I had a similar - though far less intense - experience years ago.
A few suggestions: An AIS class B transponder will broadcast your position, speed and course over ground, vessel name, size and type. And unlike radar
, it works around corners and obstructions like bridges. Larger vessels are required to broadcast their position via AIS and have a navigation display for AIS. You an run an AIS transponder standalone with no display at all so at least you can be seen, but if you connect it to a chart plotter, you can also see the other vessels that are broadcasting their position and get a warning if one's headed toward you. AIS isn't a guarantee that your boat won't end up making an insignificant smudge on some tanker's hull, but it does improve the odds.
I got very bored blasting: "beeeep, beep, beep" with an air horn
. It took one hand away from operating the boat, and sounding one of those things a few feet from your ears can't be good for your hearing. So I installed an electric horn
and a Fogmate controller that automatically sends the appropriate horn
sequence at the correct intervals.
I'm a pilot, and I always make use of aviation weather services before I go out on the S.F. Bay. If there's an airport near the water, look up their Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) phone number, or listen to the broadcast on a scanner that supports aviation frequencies. The reports are updated at least as frequently as once per hour (times given are "zulu," i.e., UTC). You can find the numbers and frequencies at AirNav
. The number to listen closely to is the temperature and dewpoint (given in Celsius). If the "spread" between those numbers is less than 4 degrees C (7.2 degrees F) and the temperature is dropping, then my ears perk up. Less than a 2 degree spread with a descending temperature, and I assume things will get foggy very soon.
Flying IFR (on instruments) can be a challenge, but sailing in the fog is downright scary. In a plane, you can change altitude. In a boat, there's nowhere to go but down, and that's a not a good option.