Understanding The Ocean: Tides

by Tracy, May 24, 2017

Cabarete, Dominican Republic boasts of world-class watersports conditions that lure in watermen and women from all over the world. Whether you’re learning a new watersport or are already a seasoned pro, there are ocean fundamentals you should get to know that will help you on and off the water. For that reason, we’ve put together an ongoing Understanding The Ocean Guide. Our first part of the series was about waves, and for this next installment, we’re detailing the biggest waves in our oceans, the tides.

Why do we even have tides?

Tides Diagram

Compared to many other places in the world, the tides of Cabarete are not that significant, but it’s enough to notice a change in the water state and size of the beach. During low tide the beach is larger, the water is calmer, and in some areas, reef and rock protrude from the water. At high tide, the beach is smaller, and the water is much choppier. Gravitational forces between the Sun, Earth, and Moon cause the change in tides. The Moon has the largest influence since it’s closest and essentially pulls a bulge in the ocean and this affects the size of the tides.

Spring Tides

The biggest tides occur when the gravitational pull is strongest which happens when the Sun, Moon and Earth are all in alignment. We call these spring tides and they happen during the new and full moons, which occur twice in a month, every two weeks. During a spring tide, you’ll notice the tide rises abnormally high, and drops unusually low. Also these tides as they’re covering more ground the water will move much quicker with more force than normal tides.

Neap Tides

Neap tides are moderate because they occur when the Sun and Moon are at right angles to each other. These tides take place twice a month in rotation with the spring tides. Therefore we have a new tide every seven days. The gravitational pull is less, making neap tides are the opposite of spring tides. The water doesn’t move as far or as fast, so the difference between high tide and low tide is less noticeable.

Tide Times and Speed

Tides: rule of twelfths.

As the earth is rotating, this means we have four tides in 24 hours, two high and two low. You can always find the tide times online or if you know the time of one tide in the day, you can work out the others, since the tides are roughly 6 hours apart. The speed of the tide varies throughout the 6 hours and we can see this through the rule of twelfths. From looking at the diagram, you can see the tides are similar to driving a car through a set of traffic lights. At high tide, the vehicle stops (slack tide), as the light goes green the vehicle increases. In the middle section, the vehicle travels the fastest, then as the car approaches the next red light, it gradually starts to slow, eventually coming to a halt (slack tide). Imagine this scenario over 6 hours, and that’s how our tides work. In the first hour the tide will rise one-twelfth of the total range, in the second hour two-twelfths and so on. It also works back the other way with low tides.

How do tides affect us?

In short, tides change the state of the water. So, for example, if you want to go for a calmer swim, go at the low slack tide, if you want something more challenging, go when the tide is coming in (pushing tide). Tides affect the size of the waves, how the water moves, the strength of the water, and much more. As a beachfront hotel with guests who love the ocean and watersports, tides play an enormous role in our day-to-day life, so it’s always good to have a general knowledge and roughly know when the tides are.

Check our next installment of Understanding the Ocean: Currents.

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