USGS SCIENTISTS LOCATE OLD BAY
U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY scientists drilling in the Chesapeake Bay found
something they weren’t expecting
buried deep beneath the surface –
the oldest large body of seawater
known to man. Trapped beneath
the surface by the impact of a
massive piece of space debris, the
water is believed to be 100 to 145
million years old and twice as salty as modern seawater. The existence of saltwater beneath the Chesapeake was known, but this is
the first time scientists have determined its age. The impact that created the bay happened around 35 million years ago, and it broke up
the existing aquifers, trapping some underground water. Jerad Bales,
acting USGS associate director for water, said in a release: “Various
theories related to the crater impact had been developed to explain
the origin of the high salinity. But up to this point, no one thought
it was North Atlantic Ocean water that had essentially been in place
for about 100 million years.” — CHRIS LANDERS
THINK YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE?
It might be time to double-check.
What’s the difference between:
33° 34’ 35” N 118° 21’ 54” W
33° 34. 35’ N 118° 21. 54’ W
33.3435° N 118.2154° W
Answer: Anywhere from half a mile to more than 15 miles!
That discrepancy could matter a great deal if you find yourself in the middle of
a large body of water on a disabled boat. You might assume you’ll just whip out
your phone, give BoatU.S. your coordinates, then sit back and relax, knowing
they’ll be there in a jiffy. But not so fast. If you say, “ 33 34 35 North,” it may be a
long time indeed before anyone figures out where you are.
Traditionally, positions have been reported in degrees, minutes, seconds,
and decimal seconds, if needed. But with the rise of computer-based mapping
systems, decimal-based conventions for reporting positions are becoming more
common. To accurately communicate your position from a GPS or smartphone
to another person, you both need to understand which convention you’re using.
If you say, “ 33 34 35 North,” those numbers could be interpreted as any of the
three positions in the first example above, which would take the person trying to
find you to three different places.
TowBoatU.S. and BoatU.S. Vessel Assist captains have begun reporting these
kinds of miscommunications. Similar confusion has arisen over position-track-ing reporting systems for racers and offshore sailors. To find out whether it’s
degrees, minutes, seconds, or decimals you’re looking at, and how to communicate so it’s understood, see the sidebar on page 94. — BETH A. LEONARD
The Colbert Marine Report
THE NATIONAL SAILING HALL OF FAME (NSHOF) has had some illus- trious names on its advisory board over the years: Walter Cronkite, Morgan Freeman, and now the political satirist, writer, comedian,
actor, and host of the television show “The Colbert Report”… Stephen Colbert.
“I’m honored to be named to the Honorary Advisory Board and will
do my best to not capsize the National Sailing Hall of Fame. Hard alee!”
enthused the avid boater, who grew up on Charleston Harbor, South
Carolina, watching regattas from his window. Colbert got into sailing
in 2005, when a friend asked him to crew on a boat taking part in the
Charleston Bermuda Race. The boat finished in last place. But Colbert
was hooked. “That was my introduction to serious sailing. I just loved
it,” he later said.
On a second attempt in the race, aboard the Farr 65 The Spirit of
Juno in 2011, Colbert’s team came in second place. He and his family’s
boating adventures aren’t limited to sailing, however. Along with his
young sons Peter and John, he’s built a small wooden powerboat with
an outboard. The National Sailing Hall of Fame is a nonprofit educa-
tional organization based in Annapolis, dedicated to the preservation
and continuance of America’s sailing legacy. — ANN DERMODY P H