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Kayaking in Langstone and Portsmouth Harbour – Tides

By 10th August 2016 No Comments

In the last blog we looked at how the tidal range is directly affected by the position of the Moon, Sun and Earth to create either spring or neap tides. We also looked at how the equinox also influences the size of tides with greater ranges found in the March and September. In this blog we are going to look at the rate in which the tide moves which is directly proportionate to the range of water going in and out.

tides 3.1In the last blog we identified that a tidal range can vary from 1.8 m to 4.6 m of water coming in or out. This amount of water makes a massive difference and a big tide can be clearly seen racing in or out the harbour mouths of Langstone and Portsmouth. The time taken for the tide to come in (flood) or out (ebb) takes roughly 6 hours and the rate varies during this time. In simple terms it starts of slow and speeds up before slowing down again. We break this down into what’s known as the rule of twelves.  Table 1 shows the amount of water travelling with the two middle hours (in yellow) having the most amount of water travelling and therefore the fastest and strongest time of the tide.

To relate this to kayaking journeys in the harbours it is always easiest to travel with the tide and greatest benefits will be had during a spring tide and during the middle two hours. If you ever choose to paddle against the tide a neap tide would be favourable and during the first or sixth hour of the tide. There are also other areas to consider, such as:

  • Is the tide high enough to provide access without trapesing through mud?
  • Is the wind working with or against you?
  • A strong or weak tide can greatly affect the amount of time paddling from one to several hours.
Depending on the strength of the wind, it can have a greater or lesser effect on kayakers than the tide. If the wind and tide are travelling in the same direction then this will be an added advantage with an easier journey. However if the wind and tide are working in opposite Tides 3.2direction several problems can occur. The wind could end up pushing you in an undesired location or creating a rather choppy service making it harder for beginners to stay upright. It is concerning if you have a capsized kayaker in the water when you have wind over tide as they could end up going in opposite directions. As seen in figure 1 the boat will stay on the service and get blown by the wind across the service of the water, whereas the swimmer will be pushed by the tide.
The Adventure Brand provides a variety of kayaking tours and courses, whether you’re seeking personal guiding technical and safety skills or coaching. Importantly Chichester Harbour, Langstone Harbour, Portsmouth Harbour and the river Hamble provides an excellent teaching and learning environment for kayaking of all abilities. For more information click here or contact Ellis Bird at