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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #1  
Old 12-17-2007
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Sailing in the Fog

I would like to hear about your experiences, suggestions and tips on sailing through the soup. I'm sure your comments will help me and your fellow members become safer sailors.
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  #2  
Old 12-17-2007
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Radar, big radar reflector, AIS, FLS, Chartplotter, very slow ahead - avoid sailing in it if possible.
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Old 12-17-2007
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Fog

From my experiences in fog, I would say the first thing is to make sure you know where you are before the fog really comes in. Get a solid fix on the gps and mark your chart. Then decide where you're going and get a compass heading. If you have a chart plotter, don't depend on it alone, the delay on the plotter can really screw you up. I spend a bit of time literally doing circles (not proud of this) because I was paying way too much attention to the plotter - the compass doesn't have a delay.

Keep updating the paper chart with your position. Oh, I forgot, make sure you put up your radar reflector if you have one. We were visible to all ship traffic with ours. - and sound your horn at the specified intervals.

While you're doing all of these things, listen... You'll be able to hear another boats engines if they are near. Get on the radio and ask the captain if they see you. We didn't have radar so we were on the radio quite a bit making security calls to let people know where we were (there was a lot of commercial traffic off of Block Island). All of the ships we passed and contacted were very professional, and seemed to be happy that we had contacted them.

Fog isn't that bad once you are used to it, just stay calm and make sure you know where you are. The first time you are really in it will not be fun, but it's amazing what you get used to.

And lastly... Put your foulies on because a good fog will leave you wet and cold.
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Old 12-17-2007
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....My story continues from the newsletter, running amuck or into the MIST. The mist never subsided before night fall. Lucky for us, the river was not heavily navigated and it was shallow enough for us to anchor. Never being up this river before I checked the chart and navigated towards one shore and watched the depth finder and anchored when I was certain that the tide would not strand us during the night. Well, in the morning, I woke with several calls from boaters about being a "river hog". I looked outside to find that I was in the middle of the river. Well, all is okay and our Adventure continued.
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Old 12-17-2007
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always believe your compass; it is WAY better than your instincts........

And remember, a GPS tells you where you are, and you've been, not where you're going.

Radar. Use it when you don;t need it so you can understand and interpret what it is telling you with what you are looking at. That way, when you need it, you can understand it!
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Old 12-17-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AjariBonten View Post
always believe your compass; it is WAY better than your instincts........

And remember, a GPS tells you where you are, and you've been, not where you're going.

Radar. Use it when you don;t need it so you can understand and interpret what it is telling you with what you are looking at. That way, when you need it, you can understand it!
I completely agree with this post. Also if you run your radar during non-fog conditions you will know if there is any problem with the scanner BEFORE you enter the fog.

I don't agree with the statements that say a radar/chartplotter combo is more difficult to read than a stand-alone radar. If your chartplotter has radar overlay; to me that is much better than split screen or individual displays. If you are close to shore you can see where the shoreline "fits" to the chart and where objects are relative to the shore and your plotted position. Helm mounted radar/chart display puts the controls at the fingertips of the helmsman (a second nav-station "repeater" is a good choice too). I know... Some will say that you are relying too heavily on one "instrument" but I will say that if airplanes can self-land in the fog with instruments only or instrument assist; the bigger place for error is a human's interpretation of what is being displayed not the instrument (so why not make the interpretation "easier" by overlay of the radar scan onto the chart)?

I will say that if you are moving too slowly or stopped and don't have an electronic compass in the system you will have an issue with orientation of the boat relative to the chart. So if you regularly sail in fog and use a radar/plotter you should incorporate an electronic compass to eliminate this source of error.

In addition; you should be aware of the "Rules of Navigation" in the fog. There are many differences from sailing in clear visibility or at night/no fog...

Read this thread:
Close encounter with a large tug- in fog
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Old 12-17-2007
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A mistake to avoid

It is tempting to enter a route into the GPS using nav aids as waypoints.

In the fog this can be deadly. You can do a lot of damage to your boat colliding with a buoy in the fog

Crank in a generous offset when entering the buoy's coordinates.
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Old 12-17-2007
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Here is our blog on our latest Fog experience..
http://svhestia.com/wp/?p=192

The funniest part was hearing s/v Anna Marie on the radio.. “I’m doing fine, I go in one direction till I hit something, then I turn and go in the other.”

Todd
s/v Hestia

ps. before anyone gives me some hard time about traveling in the fog this way.. we did it safely. We used the vhf to call securties as well as all the other ussual safety related / navigation activities. The key to doing it safely in the narrow confines of the ICW was GO SLOW, watch and listen. I watched 4-5 bigger sailboats fly past us doing 5.5 knots. We could have followed that pack but it was way too fast for our comfort.

Last edited by trodzen; 12-20-2007 at 08:37 AM.
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Old 12-18-2007
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I would add another safety tip to all the good advice listed above. An occassional security call on the VHF stating your position, speed and heading is very important. I also have "Zorro" on board. Zorro is a hyper Schipperke that directionally barks at vessels that we may only see on radar. The negative trade off is that he also barks on the clear days. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 12-18-2007
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Reading Todd's blog reminded me of a time long, long ago when I knew nothing about navigation, currents, ferries, shipping lanes, etc. I had taken my wife and kids to visit my father in law in the San Juan islands in our old runabout from Skyline Marina in Anacortes. Had a good weekend, as we are leaving the father in law says" if it's foggy when you get to Thatcher Pass, just stay on a course of 90 degrees, it will take you right over to the entrance to Skyline marina". Well, of course it was pea soup when we got to the pass, half a dozen power boats milling around outside the fog bank. I approach them and make a slow 360 trying to read the little glue-on Airguide compass on the dash (the only navigation equipment on the boat other than a depth sounder of dubious reliability). I lined up on 90 degrees, give or take 10, and took off into the fog. Being that our boat was an old wooden thing some of the other boats must have figured we were locals so they followed in our wake. Half an hour later we broke out of the fog right at the entrance to Burroughs channel which leads into Skyline marina. The other boats flew past us with waves of thanks, and I congratulated myself for being such a good navigator. Knowing what I know now, and having covered that same route with radar in fog and never seeing 400' ferries in a 1/4 mile wide channel still sends chills up my spine. My father in law and more importantly, myself, could have killed my whole family and possibly others through ignorance and stupidity(on my part). You don't have any right to be out in the fog blind(meaning without radar) if you have any choice in the matter. To say that you did it "safely" by using the chartplotter while down below is beyond foolish, it's courting disaster. Just because you are only doing 3.5 knots doesn't mean that some 40-50' power boat isn't doing 20k and heading right towards you. And as far as calling on the radio goes, don't count on that guy actually having his radio on or being able to hear you above the sound of his stereo. Even another sailboat doing the same as you, "only going 3.5k" makes for a headon collision of 7k which could sink both vessels easily. I shouldn't even have to mention the fact that you are putting all your faith in actually being where your chartplotter says you are, which is foolhardy. IMHO if you choose to run in fog when you do not absolutely need to without radar you are unnecessarily putting yourself, your crew, your boat, and everyone else out there at risk.
John
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