Originally Posted by jemsea
I'm looking for any advise about operating in fog.
We will be in the southern Maine
What section of southern Maine?
If you've spent much time on that section of coast, you are probably familiar with the type of advection fog that is common to the Maine coast. It is formed when warm, moist air moves over cold waters. It is not the type of fog that necessarily burns off as the day progresses (such as radiation fog).
Fog on the Maine coast can come and go in an instant. One minute, clear blue with unrestricted visibility, the next minute, difficult to see past the bow.
You should never let yourself become complacent about keeping track of your position when navigating the Maine coast, as the curtain of Maine fog can fall at any time. You can be piloting along with all landmarks and obstacles in plain view only to have them suddenly disappear when the fog moves in. At that moment, you'll need to know precisely where you are as there are perhaps more islands, rocks, or other hazards on the nearshore Maine coast than anywhere in U.S. coastal waters. (Thank the glaciers of the last ice age for what we refer to as "the drowned coast".)
Given the navigational tools you have aboard, I'm going to assume that the "where" is not the real issue, but that you are most concerned about operating in the blind with regard to other boats. My experience on the Maine coast is primarily in the Muscongus bay through Penobscott Bay area. Lots of lobstermen plying waters that they know like the back of their hand. They don't seem to slow much when the fog settles in. The up side is that their diesel
inboards tend to be very loud. In addition to radar, keeping your own noise
level down and keeping an ear to the water
will give you the best warning. Admittedly, it is very unnerving to hear a loud diesel
powered lobster boat moving toward you at high speed in the fog. They can suddenly emerge from the white veil within a few boat lengths of your own position. Your radar (and theirs) will be the best tools for keeping watch on their approach.
As for lobster pots, your best bet might be to stick to the main travel channels or further off shore for passagemaking. If you can't do that, you'll need to be aware of how the wind
are playing on the pot warps. In downeast Maine, with large tidal fluctuations and strong currents, a smaller toggle buoy is used, typically 20 or 30 feet from the pick-up buoy. You do not want to pass between the toggle buoy and the larger pick-up buoy.
If you are suddenly unable to avoid a buoy, put the engine
in neutral before passing over it (if motoring). Some folks that cruise
the area install line cutters on their prop shaft. Having the shaft wrapped and engine stalled by a pot warp can put a boat in a dangerous situation. You should have a mask and knife aboard should you need to go over the side and cut the prop free.
Of course, some hull/keel/prop configurations are more vulnerable to tangling with warps than others. Those cruising with full keels that have their props mounted in a cutout between keel
will be least likely to have problems. Boats with rudders that are not protected by a skeg can have real problems with pot warps snagging in the joint between rudder