Watch out for the Tides
Campobello Island sits near the mouth of the world famous Bay of Fundy, which experiences the most extreme tidal fluctuations on earth. High tide and low tide are reached twice each in a period of approximately 25 hours, with the time between the extremes being about 6 hours and 13 minutes. The water is constantly in motion, with tides rising and falling as much as 6 or 8 feet per hour.
If you are going to walk out to the East Quoddy Lighthouse, as we did, you will have to do it at low tide. We scrambled up and over one small island and then out onto the exposed seabed again before reaching the second island on thich the lighthouse sits. Be sure to get back before the tide rises again, or you will have to wait several hours for your next chance. To risk wading or swimming in these restless waters would be foolhardy and very hazardous.
In these photos I show a little of the walkway we took at low tide to reach the lighthouse. There are ladders and bridges to help, but some of the way is across exposed wet rocks, many of them covered with slippery seaweed. It makes for an exciting adventure, but not too risky if you take precautions and are aware of the next incoming tide.
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Rapid Tidal Changes in Water Levels
Although the Bay of Fundy tides can vary by more than 50-ft between the high and low levels at the upper end of the bay, the normal variations at the mouth of the bay are in the range of about 23 feet. It takes about 12.5 hours for the gravitational cycles of the Moon and the characteristic North Atlantic Ocean oscillations to cause successive Low tides (with a High tide occurring in-between). As it happened, we arrived at Head Harbour Lighthouse on the northern tip of Campobello just as the tide was nearing it's lowest ebb. Because the lighthouse is located on the second of two small islands off this tip of land, we decided to wade across the ankle-high depth of water (with a water temperature about 9 C even in summer) separating us from the first island, as seen here. Once we were across, we stopped to put our sneakers back on and looked up to see other visitors simply walking across the now above-water stretch of rocks we had just crossed! I could not believe that the water level could fall so fast in just a minute or two. The point of the story is, if you are along the coastline somewhere when the tide is coming back in, you can easily be cut off from shore or around some steep-walled point of land if you are not paying attention to both the time and tide-tables! The 2nd photo shows Russ as we prepare to descend a set of steel stairs to the first island crossing, with the Head Harbour Lighthouse in the distant background. This from www.quoddyloop.com: "If you become stranded on the islands by the tide, WAIT FOR RESCUE. Even former keepers of this lighthouse have lost their lives by misjudging the STRONG, FRIGID, FAST-RISING tidal currents, and TIDE-PRESSURIZED UNSTABLE PEBBLE OCEAN FLOOR, while attempting to make this crossing. (During a summer in the 1990s, two visitors attempted to swim across this passage. One made it across, but the other was swept away by the current. After a rescue by boat, both had been stricken with hypothermia, were rushed to the hospital -- and luckily, survived.)"
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