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In the Gulf of Mexico we have "blue water, brown water" in a somewhat different context--look at the color of the water, if it's blue, you're (say) 30 miles out, brown maybe up to 5 or 10 miles depending on proximity of a river delta, and in between it's sort of green.

what you call it is less important than being ready for what it entails. Offshore, blue-water, more self-reliance and self-rescue. In a way, your boat is safer (away from shoals, oil and gas platforms, and lee shores) but you are not, and rescue is far away.

Coastal (or brown water here in the Third Coast) means to me harbor-hopping and getting your position fixes from visual or land-based objects (aka "piloting) as opposed to offshore or long passages, where it's solely from celestial objects, whether old-school sextant stuff, or satellites via GPS ("navigation").

The Coast Guard, in their own (powered, except for the EAGLE) fleet, uses "Medium-endurance" and "High Endurance" for their cutters, with the Coastal craft being Patrol Boats ("low endurance" though they don't use that phrase)

What's in a name? Figure out where you are going, and prepare accordingly. Let others put a name on it..
 
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