Boating in times of restricted visibility is dangerous, it can cause accidents or can cause the driver or operator to hit a rock or any harmful object. For this reason, there are lots of restrictions for boaters during restricted visibility. Times of restricted visibility include during fog or at night, there are various signals used to alert operators that a boat or a ship is ahead.
Safety signals have been developed to ensure safety in these situations, they’re sound and light signals you have to rely on in order to drive safely to your destination. Knowing the signals will help minimize lots of accidents and that’s why we’re going to share signals used during times of restricted visibility such as fog.
What Is A Restricted View?
Restricted view doesn’t mean an object has blocked your sight completely, when it comes to boating it means you’re not able to see or be seen clearly.
In other words, it’s difficult to see other boats or ships, and they won’t be able to see you coming as well. You’re also not able to see objects like rocks in front of you, you’ll experience restricted view for basically two reasons;
Poor weather/Fog; When the rainstorms or there is a fog and mist, you’ll experience restricted visibility. Bad weather is the cause of poor visibility during the day, hence it’s necessary to check the weather forecast before setting out on the water.
A lot of accidents are caused by the weather because drivers and operators can’t see clearly what is ahead of them. It’s better to postpone your trip when the weather isn’t good.
Night; This is another factor that leads to restricted visibility, you’ll end up not seeing anything during the night or at sunrise.
Normally, no one will plan their trip in the night, but one might be caught when they experience technical problems on their boats such as when having battery or engine failure.
Extra care needs to be taken in such situations before returning home or at the dock. You’ll end up facing a lot of obstacles at night.
Rules For Operating During Restricted Visibility
- All boats/vessels must move at a safe speed; No speeding in times of restricted visibility, every vessel should be ready to maneuver when the weather changes.
- Unless there isn’t any risk of collision, if the driver/operator hears a sound or fog signal but can’t see the vessel ahead, they must stop or reduce the speed to a bare minimum in order to avoid a collision.
These Are Some Of The General Rules That Apply During Restricted Visibility.
When A Sailboat Is Underway In The Fog, What Sound Signal Should You Hear?
There are both sound and light signals sent when there is restricted visibility and each has a code, let’s take a look at them and the rules that govern them as well.
Sound Signals When Fog Is Underway
- For every two minutes, power-driven boats are required to send one prolonged blast.
- Sailing boats should use one prolonged blast, followed by 2-short blasts every 2-minutes.
- When a power drive vessel stops, it needs to send 2-prolonged blasts every two minutes.
- A vessel tied to anchor should blast 5 rapid bell strokes every one minute.
- A manned towed vessel should send a 1-prolonged blast with 3-short blasts every two minutes.
Types Of Sound Signals To Send When Fog Is Underway
Basically, you can make a sound on a boat using three different tools and there are conditions for each. Let’s take a look at these sound tools, when and how they should be used to send a signal when fog is underway;
- Horn/Whistle; It’s suited for larger vessels, horn blast should be heard within the range of 1.5 to 2-nautical miles away, it should be registered at 143-decibels. It is supposed to be mounted on the highest point of a boat; it also shouldn’t be placed in a way that it can cause damage.
- The Bell; It’s another tool used to send a signal when fog is underway. It’s required that the diameter of the bell should be at least 300mm for boats that have a length more than 20 meters, and 200mm for boats with a length between 12-20 meters. The striker, on the other hand, should be 3% of the total mass of the bell. It’s preferred to be ringed manually but can as well operate under power.
- Gong; A Gong has to be corrosion resistant; The sound should be clear and has to be different from that of a bell. There are different sound devices out there that can make sounds similar to these devices, they can be used as well.
Light Signals When Fog Is Underway Or If There Is A Restricted Visibility
- When the boat approaching your vessel’s starboard side has a red portlight, it is indicating you’re in a danger zone and it means you should approach further.
- When there is a green light, it means you’re on the right way.
- A vessel that doesn’t have a masthead light means it’s not a power-driven boat.
- If a vessel is towed, it’s under the control of another boat, it will have the right of the powerboat driving it.
- If the light isn’t visible under heavy rain or fog, the light will not be useful in such a case, sound signals must be used instead. In such a situation it’s advised to reduce the speed to a minimum and when you hear a sound you should stay idle.
Different Lights On A Boat
- Masthead lights; it’s a white light shining forward and on the sides of the vessel, all power-driven vessels should have this light display on them.
- Stern light; it’s also a white light that can be seen from the rear.
- Sidelights. They’re mounted on both sides of the vessel and each side has a different color, it’s a green light on the vessel’s starboard and a red light on the vessel’s port side.
- All-round light; it’s used by power vessels that are less than 39.4 feet, it combines both stern light and masthead light. The result of the combination is to produce a strong white light that can be seen from all sides of the boat. It’s used as an anchor light when the sidelights aren’t working.
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