A mini book review of Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean 

The first time I really understood a tide was in Fort Bragg with my father diving for abalone back in the seventies. A man with a mesh bag and a very sharp knife would free dive down and pry the eight inch abalone off the razor sharp volcanic rock. My father and I would keep watch from inside the boat. Time would pass, the boat would roll gently with the constant moving water. “When can we go,” I’d always ask. “When the tide begins to change,” he’d say. I’d look around at the endless blue expanse and wonder how he knew. How anyone could know when a tide changes.
Now in my forties, I sit on my couch overlooking the Columbia river, sip tea out of a mug and watch the Desdemona flats unfold as both a calendar and a clock. The flow along its edges rippling at ebb, boats catching a free push when it flows out to sea. An ocean swayed by a gravitational pull so strong it controls an entire industry of transportation around the globe.

Which is exactly where Jonathan White has studied tides. He’s spoken to hundreds of people while standing at the edge of water on five continents, staring out at what most of us don’t understand. In Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean, the author takes us on a journey around the world where these ebbs and flows dance into our lives so connected to our blood and yet, we hardly understand its motivation.

Jonathan White is described as an expert mariner. His love for the sea has been lifelong. He grew up diving, sailing and fishing on the beaches of Southern California and has logged a mighty impressive one hundred thousand miles sailing on the Pacific and Atlantic. In the 1980s, he founded the Resource Institute, a nonprofit educational organization for which he hosted a seminar series aboard Crusader, a 65-foot wooden schooner that sailed the Pacific Northwest. Crusader’s odysseys nearly ended, however, in 1990 when the boat ran aground and was nearly destroyed on a large tide in Alaska’s Kalinin Bay.

Jonathan says he was shaken and yet intrigued by his underestimation of tides and their power. His book research started a lifelong quest across the globe to understand the history, science, and majesty of one of our planet’s most remarkable phenomena.

But Tides is not only a travel story. It’s a journey into the whys of water and our spiritual relationship. Jonathan says, “I didn’t expect to discover the depth of connection people have with the water they live near. A spiritual connection. The subtitle of the book The Science and Spirit of the Ocean was born from that discovery.


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