1. g_man526

    g_man526 Member

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    Further out to sea

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by g_man526, Dec 14, 2016.

    The opening scene of my novel is a beach on east coast of an island. I have my characters sitting inland on the sandy shore and they see something further out to sea. Is there a term for that area that lays further afield? Thanks in advance?

    Edit: I don't mean a term like "open ocean," but something that describes the area's position relative to the shore.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Well, definitely "farther" instead of "further" - this is a physical distance we're talking about, not a metaphorical one.

    Beyond that... I guess it depends how far out they're looking. Certainly you could mention the horizon if it's that far out, but otherwise I'm not sure what word would be better. Can you give us the context?
     
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  3. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Often (or at least in my experience) there is a noticeable and rather clear change of color between the water closer to shore and that which lies beyond the drop-off where it goes much darker. I don't know if there is a name for that, but perhaps given as a description rather than a possibly obscure term?

    You can see it in this image....

    [​IMG]
     
  4. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    The shelf.

    If you say "beyond the shelf" anyone who dives will know what you are talking about. "The wall" I've also heard in certain parts of the carribean.
     
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  5. ginkgo88

    ginkgo88 New Member

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    A quick look at the trusty wikipedia informs me that when gazing out to sea from the shore, the bit of ocean closest to the sky is called the offing. So perhaps describing this object in relation to its position between the shore and the offing/horizon, or like others mentioned by its position in the deeper/darker water beyond the shelf.
     
  6. g_man526

    g_man526 Member

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    Where the water drops off and gets darker is referred to as "beyond the shelf?" Then that's the phrase I've been looking for. Thanks!
     
  7. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I imagine it's local. I've heard beyond the shelf and over the wall in the Caribbean.
     
  8. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think that might be a localism... I don't live near the sea, and I'm not familiar with that term. I imagine I could probably figure it out, depending on context, but it isn't something I'd just know immediately.
     
  9. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Contributor

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    Why not describe it then? If your characters are not geophysicists they won't know what a 'shelf' is either. So in layman terms:

    "Do you see this strange thing bobbing about out there? Doesn't look like a whale. And anyway, they wouldn't come that close to shore, won't they?" Lucy pointed in the general direction of the ocean.
    Brian suppressed a snort. How'd she imagine that he could also see whatever had caught her fancy? The ocean was just blue on blue. Well sometimes the blue came with shades of green or grey, but it was blue all the same.
    He squinted against the sun and finally saw what she meant. "You mean that grey thing, the triangular shape where the waters are darker? Beyond the drop-off, in the deep?"
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2016
  10. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Contributor

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    To clarify briefly:

    The 'shelf' to geophysicists is the extend of continental rocks, before a steep 'cliff' goes down to the abyssal plains (aka ocean floor, which is made of oceanic rock). In wikipedia there is a nice picture how it generally looks like.
     
  11. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    while thats true isnt it generally a lot further out than the drop off shown in the picture here, which is just litterally a drop off from shallow to deep proobably caused by sediment deposition near the shore where bays protect it from the movement of longshore drift and general currents etc

    Also the other reason for water colour changes near the coast is dirt from river mouths and general run off - this is often very obvious in satelite images but only apparent to the naked eye in certain light conditions
     
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  12. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Contributor

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    Yeah of course you're right moose. This was just a nitpicking comment and you'll notice that I didn't use 'shelf' in the little dialogue I made up :)
     
  13. tonguetied

    tonguetied Contributor Contributor

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    I think using the term horizon would be better in general, it implies a fair distance out and in reality unless you are up high on a cliff it would not be easy to see the shelf drop off and the deep blue of the water from shore. Since the curvature of the Earth does and doesn't come into the picture in this scenario everything that you can see out any distance seems to be on the horizon, even if you were on a tall sand dune you really cannot see very far at the water level. You can only see things like ships because they have some significant height to them, if your floating object is not tall then it would be invisible except when it was on crest of a large wave and even then only a short distance out.
     
  14. Scot

    Scot Senior Member

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    Terms you could use are:-

    'Inshore', meaning fairly close to the beach.
    'Offshore', meaning further out, roughly halfway to the horizon.
    'Well offshore', close to the horizon. At standing eye-height on a beach that's only 3 or 4 miles.

    I forgot one:
    'In the offing', meaning on the horizon. A ship 'in the offing' may well have its sails, or superstructure, visible, but the hull below the horizon.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2016
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  15. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    If you don't want to use 'shelf', try 'drop-off'.
     

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