Mel's Note Card Holder  
Tom and Mel... achievable cruising under sail and power.


Fogged In: A Few Tips That May Help
by Tom Neale

This is a continuation of Tom's Tips from his section of the web site. Go to his section there for many more tips on this subject and others.

1. Fog is extremely disorienting, even if you have radar and a GPS chart plotter. It's very important to have someone else with you at the steering station to help you sort things out and to keep a look out.

2. We find that when we're fogged in, moving slowly and have other targets close to us on the radar, it's difficult to steer by radar alone. Steering blind is very different and requires a lot of practice.

3. We prefer to have the helms person steer by compass, following bearings obtained from the radar and/or GPS and any other reliable sources (such as a temporary sighting). Another person keeps a sharp lookout both on radar and around the boat. This person frequently looks from outside the cockpit enclosure because this quickly becomes obscured by condensation in fog and because it's easier to hear signals. If there is a third person, that person remains out on deck at all times listening and peering into the fog. The helms person also keeps lookout but concentrates on keeping the boat on a bearing to clear targets. Other methods may be better suited to you. Practice. Pretend you can't see. Try to steer looking only at a radar target that's close, while you're going slow. Determine what works best for you, your boat, and your equipment.

4. Know and follow the applicable navigation Rules.

5. These tips are only to start you thinking about and planning what to do if you're enveloped in fog. Some of the ideas here may not be best in your circumstances. Fog can happen in areas where you little suspect it. Read all you can on the subject and get whatever training may be available. When you're in the soup, it's in the hands of skipper and crew to make the decisions and do the things that work best in the particular circumstances.

Copyright 2005
Tom Neale


Previous Tips from Tom