Impact of Tides?

How do tides effect shipping operations? Where do operators get information on tides and what do they change about their actions?

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Tides can affect shipping operations in a number of ways:

  • Depth of water: Tides can cause the depth of water in a port or waterway to vary significantly. This can make it difficult for ships to enter and leave ports, and can also restrict the types of ships that can operate in certain areas.
  • Speed of travel: Tides can also affect the speed at which ships can travel. When the tide is rising, ships can travel faster, as they are moving with the current. However, when the tide is falling, ships must travel slower, as they are moving against the current.
  • Routes: Tides can also affect the routes that ships can take. In some cases, ships may need to wait for a favorable tide before they can travel a particular route. For example, a ship may need to wait for high tide before it can enter a port that has a shallow entrance.

Operators get information on tides from a variety of sources, including:

  • Tide charts: Tide charts are published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other organizations. They provide information on the predicted times and heights of tides for specific locations.
  • Tide tables: Tide tables are similar to tide charts, but they provide more detailed information, such as the times and heights of high and low tides.
  • Tide prediction software: Tide prediction software is available from a variety of vendors. It can be used to predict the times and heights of tides for specific locations.

Hope this helps!

Indeed, as @ruzgar-zere said, tides can significantly impact shipping operations, and operators must adjust their actions accordingly. In addition to the points mentioned:

Berthing and Unberthing: Tides are particularly crucial when a ship is berthing (docking) or unberthing (departing). Especially in ports where the tide difference is substantial, it may only be possible to perform these operations during high tide. When the water is shallow due to low tide, large vessels may risk running aground.

Navigation in shallow waterways: When navigating in shallow channels or rivers, tide times can dictate when it’s possible to navigate safely. Operators will plan their schedule around the tides to avoid grounding the vessel.

Loading and Unloading Cargo: In some cases, the loading and unloading of cargo in certain ports can be influenced by the tides. If a ship has to be loaded to its maximum capacity, the operators might wait for high tide to ensure the ship has enough water underneath to support the additional weight.

It’s also worth mentioning that local knowledge plays a crucial part in understanding how to navigate and operate in tidal waters. Local pilots, who have specialized knowledge of the local waterways, can be immensely helpful in such situations.

And while tide charts, tables, and software are invaluable resources, they should be supplemented by real-time data and alerts, which can be obtained through various maritime safety information services. These services can provide warnings about unexpected tidal changes due to storms, seismic activity, and other unusual occurrences.

At least one ship management company I’ve been talking to said they were using Stratum Five appication to get tide information. However they also said that no ship manager relies on a single source for such critical piece of info.