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Old 03-02-2021, 12:48 PM   #1
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Boating Through Fog

A nice short article regarding fog

https://www.boatblurb.com/post/boati...bd2b-441541433
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Old 03-02-2021, 01:21 PM   #2
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I once made about a 40 mile Lake Michigan trip in fog literally so dense you couldn't see your pennant at the front of the boat. I didn't have radar.

I went slow, watched my GPS and kept a lookout. It was not a bad experience.

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Old 03-02-2021, 01:35 PM   #3
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Fog is funny, and very easy to get disoriented. It took many hours and many outings for me to get 'comfortable' (if there is such a thing) in fog. Not having had auto-pilot (just had it installed this month...Woohoo), all my learning and hours of experience was by hand steering through fog. If I could give anyone any one piece of advise it's that the compass is MANDATORY for operating in fog. To me, if I had to list the priority of tools needed to easily and effectively navigate in fog, it would be:

1) GPS

2) Compass

3) Radar

I also find that, unless your GPS has an internal compass, you really need to go faster than headway speed to get the GPS to show an accurate course. I used to have to do around 6-8 knots to get the GPS to lock into an accurate course. I'm hoping that with auot-pilot and an electronic compass, that becomes more accurate for me.
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Old 03-02-2021, 01:41 PM   #4
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The only thing I really hate about being in fog is navigating inlets. If I can see at least one side of the shore or I can see the next marker from the current marker, I'll head out. Otherwise, I'll either stay in the harbor and wait for it to lift a bit, or anchor in a lee somewhere and wait to head in. My other trick is to wait for a commercial fishing boat, Charter boat, CG or ferry and tailgate them in if the fog is too thick.
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Old 03-02-2021, 01:53 PM   #5
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Comfort in fog is like comfort at night.


Gradual experience with it and learning what instruments can and how they help will allow one (if they have the aptitude) to become more comfortable.


I spent a lot of time in 2 careers having to be comfortable with it. While I am comfortable now as a recreational boater, I had the luxury going slow with plenty of practice under watchful, talented teachers and best of all....the reason I had to keep going was often to help others.



The first option is one shouldn't be scared of fog, but wary of getting in over one's head till ready.


The other is ....as a recreational boater.... don't go no matter how comfortable one feels as you really don't have to and yes, fog increases risk....directly proportional to experience but it never really goes to zero risk.
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Old 03-02-2021, 01:53 PM   #6
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My issue with fog is the folks who feel that the best place to fish in the channel next to the marker. If I can avoid fog I do otherwise, slow down, radar on and pay close attention
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:13 PM   #7
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I forgot to mention that I had autopilot. Makes a huge difference in fog.

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Old 03-02-2021, 02:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Meisinger View Post
I once made about a 40 mile Lake Michigan trip in fog literally so dense you couldn't see your pennant at the front of the boat.

pete
Pete...really? I've got to call you out on this one.
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:27 PM   #9
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My first real experience with persistent fog underway was off San Diego where in certain parts of the year it can linger all day long. It was especially frightening to me as the conning officer because the captain of my destroyer insisted on running at 25 knots through it one day to make a rendezvous. In the fifty years since that time, I have never experienced anything like that kind of speed in fog, and I have never been underway in fog without a functioning radar. Without a functioning radar and in a truly zero-viz fog, I would stop clear of any channel and if possible anchor.

I was sitting aboard my boat in the marina here in Panama City one late afternoon in late fall in the early 1990s before GPS plotters were widely installed. It had been a calm and mild temperature day allowing people to get out on the bay. A thick fog fell rather quickly, and the VHF radio just lit up with people asking for help to find their way to shore with increasing stress in the voices as darkness approached. Folks were tieing off to buoys and following others with radar if they could find those vessels. There were no reported accidents, whew!
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:30 PM   #10
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Ok excuse the ignorance by what is the advantage of auto pilot in the fog. Is it because it will synch with the radar? Although we have had the boat for a while we rarely have used the auto. I would welcome any handy advice.
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
If I could give anyone any one piece of advise it's that the compass is MANDATORY for operating in fog. To me, if I had to list the priority of tools needed to easily and effectively navigate in fog, it would be:
1) GPS
2) Compass
3) Radar
For me it would be:
GPS
Autopilot
Radar
Automatic fog horn

And a very capable first mate to be on radar watch and listening

Can't remember when the last time I used my compass for anything other than a sanity check or when at anchor to know where the wind was coming from or where i could get protection.
I guess I became lazy once GPS and chart plotters became reliable.
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:33 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Lollygag1 View Post
Ok excuse the ignorance by what is the advantage of auto pilot in the fog. Is it because it will synch with the radar? Although we have had the boat for a while we rarely have used the auto. I would welcome any handy advice.

With no visual reference, hand steering accurately is a lot harder. So you spend a lot more time staring at the compass and/or chartplotter. That leaves you with less ability to pay attention to radar, what's around you, etc. If hand steering in heavy fog for more than a short time, I'd want a second person next to me.
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:35 PM   #13
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Ok excuse the ignorance by what is the advantage of auto pilot in the fog. Is it because it will synch with the radar? Although we have had the boat for a while we rarely have used the auto. I would welcome any handy advice.
The autopilot will run (steer) the boat so you can concentrate on radar and what's around you.

You should give it a try sometime when it's a nice day out and let it help you. Then you will be able to trust it in the fog or bad weather if need be.
We liked to sit on the bow on a nice day and enjoy the weather and a cocktail while going to Block or in Gardner's Bay headed toward Sag or TMH.
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:39 PM   #14
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Thanks will put it on our to do list this spring. We travel as a couple so always have extra eyes.
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:44 PM   #15
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Any tool that allows one to lighten concentration on one task and allow the mind to absorb more info coming from multiple sources helps greatly....increased situational awareness.


A compass is invaluable when getting underway from anchor (either magnetic or a true GPS compass, not regular GPS).


At less than 3 knots, maybe more or less, GPS jumps all around and doesn't provide a steady course till it establishes one, but the necessary speed to get a steady course on GPS can vary a bit.


The other reason for a mag compass is if your GPS does fail, in the fog without a compass could be very tricky, for most a mess.
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:48 PM   #16
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It's so easy to become disoriented in the fog. Last fall, as soon as we got out of our creek, we were in heavy fog & I was fiddling with the other instruments like the foghorn & radar. The next thing I knew, I was 90° off course. An autopilot in fog or at night with nothing to steer on is a definite asset to navigation.
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Old 03-02-2021, 03:25 PM   #17
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Over the years I've boated enough times in the fog that it doesn't really bother me any more. I slow down, watch the radar and just take it easy. This pic is at the tail end of about a 4 hour trip in the fog. Heading into the bay at the end of the journey. That "area" off the bow is the right side of the inlet--all rocks with a small tree growing on it. I was about a boat length from it when I made my turn. Thanks Raymarine.



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Old 03-02-2021, 03:28 PM   #18
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Ok excuse the ignorance by what is the advantage of auto pilot in the fog. Is it because it will synch with the radar? Although we have had the boat for a while we rarely have used the auto. I would welcome any handy advice.
I was out in fog a couple years ago. I could see about two boat lengths. My A.P. didn't work, on the list to be fixed. I have a GPS but I could wander quite a ways off my intended course before the GPS would show the error of my way. unless the zoom was blown up so much it was almost useless for the longer course.
Lucky we have three sources of GPS.
THere are always other things to attend to, other boats, current drive drift, coffee, chart checks, zooming, radar checks, VHF checks.
While you are attending to ANYTHING other than the compass for a quick wander check the boat WILL WANDER, sometimes amazingly far off your intended course.

If you don't have an A.P. then don't depend upon the primary GPS source for the longer range course to show your wander. Use/get another which is set on a short range to show any off tracking. It can be simply a tablet.
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Old 03-02-2021, 03:41 PM   #19
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Over the years I've boated enough times in the fog that it doesn't really bother me any more. I slow down, watch the radar and just take it easy. This pic is at the tail end of about a 4 hour trip in the fog. Heading into the bay at the end of the journey. That "area" off the bow is the right side of the inlet--all rocks with a small tree growing on it. I was about a boat length from it when I made my turn. Thanks Raymarine.



I find the course vector (I also keep a heading vector on which shows the actual heading from the pilot compass & is much more responsive than the GPS COG vector) to be really helpful on the plotter like shown on yours.
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Old 03-02-2021, 03:56 PM   #20
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Back in 2002 we were bring a new to us 46’ from Seattle to LA. We spent 25 hours in one leg in a heavy fog. Sometimes we couldn’t see the pennant on the bow other times we could see about 50 to 75 yards. We were about 10 NM offshore when the fog lifted for a moment and there was what looked like a rock dead ahead. I started turning the boat when the “rock” blew a spout of air and water and went under. Apparently the “rock” was asleep and didn’t hear our boat until we were almost on it. And the boat had twin Detroits in it so it wasn’t quiet. It didn’t show up on the older radar that was installed on the boat. The boat didn’t have an autopilot so we had to steer the 100+ hours on the trip. It was very difficult not to get disoriented in the fog. The computer navigation program had a steering guide that showed if you were off course port or starboard. So that helped make the steering easier.
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