How to Read a Tide Table

Written by ehow sports & fitness editor
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Tide charts can seem a confusing when you first begin using them. By studying them and practicing, you easily can use them. Follow these instructions, and you'll become adept at using the tide table.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Locate a tide chart for the area where you will use your boat. Many tide charts can be found online. You also may ask for a copy at the marina or harbor.

  2. 2

    Notice the high tide locations. There will be 2 high tide locations on the tide table. To see the exact time of high tide, look at the bottom of the chart. Find the numbers from 1 to 12. The number under the high tide point is the time of high tide.

  3. 3

    Move your eyes to the left side of the tide chart. Here you can see the elevation of the tides. To know how high the high tide will be, simply follow a line from the tide to the elevation number.

  4. 4

    Find the low tide point. Use the same methods above to find the time and the height of the tide at low tide.

  5. 5

    Use the elevation and time to determine the water's elevation level at any time of the day. Find the time of the day that you want to know about. Follow the line up until you reach the waterline. Now look to the left to see how high the water will be at that time.

  6. 6

    Notice the red lines on the tide chart. These are the slack times of the sea. This is when the water is the most stable. Without disruption from weather or other events, the water is most calm at these points.

Tips and warnings

  • If you're taking the tide chart out on the water with you, bring a ruler so that you can tell exactly when the tides change.
  • Tides do not work in exact six-hour intervals. Pay attention to exactly when the tide chart indicates high tides or low tides.

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