The Bay of Fundy lies along international borders, surrounded by Maine and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. It’s quite possible Rhe may have explored (or maybe will explore?) this bay in her boat, the Glass Trinket. But it is also a place for sailors to take care, because of the height of the tide and the tidal bore.
The bay was also named Baie Française (French Bay) by explorer/cartographer Samuel de Champlain, during a 1604 expedition which resulted in a failed settlement attempt on St. Croix Island (see S), a small uninhabited island in Maine near the mouth of the Saint Croix River.
The Bay of Fundy is known for having the highest vertical tidal ranges in the world,
measuring 47.5 feet, with an upper limit of 53.5 feet, in Minas Basin, Nova Scotia. Oceanographers attribute its vertical ranges to a coincidence of timing: the time it takes a large wave to go from the mouth of the bay to the inner shore and back is practically the same as the time from one high tide to the next. During the 12.4-hour tidal period, 115 billion tons of water flow in and out of the bay.
A phenomenon which occurs in the rivers of the upper bay is a called a tidal bore, a front of water that
“bores” its way up a river against its normal flow. The narrow and shallow river estuaries around the upper Bay of Fundy regularly produce bores when the advancing tide is slowed by shallow waters, creating a noticeable standing wave, occasionally 3 feet tall. The roaring and swirling tidal water can charge upstream at speeds around 10 miles per hour. Many people have likened the sound of the tidal bore to that of an approaching railway train.
The folklore of the Micmacs, a Native American people who live in Maine and who feature in the Rhe Brewster Mystery series, tells us that the tides in the Bay of Fundy are caused by a giant whale splashing in the water. The Micmacs fished in the Bay of Fundy and lived in communities around the bay for centuries before the first Europeans arrived and continue to live and work around the Bay in the present day.
Eastport, the easternmost city in the United States, is a deep-water commercial port on the Bay of Fundy. It is located on Moose Island in the Passamaquoddy Bay. The city overlooks the Old Sow Whirlpool, which can be seen from Eastport’s Dog Island two hours before high tide.
An ocean whirlpool is a rare phenomenon, with only five major whirlpools found worldwide. Old Sow is the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere, measuring about 250 feet in diameter and caused by tidal activities between the Passamaquoddy Bay and Bay of Fundy. The name Old Sow is thought by some to have been derived from the pig-like noises created by the whirlpool. An article in Smithsonian Magazine reported that before the time of motorized vessels, the Old Sow regularly swallowed up boats unable to overpower its forces. Even recently, motor-powered sailboats have occasionally been caught in its maw, barely making headway against its tremendous currents.
Mmm…maybe a good scene for one of Rhe’s future adventures?
I plan to visit two of the sites described in my A-Z posts this year. On April 30, I will entertain guesses as to which two. The person who guesses correctly will get a copy of my newest book, Death in a Dacron Sail. Sound interesting?