Page 8

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


Thurs, Aug 6

2016—“One of my proudest moments,” says Sen. Mitch McConnell [R-KY], “was when I told President Obama, ‘You will not fill this Supreme Court vacancy.’” 2011—An RPG downs a Chinook in the Tangi Valley, killing all 38 on board­—the most (30) Americans to die in one incident in Afghanistan. 2001—The CIA hands the President a report—“Bin…

Wed, Aug 5

2011—S&P lowers the U.S.’s credit rating because the GOP says it might not let the government pay its bills. 2007—On Lake Winnipesaukee, the President of France, clad only in swim trunks, jumps into the boat of AP photographer Jim Cole and berates him for doing his job. 2004—“Our enemies,” says George W.[MD] Bush, “never stop…

Tues, Aug 4

2003—Lightning strikes a Bardstown, Ky., warehouse, sparking a fire; 19,000 barrels release 800,000 gallons—a flaming river of Jim Beam; thousands of fish die as high winds whip up a 100-foot firenado. 1992—Republicans re-nominate the Bush/Quayle ticket. Snicker. 1991—The captain and officers of the sinking Oceanos abandon the ship—and its passengers. Entertainers organize a successful rescue…

Mon, Aug 3

1981—Federal air traffic controllers have the gall to go on strike. 1980—Ronald Reagan delivers his first post-convention speech, touting “states’ rights” two miles from where three murdered civil rights workers had been buried 19 years earlier. 1971—New Hampshire man Alan Shepard hits a golf ball on the moon. 1966—RIP Lenny Bruce, prosecuted to death at…

Sun, Aug 2

2000—The GOP picks George W.[MD] Bush to preside, and Dick “Dick” Cheney to run the country. 1993—A short circuit sends a self-destruct command to a Titan IV rocket which blows up over the Pacific destroying $1 billion in spy satellites. 1990—Iraq invades Kuwait. 1964—The U.S.S. Maddox, in North Vietnamese territorial waters, to support covert South…

Sat, Aug 1

2007—An interstate highway bridge in Minneapolis collapses, killing 13. 1976—First occupation of the Seabrook nuclear power plant site. 1974—Alexander Haig meets for 50 minutes with Vice President Ford. They discuss Nixon’s possible resignation and a possible Ford pardon. Though it’s all quite above-board, no doubt, Haig has signed in on the official log under an…

Fri, July 31

1999—Eugene Shoemaker becomes the first Earthling whose cremated remains are interred on the moon. 1996—Gerald Ford and George H.[H.] Walker Bush uphold the dignity of their former office by speaking for pay before followers of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. 1974—Richard Nixon’s former advisor John Ehrlichman gets a free five-year stay at a felons’ country…

Thurs, July 30

1975—Jimmy Hoffa is last glimpsed by anyone who’s talking. 1969—“I think that history will record that this may have been one of America’s finest hours,” says Richard Nixon in Saigon. 1956—Congress adopts “In God We Trust” as the national motto. 1945—The U.S.S. Indianapolis, having delivered the Hiroshima A-bomb to Tinian, is torpedoed and sunk on…

Wed, July 29

1994—Being a good, pro-life Christian, Rev. Paul Jennings Hill uses a shotgun to kill Dr. John Britton and his bodyguard James Barrett, wounding Barrett’s wife June in the process. 1986—Ex-Chaplain Charlie Liteky renounces the Medal of Honor he was awarded for bravery in Vietnam over U.S. policies in Latin America. 1981—Congress passes Ronald Reagan’s tax…

Tues, July 28

2012—Three elderly troublemakers infiltrate Oak Ridge, Tenn. and spill blood on its nuclear weapons plant. 2006—A wild storm topples the partially-renovated steeple of North Church and its attendent scaffolding onto Pleasant Street in Portsmouth. 2003—Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who once said Americans smoke Cuban cigars “at the cost of our national honor,” is photographed in Jerusalem…

Mon, July 27

2008—Shotgunning in a Knoxville church, Jim David Adkisson kills two and wounds seven. He cites Fox News’ Bernard Goldberg as one inspiration. 1996—To protect the sanctity of life, Eric Robert Rudolph bombs the Atlanta Summer Olympics. 1957—Jimmy Wilson (who’s Black) is sentenced to death in Ala. for stealing $1.95 from a woman (white). 1954—Mercenaries overthrow…

Sun, July 26

1968—The newly elected President of South Vietnam jails the runner-up. 1968—Mexican troops arrest thousands of students and shoot hundreds, killing dozens. 1959—An engine failure forces U.S.M.C. Lt. Col. William Rankin to eject from his F-8 fighter jet over a thunderstorm. Aloft for 40 minutes amid lightning, hail, and -58° temperatures, he survives. 1953—Arizona State Police…

Sat, July 25

2019—President Trump makes a phone call to Ukraine President Vladimir Zelenskey. It’s “perfect.” 2000—In a touching display of naiveté, George W.[MD] Bush announces that he has picked Dick “Dick” Cheney as running mate. 1990—Ambassador April Glaspie tells Saddam the U.S. won’t take sides in an Iraq-Kuwait border dispute. 1975—Chester Plummer, Jr., a Black ’Nam vet…

Fri, July 24

2017—“Who the hell wants to talk about politics…in front of the Boy Scouts?,” asks Donald Trump, who then talks politics at the Jamboree. 2008—A tornado hits nine towns in N.H., killing a Deerfield woman. 2003—Congress says the FBI and the CIA blew off warnings of a possible al-Qaeda attack on the U.S. 2003—In Iraq, the…

Thurs, July 23

2014—Arizona authorities experimenting with new poisons find Joseph Wood’s execution takes 12 times longer than the expected 10 minutes. 2001—Bank robber Gary Sampson calls the FBI to turn himself in, but a clerk disconnects him. Over the next week he murders three people, including a man in New Hampshire. 1970—The last clash between the U.S….


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.