Friday 1st June, 2001
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 didn’t 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 couldn’t leave if we wanted to.


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 network!


King Street.

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.

Stay tuned,

James

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