Tag Archives: navigation

Fog – MRASS Means Safer Navigation for ALL Boats

Home | General Content | Fog – MRASS Means Safer Navigation for ALL Boats

So here you are, searching for the point in the fog.  No radar, and GPS these days can be a little iffy.  You would rather not hit the reef off the point, or, the breakwater/jetty where the harbor is hidden behind that point.  You’re blowing the your horn and/or ringing the bell as required.  And going just fast enough to be able to dodge the usual idiot doing 20 knots when five is borderline.

And the foghorn on the point isn’t blowing.  Because it’s fog-activated, and the sensors may be above the fog, and the system has never been particularly reliable.  Hence, you and others who rely on that sound to determine the direction of a critical navigation point may wind up in a difficult situation.

We now have the Mariner Radio Activated  Sound System (MRASS).  Many of the horns in foggy areas, such as New England, Great Lakes and the California Coast, have been updated with the new system, which allows boaters to activate the foghorns themselves using their VHF radios.  You can read the Local Notices to Mariners online to see which local horns have been equipped.

The chart details shown below are examples of newer chart/GPS/Plotter updates, calling out the MRASS-equipped horns.

Go on your VHF radio (it is either channel 81A or 83A) and click the transmit key five times in a row.  The horn will activate for 30 minutes.  It works, and it can be real life saver.  I’ve tried it outside Marina Del Rey, and it works.

Just another reason to love the Coasties.

 

Marina del rey Entrance
Chart Detail with MRASS shown – Marina del Rey entrance
Note the MRASS callout on the breakwater horn
Note the MRASS callout on the breakwater horn

 

 

 

Check for the Wreck

Home | Forespar Products in Use | Check for the Wreck

We’re continually surprised at what boaters don’t see when they’re charting a course or looking for an anchorage on the GPS or on a paper chart.  You’d be surprised at the number of recreational skippers who think that fish bone symbol means it’s a fishing spot (often it is, but that’s a separate conversation).

What that really means is a shipwreck on the bottom.  And, the form of the symbol is an indication of navigability – is it relatively safe to sail near or even over the wreck?  Since boating safety is a paramount concern, this is something we all need know about sailing, and keeping the StaPlug, the raft and PDF dry.

 

Wreck Symbol Tips – Look for the Fish Bone Symbols and the hull at Ajax Reef

On the left-hand chart, you’ll see two wreck symbols, and both are safe to sail across.  The remains of the wreck are minimal, and they are in relatively deep water.  However, you’ll want to be careful anchoring, as you could foul your and anchor or rode.

In the center, you’ll see the symbols with a dotted outline.  That means STAY AWAY.  Those wrecks are shallow enough to be a danger to your vessel.  You’ll note that the lower wreck even has a notation “Mast”, meaning that the mast is above the surface at low water.

On the right is the symbol showing a semi-submerged hull on a reef.  That one is self-explanatory – the wreck is at the surface, and is visible.  Without knowing tide and current, the simple solution is to stay out around the 90-foot line.  Since it’s not lighted, basic navigation applies (A cross bearing on the nearest lighted marks and a close check on the depth sounder).

Check the chart before you go in there, and plan/plot a course clear of the hazards.  A little care will help you not be another symbol on the chart.

Mike Dwight