If you are boating on the ocean, the water level is always changing. The tides are dictated by the moon and are very important to track, especially if you are boating in shallow waters.
There is high tide and low tide. Each are about 6 hours apart and run on a 24 hour cycle. Another way to describe the tides is “ebb” and “flood” Ebb means the tide is going out or to low tide. Flood means the tide is coming in, or to high tide. A slack tide, or period when the water level is constant, is possible depending on your area.
In order to track the tides, you must use a tide schedule that is specific to your area. It will not make much of a difference the location is not exactly the same as yours because the tides will only be off by a few minutes. However, if you are in a different body of water or miles from the measured area, the tides could be significantly different and leave you beached on shore.
If you plan on going to a beach for the day, knowing the tide schedule is essential. If you pull your boat right up to shore 30 minutes after high tide and leave it there for 3 hours, you’re going to come back to find your boat with nothing but sand under it. You will then have to wait about 12 hours from the time you beached your boat to be able to leave again. If you arrived at noon, you will not be able to leave until midnight.
However, beaching your boat 30 minutes after low tide will not be a problem if you plan on staying for less than 5 hours. The water level is only going to rise. However, tides are not perfectly 6 hours apart so you should not leave your boat unattended for more than 5 hours in this scenario. Additionally, remember to anchor your boat to keep it from drifting once the water level rises.
Finally, never anchor your boat out of your sight. When the tide is going from high to low, it will require constant adjustment to keep it from being beached. Even when going from low to high tide, you should make sure the anchor is still holding. Strong currents like rip currents can be powerful enough to pull your anchor loose and cause your boat to drift.
Knowledge of the tides is important for a fun day on the water and prevent some major headaches like a boat beached on shore. Always check the tide schedule specific to your area before going out.