Think you can navigate in fog? Well, maybe, maybe not
Fog hovered over the lake the past three mornings, then cleared before noon, and bright sunshine finished the day. More of the same was forecast for the next day, when my brother-in-law Paul Cooper asked me if I wanted to fish in the morning.
Of course, I wanted to fish, but what about the fog.
“We’ll wait till about eight o’clock to go out,” he suggested. “We don’t need to be in a hurry.”
So, next morning, we checked at eight, however the fog still was quite thick. Maybe, you could see a hundred yards.
“We probably could head out of the marina, and follow the shoreline up to the north end of the lake,” I said, “but why don’t we wait till nine, and see what the situation is then.”
Even though the lake doesn’t have a lot of boat traffic, especially with fog hanging in the area, there was no reason to disregard safety. There was no need to take a chance.
From may days of living along the Ohio River, I am familiar with too many unnecessary accidents in the fog.
With modern electronics, one can travel in a straight line, and from point A to point B in the fog, or at night, but if you don’t have such gear or there is fog, there is no reason to take a chance.
A few years ago, I was scheduled to fish with a friend in a small fishing tournament on Lake Monroe. At starting time, the fog was thick. “I think we can head under the causeway and up the lake slowly and get a good start,” I suggested.
And that’s what we tried, but we gained nothing. After slow running for a hour, we had just traveled in a circle and were back at the causeway where we started. It is very difficult to travel in a straight line when you have no visual points of reference.
Sometimes a boater can get caught in the fog on the water after starting in the clear. When this happens, there are several safety tips to keep in mind.
Anyone with the boater should be looking for other boats or their wake, buoys and debris while listening for engines or other clues that signal another boat is near you.
A given is that the boat should be slowed to a safe speed.
Use a sound signal of some sort, which is required safety equipment by the U.S. Coast Guard, to signal your position every two minutes. You can use a bell, a loud hailer, a foghorn, or some other approved means for producing sound.
Listen! Stop the motor periodically to listen to your surroundings. Sometimes in the fog, this may be your only way to avoid colliding with something. Listen for other boats, fog horns and other sounds.
Utilize your navigation equipment if you have it. Hopefully you have at minimum a GPS or compass.
If you become disoriented, stop! Do not keep going if you are unsure of your location, position and direction. Again, proper navigation gear will help you keep your bearings. If you make it to shore, stop until the weather improves.
Boating in the fog is not fun, and can be downright scary and dangerous. Despite your best planning, you may be unable to avoid fog while boating. If you find yourself navigating in the fog, follow these common sense rules. Remember, the other boater probably can’t see you.
After waiting for the fog to clear on our recent trip, we didn’t catch many crappie, but we did have a fun, safe day.