CAP­TAIN’S BOOKSHELF

Passage Maker - - @Rest -

Edi­tor-in-Chief, Jonathan Cooper, ebbs and flows about a fas­ci­nat­ing book on the mys­tery and science of tides.

On the south side of China’s Yangtze River Delta, there is a lo­cal phe­nom­e­non that re­curs every au­tumn on the Qiantang River. When the moon is just right and grav­ity’s pull is just so, a tidal bore works fu­ri­ously against the river’s cur­rent, ship­ping tidal waves as far as 80 miles up­river. The bore cre­ates fast-mov­ing break­ing waves, draw­ing spec­ta­tors and thrill-seek­ers from hun­dreds and some­times thou­sands of miles away to par­take in this fes­ti­val cel­e­brat­ing the wild im­pact of tides. The tidal bore here is strong, the strong­est in the world, but there are only a few places where bores have such im­pact. The Ama­zon River, as well as rivers in Su­ma­tra, Eng­land, and In­dia all ex­pe­ri­ence tidal bores, but Qiantang’s is the most pow­er­ful, re­sult­ing in waves that roar across jet­ties and crash on river­banks. Nat­u­rally, these waves have drawn the in­ter­est of surfers ready to pit their skills against a dif­fer­ent kind of wave; one surfer even set a record by rid­ing a tidal bore 14 miles with­out falling.

Jonathan White is a sailor as well as a surfer and wa­ter­sports en­thu­si­ast, but he is also an au­thor who has an ob­ses­sion with tidal bores as well as all moon-drawn in­flu­ences that af­fect the wa­ter

on our planet. His book, On Tides: The Sci

ence and Spirit of the Ocean, is part trav­el­ogue, part sci­en­tific dis­cov­ery, and most of all, makes the reader re­spect one of the great­est nat­u­ral forces on Earth. From the dis­ap­pear­ing path that con­nects north­ern France’s Mont Saint-Michel to the main­land, to im­pacts of ris­ing sea lev­els, White ad­dresses it all with at once a sci­en­tific and ro­man­tic flair.

On Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean

Jonathan White.

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