A special place

"If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, it is a special place where I spend my afternoon."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Winter Tides

Low tide at the estuary
   I went to the island estuary the other day and there was no doubt, the winter tides were finally happening.  This means the tides are extremely low, and the treasures that have been under water all summer, are finally revealed.
Tupelo trees on the river at low tide
   Put simply, tides are the rise and fall of sea levels. They're the result of the gravitational pull exerted by the moon and the sun, combined with the rotation of the earth. But, there are other factors. The shape of the coastline, and the wind can also effect the tides. All factors, occurring over a period of time, in a certain area, are called tidal constituents. The tidal constituents around St. George Island, in the winter, result in very low water levels. 
   I've asked a lot of the "old salts" in the area, why the tides are so much lower in the winter than any other time of the year.

No fishing today!
They've told me it's because of the direction and strength of the wind. In the winter, the winds blow mainly out of the north. They're strong winds that pull the water out away from the shore. Whatever the cause, being a devout beachcomber, I love this time of year. And since living here will be a constant  learning process, anyone with more knowledge as to the cause of the extreme low winter tides, please let me know.
   Typically, there are two high tides and two low tides, every day. And more than likely, they're not going to be the same. In other words, the afternoon high tide may be higher than the morning high tide. Or the low tide in the morning will be lower than the one in the afternoon.
   In the summer, there's never a time you can't walk out on the dock and look down into the water. In the winter, that's not the case. Some mornings, when you look out to the bay, it looks like somebody pulled the plug!
Low tide and boats can be a little tricky

   Obviously, the tides are something the fishermen have to keep a close eye on. This is true all year around, but more so in the winter. Apalachicola Bay can be very difficult to navigate. Along with the ever changing sand bars, and oyster bars, there are pieces of unmarked sunken debris, all sitting just below the surface, out of sight. These things can make it really tricky getting from one place to another, even with a high tide. And as I've found, from experience, the tides can change very quickly.
   I had taken the boat over to Little St. George to go shelling. When I left the main island, in the morning, it was high tide. Low tide wasn't happening until later in the afternoon. So, as the day went on, I would periodically check on the boat to make sure it stayed well anchored on shore. But, I didn't realize that in less than an hour, the boat would go from sitting in the water, to being completely beached. Not wanting to sit and wait for the next high tide, I radioed  a friend with a bigger boat to pull me back out to the water. It was a lesson well learned and now I watch the tides a little more closely when I go out on the boat.
   But, another reason to keep a close eye on the tides, is because  the lower the tides, the more treasures you'll find on the beaches. Unfortunately, some of the best shelling is on beaches that you can only get to by boat, and when the tide is that low, you can't get there.
Cypress roots are exposed on the river.
   Every coastline offers up something different. Not only shells,but driftwood, artifacts from world war two, old bottles, and even arrowheads can be found, when the water recedes.  So, even without a boat, there's no shortage of shoreline on St. George, to discover what the Gulf of Mexico, Apalachicola Bay,  and even the rivers, have been hiding.
   I don't think I'll ever grow tired of seeing what the sea has to offer. Things that have traveled hundreds of miles and survived hundreds of years under the water. These are things you'll discover during the winter tides.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
* Hopefully, all the computer issues are resolved and I'm back in the blogging business. I hope you've hung in there and will be back to visit St. George Island again. " Island Life". The Mardi Gras parade post is coming soon. Welcome Back!

1 comment:

  1. The ocean shoreline is a treasure. glad to see you are well and on the shore. Hope you got your "sippy cup"!