The Gulf Stream turns northward, runs into a narrow channel,
and continues with undiminished speed. Its course lies along a
"continental bib," or shelf, the ocean-covered margin of the continent.
After passing Little Bahama Bank, the Gulf Stream is joined, off
St. Augustine, by the Antilles Current, a great sluggish stream that
gradually slows its companion to a speed of about one mile an hour. Still
known as the Gulf Stream, these two currents, now 200 miles wide,
continue their northward journey but are turned to the northeast and
finally directed eastward when they encounter the Newfoundland banks.
There, in mid-ocean, the Gulf Stream splits into three streams,
one of which turns southward toward the Azores. At 30° north latitude
this southern division runs into the region of the northeast trades, which
drives it southwestward to join the North Equatorial Current and thus
completes the circle.
The distance around this rough circle is about 12,000 miles. In
reality it is a huge eddy which has been named the North Atlantic Eddy.
By tossing dated and sealed bottles into different parts of the eddy, men
in the United States Hydrographic Office have been able to estimate that
the water near the outside of this eddy makes its 12,000-mile journey in
approximately three years.
At the center of this vast, slowly-sweeping eddy lies that
one-time feared and mysterious region where wrecked or deserted
ships, lifeless derelicts of the ocean, drifted, one after another, into
a wood-chocked sea. Columbus discovered it on his first voyage to