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Old 09-25-2015, 04:05 PM   #1
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How fast with low visibility?

Saw this recently:

and started wondering what the heck he was doing going 148 mph in heavy fog?
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Old 09-25-2015, 04:25 PM   #2
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Old 09-25-2015, 10:53 PM   #3
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I like 5 kts better than 7.5 kts in fog but my favorite speed in fog is zero.

That fast boat operation in such low vis was flat out unsafe! There should have been minimum visibility rules for such an event.

Sometimes I wish boating had something similar to IFR/VFR standards used in aviation. Instrument Flight Rules require a significant investment in training and currency requirements to remain qualified. Only the dedicated amateur and professional can legally operate in these low vis and low ceiling conditions. Most commercial operations require IFR certification and currency for pilot and airplane. Generally, the lower the conditions, the higher the training and accuracy requirements for both man and machine.

Visual Flight Rules are more relaxed to accommodate the novice and 'non-professional' operations, although some commercial ops are risky enough that they are only allowed in VFR conditions, like carrying passengers for hire in a single engine airplane. These very generally are conditions of minimum 3 miles vis and a 1000 ft ceiling of broken or overcast cloud coverage.

We have no real delineation in maritime ops. I can be some goofball out there in my new-to-me, nearly invisible, 45 yr old dirty white wooden sailboat without a motor in a main channel with some supertanker with petroleum products anchored nearby in an anchorage I cannot see and do not know about.

I have operated in some scary low vis conditions in both aviation and in the SF Bay/CA Delta. I have had one stupid kick-myself-in-the-butt move in good vis and overcast night conditions that almost cost me and my fellow anglers our lives. I've also operated quite safely in busy waters near the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island where a tall ship and I passed under the bridge together in the same span in opposite directions in 1/4 viz and we each knew of the other's position and intents. They're pretty wide spans so it was a comfortable passing at a slow 4-5 kts.

In both cases, it was my decision to move in those conditions, not something I accidentally found myself in. My novice performance on an overcast night in good vis was, in hindsight, a poor one. I knew a lot about low vis airplane ops at the time, but I was very new to the boat and the boat's radar. That lack of knowledge almost made the terrible difference for us.

Last winter, I lost my bass horn on my electric horns in the fog after a good workout in Carquinez Strait. With just the treble horn remaining, my boat sounded like the road runner (beep-beep) coming home in the fog. I feel much better having a REAL horn at my disposal this winter. I run it with a Fogmate electronic controller.

FogMate

...and I'm much better at reading my radar now. I hardly ever make a trip without it to keep my skills up.
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Old 09-26-2015, 06:56 AM   #4
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"How fast with low visibility?"

How fast can you stop when a moored boat is seen dead ahead?
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Old 09-26-2015, 07:03 AM   #5
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When you make the choice to travel in fog you put your vessel and the next vessel you meet in a compromised position regarding safety. So the "Onus" is on you, because of your choice, to provide an elevated level of safety to the other boat. That's not to say you should not travel in fogging conditions. But without an auto pilot, chart plotter and radar you are traveling without meeting your responsibilities. If while traveling the fog sets down around you, that's a different situation entirely.
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Old 09-26-2015, 07:29 AM   #6
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When you make the choice to travel in fog you put your vessel and the next vessel you meet in a compromised position regarding safety. So the "Onus" is on you, because of your choice, to provide an elevated level of safety to the other boat. That's not to say you should not travel in fogging conditions. But without an auto pilot, chart plotter and radar you are traveling without meeting your responsibilities. If while traveling the fog sets down around you, that's a different situation entirely.
I don't argue with your statement except for the autopilot. In what way does not having an autopilot prevent you from "meeting your responsibilities"? If you have radar, I would also argue that a paper chart would do as well as a chart plotter. I would go so far as to say that if you can't navigate with radar and a paper chart that you shouldn't be out there.
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Old 09-26-2015, 07:49 AM   #7
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I noticed spotter aircraft, both fixed and rotor, as well as what appears to be a couple of Coastie or rescue boats in the video. I'll assume, considering it was a fundraiser, that the CG and others such as fire rescue, etc, we're notified?

With that said, how did he "suddenly" find himself fogged in? Was there No one along the course?

If that's the case, I'd say it was crappy planning.

As someone who has lost friends and family to cancer, I applaud what he is doing, but there's no reason to die or kill someone else doing it. He and his crew are lucky it was a can, and not a boat.

Anyway, as far as the op's question, if you have to move, then I'd say no faster than you want to crash!

OD
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Old 09-26-2015, 10:31 AM   #8
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The fact that its a fundraiser or CG boats in the area is irrelevant. If he has a crash, he has some explaining to do. Safe speed for existing conditions would be pretty hard to defend doing 148 MPH. If the fog came in on them, you can pull that little throttle lever towards you to slow down.
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Old 09-26-2015, 10:32 AM   #9
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I don't argue with your statement except for the autopilot. In what way does not having an autopilot prevent you from "meeting your responsibilities"? If you have radar, I would also argue that a paper chart would do as well as a chart plotter. I would go so far as to say that if you can't navigate with radar and a paper chart that you shouldn't be out there.
A few weeks back I was coming into Sturgeon Bay from a dense fog bank on Lake Michigan. I found the shipping canal OK and clung to the right side wall as the visibility was 50-75 feet. The sun wasn't quite up. Sturgeon Bay proper starts right after the exit from the canal. Normally very quiet in the early morning on a week day. I'm on the flybridge (single handing the boat). With both engines at idle, the boat speed is 5 knots. As I enter the "bay" area dozens of small fishing boats loom out of the murk....about 75 feet away...scary close. The salmon are coming in from Lake Michigan to spawn. Most of these little boats are staying outside the channel, but they don't really know where they are as they have a hand held GPS at best....and some probably not even that. I pull one transmission into neutral to cut the speed, but that messes up rudder response. Suddenly a fishing boat moving fairly fast pops out of the fog directly in front of me maybe 50 feet off the bow. I slam both transmission into reverse and hit the power. The boat shudders, turns katty whompus to the channel and backs off into the weeds. I missed the idiot, but a quick glance at the depth finder shows 4 feet and declining. Both engines ahead and the depth starts to climb....but I am thoroughly discombobulated and these intrepid fishermen are popping up every 100 feet, or so. I thought about dropping the anchor, but for the moment just wanted to get to deeper water....the safety of the shipping channel. Five or six marinas in SB....no safe way to get into any of them. The radar is useless with this many little boats swarming around (probably more than a hundred that I could actually see before it's all said and done).


The chart plotter! I moved the curser to a point just short of the next set of channel bouys, hit "go to", manually steer to the course mark on the plotter, and then engaged auto pilot heading hold. The "systems" took over steering the boat and I was able to manage transmissions, the horn, and lookout duties. The autopilot is fairly old and is not set up to take plotter input, so the rest of the one hour, slow crawl though Sturgeon Bay was from one set of bouys to the next on one prop. No more boats jumping into the channel as I was on the horn with a vengeance, but there were swarms of them in the vicinity of every channel bouy. Of course the fishermen and women were annoyed that I was disturbing the early morning tranquility.

This turned out OK, but it would have been near impossible without the autopilot and the chart plotter. Yes, I could have anchored... but getting to a safe spot without running over half a dozen mom and pops was doubtful. The "most" safe place for a larger boat was smack dab in the middle of the channel. Getting there and staying there was the trick. Nasal Radiator training..."get on the gages" helped. I had a paper chart right next to me... worthless, even dangerous, in this scenario.
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Old 09-26-2015, 11:16 AM   #10
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I got caught in fog off Cape Canaveral last spring. Ended up having to go at least 40nm in the stuff and ran about 18kts. I was on radar at 3nm and 1nm alarm zone. Kept a constant concentration out the PH windscreens. I watched the surface at limit of vis and asked myself "if a log or boat or container shows up, can I stop?" And the answer was generally yes, so I proceeded. If I had to pee, back to idle. It would have taken a long time to idle through 40nm of soup.
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Old 09-26-2015, 11:30 AM   #11
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The guy is an idiot and let his ego cloud his decisions.

He'll say otherwise, of course, and defensively proclaim it was for a cause greater than himself and therefore worth the risk, but what if he hit another boat broadside and wiped out a whole family?

Guys like that in other high octane pursuits such as mountaineering and big wall rock climbing are a danger not only to themselves, but drag less experienced, nearby people, or rescue personnel into dangerous situations because of their self centered need for 'glory'.

I would suggest he take his money, and instead of buying expensive boats which do not reflect any meaningful achievements beyond inflating his own ego, put it towards something such as helping low income families find accommodations near cancer treatment centres so they can be together in their darkest hours.
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Old 09-26-2015, 11:32 AM   #12
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The fact that its a fundraiser or CG boats in the area is irrelevant. If he has a crash, he has some explaining to do. Safe speed for existing conditions would be pretty hard to defend doing 148 MPH. If the fog came in on them, you can pull that little throttle lever towards you to slow down.
I agree with you, except for the first line.

The relevancy to the situation is that there was at least "some" planning involved. As such, and especially with Helo's and FW craft available, weather forecasts, comms, et al, there's no reason he should have been "surprised" by the fog bank. That's all I meant.

You get surprised when you come around a bend on an otherwise beautiful day, and there it is!
Not at 148+


Other than that, I'm on board with your statement 100%.
He's still responsible for his actions.
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Old 09-26-2015, 11:32 AM   #13
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I crossed Dixon Entrance I thick fog. I started at the entrance to Brundage Inlet on Dundas is. Because of the significant boat traffic near Tree Point I went I went north (and a bit west) to stay well clear of the Tree Point traffic probably 7 miles or so. The soupy fog was 3/4 of the way across.

Had the radar on of course changing ranges from time to time. Didn't encounter anything in the fog but just breaking out into the sunlight there was a .. no the remains of a plastic dinghy still floating and obviously had seen many years and beaches adrift on the outer coast.

One thing I remember distinctly was the lesson on following a compass course. Several hours of watching that lubbers line was not as easy as I had thought.
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Old 09-26-2015, 11:34 AM   #14
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The capt should have aborted the record attempt when the conditions changed IMHO.
The old textbook answer for how fast in fog is the speed in which you can stop the boat in 1/2 the distance of visability. The theory being two boats headed directly at each other have time to see each other and stop without colliding. That ignores things like reaction times and turning the boat.
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Old 09-26-2015, 11:39 AM   #15
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In Maine this summer there were a fair amount of foggy days of course. A couple of which I couldn't see 50' passed my bow. Those were idle speed only days. Even on those days I was one of the few with my fog signal on. But other than the lobster boats everybody was on the radio communicating pretty well with each other. And of course AIS came in very handy.
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Old 09-26-2015, 11:49 AM   #16
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148mph = 217 feet per second.
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Old 09-26-2015, 12:12 PM   #17
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When moving in bad viz or overnight dark, the autopilot removes a very concentration intensive task...helm. The chart plotter also removes a large workload from navigation duties. This is probably why we are also using GPS instead of trying to shoot stars and dead recon our position.

It's great to know how to do it manually, but I'm too busy looking out, scanning the radar and course so I will take all of the help I can get. Huge lights and good radar allow some compensation for low viz. I will vary rarely slow down a knot or two, but the boat only goes 8 not 148.

That dude, cleared course or not, would still be liable for casualty in those conditions. I don't believe there is a distinction in maritime law or US code for exemption of a master during a race or fundraiser. I understood that maintaining a radar watch during low visibility conditions is compulsory if the vessel has one installed.
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Old 09-26-2015, 03:06 PM   #18
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I try to avoid running in thick fog and at night. I am not worried about other traffic, and my speed is never above 7 knots. But the dang crab pots are just too darn hard to spot with reduced visibility.
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:16 PM   #19
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Quote:
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I don't argue with your statement except for the autopilot. In what way does not having an autopilot prevent you from "meeting your responsibilities"? If you have radar, I would also argue that a paper chart would do as well as a chart plotter. I would go so far as to say that if you can't navigate with radar and a paper chart that you shouldn't be out there.

I agree.
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:21 PM   #20
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Flywright and Murray posted the better responses!!
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