Time Tidal Trials
Amazing how time and tide are forever tied together. Both move like clockwork. Both are timely. Both tell us it is about time. In fact, they are all about time. They're oh so predictable. Never standing or sitting still, neither can be rushed. One rises and falls, ebbs and flows while the other one marches onward and forward. Both are powerful as they force changes upon our shores. Both are set to the gravity and cycles of our moon. Both alter our days and our doings on and off the water. Neither can be stopped. Neither can be ruled. Both are generous yet unforgiving. Both test human patience. Both test every sailor's abilities.
Choosing to abide to man-made departure plans come hell or high water is often a blueprint for a reminder. A firm agenda often ignores nature. When information, instincts and expertise aren't present, mindlessness often spells When natural events and faulty decision-making clash, life becomes more challenging. When humans think they can orchestrate or conduct "our music" upon the sea, they are mistaken. It is the sea (and earth) conducting their tidal tune and rhythm upon our common senses or lack thereof. It is up to us to remember we need to watch, listen and comprehend. While we may be earth's audience, we can just stay in our seats as we need to be active listeners. If we don't pay attention, we run the risk of a rude awakening.
Untimely Tidal Occurrences:
Peer Pressure: Ignoring the 20+ knot northerly wind clashing with a southerly 3-4 knot Gulf Stream, a Nova Scotia cruising sailor confessed to me he made a poor choice to cross from Miami to Bimini.. In the seemingly reassuring protection of a flotilla of 5 other boats, he thought his boat and himself safer. What he eventually His sloop was smaller than the other boats and could not ride the herd of wave "elephants" so he had to turn back to the Florida coast after making 10 miles of the 44. Not only did he not cross the Gulf that day, but he beat up his boat, scared his crew and wasted the better part of a day sailing 20 miles ending up where he started.
We can end up on a unintended shore if we don't listen to the sea. ~
Ignoring Conditions: Once while kayaking off the northern shore of Bar Harbor, Maine, I witnessed some unfortunate kayakers neglecting to move their automobile and returned hours later to discover it nearly under water. The tidal difference between high and low in northern Maine was around 20 feet.
Unfamiliar Denial:: Having the previous day crossed the Gulf, I somehow choose to neglect the local tidal chart and the bridge opening schedule as I motored Mystique 6 miles northerly. With a favorable current up the ICW on Lake Worth, I soon discovered the fast and first approaching draw bridge opened just 5 minutes before my arrival and only once an hour. Not just because I would have to wait for almost another hour, but because I would have to wait with a 3-4 knot current sucking my boat into the narrowing waterway, I decided to return the 6 miles to Palm Beach Bridge and sail northward 37 miles to Fort Pierce out in the ocean. But with that choice, Mystique and I now had to face the previously favorable 20-knot southerly breeze and tidal current. A distance that had just taken a hour, now turns into a two-hour sluggish push. With the current, Mystique had made almost 7 knots; against it; now it would make closer to 3. Time and tide wait for no one!