When people hear that the Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world, they often envision a tsunami – the tide rising like a massive wave filling the Bay. That’s not what it’s like at all. The tide comes in as all tides do, in 12 hour cycles – in and out. It’s just that the tide in the bay is more dramatic. Far more dramatic.
There are three ways to see and experience the drama of the Fundy tides:
- Vertical drama – Go to the Hopewell Rocks where the tidal change is 50′.
- Horizontal drama – Walk the ocean floor for up to 3km at many places in the Bay.
- Tidal bore drama – Ride the tidal bore and rapids on some Bay of Fundy rivers.
The first two lend themselves to pleasant times for contemplation or exploring. The latter to excitement.
Riding a Wave Up River
Riding the tidal bore is an amazing experience. I wish I had taken more photos, but it wasn’t possible. I was too busy holding on. It’s like white water rafting but it’s not. In fact, it is more energizing, exciting and, for moments here and there, terrifying – in the manner of a crazy fairground ride but this one is made by Mother Nature, herself.
My excursion on the tidal bore was at the Tidal Bore Rafting Park on the Shubenacadie River. The river, like all rivers, flows out to the ocean which, in this case, is the Bay of Fundy. When the tide comes into the Bay, it is pushed up this river and compressed into it’s narrow width to fight with the water that is coming down river. The result is a small but powerful wave that actually flows up-river. To my eye, the tide won.
The wave is all of a foot or two high and we rode it – for a minute or three – in our small zodiac boat. It’s quite the extraordinary experience. One that brings a smile to your face. It’s a thrill akin to the rush of sailing in a light wind or tobogganing.
It is after riding the tidal bore that the real excitement begins.
Once the bore has passed, the rising tide causes turmoil in the water and massive waves that charge down stream towards the Bay of Fundy. Waves that are four to 6 feet high!
The driver of the zodiac circled back, going downstream along the sides of the river to avoid these waves, only to turn around and charge directly into them near the center of the river. Massive waves hurled over us sometimes flooding the boat. (Fortunately, it was designed to let the water out quickly.) My responsibility was to hold on and lean in. The alternative was to be thrown out.
Now to be thrown out would not be dangerous. The river bottom is of soft sand (what with all the to and froing of the water), the water is not that deep and I was wearing a life jacket. The worst to happen was likely a mouth full of salty, silty water. But it was still pretty cool at the end of June and I didn’t relish the idea of a dip so, hold on I did.
Riding the Tidal Bore is a once (or maybe more) in a life time experience. You can see from the pic of me below that I was exhilarated. Yes, my hair was wet. I was all wet as water had dripped down my neck. But, I was exhilarated!
Vote for the Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy is a special place in so many ways that it is shortlisted as one of the New7Wonder of Nature. I went to have a look thanks to New Brunswick Tourism and Tourism Nova Scotia. The final list of Seven will be announced in November. Between now and then, I’ll write a couple of posts a month to share with you why you definitely want to go there and, hopefully, why you to help them with the cause by voting for The Bay of Fundy.