Girls in the mist.

8:00 am.  Foggy.  You can see maybe 50 feet.  On the water, of course, 50 feet may as well be 5 feet.  You look out but don’t know how far you are seeing because all is grey in every direction.  You know you can see about 50 feet only because that is the distance at which the dock you are leaving behind you disappears.  Once past that reference point, you know nothing for sure. You are literally in a cloud.

As such, you quickly feel suspended in grey but you know you are moving by the wet soft breeze on your face and the wake trailing behind your boat.   Going out in a small boat in thick fog first requires a strong sense of personal resolve and a fair dose of confidence. Knowing how to read a compass helps, too.  Being inherently fearless makes it much easier.

Sal was scheduled to go to quilting today.  The monthly Q-bee is on the other island. Starts early.  Pea-soup fog was not going to be a deterrent.  Sal cast off in her 11 foot boat when visibility was so bad, I could not see the water from the house deck.  But I could hear her motor.  She went zipping along at about 2/3 speed, maybe a bit less.  But she wasn’t crawling.

Don’t want to be late for quilting.

There is some logic to going quickly in the fog.  Our channel is NOT busy but when it is, it is often temporarily dominated by a big powerful water taxi going full tilt, equipped with twin diesels, made of heavy aluminum and sporting every electronic device possible.   It is possible they can see a small boat on their radar.  If they are looking.  Which they would not be doing all the time.  They can’t see logs and debris on radar so they have to watch through the windshield mostly.  Sally would be debris to them.

They usually just plow over debris.

So, it is best to keep your time in the middle of the channel short.  And the best way to do that is to line up your compass and crank it up.  Fly blindly, fly fast.  Cross the channel. Cross your fingers.

It is now 11:00 am.  I can see a blurry 150 yards.  Many boaters would call that foggy and not go out in it.  In English Bay, that would be a good decision.  Without radar?  A very good decision.  Most boaters have not memorized the shoreline nor do they follow it.

Out here?  Being able to see a blurry 150 yards is basically considered all clear. Why? Because out here one can remain close enough to shore if they can see that distance. And, if you can see the shore, you know precisely where you are because, over the years, you have unconsciously memorized the surrounding shoreline.

I know the surrounding square mile like the back of my hand.  I know the surrounding two square miles well enough to get around and I likely know enough of three square miles to know roughly where I am at any given moment.  Beyond that, I am not sure where I am. And once you have lost that sense of where you are at, even seeing some landmark you should know, won’t be recognized.  Once you are lost, you can be lost until you are within yards of home.

Sal made it, of course.  And the fog will have burnt off by the time she returns.  No biggie.


4 thoughts on “Girls in the mist.

  1. I remember coming down the lake on day in a snow storm whiteout. We set our heading to cross the North Sea (our big expanse of water to get down the lake). I could finally make out a tree coming out of the gloom. I misidentified it as the point we were heading for, we had made a complete 360 without visual clues. We were right back where we started from. Good lesson. We do worry about crew boats on the lake. They have radar and travel in all weather conditions. You just never know when one might be looming out of the fog. – Margy


    • Sal’s home. “No biggie. Quilting was fun. We talked and had coffee and sewed. It was great!”
      “Any concerns in the fog?”
      “Well, you know…..crossing the mid part of the channel kinda scared me. But that’s only ten or twenty seconds.”
      “So……twenty seconds of fearing for your life….? For quilting?”
      “Yeah. It was great!”


  2. This mornings opening of the companionway revealed a horizon-less view. A curiously suspended floating log, short with fair girth, sat motionless in unrippled water surrounded by gray fog. Natures demonstration of the physical world combined with infinity. This one object alone was all a person could see. Surreal, eerie, and a very pleasant sense of life. A truly in the moment minute in the morning….


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