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Heading inshore in fog without radar



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What is the issue?
If fog descends and you are in or near a busy shipping lane the first priority is to move out of it as soon as possible and to steer for shallow water where there are no large vessels. But this also brings about the chief danger of land.

Why address this?
Sometimes you may not have radar and good charts for this area so you may have to improvise to keep the vessel in safer waters.

How to address this?
In fog, you must use the boat's air-horn to indicate your presence to other boats. But few know that you can position the vessel safely offshore using the mandatory airhorn.

Compressed air 'Air horn'
Photo: Courtesy of Lauzas


If the vessel is under 12 metres and underway, it must give one prolonged foghorn horn blast every two minutes - see getting to grips with sound signals External link. You can also use the blast from the airhorn to position yourself using the echo from the sound signal.

Listen carefully and time the echo. If the echo takes 5 seconds to travel back to you, you are about half a mile from land, 10 seconds equals about a mile. Cliffs or forested shorelines work best. A flat sandy beach will not reflect the sound as well.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.
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