Whether you are an experienced boater who has spent years navigating the waters of local rivers and lakes or you are a novice who has only recently begun exploring the currents that extend beyond the shoreline, safety is key on any body of water-particularly when it comes to coastal waters characterized by fluctuating currents and constant changes in tides. Paying attention to your surroundings and gaining the appropriate amount of experience behind the wheel of a boat is the best way to ensure you, your passengers and those aboard other vessels are well prepared for anything that comes your way. To learn more about staying safe on the water, check out the following information about coastal water boating and tides.
What are tides?
If you have ever set foot along a sun-soaked shoreline for a summer vacation or a spring break trip, you are probably familiar with the phenomenon known as tides. The beaches that comprise islands and coastal communities typically experience two high tides and two low tides per day. High tides are the time when the waters from ocean waves reach their highest point onto the beach, and low tides are comprised of waters which recede far back into the ocean, exposing dozens of feet of shoreline that is covered by the ocean at all other times of day. Changes in tides are prompted by a variety of factors that include gravity as well as the shape of the shoreline, the rotation of the earth, and the position of the sun and the moon in the sky.
Boating safely in coastal waters
When boating in coastal waters, it is imperative to pay attention to the times the tides are expected to change throughout the duration of the time you will spend on the water. Keep in mind that inlets used to gain access to the open ocean from sounds, bays and other inland waterways might be easily accessible during high tides, but during low tides, these same inlets might contain exposed sandbars or chunks of shoreline that can pose extreme dangers to unsuspecting boaters who run aground unexpectedly. Knowing exactly when the tides will go out and come back in and planning your day on the water around these times will prevent you from running into trouble and having difficulty accessing the waterways you will be navigating in coastal communities. For a complete list of high and low tides in your area, click here.
In addition to paying attention to the changes in tides while boating, it is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with your planned route on the open ocean well before you hit the water and to let someone who is staying on the shoreline know exactly where you intend to go and when you will return in case you run into any problems. Sharing your route with a friend or family member long before you leave the shoreline, packing a lifejacket for each person aboard your vessel and keeping a waterproof first aid kit within easy reach at all times will give you peace of mind and protect all passengers on your boat in the event of an emergency on the water.