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Docking at Low Tide, High Tide or In-Between

by Duncan Seawall

There are plenty of things to look out for when you are out on the water. It is crucial to know how to dock your boat correctly. As you are approaching, you will have to keep the tides in mind. They can make it more difficult to complete the task.

Related Blog: The Benefits of Storing Your Boat on a Boat Lift


Understand the Different Types of Tides

Tides are affected by the placement of the moon and the sun in relation to the Earth. The strength and direction of the wind can have an impact on tides by increasing the currents. If the wind is blowing inward, then incoming tides usually are higher. They are smaller and may arrive later than predicted if winds are blowing outward. 

You may have heard the term tidal height. To put it simply, the tidal height is the vertical distance that the water rises or falls. The tidal range is the difference between the height of high and low tides. 

A current is the speed of the water when it moves from low to high or high to low. It is important to know the time regarding tides since it does not coincide with the annual calendar. A lunar day, or tidal day, is 24 hours and 50 minutes long. It takes roughly six hours and 12.5 minutes for a tide to move from high to low or vice versa. Lunar days follow the moon phases, which take 29.5 days to complete.

High Tide

A high tide is when the water reaches the highest point. It will move to its furthest extent onto the shoreline. Some people also call it high water. Coastal areas experience two high tides every lunar day. 

Low Tide

A low tide is the opposite of a high tide. It is when the water reaches its lowest level. More area of the shoreline gets exposed, and docked boats may end up stuck in the sand. 

Incoming Tide

Also called a rising tide, an incoming tide is when the water is approaching the shoreline as the tide moves from low to high. 

Outgoing Tide

Sometimes called an ebb current, the outgoing tide is when the water moves away from the shoreline. The water will lower as the tide transitions from high to low. 

Slack Tide

A slack tide is the short period between the incoming and outgoing tides. The current is at its weakest point, and the water appears to be at a standstill. 

Sprint Tide

Regardless of their name, Spring tides have nothing to do with the season. They occur when the sun and the moon line up with the Earth. The tides are stronger throughout this time, and you may notice that there is a greater difference between the water levels during the high and low tides. Spring tides will happen twice a year during a full and new moon. 

Neap Tide

A neap tide will happen when the sun and the moon create a right angle. You will see a half-moon, the first and third quarters, when they are aligned this way. The sun and moon's gravitational pulls will be at odds with each other. As a result, the tides will be weaker. A neap tide occurs every two weeks. 

Docking with the Tides in Mind

When you prepare to dock your boat, make sure to keep the tides in mind.  The wind and currents can make a difference. The best time to dock is during a slack tide. The minimal water movement is ideal for boaters, as long as the winds are not too strong. 

A low tide may moor your boat before you have a chance to reach the correct docking area. A high tide also will prevent you from reaching the place where you need to dock. Whether you are a new boater or a seasoned cruiser, it is necessary to use a tide table. A tide table lists the predicted times of high and low tides for each day of the week. 

The only way to improve at docking your boat into a lift is by practicing. The above information will be beneficial to help you dock no matter the tides. If you are in need of some dock maintenance or other marine construction needs, contact Duncan Seawall today.

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