In a Fog

Currents run about an hour and a half behind tides in the Piscataqua River and its side creeks and channels. In order to leave before the current turned against us, we got up at 0400 and had the engine running at 0535. Since leaving entailed dropping the mooring pennant (thanks again, Tom and Amy!), we were quickly underway. There was a good fog going on, giving us visibility of about a mile or so, but the forecasters called for 5-10 knots of SE wind, building to 10-15 with 20 knot gusts in the afternoon. Perfect conditions for a broad reach up to Portland. We thought it would blow the fog away before long. Both they and we were wrong. When we rounded Gerrish Island, at the mouth of the river, the fog got denser rather than lighter. At less than a quarter mile visibility, the term socked in was fully realized. In fog this thick, being on watch means constantly scanning the liminal horizon. With our radar pulsing through the visual barrier, we watched red blobs coalesce on the screen and navigated around most of the lobstering fleet without ever catching sight of them. Eyes straining in the diffuse glare, ears pointed to the low growl of engine noise reflecting off the water, an hour watch exhausted our concentration. Shift kiss. Modulating fog density gave us up to a half mile visibility at times before closing in on us again. The freedom to look farther reminded me (Dena) of the sensation when coming out of a dense forest onto an ocean cliff. Extending focus is a liberating act. Hours upon hours stacked up, watch on watch, but the fog didn’t lift and the forecasters were wrong. We motorsailed as soon as a breeze plucked at the water vapor in the[…]

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