As the seasons roll on and we embrace Spring, we thought we’d look at Spring Tides and their impact on yacht chartering and sailing.
The first thing to know about spring tides, is they have absolutely nothing to do with Spring!
What Are Spring Tides?
A spring tide or ‘springs’ is a higher than average tide, whilst ‘neaps’ refers to a lower than average tide. A spring tide occurs roughly every fortnight.
What Causes Spring Tides?
Tides are caused by the gravitational pull generated by the Sun and Moon.
As the moon orbits Earth, twice a month, the Earth, Sun and Moon are all in alignment – and this combined gravitational pull is what causes the larger surges of water, or ‘spring tides’ (image source oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/springtide.html). These dates coincide with the New Moon and Full Moon phases.
Seven days after the Spring Tide caused by the alignments, the Moon and Sun are at their least aligned points within the orbits, and therefore exert a lower combined gravitational effect which is when we see ‘neaps’.
Why are Spring Tides Important?
As a sailor, it is important to know when it is springs and when it is neaps. In the UK, the tide still changes direction every 6 hours (approximately), but during springs the tide is higher at high-tide and lower at low tide. Therefore, the tidal range is greater during springs.
In addition, for the water to flood to the higher high-tide and ebb to a lower low-tide during the same 6-hour window, it must flow faster during springs than neaps. In the Solent, the tidal flow is easily twice as fast during springs at HW+/-3.
If you are chartering a yacht, or planning a sail in the Solent, there are several ways in which spring tides can affect you, all of which can be addressed with sensible passage planning:
How to Tell When it is Springs and when is Neaps
Any almanac or tide tables contains the details of the times and heights of tides to help you plan your sailing on any given date. Often, springs dates are highlighted in red, and neaps in blue, although some will show symbols of the full and new moon, so you can work this out yourself. Alternatively, you can look at the heights and ranges of the tides and calculate when this is greater and therefore springs.
A top tip for Solent sailors, is that when it is springs, high-tide occurs at midday. So, if you arrive at Hamble Point marina at 6pm to a high tide, you can be sure it is a neaps tide.
If you are uncertain how to read the almanac, calculate tidal heights or would like additional practice at berthing in a spring tide, please contact us and we can arrange for a qualified instructor to join you on board for a day, or you can join one of our many RYA courses.
Just finished a fabulous week in the Solent with two friends. The chartered boat was in very good condition, considering she was quite elderly. Being the end of the season there were a few scratches on her hull, which were pointed out by the staff. However, the interior and engine were in first class condition, everything was ship shaped and worked. Bembridge then Yarmouth back to Buckler's Hard, finally returning to the Hamble. Winds mainly from either S or N of F3/6, just perfect sailing. Certainly, in the future, hope to repeat this experience with a very well run organised Charter.
Thank you for everything, certainly hope in the near future to charter again, and pleased to recommend the efficient way your organisation works
We charter regularly from HPYC and always find the boats are clean, well maintained and properly equipped. The handover and breifing process is always efficeint and thorough so we get away quickly and we know support is available if there are any difficulties. The marina locatioin is also a great plus, giving easy and quick access to the Solent with optoins ot go east or west depending on the tides. All of the team at HPYC are very friendly and helpful and we really appreciate the great service they provide.
Thoroughly enjoyed the week. Four days sailing with Leigh as skipper; made up the itinerary as we went along - across to Cowes then down to Lulworth Cove and back. Several of us have sailing experience but did not have the experience to navigate the tides and currents of the south coast. Leigh was brilliant - quickly got us doing all the work within our own abilities and his knowledge and experience was exceptional. Knew his stuff. Great fun and pretty good value for money all once you divided it up between the seven of us. Not quite enough storage for all the beer however...
Very efficient and friendly service, quick and slick handover and return. Communication with Alex was very good, both by telephone and emails. I’d never sailed a Gib Sea 37 before but Viola is quick under sail and motor, very noisy in tick over as was pointed out at the handover but equally quiet with a few revs, in fact almost ‘electric’ quiet one crew member remarked. The heavy kick to port in astern can be used to good effect when close quarter manoeuvring. Plenty of electronics ( I brought charts with me but didn’t need them, the plotter at the helm was great ) All in all, Viola was a credit to you and I wouldn’t hesitate to charter her again... Although I do like the look of the Halberg Rassey on the next berth ! Perhaps next year? Many thanks Alex and the team.