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Old 29-03-2013, 23:20   #1
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"Blue Water" Defined

I'm reading an extensive biography of Matthew Fontaine Maury, by Francis Leigh Williams, Rutgers University Press, 1963.

In a chapter regarding mapping the sea floor, MFM, in a letter of September 4, 1858 to the Secretary of the Navy, comments, "These were the first maps of the kind ever attempted for 'blue water'".

Author's notes: The term "blue water" was already in use at the time which explains why MFM was comfortable using the term. Blue water was a nautical term for the deep water of the ocean opposed to the shallower waters close to shore.

This seems to support my understanding that the term applies to away from the continental shelf. With respect to sailing, the term applies to 'other than coastal' passage making. I thought this historical reference fascinating especially in light of the current day contention of the term.

Side note of interest: MFM was hired by Samuel Morse to map a route for the first undersea telegraphic cable. The cable was to run from Newfoundland to Liverpool, England. MFM was speaking of the abyssal plain and the curious discovery of a mid-oceanic rise.
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Old 29-03-2013, 23:30   #2
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Re: "Blue water" defined

Not being a historian, I have a good hunch that Blue water has always been used as a description for offshore ! because most inshore or coastal waters are less then blue in color !! The ocean has always been in shore, and bluewater ! of course as a semi-uneducated fella I could be wrong !!LOL
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Old 30-03-2013, 06:03   #3
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Re: "Blue water" defined

See also:
'Blue Water' - What Does This Mean to You?

And:
How Far Offshore is Offshore?

And
How OffShore to be an 'Offshore" passage?

And
Coastal Sailing vs. Blue Water Sailing
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Old 30-03-2013, 18:02   #4
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Re: "Blue water" defined

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Old 30-03-2013, 18:15   #5
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Re: "Blue water" defined

I find the problem with this definition is that continental shelf varies in width enormously in different parts of the ocean so blue water could start a few miles from shore or a day's sail off.
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Old 30-03-2013, 18:20   #6
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Re: "Blue water" defined

It really is blue out there due to lack of sediments and such from land. Though of course in some places you get this wonderful color close to shore, like when leaving Florida and entering the Gulf Stream. Read about why water is blue.
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Old 30-03-2013, 18:36   #7
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Re: "Blue water" defined

In the mid-atlantic region the water gets blue around 20-30 fathoms roughly 25-30 nautical miles from shore, however in Jupiter,Fl. you can see the blue water from the beach. Just because the water is blue doesn't mean you are in the gulf stream.
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Old 31-03-2013, 08:41   #8
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Re: "Blue water" defined

I've always thought of 'bluewater' or 'offshore' as being beyond the 100 fathom bottom contour line. I know of places where you can be beyond the 100 fathom line and still be in sight, most likely from the masthead, of land or within an overnight sail but not many and even then sea state and weather are almost entirely ocean influenced rather than land. north of Puerto Rico, SW of Californias Channel Islands and E of Guam and the other Marianas islands come to mind; as the Challenger Deep/Marianas Trench are close by.
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Old 31-03-2013, 12:14   #9
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Re: "Blue water" defined

In 1858 they were probably also arguing over what the term meant - except they were using quill pens!
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Old 31-03-2013, 12:43   #10
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Re: "Blue water" defined

You are correct about 1963.

The only boats an Internet forum considers to be Blue Water were made before 1963.
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Old 31-03-2013, 22:46   #11
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Re: "Blue water" defined

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldPelican View Post
I've always thought of 'bluewater' or 'offshore' as being beyond the 100 fathom bottom contour line. I know of places where you can be beyond the 100 fathom line and still be in sight, most likely from the masthead, of land or within an overnight sail but not many and even then sea state and weather are almost entirely ocean influenced rather than land. north of Puerto Rico, SW of Californias Channel Islands and E of Guam and the other Marianas islands come to mind; as the Challenger Deep/Marianas Trench are close by.
Using the 100 fathom contour as the metric often means the waters still may still be under the influence of weather off the land. The book I am reading goes on to offer further explanation; 20 leagues (60 miles) is the seaward extent of coastal influence. Perhaps that is an influence on current day practices such as when small craft warnings are issued "...out to 60 nm...".

On the "backside" of the Channel Islands in California there are some deep water canyons, I'm talking 3,000 fathoms and more, while not too far over the horizon from the islands. Along the central coast of CA, the continental shelf is but a few miles off the beach.
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Old 01-04-2013, 00:39   #12
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Re: "Blue water" defined

Blue Water??? When you have been there you will know what that means. Until then it is an internet construct, and as such, pretty meaningless.

Why do you all spend so much time pontificating about the concept?

Cheers,

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Old 01-04-2013, 12:26   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
Blue Water??? When you have been there you will know what that means. Until then it is an internet construct, and as such, pretty meaningless.

Why do you all spend so much time pontificating about the concept?

Cheers,

Jim
I agree with Jim, Blue water is not any length of distance off shore. If your referring to blue water cruising and near coastal waters. My opinion blue water is when help is not available and your on your own to work it out / ride it out.

Make it a great day sailing....
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:34   #14
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pirate Re: "Blue water" defined

The bit I hate is when 'Blue water' becomes 'Green water'....
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:59   #15
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Lightbulb Re: "Blue water" defined

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
You are correct about 1963.

The only boats an Internet forum considers to be Blue Water were made before 1963.
Is this really true?! Sorry I'm new here.

So the late 1970's are, in general, horrible cheap fiberglass construction?
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