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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my first post in this forum so I apologize if this isn't the appropriate location for this inquiry. I am reaching out to see if anyone has any tips, tricks, or gear that has proven successful in navigating foggy conditions. The Mississippi River is more often than not foggy especially early season and its a constant struggle. Regardless of how often I run the route the River is constantly changing and always end up on some sand bar or tucked into a corner I did not intend to get myself into. Any advice would be appreciated and Happy Hunting!
 

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Navigating in fog is just plain dangerous. I try to avoid it as much as possible but just can’t sometimes. First thing is be sure to have your nav lights on (I know that’s obvious but some don’t). An absolute necessity is a good GPS with built in maps. The larger the screen the better. My GPS has saved my *** many times. Go slow and also keep a close eye on your depth finder. Your depth finder can at least keep you from getting very far up on a sand bar. Set the alarm for a certain depth like 3 or 4 feet.
The best combination of electronics is to have radar along with GPS and depth finder. I understand radar isn’t a real option on many smaller boats. Radar can keep you from colliding with other boats, bridges etc.
Also be sure to have a loud air horn so if you hear another boat you can warn them you are there.
Be safe out there.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks! I have been using the GPS on my phone but I think a garmin or something might be more accurate. Do you have a specific brand you use? Also do you have a way that you attach it to your rig or your body?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
FWIW- I have found my red 700 lumen predator light cuts through fog significantly better than any white light, typically 3-5x farther or more. I no longer boat without it.
This is exactly the kind of info I was looking for, thank you all so much for the insights. I know I am not the first waterfowler to navigate fog and figured technology has come a long way 🦆
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Navigating in fog is just plain dangerous. I try to avoid it as much as possible but just can’t sometimes. First thing is be sure to have your nav lights on (I know that’s obvious but some don’t). An absolute necessity is a good GPS with built in maps. The larger the screen the better. My GPS has saved my *** many times. Go slow and also keep a close eye on your depth finder. Your depth finder can at least keep you from getting very far up on a sand bar. Set the alarm for a certain depth like 3 or 4 feet.
The best combination of electronics is to have radar along with GPS and depth finder. I understand radar isn’t a real option on many smaller boats. Radar can keep you from colliding with other boats, bridges etc.
Also be sure to have a loud air horn so if you hear another boat you can warn them you are there.
Be safe out there.
Sorry, I am still trying to figure out this forum platform. Not sure how to address someone directly besides leaving the whole quote. What GPS device would you recommend? Do you have a way that you attach it to your boat or person?
 

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I like using a Lawrence fish finding unit. It gives me bottom depth and with the mapping chip (I believe you'd want the Great Lakes Chip) it will give you a great chart of the river and your route. Hint: Once you find a safe way in on a clear day, save the track to use in the fog. Hand held units are fine as well but you don't get depth readings. On a duck boat, you'll tear your transducer off (the thing you attach to the stern to monitor the bottom) so instead mount it throng the hull on the inside of the boat. We were up in canada and tore off a transducer. We put in in plastic coffee can filled with water, set in on the bottom of the boat, and it worked just fine. It was a glass boat though. I'm sure it works in an aluminum boat as well but you have to form a seal around the transducer so it is tight to the bottom. If you don't care about depth, get something like a big screen like a Garmin Montana. You can also just get a Fishing GPS like the lowrance and NOT use the transducer. Just run the Nav. screen. You won't get depth but you will get charting and tracking. I use them like that ice fishing to find a "secret" spot on the bay.
 

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FWIW- I have found my red 700 lumen predator light cuts through fog significantly better than any white light, typically 3-5x farther or more. I no longer boat without it.
I’m not trying to argue but no light actually cuts through fog. If the fog is very very very light a bright light may cut through it a little. In foggy conditions all light no matter what the color (including amber/yellow) is simply reflected off the fog and back at you. Put your high beams on in your vehicle and you are somewhat blinded because the light reflects back at you. Your visibility is actually less. Fog is made up of zillions of micro droplets that act like prisms or mirrors. Light bounces back at you not through the little mirror like droplets.
Fog lights on vehicles work by shining low under the fog on the roadway, not through the fog. Aim fog lights so they shine slightly up and they are completely useless. Vehicle fog lights throw a wide short beam aimed low 1 to 2 feet above the road. On highways/roadways the fog doesn’t quite touch the ground so the fog lights illuminate the 2 to 3 feet under the fog.
There is still debate whether amber light is better than white light light in fog, if it is it ain’t much.
I say all this based on my personal research on the subject and based on hundreds of hours driving and boating in dense tule fog.
However if you think a certain type of light or color of light or what ever works for you then by all means go for it.
Finally bright lights at night like powerful spot lights while boating are often worse than no lights (other than your nav lights) as it destroys your night vision. I’m not talking just in fog but on dark fog less nights you may see better without powerful beam light’s because your night is so diminished from the bright spot light.
 

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I like using a Lawrence fish finding unit. It gives me bottom depth and with the mapping chip (I believe you'd want the Great Lakes Chip) it will give you a great chart of the river and your route. Hint: Once you find a safe way in on a clear day, save the track to use in the fog. Hand held units are fine as well but you don't get depth readings. On a duck boat, you'll tear your transducer off (the thing you attach to the stern to monitor the bottom) so instead mount it throng the hull on the inside of the boat. We were up in canada and tore off a transducer. We put in in plastic coffee can filled with water, set in on the bottom of the boat, and it worked just fine. It was a glass boat though. I'm sure it works in an aluminum boat as well but you have to form a seal around the transducer so it is tight to the bottom. If you don't care about depth, get something like a big screen like a Garmin Montana. You can also just get a Fishing GPS like the lowrance and NOT use the transducer. Just run the Nav. screen. You won't get depth but you will get charting and tracking. I use them like that ice fishing to find a "secret" spot on the bay.
Spot on. Most of the brand name marine gps units are quite good. You can order them off the internet but if you have a Cabelas/Basspro near you , go there and check them out. They usually have a large selection to choose from and sometimes knowledgeable people to talk to. Get a 7” screen or larger. Of course the larger the screen the more $$$. With a larger screen you can navigate within a couple feet of your course route. With a smaller handheld you may be off 20 or more feet from your route which may mean running aground, or hitting an obstruction. It’s not that hand held are less accurate it’s that the screen is too small to show your course down to a couple feet.
 

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I’m not trying to argue but no light actually cuts through fog. If the fog is very very very light a bright light may cut through it a little. In foggy conditions all light no matter what the color (including amber/yellow) is simply reflected off the fog and back at you. Put your high beams on in your vehicle and you are somewhat blinded because the light reflects back at you. Your visibility is actually less. Fog is made up of zillions of micro droplets that act like prisms or mirrors. Light bounces back at you not through the little mirror like droplets.
Fog lights on vehicles work by shining low under the fog on the roadway, not through the fog. Aim fog lights so they shine slightly up and they are completely useless. Vehicle fog lights throw a wide short beam aimed low 1 to 2 feet above the road. On highways/roadways the fog doesn’t quite touch the ground so the fog lights illuminate the 2 to 3 feet under the fog.
There is still debate whether amber light is better than white light light in fog, if it is it ain’t much.
I say all this based on my personal research on the subject and based on hundreds of hours driving and boating in dense tule fog.
However if you think a certain type of light or color of light or what ever works for you then by all means go for it.
Finally bright lights at night like powerful spot lights while boating are often worse than no lights (other than your nav lights) as it destroys your night vision. I’m not talking just in fog but on dark fog less nights you may see better without powerful beam light’s because your night is so diminished from the bright spot light.
No argument coming from here either, and you are clearly the fog and light expert, but it sounds like you haven't used a ~700 lumen red light in comparison to several other white headlamps and spotlights of varying brightness in a foggy hunting setting. You should try it.

In fact, based off several of your stated points, a medium powered color (i.e. red) that doesn't diminish night vision (as much) sounds like just the thing that could "cut" through some fog, or at least change the eyes' perception of the reflectance.

However if you think a certain type of light or color of light or what ever works for you then by all means go for it.
I know it does and I will. OP, give us a shout back on what you find if you try it.
 

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I hate fog but i believe you. I’m going to make a reminder note and see if I can find one of those lights. I’ll give it a try. Any advantage in the fog I’ll take.
 
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...on dark fog less nights you may see better without powerful beam light’s because your night is so diminished from the bright spot light.
Does that mean that sunlight hurts my ability to see well? I always felt I could see my way through the marsh better at noon than at midnight....

Now, if there is a full moon, and a cloudless sky, I can usually see fairly well picking my way through the channels in the cattails at 3AM without artificial lighting. But I can certainly see better/more detail with a nice, bright spotlight. Why rely on "night vision" when you can have virtually "day vision" by using a good halogen light (I don't care for LED spotlights, for some reason)?
Each to his own, I suppose, but I think every duck boat should have at least one good, functional spotlight on board.
 

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I should have clarified. On narrow bodies of water like channels, rivers, sloughs, and traveling close to shore a spotlight is helpful and beneficial To navigate safely. On larger bodies like lakes, bays, the ocean , wide rivers a spotlight is mostly useless and can even be dangerous. And diminishing your night vision on big water is especially dangerous.
On a boat you need to have your eyes well adapted to the dark so you can see All Around. A body of water is not like a road where traffic comes from in front, behind or at intersections. On the water other vessels can and do come from every direction and you need to be aware of them. This is done using the colored lights, front and sides Red on one side, Green on the other. If you see both colors boats coming at you. Red its going one way, green the other. The White stern means its headed in the opposite direction.
So headlights and spotlights on a boat would point straight ahead, you could see directly in front of your vessel at the angle of the boats headway. Meaning up and down on a waving evening… The lights would also hamper your night vision so your not going to see much of anything Not Lit up….and that is not good when trying to find unlit navigational aids or when you can not see debris in the water. A spotlight lights up a very narrow area of water when in big water. Mostly useless.
Also while your boat is bouncing up and down on the waves shining that bright light you are blinding all the other boaters around you…so they too cannot see.
So…most boats do not have headlights or spotlights as it hampers navigation. The ones you may see on some boats are actually Docking lights meant to be used in tight quarters when docking. When trying to find a particular unlit navigational aid on a real dark night, we use Spot lights that can be aimed where we expect to find them…not always in the direction we are going.
Do you know of any boats that come from the factory with headlights or spotlights? I know of none but perhaps but maybe there’s one. Some larger boats come with spotlights for docking at night.
 

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I hate fog.
I'm with you, brother! Case in point, a few years back I was hunting a WMA that I am very familiar with and have hunted it for many years. It's not a huge place, maybe 7 miles in length and about 5 miles wide. I ran out in the boat early in the morning in the dark and after a few hours of hunting, the fog got so thick there was only maybe 10 yards of visibility at best. I decided to call it a day and packed everything up and started heading for the truck. I got so turned around and mixed up on what direction I was traveling and with such low visibility I was really worried about running into something like another boat. After about 30 min of being lost, I remembered I had my GPS in my blind bag. When I turned it on, I was convinced it wasn't working correctly, but of course it was. I was more than 2 miles from where I believed I was and what I thought was West was in fact East. I was going in the completely wrong direction. Had I been on the ocean or some other huge body of water that day without a GPS, I'd have been toast. I never go out without a GPS anymore. I like a handheld unit because I use it for everything from waterfowl hunting, to hiking and deer or elk hunting. This thing has saved my bacon more times than I can count. I've had this unit for several years, so they most likely don't make this model anymore, but I've been very pleased with Garmin and would buy another.
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Fog is the worst to drive or navigate a boat in. I’ve experienced the same as you on many occasions. I have gps and sonar on my boat and always carry a hand held (Garmin) as back up. I fish and hunt the California Delta a lot which is made up of over 1000 miles of twisting turning waterways. It looks a lot like the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. People get lost there all the time on clear sunny days and dark foggy days/nights is very bad, a nightmare. My last bad experience there was in December on a rainy foggy day. I came across a boat with engine trouble so I towed them to the marina they had launched from. When I cut them loose it was night time, foggy and raining. Visibility was 20’ max. No wind thank God. I was 9 winding miles from where I launched and my truck and trailer. I finally got back to my launch ramp at 10pm. It was a long long scary boat ride. Without gps I would have had to spend the night in the boat where I dropped off the other boat off and there was nothing there but a dock and launch ramp. Yep, gps, don’t leave home without it. My gps and fish finder/sonar
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Do you know of any boats that come from the factory with headlights or spotlights?
No, I don't. I also don't know of any that come from the factory with PFD's.....but I'll bet most owners add them fairly quickly.

I also don't know of many aircraft that don't have, and use, landing lights for nightime use. If auxiliary lighting was so detrimental at night, pilots wouldn't utilize their planes lights for their intended use, right?
.
I know what your point is; while you can see better at night with auxiliary lighting, you then see worse (for a short time) IF YOU THEN TURN THE LIGHT(S) OFF. No argument there.
I also think you'd agree with me that virtually any boat that is on the water in the dark hours between sunset and sunrise probably has, and should have, auxiliary lighting aboard (beyond the required nav lights).

If spotlights/headlights help you spot hazards in/near the water, by all means use them. I hope you weren't implying otherwise, and you probably weren't.
 

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Your argument re pfd’s and boat lights is illogical and irrelevant. I guess your signature “Often wrong, never in doubt…” says it all. In any event I don’t think anything will be achieved or resolved by continuing this discussion with you. I’m done, carry on Mud.
 

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Where I live we shoot deer a lot at night out of our boat.Get a good GPS depth sounder.Do a run with it turned on in the daylight keeping well clear of any hazards and then save the track so you can then follow it again at night.We then use thermal hunting units in the dark.Thermal works better than night vision in fog.Nav lights on.Keep speed down so your just on the plane.Keep GPS screen backlight turned right down so you don't loose you limited eyesight.Driver follows track on screen and offsider runs thermal gear.Always have the motor kill switch cord attached to your person.So far we havn't had a whoopsie not to say it won't happen one day.Always remember " boats bite" they'll always embarass you sooner or later.Speed is what gets most boaties in trouble from my experience.
 
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