One of the SUP safety aspects McConks bangs on about often is knowing tides; how they work, what that potentially means in terms of your paddling venue for the day and you having the session’s tide times locked in your memory banks. Tides can affect your SUP sessions in a whole bunch of ways. Some beaches disappear completely at high water whilst secret locations magically appear when the tidal height is at its lowest for instance. We highly recommend that any stand up paddle boarder contemplating a float on open tidal water put the time in (beforehand) to learn about tides in general, but most importantly, how your chosen put in changes through said tidal cycle.
Tides (generally) ebb and flow every six hours (and a bit) with two highs and two lows in any 24 hour period. There are exceptions to this, which is one reason you need to check your chosen launch venue. Through each flood and ebb tidal period the fastest flow of water will occur in the middle three hours. Therefore if you want to score a session with the least amount of current it’s worth aiming to time your paddle one hour before low tide or one hour after – the same for high tide. The hour either side of low or high is when the calmest water prevails, known as slack water. Regardless of other weather elements in effect the water flow at this stage will cause least issue.
The above info is particularly important if you’re paddling in an estuary for instance. Due to the narrowing of estuary channels (and tidal rivers) the fastest flow of water is exacerbated further as it gets squeezed between land masses either side. Slack water therefore would see less current and drifting. This is also a reason that unless you get it right with the tide any mass of tidal water that features this squeeze trait should be avoided unless you have appropriate experience. these flows can be extremely fast so don’t underestimate them!
Have a dig online for more information regarding tides as plenty’s available. And, likewise, don’t be afraid to ask any questions of those more experienced if you’re unsure about tides and their effect in your chosen area of SUP.
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