SAFE NAVIGATION THROUGH POOR VISIBILITY
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Southport, North Carolina

As the boating season approaches it is time to remind people of some of 
the perils of our area. A warm, bright, sunny day can turn into a dull, 
or even foggy afternoon or evening as a front passes thru the area. It is 
extremely important to know your position at all times and how to return 
to your port safely.

Things you should have on your boat as you prepare to get underway are a 
radio, charts of the local area, a GPS( Global positioning system) a cell 
phone and a float plan filed with someone on shore. (Float plans are 
available form our web site www.southportcxgaux.org)

One of the most important things people should have on board is a set of 
current charts for the local area. These charts can be purchased from 
local boating stores. They will give you valuable information such as water 
depth, channel markers, and land references such as water towers and chimneys. 
These charts, coupled with a GPS and radio can help you return safely.

Once underway, look around for familiar land marks such as water towers, 
piers, lighthouses, and buoys. Take a GPS or Loran position and mark it down 
either on a chart or a piece of paper. The first thing the Coast Guard or a 
towing service will ask you is your position.

Look at the chart for familiar objects. For example, on the Cape Fear River, 
there are a series of channel markers, and you can go from marker to marker 
finding you way home. Draw a line from your position to the object or place 
where you wish to go. Look at the line and determine if there are any obstacles 
in your path. If it appears to be a good route and you have enough water depth 
set your compass course and proceed slowly toward your chosen position. As you 
proceed, listen for sounds, put your running lights on so someone can see you 
and sound your horn at least once every 2 minutes in fog to alert other people 
of where you are.

If you have none of the above equipment and poor visibility sets in donít panic. 
Think about where you are, how you got there and how you might return slowly and 
safely. If in doubt stay put. Drop and anchor and be alert to people and vessels 
around you. Possibly they will have equipment that will allow them to return and 
you can follow them home.

The most important thing is to have a safe and happy boating season. A visit to 
www.cgaux.org will connect you with the Coast Guard Auxiliary. You can go to the 
guest page and enter flotilla finder. That will put you in touch with a local 
flotilla that offers safe boating classes. Find one that suits your needs and 
enroll. A 6-8 hour course could save your life. In addition, Flotilla 10-05 will 
be offering the Coastal Navigation Course to the public this fall for the first 
time. Visit our web site for class information.      

...Boat Smart; Boat Safe; Take Control...

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