My arms ached as I pulled back and down on the boom, windsurfing towards an island on one of the last tacks I had the energy to make to avoid the embarrassment of a rescue. I zigzagged shoreward. The wind on my sail brought me closer, but the tide pulled me away. A fall would allow the tide to take me further from my goal: wet, jagged, barnacle-encrusted rocks along the water’s edge. Finally, I reached land, released the boom, made my way with water-shriveled feet through the barnacles, pulled the rig up a safe distance from the sea’s surface, and thanked my lucky stars.
In the introduction to his new book, author Jonathan White, who, like me, “lives on a small island in Washington State,” recounts the perilous event that made him vow “to learn more about the tides,” which led him to write Tides, “a travel adventure, personal journey, cultural history, and provocative scientific inquiry into the forces that keep the earth’s waters in constant motion.” It is as great a book for those who are part of the , “More than half of the world’s population [that] lives on or near the coast,” as for those who aren’t.
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