Secondary Port Tide Heights >> for example the Lagavulin whiskey distillery in Isla
able to accurately calculate tide heights in anchorages is
an essential useful skill. To anchor closer in and safe, to
feel safer overnight, or even to venture in at all. To do
this you must establish at what time of the tide it is when
you arrive, and by how much the level will fall to the next
(and subsequent) low waters, and rise to subsequent high
waters. Only then can you select a safe depth to anchor
using the sonar, and the scope of anchor to deploy.
Fall of tide to next (or subsequent) Low, because you are unlikely to arrive exactly at low or high water time. PLUS
Depth of keel assuming your sonar is set to the water line (as you should assume if chartering or unless you have checked using a lead line) PLUS
Safety Margin with factors to consider such as swell, wind effect, barometric pressure, and the variation in depth of your circle of swing. These condition would have to be very favourable for you to rely on a mere foot of safely. Additionally the state of the bottom (would you be content to ground.)
Depth to Anchor (sonar reading) = Fall + Keel + Safety Margin
Calculation is more challenging for small secondary locations and especially so where big deviations exist in comparison with the (its) Standard Port tide height data. The anchorage at the Lagavulin whiskey distillery in Isla, West Scotland is one such example we were keen to visit and stay. Doubly so because the Loafraig distillery is a 1mile walk up the road, see photos. On both occasions we have visited the tide range on the day was on, or outside of the mean spring range at the Standard Port (Oban) and on cursory examination of the Standard Port data, and the depth in the harbour on our arrival, at around high water time, we would have abandoned the quest. Spock was concerned we would ground overnight, but with other experts aboard a vote to stay was carried.
We arrived at 17.40 BST, quite close to the time of high water at Oban (1752 UT, 4.2m) and with an overnight range of 3.3m (which is the same as the mean range at springs).
Since we were arriving around high water time (before correction), with a depth of only 2.8 below the water line in the anchoring area near the Lagavulin pier and with a keel of 1.8 meters the case might look hopeless. We would be high and dry in the middle of the night. However:
Lagavulin does not have its own entry in the almanac, rather a small note confirms Port Ellen as its own secondary port reference, and whose standard port is Oban. Due to the large tide flows in the west of Scotland, the narrow gaps between Islands, in this case between Isla and Jura, both tide times and heights vary considerably between our secondary port (Port Ellen) and its standard port (Oban) data.
Consider the shift data table for Port Ellen (Lagavulin) to Oban
Depth to anchor (sonar) = Fall of Tide (0.6max) + Keel (1.8) + Safety Margin or:
Margin = Depth to Anchor (is our 2.8 OK?) - Fall of Tide
(0.6max) - Keel (1.8)
Simple Visual Method
0 - -
s - + 1 - - - -
- - - n - 2 - - - - - - - - - 3 - - - - - - - - - 4 +low today 0.9
In this case of Port Ellen we can see right away that the range today is only marginally different from 0.6m (a bit to the right of both red bars).
The fully worked visual method for this Lagavulin instance is shown below and is a quick and effective method. Similar triangles and tabulations are not needed.
the time of high water first and use the triangle method, or
arithmetic interpolation if you like however in words:
Now consider the Height of both the high water and the following low water to determine the fall overnight. The following sketch adaption I make to the tide curve diagram (of the standard port OBAN) in the almanac and is an ‘easier to do’ triangle interpolation method.
The fall to the next low is 0.5m (from high to low and since we arrived close in time to the HW we could use the total fall) our draught is 1.8m. The sonar depth from the water line on arrival is 2.8m.
Clearance at LW =
Depth (current) –
Fall (to next low) –
Draught = 2.8
– 0.5 – 1.8 =
Note because we arrived near to high water it was unnecessary to use the Oban tide curve shape (or twelfths rule to determine the fall as would be required if we had arrived mid-tide.