Understanding tides in the Puget Sound

When you live on the water the tide becomes a part of your life and depending on the type of waterfront you have, it can make a major impact.

There is a great App called Multi Tide and I use it all the time. If you download it to your phone it will really shorten the learning curve about tides.

Tides in the Puget Sound are fairly extreme compared to other areas of the world. The high tides can exceed 14 feet and the lows go lower than minus 4. When these extreme highs and lows meet you are looking at an 18-foot exchange and the water really moves. I have seen tides flowing in excess of 6 knots.

Our typical high tide is 8-10 feet and the average low is 2-5. There are 2 high tides and 2 low tides each day and they change by about an hour each day so if the high was at 2 o’clock today it will be high around 3 o’clock tomorrow. You will also see a series of tides slightly higher or lower each subsequent day.

  • Fishermen know that the best fishing is typically an hour before and after the tide change.
  • Scuba divers plan their dives on the slack tide, one time I mis-judged the tide while diving under the Narrows Bridge and the current pulled me, tumbling past Day Island on the sea floor.
  • Clamming opportunities arise at minus tides when we can get to the clams in areas that are usually covered by water.
  • Boaters (especially sail boaters and trawlers) will plan their trips so that they are running with the tide.
  • If you live in the back of a bay, you might find that your waterfront has turned to mud on the minus tides.

There is a rhythm to the tides that is ever changing – I find it fascinating.

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