With the 2024 edition, Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book turns 150 years old. Known informally by East Coast sailors as “The Little Yellow Book,” Eldridge is a jam-packed compendium of 275-plus pages of mostly useful stuff.
In an era when even NOAA is phasing out printed nautical publications in favor of apps, Eldridge’s continued existence seems strange. But when my husband Tom and I sailed our Sabre 30, Ora Kali, from New Jersey to Maine one of the first things I did was buy the latest Eldridge. To successfully navigate up the East Coast would require not just up-to-date nautical charts but accurate information about tidal currents along the coast.
Eldridge got its start in Vineyard Sound, where George Eldridge employed his son to sell his charts and pilot books to schooner captains who waited for favorable conditions to sail west to New York or east and north to Boston. They would ask young George when the current changed so they could get safely through the shifting sands. He kept records and in 1875, published the first tide book.
Eldridge includes things like current charts of New York Harbor, Long Island Sound, Buzzards Bay, and other bodies of water not available elsewhere. These show the direction of tidal currents for every hour of the tide cycle along with the printed tide tables.
Jenny Kuliesis, the sixth generation of the Eldridge family to publish the book, says she was raised with it as a part of her everyday life and that it was “…treated as a member of the family. Many boaters refer to it as the ‘sailor’s bible’ and our readers let us know they wouldn’t leave land without it.”
“At the end of the day if your GPS is on the fritz, or your smartphone gets dunked in the drink, you will still be able to navigate safely home with Eldridge in hand.”