The Sea Giveth and the Sea Taketh Away

Have you been following the cycles of the moon? I certainly didn’t while we lived in other locations, but here one can’t escape the influence the moon has upon the environment. We had a new moon this week and with it came the usual high coefficient, in other words we had some very low and some very high tides for a few days. That dead planet in the night sky exerts a huge gravitational influence on the water at our feet.

It was a long walk to the water line. It had receded so much, that one could almost imagine walking to St. Malo. And one could definitely walk into downtown Dinard on the beach which is normally not possible at all, as there are cliffs which separate the various Dinard beaches from one another.

Of course at low tide one can find attractive little treasures.

From top and right to left: unidentified shell with five growth ridges, unidentified attractive purple variegated shell, three limpet shells (little cones), beach glass (broken bottle top made completely smooth), two red cockle shells, back and front of a scallop shell.

High tide was quite dramatic. Waves crashed against the wall and sprayed water onto the lower garden. That occurred after dark, so I was not able to get a photograph.

In the morning we discovered that a night of pounding surf was able to wash away at least six feet of sand from our beach front. The level of sand a day before was to the bottom step of our stairway. I conservatively calculated that about 1000 tons of sand was swept away over night.

Our neighbor tells us that we ain’t seen nothing yet. The waves were very tame by coming winter storm standards. I wonder if we’ll have any sand left at all by springtime. Apparently this displacement occurs every year. Next spring the city will bring bulldozers down to the beach and return sand to its normal level. I guess that means it will be awhile before I use these steps again.

I checked to see how much the ocean has risen in the last hundred years, so I could understand if this phenomenon was happening when the house was built. I found out that a century ago the ocean was only 8-10 inches lower, which I can’t imagine could make such a difference.

Another charming gift received this week was a view out our window of a brand new sailing freighter, built locally, and leaving St Malo harbor bound for New York with 14,000 bottles of French wine on board. Our friend Bernard, who descends from several generations of Breton sailors and keeps up with such things, alerted us to its schedule. One can monitor all ocean going vessels in real time on The ship, called Grain de Sail (a play on words), has a crew of only four. After dropping off their cargo, they sail for Central America to fill their holds with cocoa and coffee before sailing back home.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Rick noticed that we have some new residents in town. At first he saw them bobbing on the waves and took them for ducks, as they are rather small. Once we observed them on shore, however, it was clear they are geese. We identified them as Brant geese that have just arrived for the winter from the Arctic, where they mate and rear their chicks from late spring. They make a nice addition to the ecosystem.

4 thoughts on “The Sea Giveth and the Sea Taketh Away

  1. Oh wow! I heard about the «grain de sail » boat expedition on the news and you saw it live at your doorstep! Speaking of doorstep, the picture of you 6 feet under illustrates the phenomenon so well, unbelievable. Love those found treasures, the artic geese, the rainbow and how you look up things and do your homework so as to give us sharp precise details about things. I don’t know who else would do this and makes it so enjoyable for us to read. Thank you so much for sharing your adventure. I’m sure that I’m not the only one to appreciate this immensely! xx


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