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Dr. Phil Metzger @DrPhiltill
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#TFW it is dark and your kids call because they are stranded on a tiny island in the middle of the whirlpools that keep sucking the kayak away from shore and they couldn't paddle hard enough against the tide to get home and as last resort they want dad to come with the boat.🙉 /1
2/ (These are the older kids. Not the two young ones who went out for the first time this morning.)
3/ As a kid, I would have chosen death before making that phone call. But then, we didn't have phones, so we couldn't get a rescue anyway. 🙉
4/ All turned out fine. I couldn't get the boat near the rock they were stranded on because the tidal current and whirlpools would bang-up the boat against the rock, so they put back in and drifted to meet us. It was way to strong to paddle against. So, the history and science...
The history is that my mother's family has lived on this island since 1760 so there is a lot of family history of getting stuck in boats. My kids are excited to have their own story now😅 For example, my two great aunts Mary and Francis got stuck in a rowboat far from home and...
6/ ...were forced to sleep in the rowboat through the night till the tide came in and they got free. The family legend is they dug clams and made a fire to cook them. They were my heros as I was growing up. Then there's the time my uncle had his two aged parents in a motorboat...
7/...and he hit a rock knocking the entire stern of his inboard motorboat completely off. As long as he didn't stop going full speed the boat wouldn't sink, but he had no way to get his aged parents out of the boat onto the rocky shore fast enough before it went down...
8/ So he zoomed big circles in front of the house yelling "GET THE TRACTOR AND BRING IT TO THE SHORE..." After my cousins stopped laughing they took the tractor down, my uncle rammed the shore at full speed, they slammed a hook on it and the tractor pulled it up onto dry land.
9/ And one of my own stories: I was camping on an island with my cousin, both about 14 y.o., when some scary people came to the same island at night and started threatening. So we sneakily put everything in the tent so they couldn't see we were getting ready to escape. Then...
10/...at the count of three we snatched up the tent by the corners, ran with it to the boat, jumped in and shoved out into the darkness. We had no lights and it was a moonless night so we couldn't see a thing, not even our own hands. We had to avoid the submerged rocks...
11/...and weave around several islands and rocky points to cross the bay toward home. We used stars and a nearby lighthouse plus dead reckoning and we made it. My parents were surprised when we showed up. It was actually far better an adventure than if we had camped all night.
12/ That's just a small sample of the boat stories acvumulayed over 258 years. (We had another great one just last year!) So I think my kids really wanted to make it home on their own, but even so it was a grand adventure. ❤ Now the science...
13/ There is a 10 foot tide in this part of Maine. (We are close to the Bay of Fundy where Ymthe tides are even greater!) This coast was gouged and shaped by glaciers, and when the last one retreated some 10,000+ years ago the ocean came in to fill the deep valleys.
14/ The large tide pumps enormous volumes of water in & out of the narrow restrictions of land twice a day. In places, the water drops several feet over a short distance, flowing at high velocity and creating eddies and even some white water. The nearby worst places are called...
15/...Upper Hell Gate, Lower Hell Gate, and Goose Rock Passage. Four times a day (both in & out for both tides daily) the current can be dangerous for small boats unless you know what you're doing. A boy drowned in Lower Hell Gate when I was a kid. So I was forbidden to go there.
16/ And so of course I went there almost every day. I went there in my little outboard boat to ride through the whirlpools and rush down the small waterfall between two of the islands. My dad never knew. My mom who grew up here was OK with it, though.
17/ Back to the science... The tide is controlled by the Moon. A common question is why there are two tides a day instead of just one when the Moon is overhead. The Moon & Earth swing around their combined center of mass, the barycenter, which is inside the Earth but off-center.
18/ Because the Earth spins (monthly) around this off-center point, it tend to elongate the Earth, and the water level becomes higher on both elongated sides, both toward the Moon and on the opposite side away from the Moon. (This is oversimplified of course.)
19/ None of the cycles of the sky (days, months, years) are perfect integers of each other, so the month is not exactly an integer number of days. Seen from Earth, the Moon's cycle is 29.53059... days. Every day the Moon rises about 49 minutes later than the day before.
20/ This means the tides are a little less than an hour later every day. When I was a kid I learned to keep track of the tides in my head because a kid's life was controlled by the tides. E.g., the water was warm enough to swim over the mud flats only certain days of the month.
21/ We have family letters from the 1800s where a Great...gggg aunt was an indentured servant begging her brother to row some 50 miles on a certain day when the tides would be right so he could make it there to visit her. Unfortunately, somehow my kids are losing this skill 😔
22/22 So I would have never gone through Goose Rock Passage when the tide was coming in at this time of day because I would know I wouldn't be able to get back for many hours (without a motor). I'm sure kids who live here year round all learn it, and my kids learned it today 😄
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