Tsunami …or something

High tide at sand bar on previous day

On July 4th I wake up to waves crashing so loudly and so close I am certain our tent, which is in the trees well above the highest tide line, will be swamped. I check my watch- 5 am. I try to wake Anna but she just grumbles at me as usual in the mornings. I shook her.

“Do you hear those waves?”

“Leave me alone. We are sleeping in. Wait ok, yes. What the…?”

We look out the tent and the sand bar that last night marked high tide is being nearly swamped by repeated swells. Ocean like swells which shouldn’t be happening back here in Ernest Sound. I jump out and run to the edge looking for cruise ships which cause pretty large swells, but see and hear nothing. But the tent is well above the waves so we go back to bed. It’s funny how much closer waves always sound from inside a tent.

Anna rolls around for about 15 minutes, clearly not able to sleep.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“I have to pee.”

“Anna, that has a pretty simple solution.”


A few minutes after she leaves the tent I hear her tensely yelling my name. I rush out to see what’s going on and if she’s ok.

“Are you seeing this?” she says with eyes wide.

Low tide at sandbar

The tide has dropped some 17 feet since we were up 20 minutes ago. The sand bar is fully out of the water, the cliff we are on no longer has waves hitting it, they are 17 feet below. The swells are still coming but have reduced by quite a bit. I check the tide book and it should be low tide right now like we thought.

Are you confused? So are we.

The best guess at the time was a tsunami. We were concerned, looked at our options and stayed close to our boats. We have been hesitant to write this as we are still not sure what happened. We checked for earthquakes the next time we had service and sure enough a 4.3 magnitude earthquake happened in the ocean about 80 km away at 4 am on July 4th. Not big, but could the force of that earthquake pushing the water through these channels and inlets have caused the tidal change and waves that we saw? We really don’t know. And no we were not impaired in any way and we still question ourselves. Life jackets in bed?


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