• Peter

The affect of the Great Tides

You remember I was talking about the “Great Tides” at this time of year on my last post ?

As we set off from Dieppe to Le Havre we were “caught” in one of the consequences of these great variations in tidal height. The water does not just go up and down, but it also flows in different directions – and the more it goes up and down, the more water there is to flow. As the tide rises it flows in one direction and as it drops, it flows in the other direction, so there are some critical points to watch out for when planning to make sure the tide is with you when you need it.

As we set off from Dieppe the tide was against us, and the wind was not very strong. Before we knew it, we were sailing backwards – away from our destination of Le Havre – that would result is a bad arrival time compared to our planning.

We quickly adapted to the situation and decided to head for Cherbourg as an alternative. This way we had to motor further away from the shore, as the winds were light, but hoped to pickup a good wind after a short time. Within the hour we caught the wind and we were away sailing at 6-7 knots, which is a lot better than going backwards!

Once the tide had turned, we were flying at 10 knots. We know by experience, it is a risk to predict the arrival time, but it looked more and more likely that we would arrive at the early hours of the morning.

124 miles later after 20 hours sailing we arrived in Cherbourg at 06.20, just in time for breakfast and a few hours of snoozing.

Cherbourg is a very protected harbour and though there are still some big tide variations, they are "only" 6m here. The sheltered spot we had was beautifully positioned and at night the water was as smooth as oil with the boats being light up from the harbour lights.


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