Shubenacadie River Rafting
“Nae man can tether time nor tide…”
Robbie Burns immortal words struck me as unforgivably appropriate. The powerful tides of Nova Scotia’s Minas Basin are, even as we make our way to the tiny hamlet of Maitland,relentlessly snaking its way towards the mouth of the Shubenacadie River. The Shubenacadie-one of the top five rivers for rafting in Canada- is the one we will be on today.
In 1995,Maitland, a once thriving shipbuilding community,was designated the province’s first Heritage Conservation District. Here you will find Lawrence House Museum-one of the area’s many beautiful 19th century homes and the 1874 launching site of the “WD Lawrence”, Canada’s largest full rigged sailing vessel.
Nonetheless, ours is not to ponder history or soak in culture.Today, our interests lay not in gargantuan wooden ships but in stalwart rubber Zodiacs.
We have something a bit more adventurous in mind.
Maitland perches on the shores of the Minas Basin. Twice daily, 14 billion tonnes of sea water pour in and out of the basin, actually bending Nova Scotia under its immense weight. The flow in the Minas channel between Cape Split and the Parrsboro shore at mid-tide is equal to the flow of every river and stream on earth.
These can can reach heights of up to 55 feet-high as a five story building,lifting small lobster boats and huge freighters skyward at high tide and setting ever-so gently on the ocean floor as it ebbs. Every 12 hours and 25 minutes, the Shubenacadie swells with the impetus of these mighty tides as they force their way upriver against the river’s current, creating a phenomenon known as a ‘tidal bore’.
Riding the Waves
River Runners Tidal Bore Rafting is located at the mouth of the Shubenacadie River, in Maitland. The guides are well trained, safety conscious and able to haul a fair-sized woman out of the water and over the side of the raft. (well, it’s hard it get back in those things once you get out)
Today, our guide takes his place beside the powerful outboard. He knows every rock, eagles nest and sandbar along the river and recognizes every shoal and rockbed.
We start out ahead of the bore, but with the tide’s astounding speed -it travels as fast as a galloping horse and soon overtakes us.
Propelled by the majestic and powerful Bay of Fundy tides, tidal bore rafting in Nova Scotia is an experience unlike any other on earth.And it’s easy-all we have to do is hang on for dear life. No paddling required.
What You Need to Know About Shubenacadie River Rafting
There are multiple rafting companies in that area within a few km of each other. Complete listing is here.
They each have a schedule on their website telling you what time the tour leaves and what kind of a tour it will be-the intensity and wave height are determined by the height of the tide- you can choose the turbulence you’d like to experience.
Most tour operators offer 3 hour tours along with a shorter version.
The season for most tour operators ends September 30th,although a couple stay open until the end of October.
Your hosts will provide life jackets/rain gear.
Wear dark or cold clothes-that iron ore suspended in the water and looking like mud will NOT come out.As well, bring sunglasses,wear a hat and wear old sneakers-flip flops are not recommended.
You WILL get wet, salty and cold before your done. But once you’re back you can grab a shower and change into the clean duds you’ve brought. Bring shower supplies and a towel.
Don’t bother bringing a camera that’s not waterproof.
Not get out there and enjoy!