Thanet RNLI Community Safety

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High and Low Tide Explained!

High and Low Tide Explained –  by Ian Lockyer

Although we give out a lot of advice about how to check for tide times, we still get a lot of enquiries about the fundamental issue of ‘what is a High and Low tide’.  Here we try to explain this a simply as possible. 

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Essentially, tides are the rise and fall of the levels of the ocean. Tides change as the Moon rotates around the Earth and as the position of the Sun changes. Throughout the day, the sea level is continuously rising or falling. This cycle can happen once or twice a day, depending on the location of the area to the Moon. 

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When the sea level is rising or falling, water is flowing to or from the ocean creating the following tides: 

  • High tide is the point in the tidal cycle where the sea level is at its highest.
  • Low tide is the point in the tidal cycle where the sea level is at its lowest.

stormyweather respectthewater RNLIcommunitysafety thanet broadstairs beweatheraware metoffice bewaterawareThere are other tides called Spring and Neap tides. A Spring Tide occurs when the Sun and the Moon are aligned to combine for the largest tidal range of the highest high tide and the lowest Low Tide. A Neap tide is when the tidal range is at its smallest. This occurs during the first and third quarters of the Moon.

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It is important to know the difference of these tides when planning your activities around the coast.  You could become stranded if you misjudged the tides when walking or running around the coast.

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An excellent follow-up article should you wish to plan your activities around the coast is ‘Do you know how to check the tide time?

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If you decide to visit the coast please stay up-to-date with the government’s COVID-19 pandemic legislation. Thank you for reading and stay safe.

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Cut off by the tide at Kingsgate Bay Broadstairs

Cut off by the tide at Kingsgate Bay Broadstairs

Saturday (3rd February 2017), whilst the majority of Margate’s residents were sat down for lunch, out with their families, or contemplating a packed weekend of sport in front of the TV. The little grey box attached to the town’s RNLI crews trouser belts (electronic pager) sounded summoning them urgengtly to launch their inshore boat. The launch was at the request of the UK Coastguard to persons cut off by the tide at Kingsgate Bay.

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Three crew assembled at the station, one of whom was one of the station’s highly trained helmsmen (who commands the boat). Inaddition to the boat crew, three further crew were required to act as tractor driver and two launchers.

On this occasion the crew quickly launched and successfully carried out the rescue of two persons. A link to the Margate Lifeboat Press Officers report is included here.

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Please spread our ‘staying safe top tips’  for visiting the coast amongst your family, friends and work colleages 1). Check and double check the tides and weather forecast;  2). Tell someone where you are going and when you are going to return; 3). Take a fully charged mobile phone pr other ‘calling for help’ device with you and have it to close at hand to use in a waterproof case 4) Wear the correct kit for the activity. 5) If you see someone or an animal in difficulty in the sea dial ‘999’ and ask for the Coastguard  For further advice check out the RNLI’s website.

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Kingsgate Bay – One of Thanet’s tidal cut-off hotspots