Are You Ready? Take the Fog Signal Quiz!

Fog- Be Prepared: Know What to Do!

We don’t get it too often, but so far this year we have had more than usual! Do you remember what signals to use, and how often? Take a moment to review the USCG “Navigation Rules”, which should be carried onboard anyway. There is too much detail to review it all here, but below is a short quiz on things you may encounter. Note: A SHORT blast of the horn is about 1 second’s duration. A PROLONGED blast is 4-6 seconds.

1. Let’s say you are underway, (under power if a sailboat,) and the fog closes in. You slow down so that you can stop within half the range of your visibility, or slower. You immediately start fog signals, either manually with your horn, or with an automatic loudhailer. You post a bow & radar watch with qualified crew, and turn on your navigation lights. You double check your radar and GPS settings. What horn signal do you give every TWO minutes?
a. 1 short
b. 1 prolonged
c. 2 short
d. 2 prolonged

2. You detect another vessel’s fog signal forward of your beam, but you cannot see it or spot it on your radar. You should:
a. Maintain course and speed
b. Slowly circle around
c. Slow to bare steerageway
d. Stop, look and listen
e. Either C or D

3. A mile from the harbor entrance, the fog becomes so thick that you can barely see past the bow. You shift to neutral, but hold your position. Now what signal do you give every TWO minutes?
a. 1 short
b. 1 prolonged
c. 2 short
d. 2 prolonged

4. You hear “prolonged-short-short” off in the distance. What type of vessel could this be?
a. Sailboat underway
b. Vessel with restricted maneuverability
c. Vessel towing another
d. Vessel engaged in fishing
e. All of the above

5. You decide to anchor until conditions improve. The signal you give is:
a. Prolonged-short-short
b. Short-prolonged-short
c. Rapid ringing of bell for 5 seconds
d. Three strokes of the bell
e. Either B or C.

1: b / 2: e / 3: d / 4: e / 5: e

Occasionally practice a slow harbor approach, using your radar and GPS in clear daylight conditions, before you find yourself in reduced visibility. Warning: This is tricky with boat traffic…you need qualified crew to keep watch and you must obey all right-of-way rules during your simulation! Make sure you know how to “tune” your radar, and bear in mind that small vessels may not show up except at very short range….but lives are still at stake.

-Bob Sherman