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Thread: Learning to Deal With Tides

  1. #1
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    Default Learning to Deal With Tides

    So, how would a Great Lakes sailor who has rarely had to deal with tides of any kind learn to do so?

    Let's imagine, say, that those pesky Canadians are likely going to keep their border closed this summer, shutting off access to tide-free cruising. ANd let's further imagine that, as a Plan B, someone were to begin thinking about a month on the Maine coast in this boat (which offers options to sleep aboard comfortably, on a raised platform):

    Alaska.jpg

    What would you recommend a guy like that do to prepare for his first-ever foray into serious tidal waters?

    What kinds of challenges should he be preparing for that he might not even be aware of?

    What kind of gear might he need to add to his kit?

    What kinds of books/charts etc. would he need to navigate the Maine coast for several weeks?

    What kinds of places and situations might be more dangerous because of tides than a non-tidal sailor might think?

    If this guy were philosophically opposed to GPS and electronics, how could he manage without it?

    I'd greatly appreciate... Er, this guy would probably really appreciate any thoughts from people experienced with tides, especially tides on the Maine coast in particular.

    Thanks!

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    For the Maine Coast, you might want to start by joining the Maine Island Trail Association. Our ( I volunteer as a monitor skipper driver for them) guidebook and web site deals with many of the issues that you are concerned about.

    For non electronic navigation, some of the tools that have been created for the sea kayaking community are useful. There are also some seakayaking guidebooks to the coast that are handy. Biggest in a row sail boat is gear so that it can be run up on a suitable beach or be anchored off with appropriate tackle to haul it in and out of the beach.

    Being able to sleep and cook on your boat does simplify things but you'll still want to be able to beach to explore islands.

    And plan your trip so you can join us for the Small Reach Regatta which we hope to be able to hold again this summer.
    Ben Fuller
    Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Tipsy, Tippy, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity, Look Far, Flash and a quiver of other 'yaks.
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    They make life more exciting. Frank

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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Ben, thanks; I was hoping you'd weigh in. I joined the MITA last night! The SRR would be great, especially if (as I seem to remember) this might be the last rendition?

    Specific advice on what works well for anchoring and shore access would be great. Clothesline mooring? Anchor Buddy? My Alaska is far too heavy to drag up a beach, so anchoring will be my approach, though I would be fine with drying out at appropriate times and places. The keel is fairly wide, so the boat should sit upright, perhaps with a fender shoved under the bilge.

    Also, any specific kayaking guides that you know are good? I agree that the kayaker's perspective is probably more useful for sail and oar cruising than a typical keelboat guide.

    And please, everyone, assume a complete novice knowledge base. Any comments about tides and currents will probably be something I don't know, even if it's obvious to the rest of you.

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 01-10-2021 at 03:04 PM.
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Quote Originally Posted by FF View Post
    They make life more exciting. Frank
    I'm kind of hoping to have some control over how exciting, though!

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    My first step would be to buy a copy of Eldridge.

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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Since I prefer to motor the currents don't mean much to me. It's the beaching that changes things. Left high and dry can alter one's scheduling radically and often so I rely heavily on the anchor buddy system. I've never tried the actual buddy though since long before it existed I used 30 feet of 1/2" surgical tubing. I have found that the black thick walled tubing works best, it doesn't degrade as soon in the sun and it's tougher.

    In case it does break (the black never has but the tan colored has several times) I always have a trip line and float attached to the anchor and just for the sake of not stressing the tubing more than necessary I always haul the anchor with the trip line.

    Being so stretchy the tubing is hard to tie securely so if/when it does break I tie the ends back together with a fisherman's knot. Once tied and stressed it's approximately impossible to untie, but that doesn't matter.

    The anchor buddy is sleeved. That must protect it from UV, which is what kills the tubing, and the sleeve may limit the max amount of stretch thereby not allowing one to stretch it to the breaking point, but I like a lot of stretch for shallow beaches so will stick with the tubing.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Tides are much too scary Tom, stay on your lakes



    Sorry, couldn't resist. I used a simple tide table for years, still use an online one as the main planning tool. Tide height is easy to find, it affects anchoring and passage through shallow areas. Tidal currents are trickier, predicting the strength and timing of currents in complicated estuaries often takes local knowledge. You will like that, but you may find yourself having to wait out a tide cycle just as you wait out a bad wind. In a channel or around the islands there is less current (and often counter current) near shore, raise the board and row to make progress. You will figure it all out quickly.

    For anchoring I have been using an anchor buddy, but local tides are only 4 to 6 feet and Maine is bigger I think. If you camp aboard and only need to be ashore for a short time it can work, but if you need to access the boat for a full tide cycle and do not want to ground out a more complicated Alaska style clothesline anchor might be needed.

    Rick

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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Thanks, all! This is great.

    Another Maine-specific question: If this were to be a complete border-to-border coastal trip, which would be better: north to south, or south to north? What do you think?

    Tom
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Another one: As a MITA member, I now have access to the MITA online app. Is there a way to download this to a laptop, or is it strictly a phone app? On Google Play it seems to only offer a phone option, and I don't have a phone.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Current can make things challenging or dangerous in several ways. One is weather based not location based. So, if the current opposes the wind, the water will get rougher. So, when does the current change and which was /is the wind blowing becomes important.

    Current can also pose a challenge in any narrow place and in any shallows. Tide races and rips can be quite docile at one stage of tide/ current and quite challenging during another. Nautical charts will identify such places, as will cruising guides.

    Current can also affect visibility. For example o a clear day with outgoing water, the current turns, and the incoming water is colder--enough so that fog is created. Folks will often say, " it came out of nowhere." But, really, it could have been expected.

    Navigation dovetails with these facts in that you'll want to be pretty accurate in knowing you can make a given point by a certain time so you can avoid the more challenging conditions of current and wind. You don't need a GPS to do those calculations for you. You can do them manually. However, a hand-held device is probably easier to manage than a paper chart aboard a small boat. YMMV.

    Anchoring will require knowledge of tides ( published info) so you can have an idea of arriving at a spot when there is sufficient water to carry your draft. If you don't mind drying out at low water, and can do so with no damage to the boat, and have the time, there's less to concern yourself about.

    In some places, the beach will drop-off steep, and you can anchor close to shore at any tide. In other places this will not be the case. The shore will run out a shallow angle and you may be more prone to be stranded by the tide. Check your charts--electronic or paper.

    These are tidal water generalities. There are plenty of Mainers here, who can surely speak to shoreline access and also provide local knowledge once you actually select your route.

    Kevin
    Last edited by Breakaway; 01-10-2021 at 01:52 PM.
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    On Gib's issue with breaking tubing: an actual anchor buddy has polypro sleeving over the tubing, allowing it to stretch to a limit as Gib says. The sleeving is also structural, if the tubing does break the sleeving is strong enough to hold our small boats. Sleeving has the advantage that is stays with the tubing, a separate line can make a slack loop that catches on the bottom.

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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    I expect that one could use 2 of anchor buddies end to end to advantage at times. They do sound like an improvement over tubing.

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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Caution, I'm not an expert, this is based on my own experience in mostly BC water.

    Sailing around the US and Canadian gulf islands, and up the BC coast, tidal currents play a large part, I've been stopped cold with my outboard going full blast, while another time I was travelling at 5 knots in the right direction while drifting in circles with no wind. The currents are like escalators and with planning you can get a nice boost on your way - I love tides. Can't help you with specifics for US waters, but look for tide and current tables, including cruising guides. Some of my US friends use Captain Jack's for tidal information on the west coast, is there an east coast version? Marinas on your route may offer free local tide tables, usually aimed at sports fishermen. Don't forget you'll need a reliable watch.

    I usually anchor in either my 20 or 22 footer, and dinghy ashore. Your boat looks like you can beach her without a lot of trouble, maybe using Duckwork's inflatable rollers? I haven't used them myself, but have inspected them and they looked tough and well-made. I have vague plans for building a beach cruiser and will certainly buy a pair for flotation and beaching if/when I do. I'll leave further advice on beaching or anchor systems to Gib and others.

    Electronics aren't necessary, but they can save time. My first crossing of Juan de Fuca took 8 hours, motoring, because I didn't allow enough for the ebbing tide running across my course. A friend insisted I borrow his GPS and on the next crossing I only took 6 hours. A GPS is also very comforting when fog descends on you half-way, as happened on another crossing; my GPS is a Garmin 12, a very basic unit that is several generations old but is still sufficient. However, most days I only get it out if I am wondering how fast I'm going. A VHF is good for weather forecasts or keeping track of each other if in a group, apart from any potential distress calls. Mine can use AA batteries as well as rechargeables, as I don't have charging abilities and prefer not to use marinas. When I did a multi-day off-shore trip in a friend's boat I bought a personal locator beacon which I still carry in case I go overboard (getting older and clumsier.)

    You will want proper charts, especially if you don't have a GPS or one without charts included, I would carry some kind of chart anyway. Learn to read all the chart symbols or carry a guide, in Canada we have Chart #1 which explains these, there should be a US equivalent. If your charts are out of date, like most of mine, consider carrying a light list.

    Having said all this, I should add that along-shore cruising isn't rocket science, common sense and watching the weather forecast will get you through a lot. I've read about the Main Island Trail and envy you the opportunity, be sure to post your trip story!

    Jamie

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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Quote Originally Posted by David W Pratt View Post
    My first step would be to buy a copy of Eldridge.
    Thanks--looks like a good place to start, and I see the 2021 edition is available. I didn't even know what "Eldridge" was until I Googled it, so I appreciate the suggestion.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Guess I am a bit excited myself, been rummaging through the Mita Guidebook (edition 1996) and Tom McGrathts book. I am sure you will be fine and I am looking forward to read the report of your voyage.
    A tip: Carry extra water to rinse of the salt water before you enter your sleeping bag, you will be much more comfortable that way. Frank

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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Tom, sent you a PM. An inflatable beach roller is a very handy bit of kit if you have room for it. Tides run 8-12 feet along much of the coast, and local knowledge about tidal currents is really helpful, as Jamie pointed out. For route planning, tides rule. You will have lots of cruising options along the Maine coast!

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    For small boat cruising,you have to engage the correct mindset.The days are dominated by the tide times and ordinary concepts such as breakfast time may have to be reconsidered.Don't even contemplate fighting tidal streams by design as the day will be over before you get many miles under the keel.There may be early mornings and late nights to make the most of the natural forces that can help you along and be careful about keeping your centreboard slot from landing on shingle and impacting pebbles into places where they will render the board inoperable.A sailcloth centreboard slot gasket will inhabit the ingress of detritus.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Eldridge and MITA essential. I was never that fond of sleeping on a small boat as my waters have waves and such. For oar and sail cruising both Oregon and Maine, I mostly slept ashore using a sort of variation or inspired by the WWII GI Jungle Hammock. It's basically a two point hammock with a rain tarp suspended about 3' above the sleeping surface. Generous overhangs allowed for cooking and such under some shelter if that's what the weather was. It could be pitched on the ground if that was flatish and free of stones.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Tides in Maine vary from around 10 ft at the New Hampshire border to 20 feet in Lubec.
    A tide table downloaded ahead of time is adequate. Most use tide info from an app like the MITA phone app or from a GPS unit. The tide tables take a little practice figuring but they work. Make a habit of figuring out and writing down the tides (both times and depths) for the day and overnight before you get started in the AM. Watch out for tidal depths listed as negative. These low tides drop below charted depth. (eg if the charted depth is 6 feet and the predicted tidal height is -1.5, expect 4.5 feet at low).

    Learn the rule of 12's. Maine's tides run just over 6 hrs from high to low.
    1st hour 1/12 of the tidal range
    2nd hour 2/12 of the tidal range
    3rd hour 3/12 of the tidal range
    4th hour 3/12 of the tidal range
    5th hour 2/12 of the tidal range
    6th hour 1/12 of the tidal range

    So by the end of the 2nd hour 1/12 plus 2/12 equals 3/12 (or 1/4) of the predicted range.

    With this trick and the tide data you wrote down in the morning you can look at your watch and estimate how much the tide will rise or fall while you are anchored.

    You need to allow enough scope for the predicted high tide and leave some water under you at low tide. (Duh)

    If you are going to sleep on board figure out your plan for getting ashore. Light boats can be carried or dragged. Some folk (not me) have succeeded with clothes line type rigs. Anchor buddies are limited in the distance they will pull the boat away from shore.

    Even though I am a paper chart guy, I don't go out without my hand held GPS. When the fog rolls in and fatigue fogs your brain it is great to know exactly where you are.

    "The Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast" (aimed at larger boats than yours) and the MITA guide have good info.

    Frank K.

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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Frank, post #20, that's great information--very helpful!

    John, good point about the centerboard slot. I had the board jam on me once on a rocky beach, and since I use a weighted board with no rigid rod, it was quite an undertaking to unjam it. A gasket may be well worth it.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    FF mentions water in post #16, which seems like another challenge. I'm used to sailing in drinkable water, so it's easy to refill at any moment. Where does one find fresh water on the Maine coast? Are there wild sources like springs, lakes, or un-brackish rivers? Or do you have to restock at stores and marinas?

    Tom
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    I live on one of the biggest lakes in the west, and I find it totally boring, this after a life on a marine island in SE AK. A tidal chart and a current chart is all that's needed, along with a sense that you are not in charge. I loved living in a place that was regulated by the tides and the weather.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides


    Captain Jack's and the Tidal Current guides are used in conjunction to figure out where to go when here on the Salish. Eldridge appears to be the Maine equivalent. Nice thing about the Tidal Current book is that it is broken up into time periods so you can see which way the water should be moving at pretty much any interval between max ebbs and floods.

    Which way to go? Take a deep dive into the current tables and correlate the tides for the period you want to be there with daylight hours. When I'm planning my annual trek north and west to Port Townsend I'm at their mercy, sometimes I can leave at the crack of dawn and catch a favorable current most of the way there, sometimes that would require leaving at midnight. Pay attention to the eddies, sometimes they run opposite to what you might expect.
    Steve

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  25. #25
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Is there an equivalent current chart for Maine? Or just tide tables?

    Tom
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Others have covered most of the practicalities.

    I would agree most emphatically with John Meachen that the most important change to make is your mindset. You really do have to abandon the idea of schedules or fixed destinations and be prepared go when the conditions are most favourable and to wait it out if the currents are too strong against you.

    I'd agree with Jamie that a GPS is an important piece of safety equipment on salt water, too. When, not if, you are caught by fog, it is invaluable for getting to some place of shelter. You may think you'd be OK drifting around until it lifts or rowing in the general direction you want to go, but, in your boat, like mine, you are nearly invisible to other boats who are out there as well, even if they have radar. I consider other boats to be the biggest danger of rowing/sailing a small boat in the fog. When I have been caught out in the middle of a passage, I have turned on the GPS and beetled into the nearest bolt-hole as soon as I could.

    Finally, look into putting together a clothesline mooring rig. It really does give you peace of mind that your boat will be OK if you want to camp ashore or even just go for a long walk.
    Alex

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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    As a fresh water sailer a refresher of specifics might help. Tides refer to the vertical movement of water and currents refer to the horizontal movement of water.
    Cruising without electronics is very doable. I cruise from RI to NJ and back with zero electronics. It actually makes it more interesting and gives you something to do.
    Eldridge would be an excellent idea (I use it religiously), unfortunately it may not of much help for you. It covers tides at Portland Me and That’s it for Maine. The majority of the content is for Boston and south to the Chesapeake.
    It is still an excellent reference with all sorts of interesting little rod bits.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Here's another thing to think about...kelp. You cannot sail thru kelp, it's very tough and will catch your rudder and board and stop you dead. That leaves rowing. But that must be done correctly or you can get in a world of trouble.

    If there's a current or wind and you get one or both of your oars hung up in the kelp you will get turned abeam to the current and the downstream oar will be sticking straight up and will be very difficult to haul out of the water. If there are waves traveling in the same direction as the current you will be rolling something fierce until you either lose or free the oar, and the only way to free the oar will be to pull like hell on the upstream oar and get the hull pointed into the current/wind. Then, while using that oar to maintain that position let the hull move with the energy until the stuck oar slides out. I know this from experience. This was something I had never anticipated and I very nearly went over the side in cold cold water.

    Don't let this stop you though, there's a way to row in kelp.

    Normally I feather the oar just barely enough to encourage it to dive slightly on the pull stroke. I assume everybody does. If you do that in kelp it will dive and get stuck down there, it won't resurface on the return stroke. I know that doesn't sound all that likely but I assure you, Hercules himself would be challenged to get that sucker back into the boat before it got wrenched out of his hand. If you feather the oar so that it wants to rise, to not penetrate, you'll be OK.

    It takes a bit of practice and getting used to but it will be worth learning before the wind or current drives you into a big kelp bed.

    All of this is assuming that there are kelp beds off of Maine. There must be.

    Last edited by Gib Etheridge; 01-10-2021 at 08:58 PM.

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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    The prevailing wind on the coast of Maine is a southerly. Much of the coast runs east and west so it is a great area to sail. (There is of course the occasional stiff offshore breeze that will get your attention!)
    The tides and currents are most important, you will soon be knowing them intimately and if you are not planning around it you can be carried pretty far off your course. (If you are planning on a destination by a certain time against a head wind and head tide, you may want to change your destination!)
    Look here for NOAA tide and current stations: https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/no...Stations?g=454
    I use the inexpensive iNavX program on my iphone and ipad, it works pretty well and links to NOAA charts and tides and currents.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Quote Originally Posted by Gib Etheridge View Post

    That nereocystis (bull kelp) makes some of the best pickles under the sun.

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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Never seen bull kelp in Maine...

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    Another one: As a MITA member, I now have access to the MITA online app. Is there a way to download this to a laptop, or is it strictly a phone app? On Google Play it seems to only offer a phone option, and I don't have a phone.

    Tom
    Tom, I'm going to experiment with downloading the MITA app on my new Mac which has a chip that is supposed to run App's. I'll be looking at my bookshelf for nav books and gear that will be helpful. If you want paper and don't want to carry a phone, the simplest thing to do would be to go to https://maineboats.com/tide-charts and download tide charts fo rhe time you'll be in Maine. You are going to need waterproof charts which I carry in a waterproof envelope mostly to keep the chart from blowing overboard. You can down load the NOAA charts and print them on waterproof paper. Problem with the commercial waterproof charts is that they are off scale. A hand held GPS is indeed valuable even if you want to go paper mostly if fog hits. They do provide tide and current maps. I'm not found of the pad/phone based ones as they don't read as well in bright sun as the dedicated units. I've built a larger version of a dedicated unit that works well on a row/sail boat which I wrote up in Small Boat Magazine.
    Ben Fuller
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    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Tom,

    Off the bat...things going through my head in no particular order...i havn't sailed in maine but do sail on very tidal water in the Solent (it runs upto 5-6 knots each way). Regarding tidal sailing, and the Solent is more extreme han most I think...

    1. Is it neaps or springs. Additionally with planetary affects you also have extra neaps and extra springs at periodic times. This affects total water height or not up the beach or mudflats but also the sheer volume of water moving and the current speeds and then knock on effect of that on wind over tide conditions etc. You can either work this all out of make use of sophisticated tidal predictions and graphs that are available.

    2. If you're doing any beaching you obviously don't want to be beaching at peak springs and subsequent tides being lower.

    3. You're looking at using the tidal currents to increase your speed over the ground. That might be as much as a 5-6 knot extra push giving you 10 knots! You might have to time leaving a dock at slack or whenever to make sure you're in the escalator at the right time and place. The currents are strongest in the deeper water and less at the edges. It also turns at the edges first and you can back eddies at the edges which yoou have to use going counterflow. Look at your chart and see where the water flows - where the water flowed before the sea levels rose before the sea levels rose after the thawing in the last ice age is where the water is still moving mainly - the shallower areas at the side - what was once the river banks - is where its slacker.

    4. The tidal current can be move out of an area and into another when it should technically be dropping making it rise again or have a long high water stand. Physical affects of topogrpahy does this. Even into rivers the tide can be leaving at the beach end and trying to come in at the sea end in the Solent when its funneling in on an ebb.

    5. The tide current with the wind makes it flatter. Wind against tide creates unpeasant chop that you want to avoid.

    6. Uopwind in a good blow at 6 knots boat speed your VMG is much lower maybe 4 knots. You can't make way against a 4 knot tide in a small boat unless you're right out at the edges where the current is less. Beware low winds...downwind moving at 1 knot you may be in 1 knot current and have no pressure on the sails and then no steerage. Same to windward, you might be sailing then fall off and the current takes you downwind at the the same speed as the wind and you've got no steerage. You can in a sail and oar boat obviously crack the oars out and get moving.

    7. The tidal movement will make accleration zones around a promontory where the current is whipping past. The wind does the same thing. If you're in wind againt tide it will be especially bad in this local region. You'll also get pressure waves - surface chop - where there is alot of water movement especially outside river entrances where its often shallower. Water conditions are worse here always.

    8. The clean water in a river will be colder, the water leaving warmer. It sometimes affects the fishing. Te fish tend to sit where the back eddies around a promotory so they don't have to expend energy. The shoreline fish tend to come in on a rising tide and nibble at whats on the beach as it gets covered.

    9. Some places the water gets squeezed are termed tidal gates and you can't sail a boat easily against the contra flow especially a small boat. Conditions will also be rough and the water eddies so much it spins the boats round a bit. These have to be timed very carefuly for sack and preferably neaps. You get back eddies and contraflows in some big tidal gates and have to look at the water carefully - sometimes you'll see a water line between two different moving bodies of water.

    10. You might have to time a day so that you're able to actually get in the river entrance on the flood otherwise the tide might take you down there but you can't get in because of a very strong ebb through the river entrance. PLaces with a large inner harbour and a narrow entrance are like this.

    Some places have more or less tidal currents but you'll sometimes look at the wind speed and direction, the currents and the time available and there's really only one place you can go safely or sometimes none at all! Its all a question of timing and figuring out predicted boat speed in the conditions and working backwards to figuring out the best and only time to leave.

    11. Consider the weather. High pressure will reduce water heights and movement. Low pressure the opposite. Also low pressures can push water ahead of them creating more water flow and very high tides, though you shouldn't be out in that in a small boat.

    12. You really have to figure the cross tide over the time you're moving if you going accross the current any distance or at least know on basic dead reckoning what angle to be pointing your boat at. This gets more critical the slower you're going and the faster the current. You may need to sit down with some vectors drawn to know what direction you need to point at (plus add your compass deviation card and local declination to be fully accurate). It will be usuefull to know rough boats speeds you get on different points. Add to this the affect of apparent wind on the sails due to current. A GPS cross track error can indicate how far sideways off a straightline your on. You should curve it though as you run through a tidal stream. Its good to know your boat speed and vmg. It's unlikely you'll have actual speed through the water without an impeller log but that can allow you to actually work out current speeds.

    13. The current is its moving at say 5 knots and it's taking you into the wind of 15 knots plus your doing 5 knots throught the water, you now looking at 25 knots apparent wind speed with wind over tide conditons...back onto a run at 5 knots and you've got 5 knots on the sails. So you need to consider apparent wind speeds for you're sail plan.

    14. Most people day sailing or out in powerboats are generally more around either side of high water. At low water slack you generally get the place to yourself.

    On the subject of Maine...never been there but would love to. I believe mist is an issue - I'd want a radar relfector if I didn't have tin foil in the mast. Basic foghorn. I think I'd also carry a decent strobe. Both for the boat and on my lifejacket over a drysuit. I've been in thick fog a few times and it's pretty awfull. Maybe orange spar ends. The lobster boats I'm sure will have radar but they need to be able to see you in time at the speeds they run at which is high I believe. Also run an anchor light. Watch for lobster pots, usually off the main streams in the Solent but I don't know how well flagged buoyed they are in Maine. Probably half arsed like most fisherman.

    I wrote up a day sailing sheet once incorporating all the factors for consideration so I had it all pre thought in case I had to bailout on a day when things weren'y going to plan and I had the info written down in case I forgot. I'll dig it out for you if you want. A few years ago it was looking like everyone was going to have to carry a passage plan even for short distances but it seemed to fall off the radar.

    Re anchoring on the windward side of a river bank you refloat earlier but the anchor is bedded in mud falling away and is less secure in high winds (not really a factor in a small boat though with low windage). On the leeward river bank the opposite. Also consider scope with large tidal ranges and you'll need some decent big fenders and long mooring ropes if you're going into harbours with alot of tidal range. As far as possible check what's under you - some harbours have old jetty warfs and unpleasant rock and metal spikes still in the ground from years past that you don't want to dry out on.\

    Being sail and oar - rowing straight upwind at 4-5 knots is eqivalent to a 40ft'er on full chat tacking to windward. That ability could get you out of a problem now and again. If yiour tacking upwind on the edges out of a stream, its likely the wind angle makes ones side better - a longer alongshore tack. This is the better side to head for, and its better to have to the boat set up for this alongshore tack with boom position (for luggers etc) or weight. For getting home in the Solent against tide its better local boats here are good on port tack for instance. Tidal areas favour boats that can point high. You've got a long waterline for a small boat which with plenty of speed will also cut exposure times to cross tide compared to a smaller dinghy.
    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 01-11-2021 at 07:23 AM.

  34. #34
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Hills of Vermont, USA
    Posts
    38,089

    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Lots of good info here, but I'll toss out a few things, some of which will be repetitive.

    Traveling border to border is going east/west, not north/south (downeast comes from sailing downwind while traveling east - towards Canada). That being said, ME has 3K miles of coast, so there's travel in all directions!

    For sure a handheld GPS! They are inexpensive & a huge help in fog or darkness

    Don't underestimate what tides can do! 1) if on mud flats, you can easily be stranded by 1/4 or 1/2 mile of mud if you beached at high tide & want to leave at low tide. 2) currents - when all that water is moving, there are places with 5-6 knot currents. IOW - you ain't rowing against 'em, so you have to learn to work with 'em. They are not just in constricted places (though they are usually strongest there) - but in places that look fairly broad. Often docks can have 2-3 knot tidal currents that can make docking quite entertaining.

    Fog. Sure - you've dealt with it in northern lakes, but in my experience, darn few places do thicker fog than Maine. You definitely want to have a radar reflector up on your mast.

    Water: I'm afraid you want to use potable sources. Streams may or may not be clean + even very clean ones can have Giardia

    Docklines - an 8' line won't cut it. You need 20' or so, as you might be tying up to pilings that are way up out of the water. If on a non-floating dock, your boat's lines will need adjusting every hour or 2.

    Enjoy! It's beautiful & the smells are very different.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  35. #35
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Sound Beach, NY
    Posts
    4,462

    Default Re: Learning to Deal With Tides

    Before my current boat, I did all of my sailing and cruising around Long Island with a hand bearing compass, depth sounder and charts. The 20' sloop had a lead line, but I rarely used it, I just looked over the side. I think you can navigate your small boat the same way. Don't put too much faith in current tables, weather can affect the current, and sometimes they're just wrong. I would bring a handheld vhf a least. Good ground tackle with plenty of rode, sometimes the bottom drops steeply. Prevailing breeze here is SW, going north is easier.
    Good luck, keep us posted.

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