This is what faced us as we turned "Arthur" around from the Fastnet Rock. Visibility is almost non-existent.
"Arthur" and her crew have experienced a handful (and it is literally just a few) of uncomfortable moments over the ten years that we have been engaged in coastal cruising. Each of these situations has seen us cope at the time and learn from the experience. And we had experienced heavy fog on a couple of passages heretofore, including our passage through the Blasket Sound earlier in this trip. And there was also the time we experienced heavy fog a couple of years ago when passaging from Dingle to Kilrush. That particular experience prompted me to purchase the Garmin Radar which is currently installed on "Arthur".
BUT, without any shadow of doubt this was our worst experience. The sense of disorientation is very powerful. As the following photos illustrate it is like being wrapped in cotton wool. Or perhaps it is similar to being in a large room, one with which you are unfamiliar, and where the room is suddenly plunged into total darkness!
We couldn't see anything other than the sea immediately around us and the fog that had engulfed us.
So, you start your engines and begin to move but your mind begins to play tricks on you... Which way are you headed...what if your chart-plotter is faulty?
You need to get a grip. You need to re-assert control. And in truth, for a few minutes my mind did wander down those black avenues. And then I did a couple of things that gave me re-assurance...I checked the Navionics app on my HTC U11 smartphone; I referenced the Navionics UK&Ireland chart on my Samsung Tablet. And all three (including our on-board Garmin Chartplotter) showed the same location. So, we started to move using the Gamin chart-plotter with the currently installed route and occasionally I cross-referenced it against the apps on my HTC U11 and Samsung Tablet.
Confidence returned to the crew of "Arthur" and we then re-commenced our passage to Berehaven.
But it was a tense time. We reduced speed, of course, and regularly sounded our horn. And we studied the radar with a vengeance. And on a couple of occasions it alerted us to fishing vessels and leisure craft close by.
In a subsequent conversation with Bryan Mourning, a US based member of the IWAI Cruising Club and a commercial pilot, I recounted our experience and he likened it to similar experiences that pilots regularly encounter. His primary comment was simple: 'You must trust your instruments'.
Most of the photos that follow which show "Arthur" making her way in the fog simply carry a time reference.