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Admiral Fowle’s Piscataqua River Tidal Guide
(Not for Navigational Purposes)


Fri. May 29

2015—The Washington Post prints ex-Gov. John H. Sununu’s confession that in 1988 he bartered state assets—low numbered license plates—to buy support for G.H.[H.]W. Bush. 2011—Orange County, Calif. Paramedic Chris Trokey saves Dr. Michael Shannon from a burning SUV. Shannon had saved Trokey’s life after his premature birth 26 years earlier. 2008—Senator (and candidate) John McCain…

Thurs. May 28

2009—Jonathan Trappe crosses the English Channel suspended from a cluster of 54 multicolored balloons. 1987—W. German Mathias Rust, 19, lands a rented Cessna in Red Square. 1986—The Energy Dept. calls off a search for a high-level nuclear waste dump which had been considering a site in southwestern New Hampshire. 1972—Third time’s a charm for Nixon’s…

Wed. May 27

2017—“Last Call” at The Coat of Arms. 1994—Charles Rodman Campbell does his best to dodge it, but Washington State’s hangman finally manages to get a noose around his neck. 1972—Nixon’s “Plumbers” fail a second time trying to break into Democratic National HQ at the Watergate. 1962—To clear an underground landfill, Centralia, Pa. officials set a…

Tues. May 26

2004—The NY Times admits its pre-war Iraq coverage was “not as rigorous as it should have been.” 1989—Future Veep J. Danforth Quayle predicts, “We are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy, but that could change.” 1972—Nixon’s “Plumbers” fail to gain entry to Democratic National HQ at the Watergate. 1970—The destroyer U.S.S. Richard…

Mon. May 25

2007—As U. Mass. hands an honorary degree to Andrew Card, George W.[MD] Bush’s ex-Chief of Staff, students and faculty boo and howl. 1988—Four years after his death, Peter Lawford’s ashes are scattered at sea because none of his children will pay for entombment. 1986—”Hands Across America” ends hunger and homelessness. Congrats! 1981—Kennebunkport native Dan Goodwin…

Sun. May 24

2005—“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda,” mansplains G.W.[MD] Bush. 2000—Linda Tripp beats wiretap charges. Ignorance of the law apparently excuses Right Wingers. 1989—Stephen McCoy, being killed by Texas state employees, has…

Sat. May 23

2012—A mentally-unstable PNSY employee sets a fire that destroys the billion-dollar U.S.S. Miami. 1976—The Washington Post reports that Rep. Wayne L. Hays’ (D-Ohio) mistress, on his payroll at $14,000 a year, admits she “can’t type…can’t file, [and] can’t even answer the phone.” 1971—President Nixon meets with the milk cartel. For a $2 million campaign contribution,…

Fri. May 22

2004—Portsmouth’s Leftist Marching Band debuts before a surprised and delighted audience in Market Square. 1977—In the wee hours of a convention, hard-liners take over the NRA. 1968—The nuclear sub Scorpion, two nuclear torpedos, and all 99 crew members are lost at sea. 1962—Thomas G. Doty buys dynamite and flight insurance, then boards Flight 11, which…

Thurs. May 21

2016—In Houston, hundreds rally to support Islam. Hundreds more rally, armed, to oppose it. All have been duped by a Russian troll farm. 2010—Fox’s Glenn Beck claims “a good portion” of Americans were glad when Franklin D. Roosevelt died. 2001—The GAO refutes the GOP: Dems didn’t vandalize the White House. 1981—The Senate OKs $20 billion…

Wed. May 20

2009—The FBI entraps four Muslim men in a bogus Bronx bomb plot. 2004—U.S. and Iraqi troops raid the home and offices of Ahmed Chalabi, formerly the neo-cons’ most trusted source of Iraqi intelligence. 1989—RIP, Gilda Radner. 1978—Mavis Hutchinson, 53, makes New York City after running across America for 69 days. 1969—After 11 bloody assaults in…

Tues. May 19

2017—Big game hunter Theunis Botha, 51, dies in Zimbabwe when an elephant shot by a client falls on him. 1962—In Madison Square Garden, Marilyn Monroe sings “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy. 1956—A 15-megaton bomb test in the South Pacific raises radiation levels in the U.S. to 10 times normal. 1954—The U.S.P.O. OKs a…

Mon. May 18

1992—The 27th Amendment, prohibiting any Congress from raising its own pay, is ratified 202 years after its submission. 1982—The Rev. Sun Myung Moon is convicted of tax fraud. 1980—Mt. St. Helens cuts loose for the first time in 123 years. 1974—India successfully tests a nuclear weapon in an operation named Smiling Buddha. 1969—At Hamburger Hill,…

Sun. May 17

2017—Learning his election will be investigated for Russia’s involvement, President Trump says, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m [bleeped].” 1987—Its weapons officer away from his duty station, its Phalanx gun operator absent “on personal business,” and its radar countermeasure system unarmed, the frigate U.S.S. Stark is hit…

Sat. May 16

2017—Two dozen goons attack peaceful protestors outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C. as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan looks on approvingly. Four are arrested, but all charges are dropped. 2001—Ex-FBI Special Agent, devout Catholic, patron of strippers, and amateur exhibitionist Robert Hanssen is indicted for selling U.S. secrets to the U.S.S.R., then the Russians. 1974—Bill…

Fri. May 15

2002—The White House admits it knew before 9/11 that al Qaeda had plans to hijack U.S. airliners. 2001—Two engineers in a locomotive chase and stop an unmanned train full of hazardous chemicals after it rolled 66 miles at high speeds across Ohio. 1991—The Pentagon releases info confirming that Manuel Noriega used to be on the…


Portsmouth, arguably the first town in this country not founded by religious extremists, is bounded on the north and east by the Piscataqua River, the second, third, or fourth fastest-flowing navigable river in the country, depending on whom you choose to believe.

The Piscataqua’s ferocious current is caused by the tide, which, in turn, is caused by the moon. The other player is a vast sunken valley — Great Bay — about ten miles upriver. Twice a day, the moon drags about seventeen billion gallons of seawater — enough to fill 2,125,000 tanker trucks — up the river and into Great Bay. This creates a roving hydraulic conflict, as incoming sea and the outgoing river collide. The skirmish line moves from the mouth of the river, up past New Castle, around the bend by the old Naval Prison, under Memorial Bridge, past the tugboats, and on into Great Bay. This can best be seen when the tide is rising.

Twice a day, too, the moon lets all that water go. All the seawater that just fought its way upstream goes back home to the ocean. This is when the Piscataqua earns its title for xth fastest current. Look for the red buoy, at the upstream end of Badger’s Island, bobbing around in the current. It weighs several tons, and it bobs and bounces in the current like a cork.

The river also has its placid moments, around high and low tides. When the river rests, its tugboats and bridges work their hardest. Ships coming in laden with coal, oil, and salt do so at high tide, for more clearance under their keels. They leave empty, riding high in the water, at low tide, to squeeze under Memorial Bridge.