St Heliers, Jersey
Writer : James Frankham
STARSHIP pitched in the swell; sheets of green water
slapped against the hull and coated the windows with a salty residue. It was
nice to have a passage that didnt require transforming the salon and wheelhouse
to conform to the ardour of ocean movement. The southern most island of the
Channel Island group loomed in the distance and STARSHIP had a schedule to meet.
On this part of the planet we are governed by the moon. The tides around Jersey
are among the strongest in the world, with an intertidal range approaching 14
metres (40 feet). In fact the surface area of the island increases from 45 to 63
square miles at low tide! Everyday a little real estate miracle.
The marina at St Heliers Harbour has traffic lights. Green means you can enter
safely, Red says Sorry, closed due to lack of water. Massive gates close
behind STARSHIP, stemming the water flow of the outgoing tide to ensure that
plenty remains beneath the vessels moored within. We couldnt leave if we wanted
A quiet evening square.
Jersey. Heard that word before? Ah yes; woolly jumpers, pullovers, sweaters
whatever you care to call them, the title originated here. The Island has been
associated with knitting for over four hundred years. Many knitted garments were
exported in the 16th century from Jersey to England and the Continent. Jersey
became synonymous with knitted garments and the name stuck.
So with visions of agriculture and knitwear swimming in my mind, Michael and I
meandered ashore for a quick excursion. It seems much has changed since
liberation from the German forces in 1945. We stepped into the unexpected.
Streets buzzed with vehicles and pedestrians, stores vibrated with the latest
fashion and music, cafes were alive and people sauntered from place to place
with a courteous haste. This island of 85 000 even has its very own cellular
Jersey is not part of the UK, nor is it a colony, but yet has allegiance to the
Crown. It maintains its own legislative assembly called the States of Jersey
and is responsible for regulation of its own domestic affairs, including
taxation. The tax regime has attracted significant foreign investment and hosts
73 banks, 33 000 registered companies and more than US$200 billion deposited on
the Island at any one time. As such, Finance contributes 55% to the Gross
Domestic Product (GDP). Nearly a million visitors per annum ensure a healthy 24%
of the GDP belongs to Tourism. My delusions of farmers and cosy jumpers finally
expired when I read that agriculture sneaks in with a pale 5%. Farmers no more.
We were enthusiastically pointed in the direction of the Tourist Bureau and the
office of Michael Tait, the Director of Jersey Tourism. He furnished us with a
remarkable array of ideas, pamphlets, arranged a rental car and launched a
barrage of strategic calls on our behalf to relevant environmental and cultural
points of interest. This island is brimming with an incredible range of things
to do and see which you can look forward to reading about over the next week.
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