Comprehending Tides

Tides occur every day. They happen all around us and they are a constant.  

I grew up in Puerto Rico where the tide was only around 1 foot. Every so often, we would get a "Rip Tide" as we called them where the tide would go really low and the reefs would come out of the water. My sister and I loved it because we could run across long expanses that used to be covered by a few inches of water at low tide. (This is when we found the really cool seashells) 

Then I moved to Baltimore, MD where I started living aboard. The marina I lived in had floating piers and the tide was only about 2 feet. During severe winter storms, the tide would go out several feet, but this was an anomaly.  

The thing that really kept me from comprehending the tides was the fact that I was tied to a floating pier, so the relationship from deck to pier was always the same, no matter the tide. The only time I noticed that the tide was up or down was when I walked the gangplank from the pier to the parking lot. As you can imagine, this was a very small portion of my day and it never really sunk in how powerful the tides really are. 

Then we went cruising and always anchored out. We have anchored in places with profound tides, but it never impacted us since we were anchored. I simply set enough scope so that we would be 7:1 at high tide and ignored the movement of the water from there. When we would go ashore, we would carry the dinghy up the beach and lock it to a tree. The most we would notice of the tide is how it affected the distance we needed to carry the dinghy from waters edge to the tree. 

We are now in Carolina Beach, NC tied up to a marina near Snow Cut. The tide here is around 5-6 feet and the piers are floating. I figured that we would simply float up and down with the tide and the relationship from pier to deck would remain unchanged, but this marina has a rock breakwater. 

We arrived at the marina during high tide and the breakwater looked like a very insignificant structure. It was a mere collection of stones sitting a few inches above the waters surface, with each stone creating a wake as the current pushed through. 

Then I went out at low tide to walk around the marina and what I saw completely blew my mind! 

The tiny stones that broke the surface were only the tops of giant boulders that are now completely exposed! Worse yet, the boulders are taller than I am! To think that so much water passes through this waterway on a daily basis is incredible. The sheer number of gallons of water that need to flood and ebb this waterway everyday is unthinkable!  

Tides truly are a force of nature! They occur regularly and they occur quietly, but they should not be underestimated as they are a constant powerful force that happens beneath our keels everyday.