Sunday, May 02, 2010

Measuring the horizon

Low tide this week has been really low. Friday afternoon, off Crescent Beach, it was down to 2 feet. And we arrived at the beach across the bay in Tsawwassen just a half-hour before the turn. It looked, then, as if the sand went on forever, or at least till it met the Crescent Beach sand coming the other way.

Sand and sky

This photo is from the boat launching runway at Beach Grove, just a block north of the US/Canada border. The black dot 'way over on the horizon, towards the right, is the mid-channel border marker. The low rise on the right side is Crescent Beach hill.

Appearances are deceiving; Crescent Beach is 7 1//2 miles across the bay. The border marker is a mere 3/5 of a mile from this point. Between the beaches, then, there are some 6 miles of open water.

Looking north, towards Surrey. Also about 7  miles distant, but without the open water between. It's sand, then mud. Miles of slushy, deep mud.

I decided to hurry out and see if I could reach the border marker before the tide stopped me. I rolled up my pant legs (we weren't dressed for the beach; we'd come to Tsawwassen for the annual Delta Potters' sale) and got moving. Laurie had the wrong shoes; he went more slowly, looking at crabs and seaweed.

Almost there. Only two more sandbars to go.

I almost made it. At the last "river", I stopped. The water was up to my knees, getting deeper with each step, and I wasn't sure exactly when the tide would turn; it races in, here, and I could be trapped. I can swim, but the camera can't.

I could see, though, that after that last sandbar, the water suddenly became very dark; it was even deeper, too deep to wade those last few feet, even if I trusted the tide.

The last stream went along a thick eelgrass bed; I was wading blind, with the grass tickling my legs. I stepped on what I thought was a rock, and nearly lost my balance. I kicked it out of the way. But it didn't feel "rockish"; more like a large clam shell. Then it ran over my foot. A crab, and a big one.

My toes were bare. I got out of there.

Looking north, from the eelgrass bed. The hills of Delta, straight ahead, Tsawwassen to the left.

From Laurie's wanderings, more to the north. Looking straight south to the tip of Point Roberts, 2 miles away, across the border. The hills are at least 15, probably 20 miles south.

A shallow eelgrass bed, barely mid-calf deep.

The water was still receding slowly when I joined Laurie back on the sandbars, but a few minutes later, it changed direction, dragging the eelgrass with it. Time to head for shore.

A Skywatch post.


  1. That was brave of you - particularly the moving rock bit!

  2. And you almost made it! I grabbed a handful of sand once and it flicked me. Turns out it was a shrimp. Gave me a jolt though.

    I love the picture of the seaweed. That is beautiful.

  3. Those are great photos. I've never seen so much sand at Crescent Beach.


If your comment is on a post older than a week, it will be held for moderation. Sorry about that, but spammers seem to love old posts!

Also, I have word verification on, because I found out that not only do I get spam without it, but it gets passed on to anyone commenting in that thread. Not cool!