We were walking Tess, our collie, along the estuary shore at Arnside. We had seen the stripey sails of the boats from the local sailing club and wanted a closer look. There was something odd about a passing seagull. I smiled, sure of my evidence for once…

“Tide’s going out,” I said.

My wife, Bernie, responded immediately. “Nope…”

She was born in Heysham, across the bay from the estuary here. Living by the sea throughout her childhood and into her teens gave her an uncanny ability to ‘just know’ the state of the tide.

But I had a secret weapon – logic! The seagull that had caught my attention had floated by on the water backwards; headed towards the open sea, but facing inland.

Case closed, I reasoned.

But fellow blokes will know that to be so certain of anything in the presence of one’s wife is an insecure business… I glanced at the seagull, stealthily, not wishing to give away my source of certitude. It was still facing inland but being carried out to sea. No doubt about it – I was right!

“Look at the edges of the water,” she said. “There, the water is flowing the other way, the outflowing river in the middle channel is fooling you..”

Just then the klaxon went off… There are dangerous tides in these parts. The klaxon warns anyone using the estuary that Morecambe Bay’s vast and swift tides had turned and were racing inland – in this case, sweeping up the edges of the estuary at Arnside. During high tides, there is even a ‘bore’ – a small, single wave that continues up the local rivers for some distance.

Crushed, I turned to look at Bernie, who was looking at me and smiling. Beyond her, the mystery seagull had acquired a chip. We’d just had chips…

©Stephen Tanham 2020

One Comment on “Stripey sail, logical fail

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