Tidal elevations and currents in Fowey, Cornwall

Tides in Cornwall.

The other day we talked about a very simplistic models of tides in a glass, and how the high tide and low tide travel as a wave around an ocean basin. This isn’t really a news flash for people reading this blog, I know. But it is sometimes hard to imagine how big the differences between high tide and low tide actually are, since the water rises and falls so slowly it is hardly noticeable.

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Fowey harbor in Cornwall at high tide

On my most recent holiday (even though “most recent” means “some time during summer”, which is actually quite a while ago), A and I stayed in Fowey and had the best time. Anyway, we happened to stroll along the pier, and I happened to snap this picture.

Some more strolling happened (and we might or might not have had Cornish Cream Tea), and six or so hours later we were back in the same spot, to see this:

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Fowey harbor in Cornwall at low tide

The water was gone! And I still find it absolutely fascinating.

Especially since at first glance the tides don’t seem to result in alternating currents. Which is really not possible.

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Fowey harbor – incoming tide

But it took more than just a second look to realize that the tide in the picture above is coming in, whereas the one below is going out (Pictures taken from pretty much the same spot).

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Fowey harbor – tide is going out

You can only see that if you look at the moored sailing ships far across the water. The colorful boats always face out towards the sea – because they are moored between two moorings and are not turning freely around a single mooring as I had assumed they would. Duh! But for the yachts in the background it is clear they are only moored in one spot: They face right on the upper, and left on the lower picture. Yep, those are the kind of things that fascinate me while I’m on vacation! :-)

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