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Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Neaps Springs Eternal

Drawing Courtesy of Eric Light

Time and tide wait for no man.
-- Proverb

Neaps Springs Eternal

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, with a greater range (difference in height) between them. 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 high in the tide as they are taking off won't, without help from other factors, be floated until tides are making towards the next spring tides. Grounded so, it is said to be neaped or neaped out.

 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. Tide heights also vary by time of year, so one can neap for longer periods, as well.


Neaping one's self is one of the great pleasures in life. We love to neap out for a care-free spell. Let the wind blow as it will, we are high and dry and safe as a house. We 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 helicopters land to see that we were alright, so far from a boat's natural element, for so long a time.

Neaped on the edge of Lynn Canal


  1. Hi Dave,

    I enjoy your blog articles, your ideas and your boats.

    I liked the illustration you had in your Neaps posting and wanted to re-draw it for myself, so I did, and I thought you might want a copy as well (sent by email).

    It wasn’t until after I’d drawn it the way I expected it to be, and then compared my drawing with the original, that I noticed that the first quarter illustration was the same as the third quarter one in the original you had posted! For some reason, it looked logical enough the way it was done before that I didn’t notice it until I compared both drawings one above the other, turning one off to show the other below.

    My dad taught me when I was a kid to recognize the last, or third quarter moon by holding out my left hand to the moon. If the moon remainder fit in my left hand, it was what was "left" of the full moon.

    I went to Wikipedia to find out more, and saw their drawing showing the springs and neaps coming a little after the full and new moons, so I adjusted your drawing for that, too. You’re welcome to use my drawing in your blog postings. 

    I've never heard of tides making or taking off myself, but it sounds good, and I'm interested in learning new things. Maybe it's British?

    Eric Light
    Victoria, BC

    1. Hi Eric,

      Its gratifying to see that you're not just skimming, but read this post with full attention! I should try it. 8)

      I copied that pic from a gee-whiz site on the web, somewhere (kids just reposting stuff they'd found). Couldn't find the original source. It was about 4am, and I'm afraid I didn't look close enough for due diligence!

      You're quite right about the quarters. Thanks for that imoproved image [Eric also rotated the SPRINGS/NEAPS lables to lag behind the moon, as do the tides].

      I like your Dad's sinister method!

      A little girl friend of 7 years age observed that the bright side of the Moon is like d for declining, and b for burgeoning ( with the curve of the letter/Moon being left or right). I can't remember her mnemonics, now... I doubt those were the words she used.

      I googled tides 'making' and 'taking off' in various forms, and got no hits... personal phrase, perhaps?

      Thanks for the correction and corrected image!


  2. BTW - I can't see the image! I see your Lynn Canal photo at the bottom, but not the drawing of the neaps and springs. If you need it in a different format, I can supply. I remember having trouble with some of your images in the past, so maybe it's a Blogspot thing? I've tried a number of different browsers.


    1. I think it IS a Blogger thing... it seems to happen when I copy/paste and image, rather than insert one from a file. I don't see a problem, at my end, to warn me that there's one at yours.

      I've reloaded... please drop me a line if you still can't see it. I'll write Google Feedback about it.

      Thanks for pointing it out!