It was quite a treat last week during the snowstorm that again gripped us northern Salish Sea folks to voyage with Jonathan White, author of the newly published book, Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean. It’s a great read— travelogue, science, personal reflection— the kind of book I finished and wanted to sit with the author to hear more and to share my “tides” stories....
I first met Jonathan in 1992 when Jonathan, Lela Hilton and the crew of Resource Institute sailed the advocacy group People For Puget Sound on its inaugural ‘Round the Sound voyage on the 65-foot wooden schooner, Crusader. A few years earlier, as Jonathan recounts in his dramatic introduction, he had almost lost Crusader in Kalinin Bay near Sitka, a mishap that drove home the importance of studying and respecting tides.
Over the last two decades, he’s done extensive research, travel and reflection on the physics, the spectacle and the spirit of the water’s movement along our coast and estuaries, up tidal rivers, through narrow passages and on the ebb and flood of shallow bays. He’s described as “a sailor, a surfer, a science mind, and a seeker” and, most importantly, a writer with a keen sense of detail and an educator with the patience to understand and teach the complexities of tidal science without losing the sense of physical wonder the tides demonstrate.
His personal accounts of tidal encounters around the globe— the Bay of Fundy, Mont Saint-Michel, the Qiantang River, California’s Mavericks, Schelt (Skookumchuck) Narrows, and even the Royal Society of London— are interspersed with lucid explanations from the astronomical basics of earth, moon and sun through the complexities of tide variations, predictions, wave dynamics and fluid oscillation and resonance, ending with the challenges posed by climate change and the future of capturing tidal energy. Where the Coast Salish might say it’s as simple as “When the tide is out, the table is set,” the Inuit of northern Quebec’s Ungava Bay forage on the ebb tide after tunneling through the thick shelf of ice formed over the bay.
I promise you’ll like Jonathan’s stories; you will have to pay attention, which isn’t a bad thing these days, when it comes to the science. Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with being smart and knowing the difference between apogee and perigee when it comes up at the next party, or being able to say “Now just hold on a minute” when you hear someone say, “Time and tide stayeth for no man...”
I do want to hear more of Jonathan’s stories and I want to tell him my stories about growing up with Hawaii tides and my tidal adventures in the San Juans-- some unusual, some hilarious, some deeply personal. That’s my reaction to the kind of book he’s written.
Jonathan is on a quick book launch around Puget Sound in February. Go to the reading, buy the book, have him sign it and, if you have a chance, tell him your tide story.
Feb. 15, South Sound Estuary Association, Olympia, 7 pm.
Feb. 16, Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge, 7 pm.
Feb. 17, Lopez Bookshop, Lopez Island, 7 pm.
Feb. 18, Orcas Center, Orcas Island, 5:30 pm.
Feb. 19, Griffin Bay Books, Friday Harbor, 7 pm.
Feb. 21, Village Books, Bellingham, 7 pm.
Feb. 22, Anacortes Library, Anacortes, 7 pm.
Feb. 23, Northwest Maritime Center, Port Townsend, 5 pm.
Feb. 24, Port Book and News, Port Angeles, 7 pm.