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Old 29-05-2018, 15:41   #46
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Re: Tidal Currents Can Be Strong in Bays and Inlets and Rivers

Entered St Mary's inlet (between Amelia Island, FL and Cumberland Island, GA) on an incoming flood tide, and was doing 9 knots SOG in neutral (hullspeed for my boat is 7.34).

On the flip side, I hit an outgoing tide at Charleston about midnight which slowed me to about 1.3 knots at 2300 RPM (long story how I ended up in that predicament), when that RPM in flat water would have been pushing me at close to 6 knots.
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Old 29-05-2018, 16:04   #47
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Re: Tidal Currents Can Be Strong in Bays and Inlets and Rivers

How about the Alderney Race,
When making for the Channel Islands from Cherbourg or east of Cherbourg
If you don’t time it right your not getting through.
The overalls will really hurt.
Great local tip we got was that if you stay close in between Barfleur
and Cherbourg there is a bit of a back eddy with which you can get
a push from. Makes departure time easier to plan.
Sailing the English Channel and around the Channel Islands
is a great science project. Some of the most challenging sailing there is.
Cheers
Neil
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Old 29-05-2018, 18:42   #48
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Re: Tidal Currents Can Be Strong in Bays and Inlets and Rivers

Lived at Cornet Bay inside Deception Pass as a kid. Used to waterski there. Would have the boat slowly unwind the ski rope from our bodies which would wrap around us when we fell due to the whirlpools. Saw 40 ft logs sucked underwater in whirlpools. Gets stronger further North in spots. The current can be your friend.
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Old 29-05-2018, 21:14   #49
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Re: Tidal Currents Can Be Strong in Bays and Inlets and Rivers

I once averaged 9 knots over the ground for 156 miles when sailing south on the New South Wales coast of Oz, without seeing 5 knots even once on the speedo. I had over 4 knots of the Australian east coast current behind me, & was very pleased not to be trying to go north at that time.


When running fishing trips to the outer great barrier reef in a 50 footer capable of about 10 knots, I have been unable to make headway up a half mile wide passage between two coral reefs, against a full spring flood tide. You really don't expect that much current 40 miles out to sea.
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Old 30-05-2018, 02:14   #50
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Re: Tidal Currents Can Be Strong in Bays and Inlets and Rivers

I wrote this for an article in Points East Magazine a few years ago. Seems to fit the theme of this thread.

------------------

“Because it’s hard…..” - Petit Passage, Nova Scotia,

John Kennedy challenged us to do things not because they are easy but because are hard. Our goal was Little River, St Mary’s Bay, Nova Scotia. We were ready to take up the challenge. The passage to Nova Scotia can be harsh. I wanted to do this passage for years having in the past been turned back by weather and time pressures. This was the summer (2007) to go. While not a huge ocean voyage, Joshua Slocum, the first man to sail alone around the world (in the 1890’s) respected the waters in the area that we were going. He grew up on Brier Island, just a few miles from our destination. A monument to his accomplishment was something that I have wanted to see for years. Here is how we got there.

We island hopped up the coast of Maine towards Canada for a week. We were joined for the first week by friends Chuck and Sue and Tom and Judy on their boats “Reediculous” and “Firefox”. We left them behind in Cutler before dawn on the sixth morning as we continued into Canadian waters catching the flood current in the Grand Manan Channel. We cleared customs into Canada for the third time in as many years at North Head Harbor, Grand Manan, New Brunswick.

Up in the big tides of the Bay of Fundy, timing is important. Our plan was to cross the outgoing tide from Grand Manan to Petit Passage on Digby Neck. From there we would ride the incoming tide up St Mary’s Bay to Little River. Thirty-two miles of open water full of fog and currents stood between us and Digby Neck. We wanted to get to the southern end of the Passage at exactly low slack water to avoid the legendary 7 – 8 knot flow through the passage and the big rips that surround it.

The forecast was for light southerly wind and a bit of fog. Not so bad, we would go. Before leaving North Head Harbor, Grand Manan, a local fisherman advised that leaving an hour to an hour and a half before high tide would be about right. As we left the harbor the crew of the “Sarah Gay” out of Norfolk VA made a last minute decision to join us for the crossing. It was comforting to know that another boat would be out there with us.

Stella, our 40 year old 30’ Allied Seawind ketch, had a lumpy close reach across the Bay towards Petit Passage. The outgoing Fundy current heaped up against what became a stiff southerly breeze. She shouldered the steep chop aside bravely but we were still in a go against the wind, waves and clock. We had one reef in the main and the jib was reefed to 100% as we corkscrewed through the waves. We needed to average about 5 knots. At times the gps indicated 7.2 snotty knots over the ground. It wasn’t patchy fog; we were crossing in 150’ visibility fog - a day of looking at unpainted sheetrock. Throughout the day I kept calculating our progress and checking the clock to see if we were going to be at the far end of Petit Passage in time.

Stella was under the watchful eye of Fundy Traffic. Like air traffic controllers, they keep an eye on the shipping and boat traffic over the entire bay. They let you know when there is another boat close aboard that could spell trouble. The Fundy Traffic operator indicated a cargo ship outbound in the shipping lane bearing down on us just as we approached the lane. We kept track of it on our radar as well. We did some fancy maneuvering to keep out of their way and to avoid too close an encounter. Still, it was close. We never got a visual on it.

Several radio conversations transpired between Stella and the Sarah Gay during the crossing to keep up the spirits. Only a couple of times during the day did the fog thin so that we actually had a visual on the Sarah Gay even though our radar showed her within 800’ of us much of the time.

It is said that 100 billion tons of water move in and out of the Bay on each tide. We have no doubt about that. A good bit of it was trying to drag us off course. Steering a course of 158 mag across the Bay’s outgoing flush of water seemed to keep us on track towards Petit Passage. We headed for a point ½ mile north of the gut so that the outgoing tide would sweep us down into the passage. We didn’t want to try to climb “upstream” if we ended south of the entrance. It proved to be a good strategy as there was a pretty good rip guarding a southern approach to the entrance within the fierce outbound current. The fog lifted just long enough for a partial glimpse of the rips and the Boars Head Lighthouse before closing in tight again. The rip is like a white water rapid on a large river. It is said that they measure these rip waves in meters. Our brief glimpse was indeed an inspiring sight. We doubled our efforts to keep our boat heading to the entrance keeping well north of the waves.

The Passage is 2.1 miles from one bay to the other. As we enter we have ½ hour before the tide changes. Stella makes good progress through the first half of the Passage riding the current. 6 knots then 5 knots. We’re slowing down. It’s only ¼ mile wide and we see nothing – no boats, no land, no buoys, no life - just the grey circle 100’ from us as we sweep though. We are tired, beat up and apprehensive. As this is our first encounter with Petit Passage we don’t dare explore - at this point our goal became simply to cross from the Bay of Fundy to St. Mary’s Bay and not hit anything. 4 knots! Three-quarters of the way through and we’re slowing down! With no visibility in the Passage and having not been there before, we don’t dare risk trying to find the Tiverton breakwater for refuge. The radar screen is a mass of targets. We fear that any delay other than just avoiding rocks and boats would set the rage of tide against us and that would be that. The ground speed continues to decay. ¼ mile to go. I keep calculating the diminishing speed and distance to go curve and wonder if we are going to make it. I push the throttle on Johann – our old Volvo diesel - a bit forward to see if he will give us a little more oomph.

We’re getting close to the exit - none too soon. The tide suddenly starts reversing. Boils of water swing Stella and our ground speed slows dramatically. We might be in a back eddy, who knows at this point. We are centered in the passage; we should be in the full stream. Should we try to find the back eddy? No let’s not chance putting Stella on the rocks. We end up with an increasing head current as we clear the Passage but we escape before its 8 knot northbound current takes full flight. As we exit the Passage, everything becomes calmer. We round the headland and Stella turns northeast. The fisherman on Grand Manan was right; the timing was perfect.

While the sightseeing still isn’t likely in the gray, wet vista, we do have a relaxing 6 mile late afternoon sail up St Mary’s Bay with the incoming tide. The ugly chop is gone and the waves and wind are on our stern.

The little red light appears out of the fog at the entrance to Little River Cove at the end of the breakwater just as anticipated. It is the first thing we have seen since the lighthouse at the entrance to Petit Passage disappeared back into the fog a couple hours ago. We still don’t know what we’re in for in Little River. Will there be room for our little Stella? What kind of reception will we get?

The entrance to the cove between the breakwater and a cliff is less than 180 feet wide. Upon entering in zero-viz after a long, white knuckle day and not having been there before, one is temped to take immediate refuge by turning to port behind the breakwater - the first secure thing we had seen all day. Typically with these big tides (about 7 meters in this area) we would raft up with one of the fishing boats. However by pressing on another couple hundred feet we discover a second breakwater appearing on the port side. Inside this breakwater we come upon a convenient floating dock with a nice ramp. The dock is fairly short – 30’ Stella covered the entire face and then some.

It didn’t take long (moments really) before word got out that there was an American sailboat in the cove. We were an immediate local attraction. We discovered that no one could remember when an American sailboat had ever been in the harbor before. Retired fisherman Forrest Boliver remembered that a seiner from Eastport stopped in sometime in the 1960’s. And Chet Denton, a prominent member of Little River’s fishing fleet couldn’t remember seeing a U.S. sailboat in the cove – ever! People were driving down to the dock to take a look. People had their cameras out to document the occasion. We were advised by one of the many local spectators that there was good water at any tide at the dock so we were safe to leave her secured there. The rest of the harbor is for the small fishing fleet. We found the harbor secure and the locals typically very friendly. We were told, almost apologetically, that Sandy Cove just up the coast would be better protected. But we liked Little River just fine and stayed put. I spent three marvelous early mornings talking with Chet about life in the area and an earlier more productive time of fishing in the bay. Chet noted, as he tended his trap lines in preparation for the next lobster season, that the only wind that could come to harm one would be a stiff easterly/northeasterly wind. That kind of wind just wasn’t in the forecast.

The store ½ mile up the road has more than just the basic supplies indicated in the Nova Scotia Cruising Guide. Ice, cheerful conversation, local advice, boots, bolts and nuts, a good selection of foodstuffs, ice cream, raingear, rat traps, pet food, commercial fishing gear to outfit the local fleet, and much more can all be acquired at the Little River Trading Post.

When leaving a few days later on a clear morning, we are astonished to discover the beautiful and dramatic cliff faces along Digby Neck side of St Mary’s Bay.
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Old 30-05-2018, 09:01   #51
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Re: Tidal Currents Can Be Strong in Bays and Inlets and Rivers

We were moving the boat (a 36' Nauticat motorsailer) from Solomons, Md to the Pamlico Sound in NC.
I had looked at three different tide charts before leaving Norfolk and they all had different times for high tide at Oregon Inlet. They were all within about 15 minutes of each other so I averaged them and came up with 09:45. We are now making our approach to the inlet right at 09:45.
There was a dredge working the inlet. I called him on the VHF to let him know that we were coming in. He said that he saw us and would move, but if we waited about fifteen minutes to a half hour the inlet would settle down some. We could see some breakers but it didn’t look too bad from out were we were so I told him that we were committed and were on our way in. I could feel that we were being pulled in toward the inlet and the tide was still going in. We probably could have turned around right then but I didn’t.
The next thing I knew was that a huge hill of water had humped up in front of us. We climbed about a 14 foot wave and made it down the other side of it, but at the top of the next one I let Finlandia get crossed up a bit and the wave broke over our port quarter and knocked us flat on our starboard side in the trough, put the mast into the trough and rolled over us. It wouldn’t have been too bad, but the idiot Captain (me) had left the port door open and a wall of water came rushing in the door. The wave knocked me away from the wheel and into the starboard door. It is a good thing that the starboard door was closed or the wave might have washed me right out of it and over the rail.
It all happened in under two seconds and we didn’t even have time to say “Oh ****!”. I was proud of Finlandia as she jumped right back up on her feet again! I was also proud of old Mr. Perkins – my 85 HP diesel - as he didn’t miss a beat.
I later estimated that at least 200 gallons of water came through the door in that short (less than two seconds) period. The force of the water flipped up the top of the chart table and washed out most of the contents. My laptop and the power inverter went flying and smashed into the galley sink, busting the laptop into several pieces and filling it with salt water. The inverter bounced off the side of the companionway. All of my charts, flags and books got thrown out of the chart table and soaked with salt water. One of the things that got tossed out of the chart table was a small box of thumb tacks. The wave had so much force behind it that when the box of thumb tacks opened it drove four of them into the door. They were not hard to pull out, but there are now four new small holes in the starboard door. I guess I was lucky that they missed me. I regained the helm and headed us back toward the bridge and made our turn into the inlet.

The trouble had been that this was just after hurricane Matthew and all of the water it dumped on North Carolina was still trying to come out of the inlet - against the ingoing tide causing some really big waves in the inlet. On top of that it was a full "Hunter's moon" which made for even larger tides.

Lessons learned:

Never completely trust a tide chart. Think of all of the conditions that could alter the timing of the tide.

Always close all doors and hatches before negotiating an inlet.

Always heed local knowledge.


Al, S/V Finlandia
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Old 30-05-2018, 09:39   #52
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Re: Tidal Currents Can Be Strong in Bays and Inlets and Rivers

I want to clarify that the current in the Puget Sound Tacoma Narrows actually gets to 7.5 knots a few times a year and it will do this again on June 15. I have paddled my kayak through there when it is like that. I'm not really paddling much at all just steering. It is wide and deep enough that there aren't really any vicious rips or waves. Just stay well clear of the bridge towers. The tide will have a 16.6' change in just over 7 hours. We typically launch at southern tip of the peninsula and then have lunch at the Tides Tavern in Gig Harbor which has it's own dock and then wait for the current to reverse and go back.
The tide swing is even bigger as you go south to the furthest reaches of the sound. Burns Point which is down by Olympia will see a 20.3' change that day. All the docks are built over 20' high to accommodate this. The ramps down to the floating portion are like a black diamond ski run.
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Old 30-05-2018, 13:21   #53
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Re: Tidal Currents Can Be Strong in Bays and Inlets and Rivers

Quote:
Originally Posted by cal40john View Post
My life is nothing but tides and currents here in the Salish Sea (Puget Sound and areas north).

Tacoma Narrows max about 5 knots
Deception Pass 7
Dodd narrows 7
Lots of places in Puget Sound hit 2 to 3 knots.
All through the Desolation Sound area in Canada has narrows
Seymour narrows 14
Okisollo
Hole in the Wall
Surge Narrows

I'll add the Spieden Channel (outside Roche Harbor) to your list above. Have mistimed that and been in there when it was running close to 4 knots (it can run 5) and had to hug Spieden Island *really* close to get relief from the current... eventually, on the eastern end of the island we were in an eddy/counter current going 9.5 knots over the ground... and then one scary eddy peel later we were back against the main current going 1.5 knots over the ground.


While I find going with or against a strong current pretty, err, interesting, for me the true excitement starts when crossing those fast currents. Transited from Stuart Island to Roche across the Spieden when it was running 4.5+ and we had a very, very serious ferry angle to get across without washing onto the Battleship Island. For anyone who hasn't done this kind of ferry before it will remind you once and for all that your GPS shows where you're traveling in a line, NOT where you're pointed... so if you're pointed at the harbor mouth and the GPS says you're headed for the rocks, guess what, you're headed for the rocks.


While I thought that crossing was nerve wracking, we lost our freshwater pump just as we pulled into the guest dock at Roche... if that pump had given up 1/2 hour earlier we would have been washed onto the rocks FOR SURE (no wind that day, looking at chart sure seems unlikely we would have been able to get an anchor to catch before we hit the rocks). That gave me the shakes for a little while.


-- Bass
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Old 30-05-2018, 13:37   #54
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Re: Tidal Currents Can Be Strong in Bays and Inlets and Rivers

Quote:
Originally Posted by basssears View Post
I'll add the Spieden Channel (outside Roche Harbor) to your list above. Have mistimed that and been in there when it was running close to 4 knots (it can run 5) and had to hug Spieden Island *really* close to get relief from the current... eventually, on the eastern end of the island we were in an eddy/counter current going 9.5 knots over the ground... and then one scary eddy peel later we were back against the main current going 1.5 knots over the ground.


While I find going with or against a strong current pretty, err, interesting, for me the true excitement starts when crossing those fast currents. Transited from Stuart Island to Roche across the Spieden when it was running 4.5+ and we had a very, very serious ferry angle to get across without washing onto the Battleship Island. For anyone who hasn't done this kind of ferry before it will remind you once and for all that your GPS shows where you're traveling in a line, NOT where you're pointed... so if you're pointed at the harbor mouth and the GPS says you're headed for the rocks, guess what, you're headed for the rocks.


While I thought that crossing was nerve wracking, we lost our freshwater pump just as we pulled into the guest dock at Roche... if that pump had given up 1/2 hour earlier we would have been washed onto the rocks FOR SURE (no wind that day, looking at chart sure seems unlikely we would have been able to get an anchor to catch before we hit the rocks). That gave me the shakes for a little while.


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Old 30-05-2018, 14:00   #55
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Re: Tidal Currents Can Be Strong in Bays and Inlets and Rivers

Quote:
Originally Posted by basssears View Post
I'll add the Spieden Channel (outside Roche Harbor) to your list above. Have mistimed that and been in there when it was running close to 4 knots (it can run 5) and had to hug Spieden Island *really* close to get relief from the current... eventually, on the eastern end of the island we were in an eddy/counter current going 9.5 knots over the ground... and then one scary eddy peel later we were back against the main current going 1.5 knots over the ground.


While I find going with or against a strong current pretty, err, interesting, for me the true excitement starts when crossing those fast currents. Transited from Stuart Island to Roche across the Spieden when it was running 4.5+ and we had a very, very serious ferry angle to get across without washing onto the Battleship Island. For anyone who hasn't done this kind of ferry before it will remind you once and for all that your GPS shows where you're traveling in a line, NOT where you're pointed... so if you're pointed at the harbor mouth and the GPS says you're headed for the rocks, guess what, you're headed for the rocks.


While I thought that crossing was nerve wracking, we lost our freshwater pump just as we pulled into the guest dock at Roche... if that pump had given up 1/2 hour earlier we would have been washed onto the rocks FOR SURE (no wind that day, looking at chart sure seems unlikely we would have been able to get an anchor to catch before we hit the rocks). That gave me the shakes for a little while.


-- Bass
Thanks for writing in such detail, a very good post.

And I bolded an important point you made, that unforeseen things (like a pump failure at the wrong time, Murphy's Law) can create great risk to the boat. Good anecdote and lesson.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 30-05-2018, 14:04   #56
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Re: Tidal Currents Can Be Strong in Bays and Inlets and Rivers

Quote:
Originally Posted by svfinlandia View Post
We were moving the boat (a 36' Nauticat motorsailer) from Solomons, Md to the Pamlico Sound in NC.
I had looked at three different tide charts before leaving Norfolk and they all had different times for high tide at Oregon Inlet. They were all within about 15 minutes of each other so I averaged them and came up with 09:45. We are now making our approach to the inlet right at 09:45.
There was a dredge working the inlet. I called him on the VHF to let him know that we were coming in. He said that he saw us and would move, but if we waited about fifteen minutes to a half hour the inlet would settle down some. We could see some breakers but it didn’t look too bad from out were we were so I told him that we were committed and were on our way in. I could feel that we were being pulled in toward the inlet and the tide was still going in. We probably could have turned around right then but I didn’t.
The next thing I knew was that a huge hill of water had humped up in front of us. We climbed about a 14 foot wave and made it down the other side of it, but at the top of the next one I let Finlandia get crossed up a bit and the wave broke over our port quarter and knocked us flat on our starboard side in the trough, put the mast into the trough and rolled over us. It wouldn’t have been too bad, but the idiot Captain (me) had left the port door open and a wall of water came rushing in the door. The wave knocked me away from the wheel and into the starboard door. It is a good thing that the starboard door was closed or the wave might have washed me right out of it and over the rail.
It all happened in under two seconds and we didn’t even have time to say “Oh ****!”. I was proud of Finlandia as she jumped right back up on her feet again! I was also proud of old Mr. Perkins – my 85 HP diesel - as he didn’t miss a beat.
I later estimated that at least 200 gallons of water came through the door in that short (less than two seconds) period. The force of the water flipped up the top of the chart table and washed out most of the contents. My laptop and the power inverter went flying and smashed into the galley sink, busting the laptop into several pieces and filling it with salt water. The inverter bounced off the side of the companionway. All of my charts, flags and books got thrown out of the chart table and soaked with salt water. One of the things that got tossed out of the chart table was a small box of thumb tacks. The wave had so much force behind it that when the box of thumb tacks opened it drove four of them into the door. They were not hard to pull out, but there are now four new small holes in the starboard door. I guess I was lucky that they missed me. I regained the helm and headed us back toward the bridge and made our turn into the inlet.

The trouble had been that this was just after hurricane Matthew and all of the water it dumped on North Carolina was still trying to come out of the inlet - against the ingoing tide causing some really big waves in the inlet. On top of that it was a full "Hunter's moon" which made for even larger tides.

Lessons learned:

Never completely trust a tide chart. Think of all of the conditions that could alter the timing of the tide.

Always close all doors and hatches before negotiating an inlet.

Always heed local knowledge.


Al, S/V Finlandia
Thanks for sharing your story too!

And thanks for writing in such vivid detail!

I can only imagine how shocking that moment must have been as the water came into the pilothouse! WOW!

Good lessons learned and good for others to heed. Indeed!
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Old 30-05-2018, 14:06   #57
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Re: Tidal Currents Can Be Strong in Bays and Inlets and Rivers

TO EVERYONE who has contributed so far to this thread,

THANK YOU ALL for sharing your stories, your local observations, and your lessons for others.

Good stuff! Just the kind of response I was hoping this topic would get.

To anyone else reading this topic: "Keep em coming". Add your own anecdote, story, lessons learned, tips, and local warnings.
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Old 30-05-2018, 17:48   #58
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Re: Tidal Currents Can Be Strong in Bays and Inlets and Rivers

Didn't see the Columbia River Bar mentioned. Spent quite a bit of time out there. Can get very nasty with powerful river current. We were fishing one day when 2 boats went down. Couple of people were lost that day. Graveyard of the Pacific.
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Old 31-05-2018, 22:06   #59
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Re: Tidal Currents Can Be Strong in Bays and Inlets and Rivers

This is a sailboat trying to go through Seymour Narrows at the wrong time. Even the Alaska cruise ships time Seymour to hit it on the slack. To answer an earlier question, "slack" is almost non-existent on big changes.






We keep our boat in Campbell River on Discovery Passage - 6 miles south of Seymour Narrows. Cape Mudge is at the south end of the Passage and currents max out at about 9 knots on a big flood. It's always a timing exercise leaving or entering the marina
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Old 05-06-2018, 14:16   #60
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Re: Tidal Currents Can Be Strong in Bays and Inlets and Rivers

I have one. How about in marinas where you don't expect much of a tidal current? For the record, I am a novice, but my gf and I hauled my C250 to Mulege, Baja, where we put in and had several days of beautiful sailing down to La Paz. It's a trailer sailer, as big as I can tow behind a pickup. It's important to get the boat in an out on sketchy ramps at high tide, and when time came to load, high tide was about 5:45 AM. Now, this marina does not have the classy sea walls, instead they have pilings with corrugated metal. So water flows through them. I was idling down the fairway (8hp outboard) towards the ramp and noticed my bow drifting to starboard, I tried to correct, while still being quiet and respectful at this early hour, but I did not correct enough and my boat drifted into the bow of a large catamaran, which at this moment looked like a trireme about to ram me. I woke the owners, who stormed out angrily but it was immediately apparent the only damage was to my boat. Punched a decent hole well above the water line and I felt so, so stupid. Lesson learned.
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