Roches-Douvres Lighthouse

Have you ever been out at St.Ouens bay in the evening and wondered what that flashing light was out to sea? There’s a good chance that it could have been the Roches-Douvres Lighthouse. If you’re looking at the charts on the boat you’ll see it flashes a white light every 5 seconds (Fl W 5s), and lies around 258° T from Corbiere Lighthouse on Jersey.

Getting there

We decided to head down to the lighthouse on a non-commercial trip with the Seafari Falcon RHIB for a bit of spearfishing and sightseeing. From St.Helier, the lighthouse is roughly 27.5 nautical miles away which equated to around 50 minutes at 33 knots. We organised this trip due to the forecast of a stable ridge of high-pressure resulting in little wind and a slight sea state, ideal for our 9.5m RHIB. We contacted Jersey Coastguard on VHF CH 82 prior to departing, on our arrival and for a return journey.

The Reef

We arrived on the east side, very slowly making our way around to the west dodging uncharted rocks; courtesy of incomplete surveys of the plateau . We had a passage plan which gave us a rough idea of tidal flow in the area but we weren’t exactly sure about any localised currents. We took shelter in a small bay adjacent to the slipway to the west. Those that were spearfishing kitted up, we arrived a couple of hours before the low water to make the most of the slack.

A few of us paddled to shore while the others went out spearing. Unfortunately there were no moorings in place at the time of our visit so the boat was left at anchor on short stay whilst we were on dry land.

We struck lucky!

On our approach we noticed a couple of chaps working up the lighthouse and were hoping that we could get a look inside. After pointing up and shouting “bonjour, c’est possible?”, we were given a wave welcoming us to come up the ladder.

We were given a fantastic tour of the lighthouse from top to bottom by our host Serge and his friend. He discussed with us that the lighthouse was electrified in 1971 and is now powered by wind turbines and solar panels with back-up generators. We managed to head right to the top of the lighthouse, climbing the crows nest (65m) to get an incredible view of the Channel Islands. After the tour we were invited to the kitchen where we signed the visitors book and had a glass of wine.

We said our goodbye’s to the lighthouse crew and made our way back to the boat. The spearfishing lads seemed to have their efforts hampered by the amount of seals in the area, although they did manage to bag a few decent sized pollack and bream. There were some tales of monster pollack in the area due to the distance offshore, the visibility on the day was 15m but unfortunately nothing spectacular was caught.

The trip was topped off by a pod of dolphins on Jersey’s south coast on our return. Hopefully we’ll get another chance to visit this spectacular place on another day in 2017.

Daniel Luce

Richard StevensComment