On Saturday, Deb and I went on a glass bottom boat tour out into the Atlantic, off the coast of Key Largo, Florida. Our destination was Molasses Reef. This was a first for me. I had never been out onto the ocean. Sure, I’ve been to the ocean, even in the ocean, but never ‘on’ it. The boat took us about 6 miles offshore, according to the captain. It was a fun ride out there because the seas were pretty calm.
As we neared the reef, I heard one lady say to her husband: Look! Over there! I can see Cuba!!! – She was serious. Not joking at all. Her husband calmly and nicely told her that that was not Cuba, but she insisted. He didn’t argue, just let it die. A smart man!
Time for a little math: Now, as I said, we were about 6 miles from Key Largo, FL, or some 193 miles north of Cuba. The boat was about 5 meters above the water, add, just for fun, another 2 meters for the lady’s height, although it was probably more like 1.2 meters, but we’re gonna give her the other 800 centimeters, just for giggles. So, let us say that she was 17 meters above sea level! Good? The formula for distance to the horizon is: – Where ‘h’ is the height in meters above sea level. Therefore, 4.12 is the square root … close enough. She would have been able to see about 3.57 * 4.12, or about 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) from where we stood. According to a web site that I found that calculates air mileage, it is 311 km, or 193 miles between Key Largo and Havana – south. Also, to nit pick, she was looking west, not south!
It would have been an impressive feat if she really had seen Cuba!