dealing with tides

Well, I called the park, and they recommended leaving the mainland while the tides are going out (falling) and heading back when the tides are coming in (rising).

This weekend

Looking across Bogue inlet from Bear Is., some years back:

shallow water? Looks like it still is.,-95.677068&sspn=66.964699,112.5&ie=UTF8&ll=34.648955,-77.128572&spn=0.034739,0.054932&t=h&z=14

There is a public boat ramp just over the bridge from Swansboro, the channel goes out to the Northeast tip of the island.

Always check the wind forecast when you are going tidal. If you get strong wind against a strong tide, you are going to have steep waves. If you have a strong wind in the direction of a strong tide, you will not enjoy paddling against them nearly as much as you may expect. If you have a strong onshore wind at high tide you may have the same size waves in the inlet as you have offshore, maybe larger and steeper. If you have a strong offshore wind and anything goes wrong, you may end up on the bar in the breakers at low tide, or offshore at high tide.

Wind 8 kt South, tide with you out and back, it don’t get no better’n this weekend.

If you are going to be anywhere near Morehead City, skip the waterfront restaurants in Beaufort and eat at Cox’s (or is it Fox’s? been a while-) Family Restaurant in Morehead City on Hwy 24.

Why I usually Ignore tides
1. If I can only paddle saturday I can’t wait for favorable tides.

2. If the tides are not favorable until later in the day an early start will usually make up for any additional paddling. Waiting around in the hotel for 4-5 hours for a favorable tide is boring. I would rather be paddling.

3. Usually there is enough water I do look at charts to plan my route. Water depths on charts are usually mean low water. So if it says 3’ that means 3’ deep during a usual low tide. Even if absolute low tide means a sandbar I would rather mess around on a sandbar than wait around in my motel room.

4. Wind is usually a much bigger factor than current. There are exceptional locations but it has been rare for me to experience more than about a knot of current. Again if the current is too strong…paddle to shore and wait out there instead of in your motel room.

tides are more of a factor then others---- I never would stand around and wait for the tide to change, but I always try to plan the trip to take advantage of the tide to the best extent I can.

Tides rule and more important tidal currents.

Currents usually run contrary to tides just after the tide changes. The mass of water has some momentum and how long a delay depends on how much water is involved among other things.

Up heah, tidal currents can run 5-8 knots or more or less. Unless you are skilled at eddy hopping (and there are eddies) you can be waiting up to six hours.

Usually the middle three hours are when the current is strongest.

As always the correct answer is maybe.

It’s Cox’s restaurant and it’s on Hwy 70. If I was in Swansboro I’d skip the drive to Morehead and go to the Red Barn in Hubert.

ok tarwheel

– Last Updated: Aug-27-08 11:42 AM EST –

I'm going to give you a short lesson on tides---caveat is that it is a genaralized view only as tides vary greatly from place to place and it is not a substitute for a course in ocean paddling or actually reading(and studying) a book written by experts on the subject

Most experts will tell you that tidal currents can be roughly calculated by considering the amount of rise and fall of the tide, usually in feet or meters, coupled with the stage of the tide---if you are in the first hour of either the ebb or the flood, the flow is 1/12 of the total tidal volume, for the 2nd hour it is 2/12s, the third and fourth hours are 3/12s each, the 5 hour is 2/12s and the sixth hour is 1/12---obviously between the 6th and 1st hours of ebb/flood tide there is slack water or close to it. So the strongest tidal flow is found in the 3rd and 4th hours of the ebb or flood and the weakest in the 1st and 2nd hours.

You can determine when high (flood tide) and low tide (ebb tide) occur by reference to local tidal charts which can be found on the internet or purchased in booklet form at your local marine supply store. Also you should be aware that the rise and fall of the tide can vary greatly from place to place---for instance in Easport Maine, the tidal range is from 18--20 feet and the resulting tidal currents are much stronger, then say in Portland Maine(roughly 200 miles southwest) where the range is from 8-9 feet.

Also the local marine topography makes a diffenrence---tidal currents in a narrow strait leading into or outof a bay or harbor or between two islands etc, will usually be much stronger than along an open coast with no capes or points.

Finally to complicate matters, although in most places the tide comes in and out twice a day, changing once every 6 hours, in some places, like the Northumberland Strait between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, the tide only comes in and goes out once a day.

This little primer should convince you that tides are complicated things worthy of some study on your part---it is also study that is particular to one locality--If you are in doubt I would talk to local guides/outfitters, they are usually more than willing to share their knowledge

-that doens't mean you always have to be a slave to the tides--in some areas tides are not a big issue, with steep shores(no mudflats) and open coast, little or no tidal current. In other places big issue, both safetywise and convenience---I've had to walk or rather wade 1/4 of a mile across mudflats---it is not fun and could have been avoided with some reasonable planning. Have fun paddling and I hope this helps

and now for a question
How much influence does the wind have on the tides?

I know from extensive tripping in the Glades that it has a LOT of influence.

Not so much so up here.

How bout NC?

It has a tremendous amount of influence
in shallow bays and estuaries.

Get in a shallow bay where if there is only six or so inches of water at low tide, and get a strong wind blowing either into or out of the bay and your liable to end up without any water.

Been there and had it happen on numerous occasions.



Think like a leaf.

Looking at Google Earth
Looking at google earth bear island seems to be a very easy paddle with little open water. Basically you cross the narrow intra coastal waterway and then wind around a salt marsh. Judging from the water colors there seems to be some deep water. Also there is a regular ferry running to the island and one would assume that the ferry draws more water than a kayak.

I confess that all of my salt water kayaking experience has been on the gulf coast where the tidal range is usually about 2’ or less. A strong north wind can lower the water level in Mobile bay more than a low tide. I did sail dinghys in South Carolina and the tides were not a problem for a small sailboat there. Even sailing the tidal creeks. The sandbar at Murrel’s inlet was a problem for larger boats but never was much concern for my Sunfish and Laser sailboats. The tidal range there was about 5’.

I am going to Boston in a few weeks and hope to get in some kayaking but cold water and fierce tides may make me want to hike instead.

Paddling three miles into a current with a chop sounds like fun to me. Sunday I went to a local lake hopeing for whitecaps just for the practice. Just wind and a very mild chop. A few years ago a friend and I played all afternoon in whitecaps at a larger lake. They were small about 3’ but it was fun to paddle out and surf(a little) on the way back. Again this is in Alabama in the summer so warm water. The biggest danger was getting tangled in weeds. But neither of us capsized and we both had a great time. I may be too arrogant but a 6 mile paddle does not sound like much in any conditions. Sunday just messing around I covered 10 miles and went snorkling for 1 1/2 hours. Half of this paddling was against a 15-20 mph wind. I admit that going with the wind was a lot easier.

In Maine wind can be an issue
if there is wind blowing against an oncoming tide it can produce quite a chop—an good example is in the mouth of the kennebec where at least two sea kayakers have come to grief over the years due to this occurance

Wind against current in many places
Wind blowing against current (tidal or otherwise) often produces chop of greater scale than would otherwise be expected.


Whenever you are in doubt about tidal conditions in a given area check with local commercial fisherman in the area. They will know all the local bad spots, and give you tips on traveling the area safely. Its their business to know the tides in the area.


Whenever you are in doubt about tidal conditions in a given area check with local commercial fisherman in the area. They will know all the local bad spots, and give you tips on traveling the area safely. Its their business to know the tides in the area.

yes it can
but I was thinking more like in the Glades where an east wind can actually negate high tide and you have to walk in mud to your waist to reach a chickee.

Just a rule of thumb, as I…
previously stated. I know plenty of exceptions, i.e. the mouth of the Chatham River. Seen more 'yaks flip there than in any other spot in the ENP due to contrary currents and strong eddies. There are other places as well but I still say that “as a rule of thumb” leave on the outgoing, return on the incoming.

on the discovery channel
I was watching tv a couple of years ago and saw documentary on the bible—particularly the part where Moses parted the Red Sea, lead the jews to freedom and then it closed on the egyptians—the theory behind this was that at that place and time the red sea was quite shallow and the parting was cause by the wind–interesting.

Don’t ignore the tides…like some suggest…paddling against wind and tides can be a bear…


Shame on you !
Unless you didn’t know it, but you are using a now deceased and very respected paddlers handle.

I would strongly and respectfully suggest if you didn’t know it, to change it to something else.