Not a very funny game

Published on June 24th, 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’s one of them:

From Alex Watters:
Here in Nova Scotia fog is a pretty constant enemy. Years ago, I can’t recall how many, we were heading for the finish line of the Marblehead to Halifax Race on Intuition, a Holland 50ish footer. Visibility was as close to zero as possible and we were running on starboard tack with the chute up.

It was only blowing about 8 knots so we weren’t really haulin’, but the finish mark is also a ship’s channel mark and we could hear the hum of a ship coming at us from astern. A quick radio call to Halifax traffic confirmed a Russian (fishing) factory ship was inbound and not responding to their radio calls.

As the ship got louder and louder with no horns or radio response, we got pretty nervous and considered a course change which likely would mean missing the finish line. About the time we had decided to change course, the ship’s horn sounded and we all looked straight up….it was right beside us….if I’d thrown a tennis ball it would have bounced back almost immediately.

Clearly they had seen our radar reflector and were playing games with us, though not a very funny game. Literally two minutes later we crossed the finish line and heaved a giant collective sigh of relief. Perhaps five minutes later the fog lifted a bit and we saw the ship ahead of us, that’s when we appreciated just how big a factory ship can be. Good times!

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