photo Paul Kurbis

One of the reasons for the establishment of a lighthouse is to mark the dangers from the effect of extreme tides (low and high) on surrounding lands, islands, waterways, and beaches. 

Look at the photo on the left of my old lighthouse at McInnes Island at low tide (click for a larger version). We can tell it is low tide because the kelp is exposed on the rocks, and the high tide mark on the rocks is marked by a dirty black line. Here on the Pacific Coast of Canada, the tides come in and go out twice a day, and the range is between seventeen (17) and twenty-one (21) feet (6 to 7 meters)!

Note the small rock at dead center, bottom of the photo. At high tide that would be covered and become a menace to navigation. In this case this is not a marked shipping channel so no marker is necessary. The reason for the lighthouse (visible on the left of the large island) is that it was listed as a landfall light. A marker for ships coming in from the Pacific Ocean to the British Columbia coastline, and also a marker for the entrance to Milbanke Sound. It really doesn’t mark the island as dangerous; just an indicator of a mariner’s location on the ocean.

Example of a floating dock

To return to a docked boat on the BC coast after a few hours of sightseeing or shopping is sometimes a surprise for many tourists. The docks for the boats are built to float up and down on fixed pilings to accommodate the 21 foot tides (see photo left). To get onto the dock you walk up or down a ramp. A roller on the lower end rolls along the dock as the tide rises or falls. The top part of the ramp is hinged.

The tides change approximately every six hours, so if you left your boat and walked up the steep ramp to the topside dock at 10 AM (low tide) and came back at 2 PM (4 hours difference), the ramp would be almost horizontal (high tide). If you had lots of heavy groceries to move it was always a good idea to plan at what time of day you wanted to move them!


In an email yesterday I received some very unique photos of high and low tides taken in England by a photographer named Michael Martin. I was going to reproduce all the photos here, but I found a website that had done it for me so I will introduce it, and you can read the full story there.

Sea change: Photographer captures the dramatic contrast along Britain’s landscape caused by ebb and flow of coastal tide

In a week when Britain has been battered from all angles by heavy rain and flooding, high water lines have become a regular sight.
But even when our shores are not pounded by heavy flooding, the tidal contrast along Britain’s coastlines can be just as dramatic.
Photographer Michael Marten’s stunning collection of images highlights the changing shape of our coasts at both high and low tide.
The photos provide a stark juxtaposition, as beaches filled with families and sandy dunes are completely submerged just hours later.
Mr Marten’s ‘Sea Change’ collection aims to ‘record the daily rhythm of the flood and ebb tide as it dramatically transforms the landscape.’
Mr Marten began the project in 2003 while exploring the Berwickshire coastline. He has since photographed coastlines around Britain, capturing the exact same viewpoints 6 or 18 hours apart. – Mail Online September 26, 2012

When Mr Marten captured St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay, Northumberland, at 1pm in September 2008, the path leading to the building was filled with young families and walkers

But the exact same viewpoint less than five hours later shows how the surrounding landscape near the lighthouse has been completely submerged, with the walkway barely visible at the bottom of the image

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2209051/Michael-Marten-Photographer-captures-dramatic-contrast-Britains-landscape.html#ixzz28r3t9bWr 

This page has the exact same photos superimposed over each other so that when you click on the LOW tide photo, it magically appears as HIGH tide! Very unique!

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Retired (2001) British Columbia lighthouse keeper after 32 years on the lights.

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