CURRENTS AND TIDAL STREAMS - STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR
Strong currents and tidal streams may be experiencied in the Strait. The maximum rates of surface flow in each direction which may be expected are about 2 knots in the W-going direction and about 4-7 knots in the E-going direction.
The maximum rates of tidal streams are about 3 knots in the W-going direction and about 2-7 knots in the E-going direction.
In the middle of the strait the E-going stream commences about the time of high water in Tarifa and the W-going stream 6 hours later. The times at which these streams commence become earlier rapidly as the shores of the strait are approached on either side, as indicated by pecked lines on the nautical chart.
In the central area of the narrower, E part of the strait between the meridians of Tarifa and Europa point the rate at springs decreases W in the central area, to about 1,75 knots S of Punta Camarinal (Bolonia, nice place for windsurfing) and one knot S of Cabo Trafalgar.
The rate at springs increases from the central area towards the coast on both sides, attaining a rate of about 3 knots in each direction close inshore and probably more off the salient points and less in the bays between them.
In the central area the tidal streams set in the direction of axis of the strait, but near the land they follows the direction of the coast.
Tidal races or overfalls may occur vary with the relative directions and rates of the currents and of the tidal stream; certain areas in which tidal races or overfalls usually occur are indicated on the nautical charts.Tidal races also occur off most of the salient points on each side of the strait and eddies probably form under the points and the bays between them.
On the Spanish side a tidal race, stated to be most violent in the strait, extends SW from Cabo Trafalgar to Bajo Aceitera and, in heavy weather when the tidal stream is running strongly, may extend as far as Banco de Trafalgar or even to Banco del Hoyo. A race of considerable violence forms over and near Los Cabezos (close to beach of Los Lances in Tarifa) during the strength of the stream in each direction and covers a considerable area during calms; in heavy weather it may extend right across the strait and join the tidal races off the coast between Punta Malabata(Tangier) and Punta Alboasa(Tangier)
HM Sailing Direcctions