Hobie Forums

Sea Fog???
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Author:  On1Hull [ Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Sea Fog???

Ok, so I've been lurking around a few months. I have a '87 Hobie 16 SE since new that has been sailed hard and neglected until lately. I have taken the time to fix 'er up to nearly new and taken a couple sea trial runs. Went sailing Sunday out of Morehead City with Nacraman on a 5.2 and the goal of making it to Cape Lookout 13 miles East. 5-8mph ESE is too much headwind and tacking to accomplish the task. Other than it was an absolutely beautiful day. We decide with the forecast for Monday SE 15-20 to give it a shot. I sleep like a kid on Christmas so looking forward to the day. Get up and at the launch site at 9:30 ready to roll. All I can see is FOG. Pea soup, channel marker 100 yds out, invisible! I mean can't see s&*t past the dock. We gave it a couple hours and finally agreed to cash it in and head home. Here is to hoping there is another "indian summer" day before spring.
Tight Lines!!!

Author:  sunvista [ Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sea Fog???

Fog scares me more than anything else. Especially if it rolls in while you are already on open water. Not knowing in which direction to sail to shore is very unnerving.

Author:  richandpat [ Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sea Fog???

On1Hull - Sunvista is absolutely correct about fog while sailing in open water. The following is an e-mail I sent to the Captain of our lifeguards and to our Hobie Fleet two months ago:

Just a quick e-mail to thank you for helping us find our way back to the Mission Bay Channel in the heavy fog yesterday afternoon.

My wife and I sailed our 16 ft. Hobie Catamaran out through the Mission Bay Channel yesterday afternoon with a nice breeze and clear skies. We sailed about 1½ miles offshore and then headed north toward La Jolla. When we got to Chrystal Pier I noticed a fog bank off La Jolla. About a minute later the fog was closing in from all over. We turned around quickly and headed back toward the channel. We soon lost sight of the channel and could only see a few feet in front of us. We were sailing blindly with only the swells and the sun barely making it's way through the fog to guide us. My wife thought she saw the jetty and channel marker, so we turned left and soon saw a surfer just past the breakers. We made a quick U-turn and then turned left to continue heading south. A short time later she thought she saw the jetty and channel marker again, so we turned left again. This time we saw a large wave breaking right in front of us. We made another quick U-turn and then we saw a lifeguard on a waverunner. He told us the jetty was right behind him and we should first continue heading West. A short time later we saw another lifeguard on a small boat directing us around him and into the channel. About half way down the channel we were able to see again.

I'm not sure how this story would've ended if it had not been for those two brave lifeguards on small craft risking their lives in the dense fog to save people like us and guide then back safely.

Thanks for being there for us - every day!

Incidentally, I check several weather sites online before deciding whether to go out sailing or kayaking, and none of them mentioned anything about fog yesterday.

My wife said she'll never go out sailing in the ocean with me again, so I'm now looking for a new wife (only kidding) or a light-weight crew.

Thanks, again!

On1Hull - I received a nice reply from Capt. Wurts. I believe the safest thing you can do when sailing in the ocean or a large lake is to take along a pocket size GPS device. You can load "waypoints" and you can see where you are and where you want to go.
Have FUN! Keep it SAFE!!!

Author:  srm [ Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sea Fog???

For ocean sailing (Atlantic), I always have a basic compass strapped to my boat. Usually a smart phone too, but always a compass. It might not tell you exactly how to get back to your launch, but it will certainly tell you which way is land and which way is open water, and it will never succumb to imersion or dead batteries.

I've been out in dense fog once or twice and it is not a pleasant experience.


Author:  jmecky [ Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sea Fog???

Jesus Pat, that is a scary story, Once I sailed out of Mission Bay and headed about 3-4 miles west until I hit a dense fog bank, I turned around within a minute and barely stayed ahead of a large fog bank. The bank stayed right on my ass until half way down the channel. So that fog was really moving fast. That channel needs fog horns like SD Bay. I need a gps.

Author:  richandpat [ Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sea Fog???

Yeah, J.D., there's a green channel marker and a red channel marker on the other side, but you can't see either one in dense fog. No fog horns either.
I recently bought a small, pocket size, water resistant GPS that I plan on carrying with me in my life jacket in case this happens again. I have to know, with absolute certainty, where I am and how to find my way back when I can only see just a few feet in front of me. I also need to know where the end of the channel is so that I don't turn in too soon and run into the rocks. A whistle, lights, cell phone, compass....they're all nice to have, but I feel so much safer with a GPS device. I can also use it for hiking and kayaking. Cell phones with GPS service should also work.
Most of the time we really don't need it, but the same is true for a life jacket. You hope you never need it, but it's there if you do.
Have Fun but keep it SAFE; especially if you're with your wife, kids, grandkids, friends, even by yourself.

Author:  On1Hull [ Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sea Fog???

Fortunately I do have a smart phone with gps. The scary part is the powerboats(I could hear some screaming by in the channel). A 30 foot go fast running at 30 knots in zero vis is enough to keep this big dog on the porch.

Author:  Murph_PEI [ Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sea Fog???

In my oft-humbled opinion, one should never be offshore beyond earshot of the breakers without a compass. A GPS is certainly easier, especially when hoping to find a channel entrance and you don't know your exact current position, but when your last name is Murphy, you assume electronics will be drained or malfunctioning when you need it. A compass should at least get you back to a landmass where visual navigation can get rebooted and it doesn't require batteries.

Not disagreeing at all, just making a case for another tool.

Author:  richandpat [ Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sea Fog???

Murph - Just a few thoughts on a compass vs. a GPS:
1. In the Pacific Ocean by San Diego, CA the swells come from west to east and I can tell where the sun is, even in dense fog, by a bright haze in the sky; so I can tell directon without a compass.
2. Much of our coast is rocky and the rest is sandy, so I can't just head east. I have to go back down through the channel to the bay where the visibiity is better; where it's safer; where I launched.
3. I have to avoid rocky coasts, surfers and swimmers, large breakers along the coast, long fishing piers in the ocean (O.B.Pier and Chrystal Pier), and the rocky jetty which forms both sides of the channel that I have to sail back through.
Batteries in my GPS....That's my responsibility; just like batteries in a flashlight and dry matches when we go camping.
I plan on taking my GPS when I sail or kayak in the ocean and use it only when necessary. It's like a biking helmet, life jacket, medical or life insurance - you hope you never need it, but it's there if you do.
On1Hull - You're right! Keep the big dog on the porch when power boats are running at 30 knots in zero vis. I don't know what else you can do.

Author:  Murph_PEI [ Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sea Fog???

Told ya it was often humbled.

As mentioned, it wasn't a case for replacing a GPS with a compass. I carry a GPS as well and agree it is a much better tool if you have it.

My point was only that backup devices to electronics are important. The one time I did not take my own GPS because a buddy insisted on trying out his new one and we were packing as light as possible, he failed to make sure the nautical maps loaded over top the road maps. We were Island hopping in our Sea kayaks off Chester, Nova Scotia when an unexpected fog rolled in. He quickly had us heading out to sea, which I luckily noticed was "likely" from the wind/wave direction. I actually don't blame the wrong maps as much as his lack of knowledge. His GPS at least was showing him direction, even if the Islands were not shown. That should have at least prevented a 180 degree mistake.

After a brief argument, I pulled out my compass and convinced him we were heading to Jamaica. Then later pulled out some old fashioned charts I grabbed at the tourist bureau and we continued on our way.

Sorry if I sounded disagreeable. It wasn't a "Vs." post. I was actually agreeing plus adding an additional thought for an important backup device if offshore.

Adding a mention of the great respect I have for the old time lobster fisherman in my region. I remember as a kid being out and being amazed by the old guys who could sail straight to a 8" target (the next trap run's buoy) in solid fog, just by running a bearing from the last buoy. No LORAN or GPS required. I could not have done that. Talk about a needle in a haystack.

Author:  richandpat [ Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sea Fog???

Murph_PEI - Years ago, when my brother-in-law was the Vice President of a book publishing Co., he tod me that he never used e-mail because other people could take him the wrong way. He preferred phone calls and face to face conversations. So do I, but it's not always possible.
I always carry a compass when I'm backpacking. It saved my life once when it was raining so hard that there was no trail. Water everywhere and everything looked the same. When I turned around to look behind I became disoriented. My compass got me heading in the right direction again until I saw the landmark I was looking for - a bridge.
Like yourself, I can always tell wind/wave direction while on the water. I could always head East and go toward shore, but there are so many things to avoid - surfers, swimmers, high surf, rocky shore, steep cliffs, the rocky jetty which is the channel I'm trying to find to sail back to safety. I think the only device that can help me find that channel safely is a GPS. The Mission Bay Channel has a green marker on one side and a red marker on the other side, but no lights or fog horn. Also, when I launch our kayak from a beach in LaJolla, I need to be able to get back to that precise location if the fog should roll in unexpectedly. It's a very narrow area and the only place I know of where the surf is always fairly low and has no other obstacles to avoid.
I'm retired now but I've worked in the O.R. for 30 years. I agree with you 100% that you should always have a backup device, or Plan B. I've often seen electronic or battery operated devices work well when they were checked out prior to surgery, but fail the next time they are used - during the procedure. It was never a problem because of Plan B. We planned for and practiced for anything that could go wrong; even earthquake, evacuations of anesthetised patients, and electrical failure. I don't believe that a compass is a useful Plan B for me in unexpected dense fog. I think my Plan A will be my GPS device which I'll carry with me in the pocket of my life jacket and hope I never have to use it. My Plan B will be my GPS running watch that's water resistant. It leaves a dashed line, or "bread crumbs", so I can retrace my steps and find my way back. It also gives me time, distance traveled, and speed - fun things to look at occasionally when sailing of kayaking.
Those lobster and crab fisherman are amazing; even out here in S. CA. They know every inch of this ocean, but they're out there almost every day. I also have great respect for them.
Murph_PEI......Are you from Prince Edward Island?
Good to hear from you and always good to get input and comments from knowledgable and experienced people, such as yourself.

Author:  Murph_PEI [ Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sea Fog???

Thanks Richard,
I am most accustomed to writing on technical boards so if I appeared argumentive, it certainly wasn't my intent. That is indeed the risk of written communication. It is also the direct opposite of my personal demeanor. I'm about as laid back as you can get in person.

Yes, I am from Prince Edward Island. Home of sandy beaches, lobster, potatoes and that red haired girl that locals don't like to talk about. Like most here, I've always enjoyed being in and on the water since I could walk and I was very happy to find an active, online community after getting my first mini-Hobie for bouncing around our bay and getting us to nearby ocean beaches. It's been very helpful for me so I try to contribute back in the few topics that I can. Thanks for tolerating the new guy and hopefully some day, I'll meet a few of you on the water.

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