September 17, 2016 (at 7:58 AM, or maybe 8:07 AM, or maybe 7:32 AM…)
I’m naive. I thinking that tide heights and times should be an exact science, known, quantized, calculated to the atomic-clock picosecond, published for all to see, and included in thousands of free apps and programs for all to use.
It turns out: not so much!
Here are the next high and low tide times for Noumea, New Caledonia, taken from different sources…
OK, at least Navionics is mostly self-consistent across it’s different platforms, but no one else agrees with them, at least down to the minute level. The big looser here is WxTide32 on my PC, at least comparing it with the average of the others. And then there’s meteo.nc, the official weather service in New Caledonia. I’d think they would have a handle on tide times, at least in their capitol city, but judging by the current we see entering and leaving Noumea, they don’t.
So what’s a few minutes either way?
First, it’s not just a few minutes but up to a half an hour. This can be the difference between entering the Havannah pass in smooth, calm water, or reenacting Perfect Storm!
We’ve had this problem all the way across the Pacific, over the last 4+ years. We have been unable to get accurate tide information. It’s a little like religion out here. Many cruisers have tools that they have faith in. Many others don’t believe on those tools, while holding out hope that other ones are accurate.
I guess the bottom line for us – the lesson we’ve learned (or maybe still need to learn) is to use whatever tools you have (or who’s church you attend), then use your eyes as you near a pass and be prepared to sit and wait for a while until the standing waves lay down.
(Written by someone who’s a little bitter after just having reenacted Perfect Storm. -Rich
By the way… If you can contact or watch a local scuba diving operation, they know the tides. They have to when diving the passes, but they don’t always want to share.