East Coast Alerts

By Mel Neale

Unusual High Tides in Next Few Days Can Cause Extra Navigation Problems for East Coast Travelers

The conjunction of a full moon (October 27) and a large storm far offshore which has been causing northeasterly wind and swell is creating unusually high tides along much of the east coast. In many areas of the ICW these tides can cause serious problems in several respects.

In many spots the banks, normally visible to help with your orientation and navigation, will be covered at times near high tide. In places where, normally, you might be meandering through marsh, using points and creeks as references in addition to the Nav Aids, you may find yourself in a vast featureless sea. Pay very close attention to all Aids to Navigation, and if you’re confused about an area, stop and figure it out before proceeding.

Extra high tides also cause extra strong currents. When you are crossing inlet intersections with the ICW, or creek or river mouths, or entrances to artificial cuts, you may experience very powerful lateral currents that can push you out of the channel.

High tides obviously mean that high water is higher than usual. As the tide falls in this period of greater tidal range, you may have less time to get off should you go aground. If you stray from the channel and run aground at these times of extra high tide, it may be very difficult to get off. If you have a keel, you could even roll over as the tide goes out. Be extra careful in periods of unusually high tides.

Examples of regions more likely to be affected are the marshy areas north and south of Wrightsville North Carolina, the marshes of South Carolina and Georgia, and the marshy areas south of Fernandina Beach, Florida.

Copyright 2004-2005 Tom Neale