Fighting the tide in Nova Scotia
This experience might sound like an unfolding maritime disaster – the tormented memories of a shipwreck survivor, perhaps – but in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia this is a sport, and they call it tidal bore rafting. Exclusive to Nova Scotia, tidal bore rafting is made possible by unique environmental conditions in the Bay of Fundy, which conspire to create the highest, most powerful tide in the world.
Every day, approximately 200 billion tones of water gushes in and out of the bay, an unstoppable torrent that hits a bottleneck at the Shubenacadie River estuary where it surges upstream like a giant tsunami. As this tsunami rolls over sandbars in the river, monstrous waves are formed, some as big as 3.5m (11.5ft). It is those waves that make tidal bore rafting possible, those waves we have come to ride today.
The waves gradually dissipate until all that’s left is a fast-flowing river. “Jump in if you like,” says Travis. “There are no rocks.” Already drenched I leap from the boat where I become a passenger to the tide. The brute force of the Fundy whisks me along like a piece of driftwood; trees along the river bank pass by in a blur.
Tidal bore rafting is madness, but it’s also intoxicatingly good fun. Forget golf or yoga or frying on a beach, if you really want to escape on holiday, come and pick a fight with the Fundy. Because it doesn’t give a hoot about your career or your relationship status or the economy – and it’ll make sure you’re too busy clinging on to care either.