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Old 12-12-2006, 10:05   #1
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That Pesky FOG !!!

Hate to say it but I was very intimidated yesterday... by something that did not used to bother me. FOG - the white-out, can't tell if you're turning and can't see the bow kind.....

We waited patiently - ok maybe not - for the morning fog to lift yesterday. Surveyor aboard and we need to run 10 miles for the haul-out and return. Tides working against us and the days are shorter now, but at least the channel has been silting in...

Leaving Island Moorings marina via the only entrance - Mustang Island channel, which on a good tide will allow us to get out with no bottom contact. Poorly defined on the radar, unlit markers of course and pretty narrow. Well - at least I can see the next 2 markers... YIKES where did this fog bank come from??? Stick it in the mud (briefly), put a lookout on the bow and try like heck to make it to the main Corpus Christi shipping channel.

Phew - made it!! But now visibility is even worse and ... is that a FOG SIGNAL I hear from astern?? You know, one that sounds like the QE2.... No problem - radar has her... yeah that BIG blip astern. Well, keep to the right of the channel, watch the depth sounder and make sure the contact has a bearing rate. Remember how the prop wash from an empty freighter sounds? FOG makes it sound like THX Surround....

OK - ferry crossing ahead! How can I dodge these car jockeys if I can't see them?? More importantly, how can they dodge ME? Security call on the VHF - and then the fog clears!! I should've used the dang VHF sooner!! Dolphins jumping all around us - laughing at me I'm sure. Life is good!

Phew - now on to the shrimp boat channel. Never been down it before but the broker says "it's plenty wide & deep - no problem!" I must admit that is was / is both of those things - WHEN YOU CAN SEE IT!! You guessed it - as soon as we entered the fog rolled back in. Better radar picture this time, GPS is tracking OK and my beloved depth sounder is pinging away...

Well, we made it! I was all tensed up for a few hours, but actually felt pretty good that I was able to pull it off. Wipe those cobwebs out of my nav-mind and get the juices flowing again.

We used to run drills where we covered all of the bridge windows so you couldn't see out. Maybe I'll try something similar occasionally to keep those skills sharp. Drape a canvas in front of the helm sometime.

Or maybe - just stay at the dock in those conditions!!
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Old 12-12-2006, 12:12   #2
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Old 12-12-2006, 17:15   #3
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We used to run drills where we covered all of the bridge windows so you couldn't see out. Maybe I'll try something similar occasionally to keep those skills sharp. Drape a canvas in front of the helm sometime.
Nice story! You get enough close calls as it is you don't need to make them up. No one does this on purpose - really.

One good thing is run with the radar all the time and get used to it. It shows the same things in the good weather too. You can learn the details far better with practice. Good weather allows for forgiveness.

Always plot a course and stick to it. You'll get better at it and when the fog comes you'll always know you were at least headed in the right diriection at the beginning. It's not much but better than the other way around.
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Old 12-12-2006, 19:03   #4
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Good job, but you didn't mention giving your own fog signal. That big guy behind you gave your the courtesy, it goes both ways. I assume that is just an oversite in story telling to keep it brief.

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Old 12-12-2006, 19:05   #5
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That big guy behind you gave your the courtesy, it goes both ways.
Always good to give as good as you get.
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Old 15-12-2006, 18:28   #6
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Originally Posted by Sunspot Baby
Good job, but you didn't mention giving your own fog signal. That big guy behind you gave your the courtesy, it goes both ways. I assume that is just an oversite in story telling to keep it brief.

George
Bingo.

Whenever there's fog, someone's on the bowsprit (never seen fog & rough seas.. yet), and we do our horn blasts. Running lights on, and the radar is on, although that is a supplement to what we're seeing with our own eyes, not the primary (or even secondary) source of information.

If it's really bad, we'll do securitays on 16 announcing our position as we move along, with the power on low if it's a busy area. I keep a white handheld and arial in the cockpit, vhf clipped to me, and eyes peeled.

People might call me a safety dork, but in five years or so of sailing, my biggest accident was a black streak near the waterline from sliding along the dock bumper during high wind once.
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Old 15-12-2006, 19:30   #7
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We have an annual club race for wood boats and split rigs. last year, we had that miserable, can't see the foredeck crew fog, on race day. Most fun race I ever participated in. Really tested my skills. Lost on protest. Race chair was on the winning boat and said we missed the last mark. GPS said we rounded, but no one could see it. Local knowledge let me run the surfline in, and I finished 10 minutes ahead of the next boat, but the whole race was sailed with no other boats in site. We rarely get good wind AND fog, but when it happens, it sure sorts out the sailors Mark, sounds like you made all the right decisions, and no damage, so all is well
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