gives some very useful information about observing wildlife from a sea kayak around the coast.

The video is about the marine sea kayaking code in Wales. This gives lots of useful advice when observing wildlife from a sea kayak. There are also a few safety tips as well as guidance and dates when sea birds and marine mammals are breeding.

For those of us who sea kayak in Jersey there may be some variations in the breeding dates. However, it is surprising just how many of the species mentioned in the video can be seen in Jersey waters.

Though some species are less common in the Channel Islands most of the advice is very useful when paddling around the coast of Jersey, the Channel Islands and UK.

The Jersey Marine and Coastal Wildlife Watching Code and other Jersey wild life guidelines is on our Sea Kayaking in Jersey – A guide to good environmental Practice page.

Produced by: Pembrokeshire outdoor charter.

Les Minquiers video. Sea kayaking in Jersey,Channel islands

October 7th, 2012

For the adventurous and experienced sea kayaker living in Jersey, or paddlers planing a kayaking trip in the Channel islands, Les Minquiers are a superb destination.

This video shows Les Minquiers from a sea kayaker’s perspective as we explore the rocks, gullies and sand bars which are revealed at low tide. Try to explore the reef at low tide. There are huge Caribbean blue lagoons, channels and enormous sand bars.

Kayaking to Les Minquiers

Les Minquiers Jersey

Maitresse Ile is the only part of the reef where it is possible to stay overnight.

Les Minquiers reef is the most southerly part of the British Isles, 12 miles south of Jersey, and tide streams are up to 5 knots.

If you plan to sea kayak across expect to be up to 6 miles from land at some stage. This is one of the most committing and advanced sea kayaking trips in Jersey.

Once on Les Minquiers you will often be the only visitors on the tiny islet of La Maîtresse Île.

Tide streams around Les Minquiers

Jersey has tides of up to 12.5m. At high water only a few hundred metres of the reef remain. Only Maîtresse Île is habitable – with a few huts – at high water. By low water the reef is said to dry to almost the size of Jersey. The reef is approximately 16km long and 11km wide.

The east going stream commences at -0540HW St Helier and gradually swings southeast until -0240HW when it then turns East. By HW a northwest stream is established near La Maîtresse Île. This is not shown on the tide stream atlas. The main west going stream is flowing by +0050HW St Helier.

Air crash and shipwrecks on Les Minquiers

Maitresse Ile. The cabins or barraques

Maitresse Ile. The cabins -or barraques- are now used as weekend residences

In 1936 the flying boat “Cloud of Iona” en route from Guernsey to Jersey became lost in fog and crashed at the Pipettes killing all on board. It took two weeks to discover the crash site.

A more amusing incident is Jersey’s version of the film “Whisky Galore”. In 1953 the Coaster Brockley Coombe was wrecked on the reefs. Part of its cargo included a quantity of Bristol Cream Sherry which hut owners from Les Minquiers rescued before Customs Officers arrived. Some bottles were never recovered.

History of Les Minquiers

Les Minquiers derive their name from the French word “Minkier” – a fish wholesaler – and probably reflects the abundance of fish and seal around the reefs. The reef was once important for conger fishing.

carvings on les minquiers

Carvings made by the quarrymen. Stone was shipped to Jersey to build Fort Regent

Today, you will see many lobster pot buoys which are useful markers to assess the speed and direction of the tide streams. On the biggest equinox tides the reef is a popular low water fishing spot for lobster and ormers (a type of abalone).

Approximately 89 out of 440 species of molluscs in the Channel Islands are found at Les Minquiers.

The huts on Maîtresse Île were constructed by quarrymen who were intent upon reducing the islet to nothing in order to build Fort Regent on Jersey (completed in 1814).

The La Rocque fishermen who sailed (and rowed) down each week to fish and hunt seal became irate at the rapid disappearance of their island base and resorted to direct action by removing the quarrymen’s tools and dropping them into deep water. Quarrying had ceased by 1807.

Landing is at the natural harbour to the east of Maîtresse Île. It is reported that this harbour was a very protected anchorage until the north-eastern crescent of the harbour was extensively quarried. This may have been a deliberate decision to stop the French navy using the natural protection afforded by the reef to escape detection from Jersey.

Years ago fishermen would sink their boats in bad weather because the boats were safer on the seabed than bouncing about at anchor during a storm.

A game of cards

The old quarrymen’s huts are now used as holiday cabins. The large hut at the north end of the islet was won by Bill Coom in a card game during the occupation after the owner was unable to pay his gambling debt.

les minquiers sea kayaking in jersey

Superb waters at les Minquiers


Stone carvings

As you explore the islet look for the carved names and initials written on the granite rocks by the quarrymen. Modern carvings can also be seen including a concrete kayak at the top of the slip. This was made by a party of storm bound kayakers who found a sack of cement to keep them occupied until conditions improved.

The most southerly toilet in the British Isles

Perhaps the most famous spot on Maîtresse Île is the toilet. This is the most southerly loo in the British isles and should be used with respect and care. Unlike its counterpart on Les Ecrehous construction of the loo in the 1930s did not create any outrage from the residents or national media attention.

Dolphins in Jersey


sand bar at les Minquiers

Sand bars surrounded by crystal clear water

Look out for dolphins. The southeast coast of Jersey and Les Minquiers are home to pods of dolphins, and there is a good chance you will see them.

Charter boat kayak tours of Les Minquiers

If you do not fancy sea kayaking across 12 miles of ocean, Jersey Kayak Adventures have scheduled charter boat sea kayaking trips to Les Minquiers. Private group tours can be arranged on request.

Derek Hairon on Google+



Blow holes on the north coast of Jersey.

January 28th, 2012
sea kayakers near blow holes on north cast

Blow hole east of Greve de lecq

A short sea kayaking video with a couple of the blow holes near L’Ile Agois and Greve de Lecq, Jersey. This section of coast has some large caves and numerous blow holes which work well when the conditions are right. At times theses blow holes can blow up to 30ft high.

As you head East look out for some ropes and even a ladder running down the cliff faces. Fishing in Jersey can be classified as an extreme sport. I often spot fishermen heading down the cliff face to fish some good spots.

Swell and tide streams around Greve de lecq

Blow hoel east of Greve de Lecq

The same blow hole on a different day.

The main problem when sea kayaking out of Greve de Lecq is the swell. On the flood tide the Easterly tide stream allows the swell to get through. Plus, the rising tide probably allows the swell to pass over the reefs further offshore.

In contrast, within half an hour of the start of the west going tide stream I’ve seen the swell start to drop off as the strength of the flow builds up and acts as a barrier to the swell arriving from the West.

L’Ile Agois

L’Ile Agois (in the latter part of the video) is a small island. It was excavated in the 1950’s and the 1970’s. Large quantities of Iron Age pottery were found from a time when the island was probably still connected to Jersey around 9th century BC The hollow remains of 27 circular huts and 2 rectangular buildings were found. It is suspected the site might have included a small community of hermit monks. Seven coins of Charles the Bald who died in 877AD have been found here which indicate that the island was probably re-inhabited again about 1800 years later.

The large narrow channel running between the rocks can be paddled providing you get your timing right and the swell is not too big….

The path down to the beach at L’Ile Agois is now in very poor condition but I still bump into a few elderly people who are prepared to head down to one of the most isolated spots on the north coast of Jersey. Personally I prefer to paddle into the bay. Look out for the ladders and remains of a bridge on the cliff path into the bay. This was installed by an SAS TA engineering team many years ago as part of a training exercise.

Sea kayak surf landing and launching

June 13th, 2011

A short video of sea kayak surf landing and launching. The plan was to practice controlled landings and launching in surf with sea kayaks.

A problem is that it is hard to resist the temptation to start surfing sea kayaks ashore.

Great fun but make sure you keep good group control to reduce the risk of accidents.

We ended up with a holed sea kayak when one paddler -while sitting on the beach- was hit by another kayak. Though not afloat, and in just a few inches of water, the force of the waves was enough to hole the kayak.

Launching and landing in surf is a useful skill to practice in case you return to and find that the surf has built up.

It is surprising how often we think we must land at the same spot on a beach as we launched even if the surf has increased in size. Often this is because it is nearest to where we parked the car.

Sea kayak surf landing tips:

If the surf has increased in size since you launched scout the whole beach. Usually there will be spots where the surf is smaller. Land here and float the kayak back along the waters edge to your launching spot or where the car is parked.

Use low support strokes

Protect yourself from shoulder injuries by only using low support strokes.

Have fun, take care and wear a helmet.


Sea kayak landing and launching in Alderney from Jersey Kayak Adventures on Vimeo.

BCU Foundation Safety and Rescue Training (FSRT) course

April 5th, 2011
Sea Kayak rescues with sea and short kayaks

Dealing with an all in capsize

The BCU FSRT is a course that many only consider if aiming for BCU/UKCC Level 1 coach award. This is a shame as it is a great course to really get you focussing on key rescue and safety skills.

Add the requirement to demonstrate kayak rescue skills with a variety of craft and you can be sure to go away with some new ideas.

This is a practical (and wet) course. You need to wear the right kit unless you want to become a real casualty. On our recent course the water was 9 degrees. Those who hired our dry suits were very happy.

Kayak rescue tips

Use similar kayaks

It is surprising how many people paddle with kayaks of very different design and size. It is surprising how often we see a coach paddling their own short short kayak when the rest of the group are using larger craft.

Try emptying a sea kayak while in a small play-boat and you’ll get the message.

Be aware of how diferent kayaks handle

Trapped in kayak. Method to right the kayaker

Different kayaks designs require you to have a range of rescue techniques

What to you may be a nice following sea to paddle may be a real pig of a sea for another paddler using a different type of kayak.

Have a range of kayak and sit-on-top capsize and rescue techniques

Kayaks and people come in different shapes and sizes. Be prepared to use different methods when dealing with kayak rescues.


Give clear and concise instructions.

Project your voice. Standing on the harbour wall I could hear some paddlers clearly and others were very hard to hear even when the same distance away.


Dealing with an ill kayaker

Incident management

Make sure you have agreed what a signal means.

Signals need to be clear


Take charge and lead.

Try this test. Do a rescue in silence and the repeat with someone taking control. Most find the rescue with leadership is faster.

Check the abilty of the group

Check who has safety kit, are paddlers wearing the right clothing for the activity.

It is surprising how many times paddlers go afloat without anyone checking  what safety kit is carried. A quick question can highlight items left in the car.

Is everyone in the group happy with the plan?

Be prepared to modify plans. Be honest-tell others if you are not happy with the way the trip is progressing.

Carry a tow line

An essential safety aid.

Know how to use a tow line.

Practice your kayak capsize and rescue skills

Unconscious paddler in kayak rescue technique

Key is to grab the PFD. Use you body to rotate upright.

A capsize is not the time to start trying to remember how to do a rescue, set up a tow or get a person back on board.

Practice in a range of conditions.

Add air bags to kayaks

Even sea kayaks with bulkheads should have air bags in case of hatch problems.

Short kayaks need air bags- especially if you are expecting a lot of capsizes. This reduces the risk of back injury and makes rescues easier. The pillar buoyancy on some designs is not enough.

Consider the build of paddlers in the group

You may find emptying or re-entering a kayak easy but others may not. Develop a range of techniques and test them in advance. A kayak rescue method on YouTube may look great but the reality may be very different for you and your group. This is especially the case when lookign at the use of slings and strops to help paddlers re-enter the kayak.

I’ll be running kayak safety courses in Jersey over the Summer. Dry suits can be supplied on request.

A short video of the training. Some of the demonstrations may not be “text book” examples. Remember this is a group of 2 star paddlers and a coach developing skills.


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