Sailing along an unfamiliar coastline in fog is a bit daunting but with the right equipment and a bit of planning it’s perfectly OK. I had to do this today from Lannion to Roscoff with visibility rarely more than quarter of a mile.
First the equipment I used..
- Raymarine Axiom plotter
- Garmin GPSmap 551
- Simrad VHF radio
- Samsung Galaxy tablet
- Samsung Galaxy phone
- Large scale paper map of the entire coast
- Raymarine autopilot
- Wind vane steering
- My eyes
- My brain
Having up to date charts is essential, my favourite electronic source is an android app called Savy Navy but I also have charts on my plotter and the Garmin.
I rely heavily on electronics so I needed a backup plan in case of a lighting strike which could knock out them all. In this case it was to keep an eye on the safest route to open water and memorise the bearing from my current position. That way I could get to a safe position to reassess and not run into rocks on the way.
Route, weather and tide planning is essential. You don’t want to be fighting a tide pushing you in the wrong direction and you don’t want to be fighting high winds. Those are the times to stay where you are and wait.
The most expensive bit of kit I used was my eyes and my brain. I was constantly on the look out for other vessels, uncharted obstacles, pot bouys etc. I was also constantly monitoring my course and the tide to avoid charted rocks and shoals.
After leaving the anchorage this morning the visibility was about half a mile, within half an hour it was down to less than a quarter of a mile, sometimes much less, the first land I saw in the final 3 hours was Roscoff harbour wall, right where Savy Navy said it would be.