Tides and Sailing: Things Get Interesting (7)

Ernest is the sailing student of his uncle Ahab. With Ahab’s help, Ernest is slowly becoming a sailor but with charts and tides still floating around in his head, he’s not sure he has the brain power to remember any more.

“Right, take a look at this. It is a basic piece of information but, like a bus timetable, you may not know how to read it until you’ve been shown how” as he said this, Ahab placed a piece of paper in front of Ernest. It had columns of small numbers and the off letter here and there. These columns were dated.

Ahab had given Ernest a timetable for the harbour. “Tell me what information you can get from this Ernest”.

Ernest studied the tide table, determined to give his uncle the information he needed.

“Right, well… Ummm…”

“What time is it now Ernest”?

Glancing at his watch, he replied “2.41”.

“To make it easier,” Ahab said, “we’ll use the 24-hour clock from now on. So, again – what time is it?”

“14:41 hours”

“Great. When is high tide?”

Pouring over the tide table, Earnest found today’s date and scanned the columns. He assumed that h stood for high tide and l for low tide because that made sense.

“21.38,” he said triumphantly.

“So, what time could we leave the harbour, bearing in mind that there should be enough water for us to set off three hours before,” asked Ahab.

Calculating in his head, Ernest gave the time that they could move as being 18.38 hours, which was correct.

“But what other information is that tide table telling you?”

“When we need to be back for?”

“Yes, that’s right. Of course, if you were in a marina with a sill gate, you would get different times for there too as to when you can leave to meet high tide and when you need to be back for before low tide,” Ahab continued, “just like the weather, it is really important you know your tides for every bit of sea you are going to cover. A harbour a few hours down the coast can have a variation in tide times of up to 20 minutes.”

“Tides wait for no man” Ahab continued “thus trying to out run a tide is a futile exercise. Your timing needs to be accurate. Better still, that magic phone of yours could be useful.”

“Really? How?”

“Well, I’m not sure how the world of technology works but apparently, you can download something that sits on your phone and it tells you the tide times for your local area. Handy for when you are sailing with me Earnest or when you need to dig peeler crab as the tide comes in. because this boating lark isn’t all about sailing. We need to catch some fish too…”

“I’ll take a look uncle Ahab and download an app now and then I’ll always have it with me” Ernest went off into a world of his own tap-tapping on the screen whilst Ahab coiled ropes, musing to himself as to what he would teach his able pupil next. Ah yes, weather…

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