I Love Spring Tides But...

I love living by the sea.

Whenever something goes wrong in my life, I need to come back home and rest or think things over while looking at the sea below my home. Just looking.

The Channel is not a peaceful sea. But I love it. I love it when I wake up to high tide with fierce waves beating up the cliff. I love it when I wake up to low tide with a golden sand beach below and peaceful wavelets far away.

I love taking long walks on the beach especially when it is deserted by humans and filled with birds, so different from season to season. We are so lucky to have so many migratory birds around here... even though I love to listen to the bickering gulls while I stroll along the shore all year long.

Right now, I am so happy because there is a wonderful spring tide... meaning that I get to walk even further into what should be salty water... an enchanted landscape filled with rocks of all shapes and heights, with seaweed resting on the sand while they are waiting for the sea to come back and small puddles crammed full with all sort of shellfish.

I love spring tide.

This afternoon, I decided against taking a long walk on the beach below. I’ve been taking long walks there every day ever since I came here. Very long walks.

Today is the very first day of spring tide and the weather is getting a lot colder because of a very fierce Northern wind. The sea is beautiful. But it is cold on the beach.

Instead I took a walk not very far from the village.

There is this islet not too far from the shore, called ‘Le Verdelet’. It is a bird sanctuary and no one is allowed there except during spring tides when an offshore bar emerges for a few hours. The shrimpers and clamdiggers are allowed to fish on the foreshore but it is still forbidden to climb on its slopes... especially now when so many birds are sitting on their eggs there.

I did not try to walk across to the islet. I am not a daredevil and I do not fish either!
I took a walk around and I found a nice spot where to wait for the tide to rise. I got there fifteen minutes before the end of low tide. I wanted to watch the bar disappear.
I know it is very impressive because I’ve seen it happen many times. But today was special... Very strong winds hence strong currents...

It was a good thing that the long Easter week-end had not started yet, bringing hordes of people over to Brittany... Spring tides are real crowd-pullers.

And spring tides spell disaster from time to time. Too many people are totally unaware of the scope of spring tides. They start to walk to islets which look so attractive. Then the tide rises and it rises very fast. In some places, it comes in as fast as a galloping horse.

The lucky ones get stranded on the islets. The unlucky ones... are washed out on a beach, several days later. It is hard to understand how something like this can still happen so often.

There are warning signs all over the place though, warning people not to try to come back once the tide is rising. They say that you are supposed to remain on the islet and call a number. A boat will come and rescue you... which is true.

A couple of months ago, a young man tried to walk back from the Verdelet a few minutes too late. He lost his footing and drowned right by a boat that had come to his rescue. This is what I call a very untimely and stupid death.

This accident was the reason why I wanted to check how fast the tide was coming in... I took two pictures. One at 2:23 p.m. And the second one at 2:46 p.m.

On the first one, people are walking back from Le Verdelet. The water is still low and the bar quite high above the sea level. But the tide reversal will happen in a few minutes... Within ten minutes, the bar will be submerged and totally impassable.

On the second picture, the bar has disappeared. The currents were so strong that they generated small waves. Small waves so powerful that you are washed out to sea before you get to realize what's happening to you.

Very frightening indeed.

And yet so beautiful.

*Good Luck, and Good Night*

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Wow! So beautiful...and so powerful.

My friend in Morocco can see the ocean from her house and a few weeks ago she posted pictures of a group of boys stuck out at sea after the tide rose—they were smart enough to wait for rescue but they were out there for quite some time before someone came to get them!