Navigation in Fog, Part 2—Preparation

Phyllis gets "Morgan's Cloud" ready to get underway. There's a bit of visibility in the snug cove, but outside it will be pea-soup.
Phyllis gets "Morgan's Cloud" ready to get underway. There was some visibility in this snug cove, but outside it was pea-soup.

While it’s easy to accept that sailing in fog is not high on anybody’s list of pleasures, it’s a fact of life in many of the world’s most admired cruising destinations such as Alaska, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Greenland.

So if you want to cruise those regions, you have already accepted that you’ll face poor visibility on a regular basis. Therefore the only option is to make sure you, your boat and your crew are as well prepared as possible.

Meteorologists today are highly effective at predicting fog, which can at least allow you some ability to pick your moment to depart if you’re sailing coastally. If you are really nervous about sailing in fog (and some people understandably are) then careful attention to the forecast may spare you the worst of it.

But in places such as Maine or Nova Scotia, where dense fog can appear without any warning, you may only have momentary notice of its arrival. The fact is, try and avoid it though you might, sooner or later you’re bound to end up in thick fog, so maybe it’s better to not get too aerated about avoiding it at all costs and just treat it as yet another hazard to deal with objectively, and prepare for accordingly. You cannot gain experience without being out in it and experience will hone your skills for the future.

Let's take a look at the gear and skills we need when the fog rolls in, starting with proper preparation before we even get under way:

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Colin, European Correspondent here at AAC, is a deeply experienced offshore sailor who holds a Yachtmaster licence, and a gifted photographer and talented writer who has added a whole new dimension to Attainable Adventure Cruising. In addition, since Colin and Louise are from England and had their OVNI 435, Pèlerin built in France, they bring a European perspective to our site. You can read more about Colin and Louise and their business at their website.

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