Monday, February 9, 2009

Fundy's Tides

It is amazing how you can take so much water for granted. Yet, for those of us living around the Bay of Fundy, you can almost forget that we are living beside the world's highest tides. Compared to the upper end of the Bay of Fundy where they get upwards to 40 feet (over 12 meters) of tide, in Annapolis Royal we get around 30 feet (over 9 meters). While this is almost hard to fathom, the tides are something that blends into everyday life. If you don't have a reason to pay attention, the tides can come and go without ever noticing them. Once in a while, it is worth taking note of this force of nature outside our doors.

Historically, the tides would have played a role in the lives of more people in our community. The first mention of our tides is when Champdore, Captian of one of the French vessels to arrive at Port Royal has trouble negotiating the currents of the Digby Gut and runs his pinnace on the rocks. This incident leads the french to build a new pinnace which has been called the first European ship built in the New World.

Later on, a knowledge of the tides would have been essential for those making their living from the fishing or shipping trades. Safe navigation was always of the utmost importance. Loading or unloading of ships could often only happen when the tides were high. For large vessels, upriver ports like Bear River or Bridgetown could only be accessed on high tides.

There are also various stories like that of the barque Annapolis which, for a couple of days, refused to be launched. When the blocks were split out on October 29, 1873, the barque slipped onto the greased launchway but refused to move. The 1000 people in attendance went home disapointed since the Annapolis did not move before the tide became too low for a safe launch. Another failed attempt the next day was followed by the ship only moving 60 feet on November 1st. Days were spent worrying and working. Finally, on November 5th the ship was successfully launched.

These images were taken earlier today from the front of the O'Dell House Museum. They were taken about 6 hours apart. In the bottom image the water is not even touching the Annapolis Royal wharf. If anyone is interested in reading more about the Bay of Fundy, my friend Terri has a wonderful resource in her Bay of Fundy Blog.

All for now,

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