When outside assistance is needed

Published on April 12th, 2021

Avoiding collision requires visibility which is hard in the fog, and once was a whole lot harder before pinpoint navigation tools. But what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and provides good stories… here are two of them:

From Hank Evans, past Commodore, Youngstown Yacht Club:
In 1982, six C&C 29s were returning from a weekend at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto to the Youngstown Yacht Club at the mouth of the Niagara River. The 24 miles across Lake Ontario were shrouded in fog, no one had radar or GPS in those days and the RDF (radio direction finder) was less than pin point accurate.

As we closed with the south shore and the depth finder confirmed the shore was approaching, we could hear voices on the land. There was no way of knowing if we were east of the river mouth (US) or west of it (Canada). Which way to turn to find the river and our club?

The lead boat hollered toward shore “What country are you in?” After the third shout a voice came back “Canada, of course”. After a thank you, we all turned left, crawled along the shoreline and found the river about a mile to the east.

I’m quite sure some nice Canadian is still telling the story about the voices from the fog on Lake Ontario one summer day.

From Doug Wolfe:
It was sometime in the 70s when I was racing on a 46-foot Frers custom sloop, and during a race up Long Island Sound and back, we were headed west on the return journey when we encountered dense fog.

It was at sunrise, there were light winds on the nose and a strong current against us, so we decided to short tack the Long Island shore to escape the tide. Along the shore there was a sandy beach that got deep very quickly (according to the chart), and while we could barely see the bow from the helm, the depth sounder dictated our tacks away from the shore.

All was going well enough after about 30 minutes of this when suddenly we heard a young girl’s voice exclaim, “Look Daddy, a sail!” In our haste to tack, we never saw the family or the beach, but that was quite a shock and thankfully the fog lifted soon after that. Whew!

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