“We don’t have tides this week.”


“Sure thing,” says Carol, “we don’t have tides this week anyway.”

Carol is the office manager at Northern Enterprises Boatyard, my home on the hard. I have just inquired if her crew would be available in the next few days to assist with pulling Gjoa’s mast.

Her response is jargon and translates as follows:

Tides in Homer’s shallow Kachemak Bay run to 20 feet, and when out, reveal a vast, gently sloping mud flat punctuated by the occasional boulder. No tide this week will entirely cover “the flats” or be anywhere near high enough to float any boats from the yard’s beach-side dock. For the purposes of lifting and launching here, where a typical low tide makes the crane and rampway look like a poorly conceived public works project, Northern is essentially shut down until the water comes back.

When tides are running high, the yard is constant activity, and there may be a line of boats awaiting a lift. If your boat is deep of draft, you may have only one or two such opportunities a month, and if your tide happens to be at 3 o’clock in the morning, Northern will be there to make it happen.

The purse seining fleet constitute the biggest boats around, and next to their double-high bridges and reaching net booms Gjoa looks small and ordinary. But these boats are designed to work in shallow waters; even though many are twice Gjoa’s size, they usually draw less than the six or more feet she requires.

For reference, Gjoa needs a 19 foot tide to float. The next tide with that range arrives on April 10th.

That’s my launch target.

2 Comments on ““We don’t have tides this week.”

  1. Sounds not unlike Richardson’s Bay Boat Yard in Sausalito, that is also tide dependent. You will splash “Ready or Not!” Anyway, it sounds like you are having fun – wish I could be there to lend a hand….

    • Very similar, just more extreme. Similar in another way: I thought I’d try to hike out to the water’s edge at low tide yesterday. That edge must be a quarter mile away and the bottom looks hard. It’s not. Just like Richardson Bay, it’s silty, boot sucking mud. I was lucky to make it back alive…and shod.

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