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The Sargasso Sea

One of the great things about writing historical fiction is the research involved. I learnt so much about not just the history of Pennsylvania, but of the Atlantic ocean; the trade winds, the hurricane season and most interesting of all, the strange Sargasso Sea.

Now, I have to admit, I had never heard of the Sargasso. So where is it? Well, it's an area in the Atlantic ocean and is two thousand miles long and almost seven hundred miles wide. Bermuda lies in the western part of the Sargasso but the sea has no land boundaries. None. No beaches or cliffs on any side.

In Young Eagle Rising, the old sailor, Scuttle-butt Bill, tells William about the Sargasso Sea and why ships should avoid it. He explains that the weather there is very calm with only light winds. This means sailing ships can get stuck there for weeks, which in turn means the sailors become bored and depressed. There is an expression, 'down in the doldrums'. This is where the saying comes from - the Sargasso is in one of the areas of the ocean known as the doldrums.

Under the Sargasso is the Nares Abyssal Plain which is over 3.5 miles deep. However, the surface of the Sargasso is also fascinating because it's covered in thick seaweed called sargassum, a type of brown algae which at best can slow a ship down and at worst, completely entrap it. Hopefully this had given you an appetite to read more about this amazing sea, because there is so much more to it than I have space for here.

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