Electronics, Confidence Aren't Substitutes for Seamanship

Never outrun your visibility.

A boat raced out of the fog, ran up a crowded beach and into a Florida restaurant today. Authorities are quoted as stating that neither alcohol nor drugs are involved. Only blind luck prevented anyone from getting killed. These are the facts as reported by WFLA

Boat Crashes While Running In Fog
This boat was reportedly operated at high speed in fog when it ran up a beach, narrowly missing beachgoers, before crashing into a Florida restaurant.

I know I have seen plenty --or rather heard--plenty of boaters zooming around in the fog. In recent years, as marine electronics have become better and cheaper, I have noticed more and more boaters over-confidently charging around in low visibility. This is not a knock on marine electronics (though it sure is hard not to notice that big, honking open array RADAR antenna installed on the boat that crashed). Marine electronics are great: easy to use and accurate. But when visibility shuts down, throttle back, post a lookout and sound fog signals.

Takeaway: Never outrun your visibility. That means to make your speed such that you can stop in half the distance you can see. Half--because unlike fixed objects such as beaches and restaurants, other boats may be moving toward you.