Gone Outdoors

How to Use a Tide Watch

by Josh Fredman

A tide watch is a relatively new kind of wristwatch that uses pre-programmed information to advise you on the status of tides in your area. These data are usually pre-stored into the watch's memory, or else downloaded via satellite. In either case, only minimal input is required from you.

Set the watch for use in your area. In some cases, this will require you to choose the nearest location from the watch's available options. In other cases, you will have to calibrate the watch based on local low tide. In yet other cases, the watch will be updated automatically by use of global positioning, in which case you don't have to do anything. Refer to the user manual.

As necessary, update your location or re-calibrate the watch when you move more than a few miles in any direction. This is especially important when moving toward or away from a major body of water (as opposed to parallel with the shoreline), as the tides vary more widely in this direction.

Refer to the watch at a glance whenever you want to see what level the tide is at and whether it's coming or going. Depending on the model, you may get extra information, but all models will provide you with these basics.

Use common sense and caution to observe what the tides in your vicinity are actually doing. The tide reading indicated on your watch is not coming from a station in real time. One way or another, it is coming from a table of values calculated in advance using known astronomical variables. It cannot account for weather conditions such as wind and rain, which can have a large effect on the tide.

Items you will need
  • Tide watch


  • Before buying your tide watch, make sure that the watch gets its figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or its international partners. NOAA values are consistently the most accurate and reliable.
  • According to the NOAA, tide table predictions become less reliable as you move toward shallower, inland water bodies and rivers, where the tidal effects of the astronomical bodies are not as dominant as they are on the open sea or large freshwater lakes.


  • Only trust your convenience to a tide watch. Never trust your life to one.

About the Author

Josh Fredman is a freelance pen-for-hire and Web developer living in Seattle. He attended the University of Washington, studying engineering, and worked in logistics, health care and newspapers before deciding to go to work for himself.