It is official – spring is here on the East Coast! Now before we get too excited I am sure we will get some more flurries and below zero evenings to remind us East Coast Canadians where we live. That being said the snow is melting and we have been blessed with beautiful weather the last couple of days and some more nice weather in the forecast (for what that is worth!). The ice is breaking up in the Gulf and the rivers, estuaries and bays are starting to open up with the warm temperatures and southwest breezes.
A quick look at the lunar calendar and I am sure many in the Northern Hemisphere are looking at the new moon this Thursday and the full moon in two weeks – anyone making plans? Full and New Moons provide a window of increased gravitational force from the moon and sun being aligned, resulting in larger tidal ranges. For some paddlers this creates the best opportunities to play.
For me the best spot in PEI that I have found (so far) is at Mount Stewart Bridge at the upper reaches of the Hillsborough River (also known as East River), which is part of the Canadian Heritage River System. The tidal range this weekend will be around 6.5 feet, but larger days will provide 9 to 9.5 feet differential. While this is nothing compared to the huge tides found around the Bay of Fundy, it is only 10 minutes from my house and has provided me with lots of fun thus far.
The old railway bridge at Mount Stewart which has been converted to a multi-purpose trail (check out the Confederation Trail to learn about this trail that goes from tip-to-tip in PEI) has a small opening (sluice) which provides a significant constriction for these tidal waters.
On a falling tide the ebbing current can provide some significant hydrodynamics. While it will never be the most glorious play spot in the world, as it is narrow, it certainly has enough moving water to offer a challenge to help develop my skills as well as opportunity for a few smiles. To time the tides you will need to reference Charlottetown as the nearest primary port. My personal observation of this area has shown me that high water is about 2 hours after Charlottetown (please note this is only my personal observation). I took a stroll on the trail with my little guy today and took a quick video at the tail end of a flood tide. I have never played in the flood as the ebb tide produces more interesting water.
If the ice finishes flushing out I might just have to go for my first Mt. Stewart play session of the year this weekend.