For the adventurous sea kayaker visiting Jersey Les Minquiers is a superb destination. Look out for Dolphin and Seals.
If you do not fancy sea kayaking across 12 miles of ocean Jersey Kayak Adventures offer charter boat sea kayaking trips to Les Minquiers. jerseykayakadventures.co.uk/ and visit the Tours pages.
Look out for the Dolphins in Jersey section of the video. They were spotted off the east coast of Jersey.
Les Minquiers reef is the most southerly part of the British isles, 12 miles south of Jersey. 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 Minquers you will probably be the only people.
Jersey has tides of up to 12.5m. At high water only a few hundred metres of ithe reef remain. At low water the reef is said to dry to almost the size of Jersey. It is a superb area to explore by sea kayak with great low water fishing.
History of Les Minquiers
Les Minquiers derives its name from the French word “Minkier” - fish wholesaler and probably reflects the abundance of fish and Seal around the reefs. The reef was once important for Conger fishing.
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 destination for Lobster and Ormers (a type of Abelone).
Approximately 89 out of 440 species of molluscs in the Channel islands are found at les Minquiers.
The Pipette rocks are often one of the first bits of land seen. 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.
The huts on Maitresse Ille were constructed by quarrymen who were intent upon reducing the islet to nothing in order to build Fort Regent. 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.
Landing is at the natural harbour to the East of Maitresse Ile. Years ago fishermen would sink the boats if there was bad weather because they were safer on the seabed than bouncing about at anchor in a storm.
The 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.
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 some storm bound kayakers who found a sack of cement to keep them occupied until conditions improved.
Perhaps the most famous spot on Maitress Ille is the toilet which 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.
Try to explore the reef at low tide. There are huge Caribbean blue lagoons, channels and enormous sand bars.
Look out for Dolphin. The south east coast of Jersey and Les Minquiers are home to pods of Dolphin.
"J. S. Bach: Prelude in C - BWV 846" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)