Friday, 2 October 2009


There are in the world coasts where there is no tide. True, the moon still shows her power. She waxes and wanes and grows horns and loses them and swells to a golden orb. Men, women and beasts howl and whimper to the moon when she rises in her glory. Madmen run wild in the forests. All nature everywhere feels the influence of the goddess. There is, however, in many places no tide.

Here in the Estuary the tide comes and goes as prescribed by the moon and more or less as predicted by the Hydrographer of the Royal Navy and at the beginning of the year the boat owner buys a year’s worth of local tidetables from his Post Office or from the chandlers in town and thumbs it and bends it throughout the season until such time as he has no more use for it. He expects the information to be reliable.

In the Estuary a flood tide arrives more or less on time every half day and lifts my Poppy off her mooring and invites me to go for a sail.

But tides can have a will of their own. They often creep up on us when we are not looking and people like to complain about them in the same way that they like to complain about the weather. However much they are predicted they are yet unpredictable. There is either not enough water or there is too much. The tide floods either too early or too late.

But, as the poet has it, 'it ain't no use to grumble and complain It's jest as easy to rejoice.' Tides are for people who like surprises. The capricious tide adds zest to the boatman's day. Let us thank the Fates that our waters are tidal waters. Life on our coasts without tides would be decidedly dreary and dull.

Tomorrow: On Dawlish Warren.

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