Ok this is going to be a rant but mostly at folks who probably do not participate in these forums anyway.. I'm sure you guys don't behave like this..
I just returned from a rather foggy cruise and the growth of the GPS plotter is causing some rather inflated man jewels, read big balls, on the water. No, make that big reckless balls..
As one who grew up navigating in the fog, long before the advent of GPS plotters, and also one who spent thousands of hours working the foggy waters of Maine as a commercial lobsterman, I am horrified at the new quality of boaters who are willing to venture out in this stuff totally ill prepared being guided by nothing more than blind faith and a GPS screen.
PLEASE use some common sense when out in the FOG!
Here's a list of some things I witnessed not just once but many times over just one week in visibilities from 70 feet to about 400 feet.
Sailboat from MA in 100 feet of vis = No running lights, no radar reflector, no fog signals/horn, boat not a good radar target & barely showing up about every third sweep, not monitoring VHF 16 or any of the standard channels.
Sea Ray from South Portland doing 30+ knots in 150 feet of vis. Picked up at 1 mile out as a random sea clutter type of return, tracked it, and realized it was a vessel moving at a high rate of speed directly towards me. Made hard turn to stbd and Sea Ray passed seconds later within 70 feet. Did not slow down, did not respond to VHF 09, 13, 16 or 72 hails. No fog horn, no radar, no running lights no radar reflector boat showed up like sea clutter at best. If my radar screen was anywhere other than the helm he would have run us down.
Center console from the mid coast doing close to 30 knots and heading straight for a nun. This is what all the inexperienced in fog boaters do in fog. STAY AWAY FROM MARKS IN THE FOG! Set your course well proud of any widely used nav aids. All the "new bravado" guys with plotters & no radar head straight for them. "See how cool this GPS thingy is, we almost hit that can!"
I could go on and on and on from just a ten day trip. Please don't get me wrong we did meet plenty of boats using proper fog etiquette, communications, lights & signals but there seem to me more and more people who have NO CLUE how dangerous they really are.
If your one and only tool for navigation in the fog is a plotter, please STAY PUT! You don't absolutely need radar but you DO need some other items to communicate and let others know of your presence. If you can afford a boat, and to risk your life and others, in 100 foot visibility, you can certainly afford a VHF, a fog horn, running lights and a radar reflector. Are these items too much to ask for?
Things to do when in fog to be a good boater and to be courteous to others.
= BUY ONE AND USE IT!!!! Just because you choose not to have radar does not mean you should choose to be invisible or nearly invisible to the rest of the world who may be practicing good collision avoidance.
= USE IT and by that I mean turn the darn thing on and monitor VHF 16. PLEASE! I don't have your cell number on speed dial...
= When the visibility drops USE THEM!!! They do help and can add another 50-100 feet of warning.
= For Christ sake Wal*Mart sells sports air horns for $6.00. Please get one and use it properly.
Rule 35 COLREGS
= (i) A vessel of less than 12 meters in length shall not be obliged to give the above mentioned signals but, if she does not, shall make some other efficient sound signal at intervals of not more than 2 minutes.
Slow Down =
A single sailboat traveling at 6 knots is covering 10.1 feet per second. In 100 feet of visibility the collision time to a fixed object is roughly 11 seconds from your first physical sighting. Now take two sailboats converging, each traveling at 6 knots, your collision time in 100 feet of visibility, from your first physical sighting, becomes just 5 seconds.
A power boat traveling 30 knots, on a collision course, will collide with a sailboat doing six knots, at 100 feet of visibility, in under two seconds from the first sighting! You will NOT have enough reaction time to avoid a collision with a clown like this otehr than to have radar and been tracking him. Think people don't go fast in the fog? Think again..
Some photo examples of what these reckless boaters look like:
There really is a boat here 100 feet off my stern. No radar, no reflector, no running lights, no horn signals and not even a VHF response. "Dumb dee dumb, sailing awayyyy, dumb dee dumb, doh', a boat, how'd that get there?"
Here's a radar shot of that boat when it was actually showing up. It's the red spec just above the 18 foot spot off my stbd stern quarter. The two targets ahead and to port and stbd were two J Boats traveling together both of which had reflectors when they went by. SOME BOATS JUST DO NOT SHOW UP ON RADAR!!! The guy behind me owns one!
1st class clown (see speed above), no radar, no lights, no horn signals, no reflector and also not showing up well, and not monitoring VHF!
For reference this is 400 feet of visibility from yesterday morning (400 feet is generally fairly good vis for Maine fog):
And here's the screen shot with the cursor just over the closest radar image at 411 feet (upper left corner measures distance).:
It scares me how many people are just plain dangerous and have no clue they are being so reckless. If they succeed once they do it again only this time with a greater level of comfort and confidence.