What to Know About the Tide and Current Before Heading Out

Jacksonville Beach

Jax Boat Club

The last thing you need is to find your boat stuck grounded in the sand. When the tide changes, this can happen and it can be rather embarrassing. It can also be costly.

Instead of letting this happen, it's best to understand the tides and current before you head out on the water. Here are a few things you should know before taking your boat out.

What is Tide?

Tide is the flow of sea water out of shore or into shore caused by the pull of gravity from the moon and the sun.

What is Current?

Current is known as the speed of the flow of water, which can cause the height of the tide to change.

Tides are Predictable

It doesn't matter where you boat, tides can be predicted, which is a good thing. When you are out on the water, you should know when low tide and high tide will happen. High tide will cause the sea water to flow towards the shore, slowing at first, but it will increase middle cycle before slowing down toward the end. Low tide is the flow of water away from shore and the middle cycle will also be faster than the beginning and end.

When Tide and Current Matter

If you plan to take your boat to an island or somewhere near the beach, you should know when the high and low tide will be, so that you can watch your anchor on shore. You want to be prepared to adjust the position of the boat so that you don't get stuck and have to pay to have your boat towed off the beach. It can also be a problem to chase your boat that has become loose and is floating free.

Make sure you understand the tides in the area before heading out and you won't have to deal with these issues.

Another time to know the tide is when you're docking. When the tide and wind direction are not exactly how you might hope, it can make it hard to maneuver your boat. You will have to plan for the wind, current and tide when docking. It's usually important to know that current will trump wind.

How Tide Impacts Current

When there's a greater separation between the low and high tide heights, the current will become faster. Usually, in the middle of the cycle, there will be a heavy current, which will push your boat around. This is important to know so that you can maintain fully in control of your boat, no matter the situation.

There are several ways to stay up-to-date on the tide and current. You can use one of the many apps out there, such as Sea Tow or Hi Tide to help ensure you know what the water is doing at all times. The last thing you need is to end up in a bad or dangerous situation you could have prevented by knowing the tides and the current for your boating excursion.