What Happened To The Snap, Crackle, Pop?

Bimini
Bimini beaches

February 23, 2018

    Strangely enough, one of the things we immediately noticed our first night at anchor in Bimini, was that a mysterious, and as of yet unidentified, sound we had been hearing through the hull below the waterline seemed to now be conspicuously absent.

     The sound could best be described as the very characteristically unique crackling sound Rice Crispy Cereal makes just after pouring milk in the bowl.  We first noticed the sound months ago when we were at anchor in Back Creek, just outside Annapolis, MD.  

     At night, we could hear the snap, crackle, pop clearly, especially if we lifted up one of the floor boards, exposing the aluminum hull underneath, or listened at the teak shower grate in the forward head.  Even lying in bed, the sound could be faintly heard.

     To be sure, boats sitting in water produce a myriad of sounds.  It’s difficult to convey just how many different noises a person has to get used to on a boat.  Waves wash against the hull or slap against the underside of the transom, wind whistles through the metal shrouds, halyards and lines can clack against the mast or spreaders, anchor chains rattle when they shift, ropes such as dock lines or anchor chain snubbers creak under tension, fuel and water sloshes in the tanks, pumps turn on and off, not to mention all the random creaks and groans that may come from wood panels or floorboards… it goes on and on.

     Exit has a particularly odd sound that emits from a port on deck through which the lines that raise and lower the centerboard run, from the centerboard to the cockpit.  The port leads to the centerboard well (where the centerboard sits when it is raised).  The top of the well must sit just above the waterline inside the hull, creating an air pocket.  As waves pass under us, the level of water inside the well changes causing air to vent up through the deck port.  The sounds this creates is remarkably (or disturbingly, depending on your perspective) like the sound of a whale exhaling.   The vent sits just between the salon’s two main forward windows.  If we have the windows open a bit, which we often do, we can sometimes hear Exit “breathing”… quite weird.

     But the snap, crackle, pop is not any of these previously mentioned sounds.

     Google answers a lot of questions we have; but in this case, we found ourselves much more entertained and dumbfounded than enlightened.  Theories ranged from electrical currents interacting with the hull, to air bubbles sloughing off the hull, to fish eating algae attached to the hull, or shrimp, or other little macro-critters.  Some were put forth by scientists and technical specialists… some were submitted by idiots.  One person said it was obviously the sound of other boat propellers in the distance.

     We tended to favor the shrimp and small macro-critter theory, ourselves.

     Regardless, whatever still yet-to-be verified entity or phenomenon is at the root of the snap, crackle, pop sounds we have heard, it doesn’t appear to be present in the Bahamas for some reason.  Since arriving to Bimini, the sounds we had started to grow used to hearing have become conspicuously absent.

     We may never get to the bottom of the mystery, but we are still intrigued by that which we no longer hear.  One thing for sure, the boat-propeller-theory guy was completely full of shit… despite the sound being gone, there are still plenty of boat propellers around us… unfortunately.

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