Quote of the Month

"Not all those who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, 1954.

“We must change our attitudes toward the ocean. We must regard it as no longer a mystery, a menace, something so vast and invulnerable that we need not concern ourselves with it … Instead we want to explore the themes of the ocean’s existence—how it moves and breathes, how it experiences dramas and seasons, how it nourishes its hosts of living things, how it harmonizes the physical and biological rhythms of the whole earth, what hurts it and what feeds it—not least of all, what are its stories.” Jacques Yves Cousteau, 1910-1997.

"It's the glory of the sea that has turned my head." Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, 1894.

"It is with you as with the sea: the most varied names are given to what is in the end only salt water." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Maxims and Reflections, 1833.

Monday, May 3, 2010

On Tropical Tides


Monday, March 22, 2010 was a local holiday for some—The Abolition of Slavery in Puerto Rico. Not being a U.S. federal holiday, most people worked. In sailing terms that meant that the usual Saturday and Sunday crowds were gone. We sailed out at about 10:00 a.m. When we arrived at Palomino, we had over 10 moorings to choose from. What a treat! I could not help but feel sorry for the other wage slaves. On such a beautiful sailing day, I was reminded of Jacques Prevert’s line in one of his poems, “N’est-t-il pas con de donner un tel jour a un patron?” (Isn’t it a #@%& to donate such a day to a boss?).
I was captain of Bebe II (32’ Benetau). Two invited friends from Atlanta, Georgia were with me, Jo Anne and Hugh, as well as Francisco, who is highly experienced and William, a new club student with some experience. After mooring in Palomino, Jo Anne and Hugh went for a swim (see picture above). Francisco did some scraping on the sailboat’s bottom. William and I stayed on board tidying up, reviewing sailing notes and relaxing.


The Sea Around Us     As we sailed back at around 4:00 p.m., the wind was behind us. The tide was with us also, so with only the jib on, we arrived back quickly. I find tides to be fascinating movements. Rachel Carson’s chapter on "Tides" in her book, The Sea Around Us (1951), provides an eloquent description of tides and their connections with the moon, currents, flora and fauna in the sea, and yes, sailboat movements. In 1962, she published, Silent Spring, where way ahead of her time, she denounced the future impact of industrial waste. Industry and government, with the help of prominent male scientists accused her as a crackpot, a modern day witch-hunt. If we had only listened. Now Rachel Carson (1907-1964) is revered as a great writer, ecologist, and scientist (see picture below). She has more books, though I highly recommend the two I mention. They are very well written, which makes for enjoyable reading, and they are still informative.


     Tides are like the planet Earth’s breathing in and out. Tides in the tropics are smaller than at higher latitudes. They usually average one foot high or low. No dramatic Bay of Fundy here. The tropical tides on the east side of Puerto Rico are easy to follow. They ebb north and flood south. If one looks at the current, without consulting a tides table, it is possible to determine the tide. We flooded right into the marina with the tide. Freedom!