Tidal paddling videos on Paddling.net!

Here in northeast Mass, the tides are about 8-feet, and the current can really rip in the estuarian waters. You really can’t paddle without taking them into consideration, or face frustration at best and serious hazards at worst.

The videos excerpted from Gordon Brown’s book/dvd and found right here on Paddling.net are extremely helpful. Not only do they give some nice visual diagrams providing physical insight into tides, they provide semi-quantitative rules of thumb for those on the Atlantic coast, that are essential knowledge. No more guesswork, here I learned that I should either: (A) confine my paddling to +/- 1 hour from slack water, to avoid strong currents, or (B) time a longer paddle so I can go inland on the incoming tide and return with the outgoing tide. You need to plan your outings around the tides here, and this clarified how best to do that.

Thank you, Gordon Brown and Paddling.net!


one more consideration
Incoming tide against outgoing river flow can produce some hefty chop. Or when an incoming tide starts hitting sad bars or shallow water. It is not always as simple as coming in with the tide if you can’t handle some amount of surf.

low low tide will surprize.

If you use Garmin Blue Charts, tide…Garmin did away with the chart (-X) …times and eddy lines.

Eddy lines as depth lines are important as often the current will abate there or reverse direction while out 50’ there’s an extra 4 mph.

on steeply dropping tides, remember there’s trash and logs from rural areas.

Yes, in the main river channel

– Last Updated: Jun-07-15 6:57 PM EST –

Hi Celia - yes, in the main river channel, here the Merrimack River, if you're trying to take that out to sea, you can run into powerful whirlpools, big standing waves in the river mouth, and then large breakers out by the bar outside. In fact, if it's a rough day, 25-50 foot boats can be in mortal trouble there. But with the mouth of the Merrimack considered one of the most dangerous on the Atlantic coast, I don't think of running it in a kayak. Instead, I kayak in the smaller tributary creeks near the end of the river - the current can still be plenty fast there, but it's not insane.

Here is an excerpt from the NOAA writeup for the Newburyport Harbor chart. Note the last sentence, and when they say 'small boats' here, they don't mean small kayaks:
"The ebb tide runs out of Merrimack River from 3 to 6 knots. Boats should proceed slowly out the channel, evaluating the bar well inside of the two breakwaters. If decision is made to cross, proceed all the way out beyond the breakers and do not attempt to turn around if the bar is breaking. The area southward of the outer 240 yards of the submerged north jetty and the channel is a shoaling sand bar subject to constant change in depth. This area and a portion of the channel just south are extremely hazardous. Avoid crossing the sunken jetty or sandbar, and use caution in the channel to the south of it. Ocean swells meeting an outgoing tide in the river mouth result in breaking seas. The most dangerous period is from about 1 hour before low water and 1 hour after low water. Even on the calmest days the tidal conditions may be such that small boats will be endangered at this period. "