As an inland lake sailor who grew up sailing the waters of Wisconsin and then those in and around Colorado and the Caribbean, the word “tide” to me mostly referred to the laundry detergent my mom preferred (and that kids now allegedly eat). The idea of water getting noticeably deeper and shallower twice every day simply was not part of my boating background.
Now we’re living on a boat less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean as the seagull flies and about 5 miles by water, so tides are very much a part of our lives. Our tides here at Shelter Cove Marina average about 7 feet, twice each day. That means the view from our boat of the ramp to the wharf on land typically varies from something like this:
to something about like this about every 6 hours and 15 minutes:
Occasionally the full moon teams up with Mr. Sun to exaggerate the high and low tides, and yesterday we had a pair of exceptionally low tides. One took place in the middle of the night as we lay sleeping, the second occurred mid afternoon to share with us all its (in this case, rather ugly) glory. Here was the view we suffered off our stern at low tide:
The surface you see exposed is a nasty, gooey muck called “pluff (or plough) mud”, accurately described on one website as “a Carolina Lowcountry entity — the slippery, shiny brown-gray, sucky mud, with a distinctive smell like none other”. I couldn’t begin to better describe this disgusting stuff myself!
Things tend to sink into this slop as if it were quicksand, but if enough of it is present and the water recedes far enough, even a 35,000 pound boat can be pushed up out of the goo.
This is the stern (back) of Joy Girl, sitting nearly a foot higher than she normally would (the normal waterline is just below the red “boot stripe”). She is so stranded that the stern thruster (the tube under the swim platform) which is normally totally under water is now almost fully exposed. The water intake for our heating and cooling units is just forward of that on the other side of the boat, so they were totally unusable for about 3 hours. Providentially, we were blessed by glorious weather that required neither heat nor AC that day.
Fortunately, dredging operations to deepen the entire harbor are proceeding 7 days a week, and last night the boats on the other side of our dock were moved to make way for the dredging crew. Our side of “K Dock” is on deck after that, so with any luck we should be in deep water (the best kind!) in about a week!