Understanding Current in Shilshole Bay, Seattle

If you look across Puget Sound on a glassy day you may think it looks like a big lake.  But in there's lots going on out there. Tidal current is constantly moving and changing, coming in (flooding) or going out (ebbing) effecting how we travel as we paddle.

Padding in a straight line or path isn't always the quickest way to get there.  Current may hit a point then bend around the backside of the point to create a swirling motion pushing current behind the point back in the direction it came from.  This is like an eddy in a river.  This recirculating back current can push you alongside the main flow of current in the opposite direction.  The bends and twists of Puget Sound, every point, cove, bay, or even a slight bend in the shoreline will affect incoming current.

To better understand this, check out a few books or search it online to see visual illustrations of how current moves.  These images will help you figure out the most effecient ways of paddling.  You can use the current to your advantage whether on a trip or in some cases even on a paddling race.

Tidal Currents of Puget Sound, Starpath Publications.

Below are images of how the current moves in Shilshole Bay in Seattle.  Use kelp to see which direction the current is moving.

INCOMING TIDE (FLOOD)

OUTGOING TIDE OR WIND (EBB)




Comments

Ian Berger said…
The Hudson is crazy too -- maybe not like Pudget Sound -- but pretty intense. you've got current plus the tide which pushes over 100 miles upstream. You get pretty weird eddies and waves where you'd least expect them.