Sunday, August 30, 2015

Some Info. for You Landlubbers

     We were sitting on the beach, staring out across the water of Nantucket Sound, when suddenly someone piped up, "What is a sound, anyway? What's the difference between a sound and a bay?"

Cape Cod Bay & Nantucket Sound

     Nobody knew the answer, exactly, although there were many opinions. Until someone pulled out his smart phone and googled the answer for us.

     So if you landlubbers will indulge my sudden interest in the maritime lexicon . . .

     A sound is a large ocean inlet (such as Nantucket Sound) or a narrow ocean channel between two bodies of land (such as Vineyard Sound). But there must be some flexibility in the definition, because . . . what is Puget Sound? By the way, the word sound also refers to measuring the depth of the water, and is also said of a whale when it dives to the bottom.

     A bay is a body of water connected to the ocean or lake that is surrounded by land on three sides, and is formed by an indentation in the shoreline. We have Cape Cod Bay and Buzzard's Bay here in Massachusetts, and a lot of other bays along the East Coast from Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay on south. The West Coast doesn't have so many bays.

Classic cove
     A gulf is a large bay, such as the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of California or the Gulf of Alaska.

     So what's a cove? It is a small bay that's usually round or oval in shape with a narrow opening to a larger body of water.

     And how is that different from an inlet? An inlet is typically long and narrow, an indentation of the shoreline of an enclosed body of water.

More of an inlet
     And a fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides created by glacial erosion. You don't have to be in Scandinavia to find a fjord. The Hudson River is actually a fjord.

     Then what's a harbor? A harbor is a bay or cove or inlet where boats are at anchor -- and is often artificially created or enhanced by breakwaters, sea walls or jettys.

     So there you have it . . . why, you can almost believe that you've been out at the seashore for a couple of weeks yourself!

15 comments:

Olga Hebert said...

Funny, I don't feel as though I have been on a mini vacation to the shore, but thanks for the information. That is good to know.

Tabor said...

Still not clear to me the difference between a sound and a bay. I noticed you missed one of my favorites...a gunkhole.

gigihawaii said...

Just a matter of semantics.

Anonymous said...

We finally got some rain here in our tiny place in Washington state all night long it rained and there was a storm..We can only imagine the ocast of Washington where we want to be...The cape etc are a matter of perspective and semantics..It gets wicked cold there and rains and it is lovely. The bounty of the sea & the people make it a wonderful place to chill and relax, enjoy your vacation!

Anonymous said...

I meant to say the COAST of Washington state, it is raining and storming something they have not had for a full year plus! The wildfires will be extinguished easier if it continues to rain, no consolation for those that lost millions of dollars of homes surrounding Lake Chelan and in quaint communities espt. Twisp Washington where 3 firefighters lost their lives..No one will ever tell me there is no Global Warming we are experiencing the worst of it in 100 plus years, so dry no rain, snow or anything, many are suffering terribly..we are okay but we want to move permanently to the coast of Washington it is always cool and raining and wet there, we adore it..But this is not Heaven on earth more like Hell on earth so we wait until a hospital and big medical center is built we could not live in a town without those, so far nothing. Nice place to visit but many doctors only vacation there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stephen Hayes said...

Thanks for educating this landlubber.

DJan said...

How wonderful to finally figure out these things, Tom. We have Bellingham Bay within the Puget Sound here in the Salish Sea!! :-)

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

Thanks for the info about nautical terminology. Generally I know these terms, because I am a land lover and can stand on the shore and observe them!

Snowbrush said...

Thanks for the info!

Barbara said...

That was fun. Thanks for the explanation.

Tom Sightings said...

Gunkhole? Good one! Had to look it up. It's a small shallow bay or cove, according to Webster's, that's "nearly unnavigable because of mud, rocks or vegetation."

oklhdan said...

Oh you live in a beautiful part of the country. Anything to do with the ocean is new information for me. I live in a sea of waving wheat.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

We have lots of bays along many of our fresh water lakes. One is even named Lake of Bays.

Janette said...

Then what is a jetty?
That was the question as we rounded the top of the Bay Bridge over the Chesapeake Bay yesterday.
After being raised in Arizona---I am having a crash course on these water terms.
Thanks for the information.

DarkSeas said...

An inlet does not need to be closed at one end. In fact, and inlet is what a storm cuts across a body of land, connecting the ocean to a sound. An inlet cut by a storm can be filled back in again by the ocean, or it can become permanent. Oregon Inlet separates the main island from Hatteras Island and connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pamlico Sound.

That's part of the Outer Banks, of course, or for those of you not familiar, North Carolina's Outer Banks.

What is a bank? It's a very big sandbar that separates the Ocean from one or more sounds.