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Tidal Currents When Navigating Coastal Waters
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Tidal Currents When Navigating Coastal Waters

If you are navigating a boat in coastal waters, then you need to be aware of tidal currents.

I will discuss the definition and importance of knowing the currents, where to find current information, and using the current tables.

After reading this article, you should be able to read the current tables and navigate safely through passes. You should also be able to plan your voyage to take advantage of a favorable current.

Definitions

Current is the horizontal flow of the water. The current coming in from the sea is the Flood Current. The current going out to sea is the Ebb Current. When there is no flow, this time is Slack Water or the Turn. You will see many references to Flood Tide or Ebb Tide. These are incorrect terms and have confused many boaters.

Reference Station - a place where the times of Slack Water and maximum current as well as the Maximum speeds of the current are tabulated in the Tables

Secondary Station - a place where the times of Slack Water and maximum current are tabulated as time differences relative to a reference station. Maximum speeds are given as either a percentage of the maximum speed at the reference station or as a maximum speed.

It is important to know the current as by proceeding with the current, you will decrease your travel time and save fuel. In the summer, with the light winds, one knot of current in your favor on a four knot boat speed is a reduction in travel time of 25%. With a fast powerboat, one knot of current added to a 25 knot cruise speed equals a 4% fuel savings.

Where To Find Information on Tidal Currents?

The Current tables are located in the Publication Tide and Current Tables

How To Read the Tables

Following is a sample data taken from the Canadian Hydrographic Service, Tide and Current Tables, for Dodd Narrows

Turn Maximum

Date Time Time Knots

8 -------------- 0148 +6.9

TU 0442------ 0802 -8.1

MA 1128------ 1427 +9.2

-----1803------2058 -6.1

To go through Dodd Narrows on the date above, you want to pass through during daylight at the time of the Turn or Slack. This would require you to be at the pass at either 1128 or 1803. If you are planning on travelling northward in the Flood direction, 1128 would be the ideal time. You would have the current with you from 1128 until 1803. The times and speeds of Maximum current are given in the right column. + refers to a Flood Current and - refers to an Ebb current.

In this article I have outlined the definition of tidal currents, knowing where to find the information and how to read the tables. When navigating in coastal waters, tidal currents are an important aspect to know.


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Hey Bruce Thank you very much for having written such a rich and informative article

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  about 4 years ago

Thank Geoffrey, another article on the way.

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  about 4 years ago

welcome

  
  about 4 years ago
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