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A Marine Resource Publication
NO LAND IN SIGHT?
LET NATURE HELP
■ Notice the clouds. As the cool sea
breeze floods over the hot earth on
summer afternoons, high cumulous
clouds form over land, and these can be
seen from offshore.
■ To determine direction and intensity
of current, in clear water look for
movement of grasses and soft coral.
■ Large bodies of water, such as the
Gulf Stream, that are warmer or colder
than surrounding water create different
clouds above them.
■ Shallow clear water, because of its
bluish tint, often reflects on the underside of white clouds.
■ Plumes of smoke may indicate power
plants or facilities too far away to see.
■ In the fall and spring, flocks of
migrating birds can indicate general
north or south directions. In the morning or evening, such flocks might be
heading away from or toward a nighttime layover destination on land.
■ Small land birds seeking refuge on
your boat far from shore usually take
off in the direction of land after resting.
■ Sun rises in the east, sets in the west.
■ Know the direction of the prevailing
sea breeze, which usually cranks up in
■ Often you can smell land: marshes,
exposed mud at low tide, seaweed on
rocks, or particular industries that are
common in port towns, such as paper
mills and fertilizer plants.
■ If weeds/grasses float by, land may
be near. A trail of debris means you
may be off a river that flows past a city.
■ Short, tall waves that seem out of
context may indicate a current flooding
out of a creek or river into the wind.
■ An upwelling or eddy may indicate a
shoal or similar bottom contour.
■ Seagulls walking instead of floating
give you a clue as to where you don’t
want to be. — T.N.