Thursday, August 2, 2012

Perfect Weather Brings PTown Beachgoers to the Far West End

Sunbathers, kayakers, sailboaters and motorboaters flock to this
Far West End oasis for some quick sun before the tide rolls in
This little haven in the Far West End of Provincetown Harbor, just next to the West End breakwater, is a great spot where you can catch a little sun, have a picnic, go for a swim, haul your kayak out onto the beach, go snorkeling, hike out to the lighthouses or fish from the breakwater. Even the occasional Striped Bass, the most prized fish in these waters, has been hauled out of this spot. With a $10 permit issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (now required for both residents and visitors) you can try your hand at surf casting anywhere along the shoreline, or you can fish by boat. No permit is required to fish from a properly licensed fishing charter boat. Click on this Massachusetts Recreational Fishing page to find out about permits for fresh or saltwater fishing. You can go to our public library, at 356 Commercial Street, and use a credit card online to print out your saltwater fishing permit. It will cost you about $12, including the processing fees.
You can look for basic, inexpensive snorkeling equipment at our local hardware stores at 337 Commercial Street or at 21 Conwell Street, or you can rent more serious equipment at Venture Athletics, at 237 Commercial Street, at the back of the Whalers Wharf, if they have any left to rent by the time you get there. Phone them at 508 487- 9442. You can also rent kayaks and stand-up paddle boards there, or at Flyer's Boat Rentals at 131A Commercial Street, which is down a little alley called Good Templar Place, next to Lorraine's restaurant.
You have to time your visit to this little beach with the rise and fall of the tides, which will occur at a different time each day. Today's high tide reached its peak of 9.8 feet at 12:18 PM, and this evening our low tide will occur at 6:18 PM. That might give you the idea that things happen in an orderly fashion around here, but that is not the case.
Tides in Provincetown Harbor typically rise and recede by about 8 to 10 feet, twice in roughly a 25 hour period. For a very rough estimate, you can figure that about every 6 hours and 15 minutes or so, the tide will begin slowly rising around you, or the water level will start gradually dropping until the tidal flats of this little neighborhood beach become exposed, which is the perfect time to go beach combing and looking for shells and other little treasures revealed at low tide. Click to read my previous post on beach combing in this spot, and read my post about hiking out to the Wood End Lighthouse.
With this difference in the tides from day to day, you can figure a ball park estimate on your own, but actual tides can vary from this unscientific formula by about 30 minutes. The tide tomorrow afternoon will reach its peak at 9.9 feet at 1:07 PM, but I only know that from looking up a tide chart online. Keep in mind that even a tide near 12 feet is not that unusual in PTown, and will put this little beach under water, and Boston tides given on the news don't match the depth or timing for Provincetown. Your best bet is to get a tide chart, and you can usually find a free one at Lands End Marine Supply while you're picking up your snorkeling gear, cooler, flip-flops, suntan lotion, paper plates, sunglasses, hibachi and sun hat, along with your beach umbrella, chair and towel, and anything else you'll need for a day at the beach. And don't forget the trash bags to pick up after yourself when you've had enough sun.

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