Finding Land

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LAND HO! 

After a long time at sea, land might become more of a distant memory than something that you think is out there on the horizon. You have been sailing for weeks and are heading towards a new land, but what will it look like as you get closer? Will land just jump out over the horizon? Will you even notice it off in the distance? 

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Land on a clear day is visible far off on the horizon as a grey haze. After weeks of sailing, the land will appear as an oddity on the horizon rather than appearing as "land". Upon, closer inspection, you will then realize that you are looking at your destination!

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While you might think it will jump out at you, the truth is, land will silently hide on the horizon. It will not call out to you, and it will not attempt to make its presence known, unless you know what to look for. Land, especially tall land, will usually have a permanent cloud cap. After a long voyage, you will be accustomed to looking at the clouds and determining which direction they are moving. This has been your method for spotting and tracking storms for the entire passage, and by this time you will be an expert at watching clouds. Clouds over land will call on your attention because they will not move! 

You will notice a permanent and stationary cloud that does not move on the horizon, long before you will see the land beneath it. As you sail closer to it, the landmass will appear from over the horizon.  

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Once you get closer, the outline of the land will become clearer and you might even be able to make out identifying features of the terrain.  

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Land will make itself clearer as you continue to sail closer to it, but spotting it from a distance can be an entertaining challenge! Most islands out in the ocean have mountains or other high features that will make them visible from a distance; some islands will try to hide in the misty edge of visibility by laying low to the seas surface with no identifying features. 

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The Bahamas are famous for having very flat islands that are difficult to spot at a distance, but they do offer another trick to finding land. The shallow turquoise waters of the island chains will shine up into the clouds, giving the bottom of the clouds a turquoise tint. The islands in the Bahamas are very low and hard to spot, but this will give you the indication of their presence hundreds of miles away! 

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