|Drawing Courtesy of Eric Light|
The Sun is loved by the Earth, who is loved by the Moon, who is loved in turn by the Sea.
The tides of the Sea, following the Moon, lag never far behind her. Full or dark they spring in her train. Their love quartered, they neap away to nought.
Or, if you have a more prosaic soul...
The gravitational pull of the Sun and Moon affect the tides. The Moon, being nearer, has the greater effect.
When Sun, Earth and Moon are aligned - at Full and New Moons - the combined effect is at its peak, resulting (a few days later) in higher high tides and lower low tides, and a greater range (the difference of height between high and low). This monthly period of extremes is known as spring tides, or springs.
Conversely, when Sun, Earth and Moon are at right angles (with the Earth at vertex), the gravitational pull is non-aligned, resulting in lower high tides and higher low tides, and a lesser range. This monthly period of moderation is known as neap tides, or neaps.
A boat who grounds on the 'backside of springs'* won't, without help from other factors, be floated until next spring tides. Grounded so, it is said to be neaped. As springs following the New Moon (Dark o' the Moon) are higher than those following the Full, one can choose to be neaped for up to two weeks, or up to a month, more or less, as desired.
Neaping one's self is one of the great pleasures in life. We love to neap in for a care-free spell. Let the wind blow as it will. High and dry and safe as a house. Walk the beaches round and let the animals get used to our presence among them.
It can be a bit disconcerting for others. We've had well-meaning boats, planes and even helicoptors land to see that we were alright, so far from a boat's natural element, for so long a time.
Getting neaped is another matter. Sometime, I'll tell ya a story.
|Neaped on the edge of Lynn Canal|
*The illustration uses the phrase 'tides taking off' for my 'backside of springs'. I've never heard anyone else use either.