I sincerely hope that I will never have to shout “Le Jouannet” into the VHF Radio in an emergency situation because I can just imagine the Coastguard operators all looking each other in bewilderment as to what I’d just said and how on earth anyone spells it. In answer to the constant question of who, what and where is Le Jouannet the answer is simple, its not actually a real word, place or person so you can say it anyway you like.
The mystery of the name begins with the original owner, Gerry, whose parents honeymooned in Guernsey in 1947 only a few years after the occupation. Whilst there, they enjoyed many a sunny day in a bay located on the Southern side of the island which they honestly believed to be called Le Jouannet. They were so taken with this bay that on returning home to Surrey they named their house Le Jouannet and in later years Gerry passed the name to his boat.
Having used all the usual search facilities, and with defeat imminent, I contacted the Guernsey RNLI safe in the knowledge that they know every nook and cranny on the island and passed the puzzle over to them. It didn’t take too long before the mystery was solved and we discovered that Gerry’s childhood house, and boat, should have been named ‘Le Jaonnet’.
The history lesson doesn’t end here as Le Jaonnet bay holds a special place in Guersneys history during WW2, and in particular the actions of Lieutenant Hubert F Nicolle.
In 1940 Lt Nicolle was undergoing military training with the Hampshire Regiment when the invasion of his homeland occurred. As a local man, he was the ideal candidate to be put ashore and make observations and report back to the War Office. So In July, of that same year, Nicolle was taken by submarine to the island where he paddled a canoe ashore landing in Le Jaonnet bay where a plaque marking his arrival exists today. His information was so crucial he was dispatched back for a second trip, again to Le Jaonnet bay, however this was less successful as his return submarine failed to arrive and he spent the remainder of the war in captivity.
I apologise for summarising what was a one of many brave and heroic acts during those dark days and I can only direct the reader to the full record which is wonderfully written in William M Bell’s book .. The Commando Who Came Home to Spy…
So there we have it mystery solved. Now Its not the worse thing in the world to re-name a vessel especially under new owners however she is affectionally known as LJ’ and is testament to Lt Nicolle and a honeymooning couple and we’re safe in the knowledge that she is unique …
In July 2018 whilst visiting the island we found the bay .. click here to be taken to Le Jaonnet Bay