Blind Faith: Sailing in Fog

Published on March 22nd, 2021

by Charles J. Doane, SAIL magazine
Of all the superpowers today’s sailors wield thanks to modern electronics, being able to sail in fog with impunity is certainly one of the most useful.

GPS navigation and electronic charts have been around long enough now that there is an entire generation of mariners who have never experienced the heart-shriveling fear of becoming lost in what we New Englanders traditionally term “a thick o’ fog.”

Nor have they experienced the immense satisfaction of not getting lost in fog while navigating the old-fashioned way. As legendary yachting journalist Alf Loomis once said: “If you enter the harbor without mishap you are so pleased with yourself that it will be advisable for friends to avoid you for a while.”

Those old enough to recall such sensations will also certainly recall the process—devising routes to link together as many audible nav aids as possible; dead reckoning blindly from one such nav aid to the next, heart-in-mouth; making hopeful guesses as to how badly the current might be setting you; studying charts for useful contour lines to follow with your leadline or depthsounder; sounding a horn or ringing a bell every two minutes, then listening carefully for a response, ears quivering.

To be honest, I do not miss any of it. – Full report

Editor’s note: Do you have a memorable fog story for Scuttlebutt to feature? Send it to

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