|Like our work? So does everyone else! |
Join our other partners and reach your market
for only $25 per month. Your ad will link
directly to your website.
Call 912 657-5222 and let us
INCREASE your sales!
|You will know restricted visibility when you see it. Or can't see it.|
As I lay in bed at night on Talahi Island, I sometimes hear the giant ships in the Savannah River channel sounding prolonged blasts on their horns. If the river gets thick fog, the river pilots stop bringing the ships in. Their size and bulk makes it unsafe to travel the river. They then pile up just off the coast and wait for conditions to improve.
Speed through the water is another consideration when operating in restricted visibility. You should operate at a slow speed to allow time for stopping or avoiding if another vessel or an obstruction "pops" into view on a collision course. As conditions change, your speed should change to adapt to conditions. You should not "overdrive" the visibility.
|In conditions like this, slow down!|
Any time you become aware of a vessel forward of your beam you should slow to the absolute minimum speed at which you can maintain control. If Captain Smith of the Titanic hadn't been running on full steam in restricted visibility (dark night conditions) we wouldn't know his name. You don't want to read your name in the newspaper either - go slow in fog.
|This is what zero visibility looks like. We were creeping through the water - and listening|
as hard as we could. I plugged my ears with my fingers for the sound signals as I was
close to the horn.
In particularly thick fog, you must proceed at the minimum speed that allows control.
If things get "too hairy" you may want to stop. If you do stop, you now must give two prolonged blasts at intervals not to exceed two minutes. The memory trick is "if you aren't making way, you have more time to blow, so blow twice."
One thing to keep in mind as you attempt to follow the rules and do everything right is that other boaters may not have a clue, and may be ripping along at full speed. Listen for this, and be ready with the horn, wheel, and throttle. In an avoidance turn, you should avoid turning to port (left) unless that is the only way to avoid a collision.
As the sun warms the air, the fog may begin to break up or dissipate. You may be able to increase speed in clear areas, but should be ready to slow down again in thick spots. No amount of desire to "get there" is worth injuring someone or damaging a vessel.
You can and should make good use of your radio in restricted visibility. The ability to communicate with other boaters helps with situational awareness. But remember, not everyone on the water has a radio and those that do may have it off or on the wrong channel. If you do have a radio and are operating in restricted visibility, maintain a listening watch on marine channel 16. You can also self announce your intentions and actions using the alert words, "securite, (pronounced sercur-i-tay) securite, securite"
If your message is short, you can send it on 16, if it will be long you should switch to a working channel.
Here's an example of a radio call to announce your position and intention on the radio,
"securite securite securite, this is (pleasure, fishing, sailing, cargo, towing) vessel Young and Dumb entering Field's Cut from the Savannah River. Out" You may want to practice what you are going to say before you push the transmit button. Once you push that button, your transmission should be accurate, bold, and concise. If you expect a reply from another station you should end your transmission with "over." If not, use "out."
|Obstructions to vision make near objects look more distant. That's a bridge right|
there, and it is close.
Radar can also assist with navigation and threat detection - if you have it. We don't. Modern and extremely well-equipped boats might even have the ability to display other vessel's position, course, and speed on a display. We don't have that either. But we do have eyes and ears.
Safe boating, friends!
There are other sound signals for boats not under command, with restricted ability to maneuver, constrained by draft (international rules), towing, being towed etc. It's a good idea to periodically review these sound signals, and/or carry a quick reference card at the helm if underway in restricted viz...
Disclaimer: The author makes every effort to provide good information and links to more resources, but this blog is not intended to replace formal training or a detailed study of the rules and regulations applicable to boating. I hope a novice boater will view this as a point of departure for further study and learning. I also hope an experienced boater will share that experience and whatever tips and wisdom come to mind.