Rule of Twelfths or if you are more
used to metric, the Rule of Tenths is used to give a rough estimate of
state of the tide.
Tables only give
the times and heights
of high and low water, in relation to the chart datum.
Assuming that the tide
in your area has a
normal semi-diurnal cycle, either of these rules of thumb can be used
provide a quick estimate of the height and flow of the tide for times
between high and low water.
The rule of twelfths works well
enough for anyone used to working with feet, fathoms, etc.
For anyone more at home working in decimal the rule of tenths might be
So, instead of using twelfths uses percentages.
10% for the 1st hour of range
15% for the 2nd hour of range
25% for the 3rd hour of range
25% for the 4th hour of range
15% for the 5th hour of range
and 10% for the 6th hour of range
Now before any mathematician writes in to point out that 10% isn’t
the same as a 12th I should reiterate that the rule of twelfths is only
give an estimate.
First thing you need is the tidal
range that’s the difference between high water and low water for the
So at the end of the first hour of a rising tide, it will have risen
twelfth or 10% of the range.
At the end of the second hour it will have risen 1/12 for the first
2/12 for the second hour making a total of 3/12.
Using percentages you would have 10% for the first hour plus 15% for
making a total of 25% at the end of the second hour.
In the same way at the end of the 4th hour the tide would be 75% of the
higher than low water or 25% lower than high water.
To get the actual depth of the water two hours after low water, that
25% of the
range needs to be added to the height of low water and the height shown
chart (some of these figures might be negative).
This rule of thumb can be used to work out the change of range between
As the change can be assumed as being linear the range will change each
1/7th of difference between the spring and neap range.
In other words subtract the neap range from the spring range and divide
seven to get the daily change in range.
The One In Sixty Rule
This rule of thumb can be used to work out your lateral displacement
For instance if you are one degree off course after 60 miles you will
be 1 mile
from you intended track.
So for every one degree off course the distance-off will be 1/60 of the
For two degrees off then 2/60 of the distance traveled.
This only works with small distances and amounts of deviation.
feel I must reiterate that these rules are just
methods for giving a quick, rough approximation only and should be used
great caution when used for navigation.
Tidal streams for instance don't always have a simple relationship with
There are many locations where the nature of the sea bed and coastline
all sorts off anomalies.
Some coasts have double high waters and others double low waters and
be abnormal flow rates within the tidal sequence.
And the Tide Tables themselves are predictions based on previous
the figures for times and heights are subject to modification by wind
So, while rules of thumb, such as the rule of twelfths, allows you to
mental calculations, navigating at sea should be an accumulation of
as many sources as possible, particularly input from your own eyeballs.
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I am perfectly aware that the majority of Wooden Boat aficionados are sensible folk. However, I need to point out that I am an amateur wooden boat enthusiast simply writing in order to try to help other amateur wooden boat enthusiasts. And while I take every care to ensure that the information in DIY Wood Boat.com is correct, anyone acting on the information on this website does so at their own risk.