The Bay of Fundy
This is an indescribable place, but I will do my best to give you a glimpse into the most amazing tides anywhere in the world. They claim that 100 billion (yes, BILLION) tons of seawater flow in and out of the bay each day. The result is a dramatic ebb and flow of the ocean producing incredible currents while turning apparently small rock outcroppings into massive islands as the tide ebbs out. As the flood begins, the waters begin to rise, and suddenly land that was accessible on foot is quickly covered by the incoming water.
The water temperature this time of the year is in the 40's, so on the rush of the flood, all of that incoming cold water combined with the humid warm air found on land creates a daily rush of fog. You can sit on the shore and quickly feel the temperature change as the cold water begins to rush in. The fog ebbs as well; sometimes thin and wispy, other times so thick you can barely see in front of you. The weather dynamics are thus constantly in a state of flux as the cold water comes in and the SW wind comes up in the afternoon bringing in even more cool air.
Paddling in these conditions is sublime and yet difficult and often dangerous. On the day I arrived in Lubec a young woman out for a paddle found herself caught in an 8 Knot current that was quickly pulling her out of the bay, into the narrows and points unknown. A swift rescue by the locals averted what could have been a catastrophe. The currents and fog are not the only problems. Water temperatures in the upper 40s make immersion a true danger. At those temps, a person without the proper clothing will succumb to exhaustion and blackout in as little as 30 minutes. Death can occur within 1-3 hours.
Proper training and the appropriate clothing become an essential part of your survival kit. I personally wear a Kokatat Watersports Wear Expedition dry suit with various layers of icebreaker wool base layers. My Kokatat suit has protected me in not only these cold waters but throughout my entire passage up into Alaska and the frigid waters of Glacier Bay. With all of its use, it was a great relief to have Kokatat and Gore-Tex stand behind their product and provide me with a replacement suit this past week. I am honored to be using a product made by companies that value their customer and stand behind what they manufacture.
The tide range the week I arrived in the Bay was upwards of 21 feet. I arrived in Lubec on a high tide that brought me right up to shore. Even though I timed my arrival to within 30 minutes of slack, I was soon to learn that during the higher tides, there really was no such thing as slack. As I arrived, I was barely able to make it up the narrows and around the break wall as slack had quickly turned to an ebb and the tide was rushing out at an ever increasing rate. That evening it was a dramatic site, looking out over the narrows that 6 hours before were filled with rushing water, now was a significantly smaller river of rushing water surrounded byseveral hundred yards of shoreline. The picture of this scene is located below.