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How to Use Our Favorite Tide Clocks

It’s said that time and tide wait for no man, but that’s not all they have in common. Both time and the tide can be read on a clock, giving coastal residents and vacationers the information they need for a fun and productive day on the water.

Tide clocks are helpful instruments used by sailors, surfers, and other seaside individuals to track the ebbs and flows of the ocean, but they don’t have to be strictly utilitarian. Beautiful wood tide clocks can be a wonderful addition to any seaside décor. 

What Is the Tide?

Rocky Beach with Tide Up

Anyone who has spent time near the ocean has at least heard of the tide. Locals may make remarks when the tide is going out or coming in, and it becomes apparent when the ocean seems further away or much closer than when you arrived at the beach.

According to the National Ocean Service, tides are long-period waves that move in and out in response to the gravitational pull of the moon and sun. High tide occurs when water covers the most shore; low tide is when the water has retreated from the shore.

It is important to be knowledgeable about the tides if you plan on visiting the beach or going out on the water. Be aware of where you place your belongings so they don’t float away with a high tide. Tidal data is also crucial for commercial and recreational fishermen as fish may concentrate during different times in the tide.

How Tide Clocks Work

Tide clocks are just one way to predict the ebb and flow of the local tide. They work by predicting the movements of water caused by the gravitational pulls of the moon and sun.

Because the moon is the most significant influence of the tide, tide clocks are based on a lunar day, which is the time it takes for a specific point on Earth to rotate under the moon. A lunar day is 24 hours and 50 minutes long, unlike a typical day, which is just 24 hours. There are two high tides each lunar day, so our tide clocks rotate every 12 hours and 25 minutes.

A specialized quartz mechanism keeps the clock moving at precisely 12 hours and 25 minutes per rotation. You can set your tide clocks by looking online for high tide in your area or set it monthly at the full or new moon. 

Which Locales Work with Tide Clocks?

Lynnhaven Inlet The River and the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach

It’s important to note that tide clocks are only available for US East Coast locations. The West Coast and Gulf of Mexico tides are too unpredictable for these timepieces. The best way to find tide predictions for the West Coast is through online resources.

How To Read Tide Clocks

Reading tide clocks is easy once they are correctly set. Each tide clock shows the flow of the tides through the primary stations:

  • High tide
  • Falling tide
  • Low tide
  • Rising tide

When the clock hand is at the top — where the 12 is located on a typical clock — the ocean is at high tide. When the clock hand is at the bottom — where the 6 is located on a typical clock — the ocean is at low tide.

The clock hand rotates clockwise to indicate how the water moves into or out from the shore. Moving from high to low tide is considered a falling tide, and moving from low to high tide is considered a rising tide.

Numbers along the side of the clock, ranging from five to one, count down the hours until the next tide. These predictions can help swimmers, surfers, fishermen, and beach-goers maximize their time and efforts.

Decorating with Tide Clocks

Woman Measures Space for a Tide Clock

Tide clocks are not just valuable instruments; they can also be beautiful pieces of décor for your coastal home. Whether it is for a permanent residence, a vacation home, or a short-term rental property, tide clocks will add to the nautical ambiance of any beachfront property.

Tide clocks are functional, stylish additions to any East Coast beach house. Traveling along the coast can provide treasured memories and favorite locations, and keeping track of the tides in those locations can be a fun hobby for locals and tourists alike.

What better way to emphasize your seaside location than by finding tide clocks that feature maps of the island or shore where you are tracking the tide? There are many nautical wood charts that you can choose from to decorate your home, and a tidal clock marries aesthetics with function for a beautiful and useful piece.

3 of Our Favorite Ways to Decorate with Tide Clocks:

  1. Hang them in a sunroom where you can see the ocean
  2. Surround them with other memorabilia from the area
  3. Add them to a nautical display

Why Wood Tide Clocks?

Wood tide clocks are a perfect option for someone who wants a beautiful piece of functional art. Like traditional wood wall clocks, wood tide clocks are made by artists passionate about nautical maps.

Artists start with precise bathymetric charts to find the depths of the ocean around the island or shoreline when making a 3D wood map. Using these charts, they laser-etch details of the land and sea into birch wood and delicately place all the pieces together to make a gorgeous 3D map.

Details may include:

  • Important landmarks
  • Roadways
  • Ocean depths
  • Local cities 

Wood tide clocks are 16.50 inches in diameter and powered by a single AA battery. The water is hand-stained in a greyish-blue color to help make the land stand out in stunning contrast. They come ready to hang and will make the perfect addition to any coastal home. 

Our Top 7 Tide Clocks

Tide clocks can be displayed by themselves or with other maps of the East Coast. Whether paired with other maps and souvenirs or hung as a stand-alone piece, each distinctive tide clock will add a beautiful and helpful conversation piece to any room. Our top seven are: 

1. Chesapeake Bay Tide Clock

Chesapeake Bay Tide Clock

Travelers headed to the coast of Maryland might find themselves in beautiful Chesapeake Bay. With its beautiful beaches and sailing adventures, knowing when the tide is coming and going is important.

Chesapeake Bay was formed more than 12,000 years ago when melting glaciers flooded the Susquehanna River valley. The bay is home to the largest estuary in the United States and is one of the world’s most productive bodies of water. More than 250 fish species find their way into the Chesapeake Bay or its tributaries.

Because of this, fishing is one of the many water activities that attract visitors to the area. Striped bass is one of the most popular fish to go after in Chesapeake Bay. Rising tide is one of the best fishing tide times, making a Chesapeake Bay tide clock a worthwhile investment for anglers. 

2. Cape Code Tide Clock

Cape Cod Tide Clock

Off the coast of southern Massachusetts sits a hook-shaped peninsula that has been attracting tourists for years. Cape Cod is a popular summertime destination with many reasons to visit.

One major attraction in Cape Cod is whale watching. Several types of whales make appearances in Cape Cod, including humpbacks, finbacks, minkes, and Atlantic white-sided dolphins. Whales are indirectly influenced by the tide when their prey are moved by the ebbs and flows of the ocean.

Cape Cod is also a popular surfing destination, and the surfing possibilities are endless with Cape Cod’s more than 400 miles of shoreline. Knowing the flow of the tides is an integral part of a fun and safe surfing outing, making the Cape Code tide clock an important addition to any Cape Cod establishment.

3. Martha’s Vineyard Tide Clock

Martha's Vineyard Tide Clock

Just a few miles off the coast of Cape Cod is the picturesque island of Martha’s Vineyard. Only accessible by boat or plane, this upscale travel destination is the epitome of high-class nautical living.

Although the island is only 96 square miles, there are many things to do for tourists and locals alike. For example, you can take a ride on the Flying Horses Carousel, the oldest operating platform carousel in America, or visit any of the lighthouses on the island.

Martha’s Vineyard has beautiful and diverse beaches. There are opportunities for those who like to relax on the sand and those who kiteboard or windsurf. Knowing when to expect high and low tide is an important factor for knowing where to plant your chair on the beach and when to go out on the waves. Plus, the Martha’s Vineyard tide clock is as beautiful as the island it represents. 

4. Nantucket Tide Clock

Nantucket Tide Clock

Also close to Cape Cod, Nantucket is a step back in American history. With architecture from the 18th and early 19th centuries, the island has been designated as a National Historic Landmark District. Of course, historical exploration pairs well with beach relaxation and laid-back island life, and Nantucket offers it all.

Like other beach areas nearby, Nantucket is a haven for beach-goers and water sports. It is separated from the mainland by the Nantucket Sound and used to be the whaling capital of the world.

One special adventure for Nantucket tourists is the opportunity to sail on a classic 1930s wooden sail and racing yacht. Check the Nantucket tide clock before sailing off so that you can anticipate how the tide impacts your excursion. The clock features landmarks such as the Nantucket Sound, Tuckernuck Island, and Old Man Shoal.

5. Boston Harbor Tide Clock

Boston Harbor Tide Clock

Another waterfront historical site, Boston Harbor is a well-loved area for its significance in the American Revolution and its recreational offerings. Traveling to Boston Harbor promises something for everyone.

Maps of Boston Harbor are a striking sight to see. This 494-acre estuary is blocked from Massachusetts Bay and, further out, the Atlantic Ocean by a multitude of islands and peninsulas. The inner harbor is the main port of Boston Harbor, and the outer harbor is made of three small bays — Dorchester Bay, Quincy Bay, and Higham Bay.

Water activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing are popular, making a Boston Harbor tide clock both practical and relevant. With a map as unique as Boston Harbor, you will be proud to showcase your tide clock in a prominent place for everyone to see.

6. Block Island Tide Clock

Block Island Tide Clock

Block Island is a small haven in the smallest state in the union, but it would be a shame to skip over this destination during your Rhode Island getaway. Block Island was discovered by the Narragansett Tribe thousands of years ago and was named Manisses, which means “island of the little god.”

Boaters from across the globe sail to and from Block Island, which is popular for its sailing, boating, and parasailing. The island also has 17 miles of beaches, many of which are practically untouched and pristine. Most visitors travel around the island on foot, by bicycle, or moped.

Charter fishing trips provide local knowledge of an age-old activity. If staying on land is more your speed, fly fishing and surf casting are allowed around the island. Check out the Block Island tide clock before you head out to make sure you are setting yourself up for a big catch. 

7. Hilton Head Tide Clock

Hilton Head Tide Clock

Further south in South Carolina, Hilton Head Island is known for its beaches and relaxing atmosphere. The city is named after Captain William Hilton, one of the first settlers to explore the area. Visitors and tourists carry on his legacy by exploring all the coastal city has to offer.

Like other coastal maps, the Hilton Head tide clock is a beautiful work of art. Keep track of the tides to know the best time to go out on a kayak with the hope of seeing a dolphin, or pick your spot on one of several Hilton Head beaches. Take the knowledge of the tides with you to keep your Hilton Head vacation a relaxing experience.

There is no reason an important instrument like a tide clock has to be ordinary. Wood tide clocks provide a stunning conversation piece along with vital knowledge of the ocean’s movements. Go out to the beach or in the water with confidence that you can predict the ebbs and flows of the water, making your beach day the best it can be.


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