What the Fog ?!?

Fog is quite prevalent in the US Pacific Coast, and we knew we would have to deal with it since before we started this journey.

Fog has been with us since we left the Puget Sound, in September. It was slightly foggy when we crossed Cape Flattery. The next day, a dense patch of fog engulfed us while at anchor in Westport. Our first serious encounter with fog happened a couple weeks later when we were leaving Newport, and entered a thick layer of fog right in the middle of the Yaquina River Bar. There was a lot of fog while we were at the marina in Crescent City. Fog also surprised us on the passage from Eureka to San Francisco – when we thought to have chosen the “perfect” weather window for it. Needless to say, it was fog galore in San Francisco – most notably in Drake’s Bay, and when we anchored at the Aquatic Park Cove.

The further south we are getting, the more frequent and intense fog has been. A patch of fog engulfed us on our last passage from San Francisco, tainting what would have been a beautiful night of sailing under the intense light of a full moon. And for the week we have been in Monterey, fog has invaded the bay three times already.

Fog making its way into the municipal marina in Monterey, a few days ago
Fog making its way into the municipal marina in Monterey, a few days ago

 

Fog is essentially a low-laying cloud, often trapped between the surface and a warmer, drier layer of air above.

And to think it is bright ad sunny just a few feet above sea water level when fog is present
And to think it is bright and sunny (and drier) just a few feet above sea water level when fog is present !

 

Due to its very nature, and how it is formed, fog is very wet. And cold.

Fog's water particles suspended in the air rapidly condense on all surfaces ...
Fog’s water particles suspended in the air rapidly condense on all surfaces
Pesto's deck often gets dampened (and bitterly cold) in a few minutes upon exposure to fog
Pesto’s deck often gets dampened (and bitterly cold) in a few minutes upon exposure to fog

 

Fog certainly has its attributes. Depending on the circumstance, it can be beautiful:

Pesto's mast creating a subtle 3D shadow through the fog this afternoon
Pesto’s mast creating a subtle 3D shadow through the fog this afternoon
As a new patch of fog rolled into the harbor today, it almost created a rainbow over the surface
As a new patch of fog rolled into the harbor today, it almost created a rainbow over the surface

 

More importantly, it plays its role in nature. It is a key source of moisture to coastal forests, some animals source water from it, and even humans use techniques to extract water from it in some places.

But for me, really, fog is a nuisance. It dampens everything. Its cold is different in that it penetrates right through our bones (irrespective of how many thermal layers I wear, whenever we sail through fog, I always shiver). And navigation through fog is tricky, and full with suspense. Whereas the radar and AIS help us identify and avoid larger obstacles and vessels through fog, there are still smaller stuff that go unnoticed. I will never forget a mysterious strobe light zipping right past us in the middle of a dense fog night during our passage to San Francisco – neither the radar nor the AIS ever caught it, and I will never know what it was …

Anyway, the southern coast of California is one of the foggiest places on earth, so I guess we will still have quite a bit of it for the time being. We will try to pick our passages avoiding the “patchy fog” days, pay special attention whenever sailing through it, and look for the beauty it adds to the surroundings whenever we can.

The fish processing plant "disappearing" inside yet another patch of fog this afternoon
The fish processing plant “disappearing” inside yet another patch of fog this afternoon

 

Have a great (and NOT foggy) weekend !

Leave a Reply