I paddle mostly on fresh water lakes in NE. I do want to start paddling in coastal waters such as the LI Sound and Maine coast. I read ACC and enjoy the Places section, my question is tidal range. I understand tides a little and could use a bit of help on the topic. What is the tidal range? The diff between h and l? So if it is 7.1 feet it swings 7 feet every six hours or so? Would I then use the 12 step plan to figure the hourly diff?


You Are Better Off Getting A Tide Chart
The differance is not exactly six hours. Wind and current also affect the tide heights. You can do go to a number of places on-line for the information also, I use saltwatertides.com

It sounds like you are already antisipating one of the tidal characteristics, that being the depth of the water. You will also have to learn to antisipate tidal and current flow as they can be a major influence on your ability to paddle. Differant areas are influenced by flow more than others. Generally speaking you need to expect a faster flow during max ebb and flow at restictive geographic areas such as inlets, and river convergence zones. Also, the tidal differance generally increases as you get further away from the equator. You are North of my location and have 7 feet, I am in NC and have about 3.5, the folks in the keys have less.

happy paddling,


tides in the northeast
Maine Harbors at http://www.maineharbors.com/ is a good source for tide information in the northeast. As you stated, tidal range is the difference between water levels at high and low tide. But this varies! For example the Maine Harbors tide chart for Belfast Maine shows that during September this year, the “height” of high tide (above average low water) varies from 9.0 feet to 12.3 feet, depending on the day.

Basically correct
If you plan to regularly paddle a specific coastal area, a tide log is a good investment. Or read the (coastal) newspaper - they generally (should!) have the high and low tide levels and adjustments for specific geographical points.

The tide range is the height difference between mean high and mean low tide. The moon and sun does weird stuff to the water :stuck_out_tongue:

It is approximately 6 hours from high to low and visa versa - a little bit over. Unless you are a stickler for numbers (i.e. the tide is running 2.3knots at 3:22pm), the rule of 12 is good enough. In fact, I usually just figure that it’s the best (or the worst!) half way between the tide levels, and within an hour or so of high or low tide is OK either way.

For paddle craft currents are more important than tides.

Web Site for Tides
Tide information can be found at this web site:


Great detail.

I’m hip to that I just needed a bit
of tidal help. Thanks. and I realize that tidal currents are present just about everywhere. But I’ll concentrate on that topic later.

Another point of consideration is rivers that empty into the open ocean. Depending on the exact geography, the change in flow direction may not be the same as the change in tide. For example, in Rhode Island, the Pettaquamscutt River (more commonly called Narrow River) empties into lower Narragansett Bay, which is virtually open water. The change in current direction can be up to almost three hours AFTER the tide changes. If you are interested in why this occurs, there is a good explanation in Eldridges Tide and Current Tables.