When confronted with dense fog?
Coming back to Whittier early this past Sunday we ran into a solid fog bank coming out of Culross. After slogging along at hull speed a short distance we decided to wait it out around the corner in a small bite. The inconvenience stalled our return about an hour, a first in two seasons.
If Iíd had radar we would continued but still at vastly reduced speed. I was content to continue with navigation lights on, reduced speed, an occasional long toot on the horn, and staying close to shore or way clear of shipping lanes when crossing; this tactic didnít go over well with the wife however. Iíve got backup GPS so felt this tactic was safe, but guess the prudent thing to do is wait it out.
So what do you non-radar boaters do when confronted with dense fog?
And to those of you with radar whatís your tactics?
Iíve got hundreds of hours navigating at night and in dense fog on larger fishing vessels with radar and we never reduced speed, but 8 to 10 knots was cruising speed in a 66 footer. With a small boat even a small stick can tear off a transducer or bend an aluminum prop, so reducing speed would seem the prudent choice.
Unless weíre confronted with fog on a regular basis I still canít justify the expense of radar, and night travel just doesnít present itself in our short boating season. Sure it would be nice to have, and if money was no object Iíd probably have a radar Dome up top. Staying put and waiting out the burn-off isnít that much of an inconvenience.
We frequently encounter dense fog out of homer. It can be very spooky to say the least. It usually does not stop us from gettting where we are going. All eyes on board need to be paying attention and speeds reduced to the point that I can start within the distance of my visibilty. Sometimes, that is basically trolling speed. My Bayliner Trophy is a soft top so I also pop the lid above me and drive with my head outside when it gets tight so that I can see better, and hear better. I will even from time to time kill my boat so that I can listen for others that may be running on step and get an idea of where they are since you can hear along way off with the engine off. Even scaryier at times out of Homer is to be anchored up in the fog and hear a large tanker or freighter coming toward you, but can not see them. I have been out there and heard them coming for the better part of an hour and listened to them go by and never saw them, or have the shadow appear out of the fog at only a couple hundred yards away! When they start getting close, someone is up by the anchor with it bouyed off ready to run if they do indeed get too close for my comfort. I haven't had to run yet, but have had a couple of very close calls while anchored from passing ships.
Yes, a radar is on my wish list.
Fogs just sucks....you did the right thing in my opinion and I applaud your wife for her intervention. Stopping hurts nothing at all if you can stop in a spot that is safe to do so. Our schedules our changable. If not, well you're right on schedule to die out there because as you know it can get very ugly very quickly.
I think you will find that radar really helps in crowded areas the most (not where you were that day obviously). And, if anything else it protects you (to a degree) from the guys that think their boat has a brake pedal somewhere and are going way faster than the conditions allow. This is very apparent in Homer and Resurrection Bay. There are seemingly always a few guys going 30 mph without a radar signature and can only see a short distance. It is always nice to know where everyone is out there; especially those guys as they don't have 10 cents worth of common sense.....
Radar is on my short list to get too as I had it in my old bayliner and miss it. Any sales out there let me know
I tend to head for the shoreline and troll along unless I can`t see and then I stop/anchor and sound the horn from time to time...most of this usually happens in Whittier during the fall mornings.
No radar and fog... chartplotter linked to an autopilot is what is needed to proceed in a safe manner... provided you keep your speed to a sensible one.
You can also use wave ripples to keep a straight heading if you don't have a compass.
It is crazy how you can end up going all over the place.
But yes waiting is usually the best thing to do. People ALWAYS get hurt up here trying to attempt something stupid when they ought to have just stayed put and waited.
But being a weekened warrior when its the weekend and that is all we have.... we push the evenlope.
Ran into the same fog bank on Sunday as you did - and questioned going through it. Needless to say, we plowed through it albeit at a very slow speed, lights on and a periodic beep of the horn.
Visibility was poor, but one could still see about 75 feet - not much, but enough to move out of the way provided speed is slow. Would never go through without gps and very calm seas.
Hopefully a large vessel would announce they are coming through.... perhaps that's wishful thinking.
Stop with the speculation and buy a radar or leave the family at home!
Straight to the point!
Originally Posted by dipnet
One still needs to be very carefull even with radar. Are you good enough at reading your radar screen to be able to tell the difference between a 2' wave or a 2' tall open skiff or Zodiak? How about a log in the water? The radar still has it's limits and you are still running somewhat blind. While you may not run into a cruise ship or tanker, there are all of things on or in the water that you still will not see with your radar! I will not trust it on blind faith to run on step when I can not SEE in front of me. Radar is a great tool and am not trying to say that it is not needed, just saying that it is only one tool in making decisions.
My rule of thumb is that if I have any significant doubt about the safety/wisdom of a particular course of action on the water, I don't do it. It's always best to err on the side of safety, even if that means some delays or inconvenience.
So, if you're wondering whether or not you should be proceeding in dense fog, you probably shouldn't. Also, even if you think it's safe, if your wife or someone else on board doesn't, I've found it's usually best to defer to them, rather than have them fuming at you that you're putting the boat at risk.
It's an ocean not a lake
Radar, GPS, Sounder, Compass, minimum for the ocean. Go out enough and all these questions about should I spend the money will get answered for you. Keep going to Homer, one day you'll experience a crowded area, fast moving fog, and the sound of a ships horn approaching. Keep going to Seward, one day you'll find out how tiny the entrance to the harbor is in thick fog. Same thing out of Whittier. Someday it will catch up to you and you'll know what to buy.
My radar overlays my GPS, it's always on when I am moving, anytime -always on. I operate the range in and out, I get a farther read to see what's way out, then zoom it back in, etc.
I slow way down (obviously) running lights on, dock lights on. I move to a safer place, out of a shipping lane, toward a cove, BACK IN, wherever. GPS can lose a signal in dense cloud cover or near mountains, etc, the radar still gives that picture if close to the shore. If you were heading into a tight cove and needed to make a series of turns to avoid submerged rocks and needed to see the shore to do so but lost the GPS signal, the radar might still help paint that picture for you.
Might be considered a spam, but I would consider selling a model 1721 radar. This was used 2 seasons and is a heck of a good small boat radar. Needs a new interconnect cable(about $150.00 from furuno)- Would probably take $1000.oo for the radar which includes manual.