Knowing the basics of how ocean tides work from reading our last post we can explore how the ocean tides will affect your sea kayak outing. There are ways to use the movement of the ocean to make your paddling trip easier and safer.

 Flood Tide or Ebbing Tide – A flooding tide is when the ocean water is moving
towards the coastline and an ebbing tide is when the water is receding outwards from the coastline. Knowing how the water is moving in the particular area that you are paddling can make the difference between slogging against the tide or planning your outing to take advantage of how the water is moving. There are many online sites that will give you the tide charts for the area you are paddling. You can print off a multi-day chart that shows high and low tide times for the dates you will be paddling. I usually keep this information right inside my waterproof  marine chart case for easy access. Planning your outing to “ride the tide” can work for your entire trip or part of the trip depending on the time you are paddling. Understanding how the water moves around islands and headlands is important. Current tables for the area you are paddling in can help with this information. There will be occasions when the timing of your paddle just doesn’t work out to your benefit.

Water-Line Height – You may be amazed at how the height of the water will dramatically change the shoreline at different tide heights. Any land marks that you use to navigate should be above the high tide line or they may effect your navigating accuracy.  At lower tide heights you will see more ocean life exposed. At high tide heights you may be able to pass through areas that are exposed at lower tides. Depths marked on the marine chart will let you know when a channel is passable.

Beaches – Landing your kayak on a beach at low tide can be a very different experience than it will be at high tide.
More of a beach is exposed at low tide which makes carrying your gear and your kayak up above the high tide line quite a chore. Landing at high tide is much easier.
If you are on the beach while the tide is flooding you will need to move your kayaks to keep them from floating away. Being on the beach while the tide is ebbing means you will have to carry your kayak down to the waterline to launch. You can be a little more relaxed about your kayak on the beach during an ebb tide as the water is moving away from your beached kayak at that time. Knowing when the tide changes will be important. Awareness is the key.

Submerged Rocks – Different features in the ocean will be exposed at different tide heights. One of the most important is submerged rocks. These can be treacherous if you paddle across them when they are just below the surface and you get high centered or damage your kayak. Reading the surface of the water is an important technique to develop. Your marine chart will show submerged rocks with a star symbol. There may be a number beside it which shows at what tide height it will be exposed. It is an essential practice to scan your chart before your outing to find potential hazards  on your trip route.

We hope this post can be a helpful tool on your next sea kayak outing.

May the tide be with you!!