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Navigating a tide race


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As boat anglers we've probably heard of the Portland Race, or the Start Race, or the race off St Aldhelms Head. Having never navigated a tide race before I'm interested to know what the recommended way of doing so actually is.

Can any of the Outlaws help?

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24 minutes ago, JonC said:

I won the egg and spoon race once. The 3 legged race didn’t go so well though due to conflicting political opinions 

I'm sure we had an admin round here whos job is to keep threads on track... oh, wait...

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A bit like our bar crossing only a little more predictable. Our often narrow channels to open ocean are tide dependant ,that fast running tidal flow often from large estuaries cause their own chop, mix this with ocean swell, cross winds and sea chop and they soon become extremely dangerous.

Running them is a case of once committed there's no turning back for the risk of getting rolled side on. Depending on the wave size and whether you are running with our against it greatly determins how you control speed and trim. Plenty of power is important here but also using to much power can soon land you in trouble. Some of these waves when running against the tide are virtually not moving, they just hold as pressure waves you either have to drop over or move around as you have other waves coming at you from different angles (reaction time needs to be quick on our bar crossing).

Using trim to help reduce the chance of burying the the bow or reducing the boat from porpoiseing over waves is important. Also make sure everything onboard is secure, you don't want things sliding about distracting you and effecting stability. Kill switch is often good to be attached to your leg (not wrist as your hands need to work fast at the wheel at times). Crew should be prepared and wearing pfd's just incase.

The tidal races I used to encounter around the needles and St Catherins were relatively short and more predictable but even those have caught me out in the past, which was more to do with the poor hull designs in my price range bait then. Deep V hulls with plenty of weight and power in the built eat up such conditions but unfortunately these were only in the likes of ribs (still pretty much the same back there).

Depending on the wave sizes and angled approach like in this image bellow will greatly help. 

The large cat my daughter often skippers copped a wave over the top crossing our local bar last week ripping off the clears and almost washing the kipper from the flybridge last week, my daughter was driving the smaller boat that day!!!

 

IMG_3125.thumb.PNG.aa4c7531d9630a34b0fce07153f27856.PNG  

IMG_3521.thumb.JPG.081763a87462078608e29570008c5931.JPG

Edited by JDP
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33 minutes ago, Saintly Fish said:

@Andy135 how about hurst castle point. That I’m guessing could be classed as a race and you e been through that a few times!

That was just across the water from where I kept one of my boats, never considered it much of a tidal race, yes the current pushed along quite quickly causing a few big eddy's but nothing my little 12ft boat at the time couldn't handle. If anything there was a faster run of water at the front of Fort Victoria but again not enough to cause chop. The Needles will cause bad chop, which good the windows out of my cabin once and split the transom (18ft boat).

Edited by JDP
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6 minutes ago, JDP said:

That was just across the water from where I kept one of my boats, never considered it much of a tidal race, yes the current pushed along quite quickly causing a few big eddy's but nothing my little 12ft boat at the time couldn't handle. If anything there was a faster run of water at the front of Fort Victoria but again not enough to cause chop. The Needles will cause bad chop, which good the windows out of my cabin once and split the transom (18ft boat).

I never said it was a big manly race like the stuff you swim before breakfast Jon, but it is a narrow fast flowing stretch of water where if the wind is prevailing from the SW and the tide is ebbing, can get extremely choppy and the water runs fast. 
It’s the only example of a race that Andy has been through. Ok he hasn’t navigated it, he left that to me hence we are still here! 

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47 minutes ago, Saintly Fish said:

@Andy135 how about hurst castle point. That I’m guessing could be classed as a race and you e been through that a few times!

If that's a race we can close the thread then... 🤣

I was thinking more of the proper serious stuff. Even St Cats has been pretty mild when I've been round there, hence my question on the OP.

Now to be fair I've timed my visits to St Cats to coincide with neaps and have avoided the very tip by the lighthouse, but I'm curious to know what the recommended wisdom for navigating them in general are.

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First of all, don’t do it. If you can navigate around it then do so. It may be longer to navigate but if you can find flat water and it’s 2-3 miles longe it’ll be quicker and more fuel efficient.

Cross at slack water. If you do your passage plan correctly you can work out when you’ll get there and time that with slack water.

If you can’t get there at slack water, navigate so it’s wind with tide. We have a tide race called the Ranny. If wind and tide are in wrong direction 5-6ft standing waves are possible. You pass this to get to the western fishing grounds so we check the weather carefully along with tides.

If you do go for it, try to keep a constant speed. 20knts ain’t going to cut it.... these are typically standing waves in U.K. Take it at a slight angle but don’t zig zag on way through. Once you’re committed, you’re in. You ain’t turning round! 
 

Check your trim if on outboards for cavitation. Also check your depth for rocks etc. There is a reason there is a race.... bottom contours make a difference! 
 

Enjoy it! It can fun of done correctly... it’s a nice way to give your crew a wash if it’s a small race 😉 

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2 hours ago, Saintly Fish said:

You get kippers in Oz? 

All day my computer has been having a will of its own!!!!...if its not already bad enough being a bad speller, this thing keeps adding several words or changing words well after Ive gone past!!!! maybe time for a restart .

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2 minutes ago, JDP said:

All day my computer has been having a will of its own!!!!...if its not already bad enough being a bad speller, this thing keeps adding several words or changing words well after Ive gone past!!!! maybe time for a restart .

If in doubt, give it a clout! 😉

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Down our way we have several smaller races.  Old Harry and the swash channel can get bad if an ebb spring hits an easterly wind, it isn't overly scary but can be uncomfortable.  Next going west is Peveril  which can get a little choppy, drifted through it once beam on and had the gunnels very nearly taking water over the side (26' boat)  so gave up on that.  Next along is Anvil point which can be at times nasty but the worst is St Aldhelm head which some call St Albans head, the worst along our stretch of the coast, avoid this on springs against the wind ie flood against easterly or ebb against westerly winds.

I have fished Portland race many times, now that can be scary as you have to go through the rough stuff to get to the fish.  If just transiting this place is best tackled at or near slack water.  If not then either keep very close in avoiding pots or go 5 miles offshore.  Do your homework before fishing here.

The scariest races I have been through are around alderney.  The Swinge is the one that has put the wind up me on several occasions.  One time we had standing waves which had very little distance between them, one minute we were on top of a wave the next there was no water beneath us so we just waited for the crash then the next wave just wanted to breach us.  Once you approach and think about this place its to late as the tides runs (up to 10 knots) very fierce taking us along once at over 10 knots on tick over but it can change in an instant.  Dean and I are lazy leisure anglers, one particular day a few boats left Braye harbour to go to the banks fishing and went through the swinge.  One boat had left his houdini hatch open and took a wave right over the top of the boat which soaked everything within his cabin.  He was on the radio telling us how bad the swinge was.  Dean and I left about 1/2 hour later and cruised through flat water at 22 knots with smooth water.

Alderney also has the Alderney race which can be horrendous with tides reaching 11 knots

The best way to deal with any race is read the weather and tides which both have an influence.  Do your homework, read the water and take a change of underwear for when you get it wrong, which at some point you will 

Edited by Maverick
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i respect the sea and wind and allways look to avoid proplems but you can allways get cougt out, if you go to eastney (portsmouth )

you see boats in the midely of the chanel going backwards in the flud

i got in and out with my 5 hp at any time. lockal knollage is a must , if you dont know arsk is my motto

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On 1/27/2021 at 6:59 PM, Andy135 said:

As boat anglers we've probably heard of the Portland Race, or the Start Race, or the race off St Aldhelms Head. Having never navigated a tide race before I'm interested to know what the recommended way of doing so actually is.

Can any of the Outlaws help?

 

Good starting point, but all tide races are different ! , and it also depends tidal stream and wind diection.

Portland : there are 2 safe gateways around Portland, the inside channel and the outer pass. I have never been on the inside channel, but apparently you stay really close to the shore and the water is relatively calm. I have always taken the outer route and gone about 6- 8 miles out to clear the 'Bill' and then made my way in, well east of the shambles.

Start Point Overfalls: In a decent boat it is never really an issue. Yes, it goes from calm on the east skerries to 'kin rough on the west skerries as you come onto Start point. The wave formation here can only be described as 'washing machine' with waves coming from all directions, but never more than 2m (ish) high, but a worrying amount of 'white' water. The boat skill required is 'drive on the throttle' and try to avoid the 'beam slammers'. I have drifted there for Bass, let us just say it is an experience and you must have total confidence in your boats capabilities !

Edited by GPSguru
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