On stranger tides.

Autumn cruise, post 3

On stranger tides.

My apologies to Capt Jack Sparrow and Mr Bob but….”oh the tides they are a changing”

WABI’’’ real time : almost the end of September, day 20 of my autumn voyage and at aground far up Ruan creek. No worries…i had planned to be aground because we are nearly at spring tides and i wanted to go for another walk in the creek but the tides …..they are a mis-behaving ! This morning, just after 1130 WABI’’’ settled on the mud at one side of the creek and around 2 hours before my calculated time of low water, so far-so good. The rapidly falling tide should then have dropped at least another foot , possibly more and i would then have been able to wade across the creek and go for a walk……now, some 3 hours later the creek is still flowing downstream briskly but the tide hasn’t dropped so much as another inch : in fact if anything it’s just started to flood again.

Iv’e been at anchor in this section of Ruan creek for 3 days now because it’s the best place i know of to be in shelter from the strong westerly and sou-westerly gales that are blowing through, one after another : today it’s due to blow hard again for a few hours later on but from the north-west this time which is even better from my point of view. We are also only a day away from a spring tide with the tides still ‘making’ thus the highs are higher and the lows lower, what that means practically is that there’s a lot of water sloshing about on the ebb and the flood, i need a bit more anchoring scope out but iv’e got limited room to swing….in fact i’m thinking about using an anchoring technique that i used occasionally in a similar situation in the popular anchorage ‘Dandy Hole’ near Plymouth.


Yesterday it all went pretty much to plan….by 1100 i was nicely aground on the firm mud bank in the middle of the braided channel and a quick prod around the boat showed me that i’d landed on a section that felt like half-set gritty concrete. The ebb continued to run out and for about half an hour i worked to the sound of water sluicing past the bow and then the slap and glup of the tide dropping underneath the hull…..astern the mud bank was dry for a good 50 yards downstream and the banks either side changing colour as they dried out in the sun and wind….not raining too which was nice. At first i went for a walk on the exposed mud around the boat and then changed into a nasty old pair of trainers (see ‘anchor watch’) and waded across the bed of the creek and explored upstream….eventually getting ashore on the neck of land that separates the 2 arms of the creek here.

Today, iv’e no idea what is going on : it was a higher ‘high’ tide for sure, well up in the bottom branches of the oaks and should have been a lower ‘low’…at least another 0.3 of a metre lower so another foot say in real money. just across the creek from where WABI’’’ has settled, slightly cocked over, is a useful lump of debris which i can use to gauge the depth of water : after we settled it showed maybe another couple of inches above the tide after another hour and that was all she wrote !. The creek was still sluicing past the bow but never got low enough to be just running thinly under the boat….today i reckon that WABI’’’ should have been completely dry right down to her bilge runners but i climbed down the short stern ladder into calf deep and fast flowing cold water….too deep and too fast to wade the creek. The second odd thing that happened is that the ebb just came to a stand for at least 2-3 hours but with the creek still flowing briskly downstream and then all of a sudden it started to rise again : watching the depth against my useful debris it just popped up by a good 4-6 inches in a matter of a few minutes and then rose fast.

I don’t know what’s happened with the tide today, maybe there’s a lot of fresh water in the creek from the heavy rain, maybe that’s why it’s running deep and fast and cold but that doesn’t adequately explain the stalled low tide, the long stand and the rapid increase in depth after the stand. I know that heavy rainfall does affect the flow in creeks and tidal rivers in the west-country….we have that problem at Calstock too and often with lots of heavy debris to deal with as well. This morning , as i write, my partner has just sent me a message that one boat on the moorings is in trouble with a waterlogged tree across its mooring. in practical terms here i’m going to re anchor in a slightly different position and maybe use a Bahamian moor as well to reduce my swinging circle and to have 2 anchors down.


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