Conditions have been very foggy. This usually means we are in for some great fishing, but also potentially hazardous conditions if you are not prepared. Last night we had at least three separate boaters experiencing difficulty finding their way back in. I know what it feels like to be lost in the fog, it is no picnic. Here is what I have learned:
If you are going out in foggy conditions, have an idea of how you are going to find your way back to the harbor. Have a good GPS, and a backup plan. (Second GPS unit, radar, smartphone app) Write down the harbor mouth coordinates before you leave the harbor mouth. When visibility is good, mark a GPS waypoint centered due east and 200 yards outside of the harbor mouth (waypoint #1), and another waypoint due west of #1, in the middle of the harbor (waypoint #2). When it is time to come home, navigate to #1, then to #2 and you are pretty much home free. I always keep my backup GPS unit set to navigate me to waypoint #1. Always. (and yes, I have a backup GPS on my boat).
Practice navigating to the harbor mouth when visibility is good, so you will have an idea what it looks like on your electronics when visibility is poor. Make a deliberate decision to fish either North or South of the harbor, so that when it is time to get home, you know what to do.
If or when your electronics fail, it is possible to navigate back to the harbor using nothing other than your compass and depthfinder, but you must practice on days when the visibility is good, and you must keep in mind where you are while you are fishing. And you must be patient.
You must practice these things when visibility is good, so you have the confidence and experience to execute a safe return when visibility is limited.
Last of all, be patient, trust your compass, and be safe. I hope everyone finds this helpful.
Now let’s go catch some fish!