Feeling your way in fog

Author:
Publish date:

When warm moist air flows over cold water, fog will form.

In Maine, it’s best to be prepared. Unless you’re confident in your route and your skills, sit it out in a safe harbor.

When warm moist air flows over cold water, fog will form.

In Maine, it’s best to be prepared. Unless you’re confident in your route and your skills, sit it out in a safe harbor. Fog shouldn’t mean the end of sailing. With a cautious approach in the right conditions you still can make a safe passage.

Read the other stories in this package: A taste of island life in foggy Frenchboro   Visiting Frenchboro

When I’m caught in fog, I keep some precautions in mind:

• Make yourself known — Avoid heavily trafficked areas in dense fog. Do your best to be seen with a good radar reflector. Set a bow watch. Be sure you have an air horn on board and don’t be afraid to use it to alert another vessel to your location. Horns still prevent collisions. A bell on board is useful as well for boats quietly under sail. Learn to use your VHF to listen for nearby traffic and to send securitee broadcasts to alert nearby vessels to your location.

• Be alert — Keep precise track of your location and course with careful navigation. Observe lobster floats for current set. Choose a safe course you’re confident in following. Use all your skills and tools on board for navigation and move slowly. If confusion sets in, be ready to use your anchor in shallow water. Don’t assume all other boats will have radar or will be monitoring it. Radar is wonderful to have in fog, use it to your advantage but don’t let any electronics distract you from careful piloting and a diligent watch.

• A boat under sail is a defense — Keeping a slow speed without engine noise allows you to use your eyes, ears, even your sense of smell.

Fog presents its challenges as well as rewards for sailors. Avoiding fog is a good defense but it may find you at some point, experience will give you the confidence to cope.