Friday, 21 August 2009

Through the fog

We had some doubts when entering the oil sector of the North Sea. There are plenty of platforms and supply ships around, and normally you just have to eyeball yourself through it all.

But the patches of fog got more dense, the wind died out, and everything unfolded like a nightmare in slow motion. We had the radar reflector hoisted. I guess the dew forming on the sails helped a bit, too.

We could hear the deep coarse sounds of distant fog horns. This was serious ships. Our little canister just gave a muted fart. Nina shook it up a bit and that seemed to help, but still, this game would have to be settled on the radar. And we had none.

We got contact with a stationary supply ship over the VHF. They could see us, but we couldn’t see anything. The captain said we were heading straight at them. He then came up with a
surprise solution; he would move.

The picture is not as dramatic as it seems. It’s not from the North Sea, but from the channel outside Mobile, Alabama, the ship had reduced speed and a predictable course. But the dark grey wall appeared less than a hundred meter in front of us.

Radar is out of the question for our engineless little boat, but we’re considering AIS, after a slow bickering back and forth. We’re all taking our chances in life. But of course, the worst fog stories never get told.