Fog and Slog

START: Solomons, MD, 9 Nov
The fog started dripping from the radar around 0330. We woke up again at 0645 enfolded in a cotton ball; a thick one. At 0745, we pulled away from the dock with the help of a NOAA Hydrographer named Rob. With running lights on and the foghorn sounding, we crawled out of the harbor in 0.1 mile visibility at 3 knots.

We were past Hog Point, the nominal transition from Patuxent River to Bay before the fog lifted. It still was a hazy day with nearly no wind and a counter current, and so we slogged south.

At Smith Point, (south side of the Potomac mouth) we watched a fleet of fishing boats, on the radar, hovering and then milling around in the waters off the point. They looked like head boats trailing fishing lines. They were embedded in more fog. As we arrived overtaking boats arrived as well.  Navigation became complicated. Had the fishing boats been using fog signals as legally required, those of us arriving in the area would have realized they were ~100 foot Menhaden boats!

I now have an inkling of how JFK felt with that destroyer bearing down.  Their milling around had no rhyme or reason, and it seemed each turn we made, was answered by a turn toward us. A friend had a similar experience here thirty years or so ago.

We extricated ourselves and pressed on, but it was excitement we could do without. The radio traffic was sparse and confused. Boats behind us seemed to have had some close calls.

The good news was the current switched, the fog lifted, and we began to make up time toward the Piankatank and Fishing Bay where we will hide from the warned of gales Thursday night and Friday morning.

This picture was taken as we dodged a barge and tow off Windmill Point on our way into the ‘tank. We anchored in pitch dark and intermittent moon, very glad we had night navigation experience from as far back as the ’70s, and that we had been here in 2009.
END: Fishing Bay, Piankatank River, 9 Nov

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