Nothing boring about it! The Tidal Bore sounds like some kind of wild animal. But you don't need a hunting licence to catch it. You aren't going to stick this bore on a spit and roast it. Imagine a wave of chocolate milk averaging 50 feet wide and reaching a maximum height of 9 feet forcing its way up the river and covering everything in sight. Okay? Then jump in your kayak and let's see what happens.
The Shubenacadie River is a part of a larger system called the Shubenacadie Canal system. This canal that was started in 1826 and completed in 1861 historically connected the Bay of Fundy to Halifax.
WHEN DOES THE BORE HAPPEN?
The first step for catching the bore is to calculate when it will arrive. Saint John, New Brunswick is the nearest primary port. Add 4 hours to low water (make sure you find a time that is in the daylight; bore hunting in the dark is very difficult) to calculate tide time arrive early because the bore is unpredictable and is often late.
Tidal height differences above 22 feet make for a great day on the river. If it's above 24 feet, look out. The Shubie is really wild! There is plenty of water rushing into the river causing the current to move quickly and making for big intense feathers. The larger waves are very hard to catch and ride but always a good challenge.
WHAT CAUSES THE BORE
The Bay of Fundy is famous for its large tidal range - one of the largest in the world. A whopping 53.5 feet recorded at Burnt Coat Head. The Shubie Bore starts just off in Maitland, which is just around the corner from Burnt Coast Head. An enormous volume of water, travelling with an equally enormous velocity, is constricted when it reaches the Shubenacadie River and voila: the Tidal Bore is born. This combination of the gravitational attraction and the convergence of the water cause an enjoyable 3 hour kayaking experience.
How to catch a bore. 12 kilometres of ride able river
Leave your safari hat and elephant gun at home. To tame this bore, you'll need 2 chocolate bars and a can of energy drink.
The best put-in for the Tidal Bore is at the Public Wharf in Maitland, where there is ample safe parking. You will need to carry your boats down through the mud which is a little messy but a necessary evil.
The bore does not always form in the river but that is not a big deal because the real treat happens after the bore goes by. The water, steadily increasing in velocity, passes over sand bars located the whole way along the river causing a series of tidal races and over-fall features.
As you sit, waiting in your kayak, you have to keep yours eyes peeled for your first glimpse of the bore. Ripples on the surface will indicate where the waves are going to form. The water will start to move faster under your kayak and you find yourself paddling in high gear to keep pace and to hold your position on the river. As the velocity increases, so do the waves. Like a beach wave, these build and build until they are higher than twice the depth of water under them. And then they start to curl over.
It takes a fair bit of strength and know-how or luck to catch the wave train. Staying at the front or sea-side will put you in the best position to catch the best waves. When you feel the wave pick you up, increase your paddle RPM's and lean forward for the ride of your life. The magic of the bore happens every time you run it, you will have a first ascent or descent (depending on how you look at it). The sandbanks are continually moving and changing which causes the rapids and waves to form in different areas.
There are between 10 and 13 areas where you can surf waves. The Sand Bar is the first area that forms features. If you are lucky enough to see the bore it will be in this area. The waves take a little while to form in this area but once they do, you will be pleased with the result. Keep an eye out for ripples on the water because this is a good indicator that the water is feeling bottom and soon the waves will form in that area. The "killer K" is a great area to get some of the largest waves on the river. When this area jacks up, I have been on the face of some waves exceeding 10 feet in height. These waves often have a foam pile on top of them but do not last very long. Keeping in front of the wave trail will give you the best rides. The last most unforgettable area called the "Power Line" is an area where I have been able to surf on waves in excess of 20 minutes, carving back and forth on the face of a green (brown) wave that does not move.
"Anthony's Nose" is the last of the Shubie features; this small spit of land interrupts the flow of the water causing a large eddy line, making it the best place on the river to work on ferry glides, break in and outs and any other white water manoeuvres in long boats.
Be prepared to have sore face muscles from smiling so much. The tidal bore gives you a great physical workout and a great deal of enjoyment. The take out for the Shubie is in a place called Green Creek. If you do the shuttle before you paddle the river, it makes it a lot easier at the end of the session. This river is much like a white water river but the features are faster and larger then any river in Nova Scotia. Faster hull speeds make the Shubie ideal for sea kayaks.
Caution hazards and safety concerns
When running the Bore, good flotation for your person and your boat are essential. Swimming happens more often then you would expect. There are very few rocks on the river but helmets are recommended. The river has very large steep banks often covered in mud and many are not climbable. There are very few good places to get out of the river.
When doing the river for the first time it is highly recommend that you do it with someone who has done it before. If you do go for a swim, prepare for the entrance to the dark room. The water has so much silt and other sediment, the light will not penetrate the surface. Try and paddle rapids with your eyes closed. It takes a little getting used to. Do not drop anything in the water because you will never find it again. Bring old shoes and watch out for the mud. Many people believe there is some rejuvenating properties in the mud but you'll have to judge for yourself. When putting your kayak down to the shore there is ample opportunity to lose shoes and other items in the mud. Use caution when walking to the put in.
Article Written by
Paddle Canada Instructor Trainer,
Christopher live 15 minutes from the Shubie and you can often find him there with a huge smile enjoying the bore.
The best place to start the Bore is in Maitland. There is a government wharf in Maitland. You are required to drag your boats through the mud a little bit. Depending on the stage of the tide and the amount of mud you can find some rocks to climb down on and not get to messy.
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Posted By: smburt
- Mon Aug 31 16:23:47 UTC 2009
UpsideWOW! Inspiring, just to read the experience CommentI use to watch the tidal bore come in when I visited Lower Onslow near Truro. It would come up the Salmon River right on schedule in a chocolate foaming mass.