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Navigating in fog is not an everyday occurrence. When it rolls in, some boaters feel insecure and most would prefer dealing with wind and waves than fog. Visibility is restricted and all vessels in the area are experiencing the same conditions.

Some think they can outrun fog by increasing speed, others head for shore and a few panic. All of these responses are improper and can lead to problems. If on a large body of water, you may be able to spot a heavy fog bank approaching. How fast the bank is moving or how soon it may engulf your vessel is unknown. You may have time to make safe moorage, but the best action to take is to prepare for a reduction in visibility.

  • Slow to a safe operating speed and be prepared to stop within the distance of visibility.

  • Verify your position via your electronics and constantly monitor them.
  • Appoint lookouts and advise them to look and listen for unusual sounds.
  • Dial your VHF radio to monitor Coast Guard broadcast channels. Listen to learn the area under fog conditions and if boats nearby are in trouble.
  • Sound the appropriate signals by bell or horn as required by Coast Guard Rule 35 of the Inland/International Rules of the Road.

  • If you hear an odd sound, stop and shut down your power and determine what you heard: another vessel, traffic on shore or perhaps a call for help.

If you spend time on the water, undoubtedly you will find yourself in fog. Be prepared. Your best option may be to anchor and wait out the fog.

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3 Responses to Boating In Fog

  1. Mark says:

    Once continued to move in darkness with light fog using spotlight to see the reflectors on buoys…until the one I was heading toward flew away…amazing how similar a gull looks to a buoy under those conditions. Made it off the water but at a much slower rate.

  2. Louis Trout says:

    Certinly, one of the most terrifiing
    Boating experiences of my life.

    It came out of no where on the Mississippi River north of St. Louis.
    No forcast / no indication. We came out of a local resturant on the Illinois River. It was thick as a Brick. I thought about trying to go by memory but this area is where the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers converge. Big Barge Traffic rules here.

    We told our children and firends that we are spending the night on the Boat and not moving. The boat was a 20 Foot Bowrider so we stayed tied up to a tiny Barge at this remote Resturant and slept out until about 8:00 AM. Some Soccer Games were missed but it was one of the best desisions I have ever made. Lou in St. Lou

  3. audrey says:

    Nice. Please include which lights to use in the fog and horn use in a new article for newer boaters?

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