Currents and tide streams for the sea kayaker around Jersey

We talk a lot about the Gulf current. This is responsible for keeping our temperatures in Jersey and Europe a lot higher than they would be if we did not receive its warm waters.

Jersey is Latitude 49° 02’N which is roughly the same as Newfoundland where they get much colder weather and waters than us because they do not get the Gulf current. To put this into perspective, were we to not have the Gulf current many British ports would be ice-bound in Winter.

This superb video from NASA shows the ocean surface currents around the world between June 2005 to December 2007.

Currents

Currents are a steady flow of water in a particular direction.

Tide streams

The movement of the tides produces oscillating currents which are known as tidal streams.

If you sit off one of the headlands around Jersey what you will experience is the tide stream. This can easily reach 5-6 knots (and sometimes even faster) as a result of the huge tidal range in Jersey. Expect tide ranges of around 12 metres. The directions and strengths vary a lot depending on the flood and ebb tides.

Spring and Neap tides will also produce a huge difference in the rate of the flow.

Sources of information about tide streams around Jersey

tide stream directions in the Channel islands

Live data showing tide streams in the Channel Islands from Previmer

The Admiralty tidal stream atlas for the Channel Islands and adjacent coast of France (NP 264) is an essential aid for anyone sea kayaking in Jersey and the Channel Islands. Alderney gets its own chapter due to the very fast and complex tide streams around Alderney, which I can vouch for!

You’ll find a basic tide stream atlas for Jersey here and a more detailed diagram showing the tide streams in the gullies off the south-east coast of Jersey.

Real-time tidal streams can be found on Ifremer/Marc. This is a very detailed and often overlooked resource from Ifremer, one of the top marine research organisations.

You can learn a lot about tides, tide streams and kayak navigation on one of the many BCU Coastal Navigation and tidal planning courses. Or, buy a copy of Sea kayak Navigation by Franco Ferrero (who happens to be from Jersey) published by Pesda Press.

Thanks to Kayakyak blog for the video link.

Kayak Navigation & Small craft navigation courses in Jersey

The British Canoeing Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning (CNTP) course is a great way to learn more about tides, currents and weather. The course is ideal for anyone who kayaks, swims, uses a small boat or, wants to explore the incredible low tide area around Jersey.

Dates of our Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning courses are listed here.

Custom courses can often be arranged.

Contact us for more information.