Twice as many tides in Wood’s Hole

To the editor: I found the story by Laurence Eubank about going aground very interesting (“Aground off Woods Hole,” Issue 119, Jan.⁄Feb. 2002). One comment I have stems from the statement on page 42, third column, bottom paragraph: “Twice a day, the North Atlantic sets up a white-water chute …” In fact, there are two high tides and two low tides each day at Buzzard’s Bay. Therefore there are four maximum currents (not two) each day — two SE floods and two NW ebbs.

In the past 20 years I have transited Woods Hole Passage dozens of times in sailboats smaller than Mr. Eubank's boat. Fortunately, I have not encountered the dangerous current set that he did. It always seemed to me that the current generally followed the channel after making the turn in Broadway. Since reading of his unfortunate experience, I will pay more attention to that point in the future.

The currents I have encountered at Woods Hole are hydraulic currents. The current flows full strength SE or NW unless you arrive within about 20 minutes of slack water. Most of the time the currents are 4 or 5 knots, although the Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book does state that the current can exceed 7 knots.

Donald Hagen holds a 100-ton captain's license. He lives in Sherborn, Mass.

By Ocean Navigator