Thursday, December 26, 2013

Paddlers may ride strong tides into the New Year

Update: More king tides due Jan. 29-31.

Northern California kayakers can paddle into the New Year in high (and low) style with some exceptional tides in the next few days. These so-called "king tides" occur when the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars. Wait, that's the Age of Aquarius song -- scratch that.

More likely these tides are connected to the alignment of the Earth, sun and the moon, according to the California King Tides Initiative, an outfit that doesn't rely on astrology but seems reasonably credible anyway. Bottom line is that a few times a year,
stuff happens and you can paddle water that usually would be too shallow. Or, in the case of weenies like me, catch a tidal turbo boost that propels us further than we could paddle on our own.

According to the California King Tides Initiative, tides will rise and fall the most from December 30 to January 2. Some of the high-low shifts will exceed eight feet. Plus, these tides are expected during daylight hours, when the Northern California weather forecasts predict mostly sunny skies and highs into the 60s.

Note that it's not necessary to risk life and limb on the open sea to enjoy a king tide. Northern California bays and coastal rivers are the perfect venue for a less stressful New Year's paddle.  Here are some examples, tide data courtesy of Saltwater Tides, a free Web site:

-- New Year's Day at Elkhorn Slough in Monterey County, the tide will crest at 6.9 feet at 9:49 a.m. (at Kirby Park). It will drop to a -1.4 feet by 4:48 p.m.

-- In Marin County, near China Camp State Park, the high tide will hit 7.2 feet at 11:06 a.m. and then drop to about -1.2 feet at 6:01 p.m. on New Year's Eve.

-- At Inverness, on Tomales Bay, New Year's Day will bring a 6.5 foot tide level at 11:20 a.m., followed by a low tide of -1.8 feet at 6:46 p.m.

Happy New Year from NorCal Yak! And to borrow an old sailor's toast: "Here's to tall ships, here's to small ships, here's to all the ships at sea. But the best ships are friendships -- so here's to you and me."