"OLD SOW" WHIRLPOOL
A lot of questions are asked about the "Old Sow" whirlpool off the shores of Eastport. I have gone into the whirlpool to get some photos as well as some aerial shots of the area. I have also done a little research to see what I could find in the files of the Quoddy Tides newspaper. I hope this page can answer some of the questions. Click on a photo for a larger image.
The Area of the whirlpool is located between Eastport, Me. and Deer Island, NB.
Photo #2 shows the currents that form the whirlpool
1. 2. 3.
Photos 4 -7 were taken close to peak time, some of the currents can be seen. In photo #7 there is an arrow showing a piglet forming.
4. 5. 6. 7.
April 18th,1886-------Eastport Sentinel
--caused primarily by the conjunction of two fierce currents, -one, the regular flood tide, where it rises to 22 feet to high water, flowing up the bay past Eastport northerly, and the other a similar tide flowing in westerly from what is called Indian River, between Deer Island and Indian Island, N.B.
When these two currents meet, at right angles, the whirl is inevitable and the conformation of the bottom favors the circular motion. At a low run of tides there is little to be seen; on the ebb tide scarce anything approaching danger.
These photos were taken in the winter......the tide was almost full but with the suns reflections you can still see quite a bit of activity with the currents.
8. 9. 10.
Old Sow is considered a tidal whirlpool because of the tidal currents which come
together to form the whirlpool.
Some "Old Sow Piglets"
11. 12. 13.
14. 15. 16. 17. 18.
--created/formed by the meeting of 3 tides, 2 main tides and a back eddy of almost equal strength. The Canadian shore where Deer Island runs out to a depth of 42' and then drops into a 397' hole, a 6 knot tide runs during the flood tide. About 2 hours before high tide flow the fastest currents of all. Under certain conditions, in late fall, the vortex is said to throw water 15 to 20 feet into the air.
Some views of the turbulence in the whirlpool area about 2 hrs before high tide on a calm morning.
19. 20. 21. 22. 23.
--A maelstrom as in Norway, is a whirling action of a single tide as it sweeps into underwater caves and out again, meeting itself, thus causing a revolutioning motion. A real whirlpool is caused by a head-on collision of two or more tides coming from different directions. The Old Sow is a genuine whirlpool.
Another ride through the whirlpool......
24. 25. 26. 27. 28.
29. 30. 31. 32. 33.
The Quoddy Tides 1998 Summer Guide--
--Whirling on the Canadian side of the international border
in waters called Western Passage between Eastport and Deer Island, the Old Sow
whirlpool boasts currents of more than six knots, tides reaching 28 feet and
chartered depths of 397 feet.
Coastal information has repeatedly called Old Sow the world's largest whirlpool, while a few conservative texts call her the largest whirlpool in this hemisphere. From 1817 to 1995, a number of boats and at least 10 people have met their end as a result of Old Sow, which is most dangerous on the flood tide, especially for small boats.
--the Quoddy Tidal Project, which Kinney
maintains reduced Old Sow's strength. The project, begun during the 1930's,
created two dams (from Eastport to Carlow Island and from Carlow Island to the
mainland at Perry) which formed a causeway and became state highway Route 190.
Kinney maintains the waters, which previously swirled in an unrestricted manner
around the circumferences of Moose and Dog islands, were interrupted by the
Views from the Dog Island area
Both times of boating through the whirlpool was done on a calm morning, it was quite impressive to see the power of the tide, I can only imagine how much more power it would have with a strong wind. The photos show a little of what it can be like but in no way does it show the swiftness of the current and the unpredictability of the boils and swirls.
A special thanks to Butch Harris and Dicky Flagg for making it possible for me to capture these photos.
--I didn't mind so much being caught in it, but I did resent having to row uphill to get out. Anonymous fisherman
"Old Sow" Whirlpool collage
A matted collage of the "Old Sow" whirlpool containing a 5x7 aerial view and a 5x7 piglet photo along with a written explanation of the "Old Sow"
Matted to fit a standard 16 x 20 frame. Frame not included..... $35.00