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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    39

    Default Channel visibility

    We've just crossed to Cherbourg for the first time and are now planning our trip back. Visibility in the channel has been poor to patchy over the last few days. We were planning to go tomorrow, but the forecast for visibility is moderate, occasionally very poor. Can anyone recommend more detailed or more than 24hr visibility forecasts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Essex
    Posts
    22,648

    Default Re: Channel visibility

    Passageweather is not giving anything much, perhaps a little rain later in the day. It depends somewhat on how confident you are and what equipment you have. With radar and AIS, I don't think I would have any concerns. With AIS alone, this would depend on the experience of those on board. I have crossed without either many times, but only once with fog forecast. I was much younger then and it wasn't much fun. I think that you perhaps need to check several sources. It is sometimes easy to get scared off unnecessarily, but it also depends on the outlook later. Thursday and Friday are looking OK, but not Saturday.
    Far away is near at hand in images of elsewhere

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: Channel visibility

    Thanks for the reply. We have an AIS receiver, but no transmitter or radar. I wouldn't say we're totally inexperienced but it is our first crossing and the thought of crossing the shipping in fog makes us cautious / nervous

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    5,749

    Default Re: Channel visibility

    I came across on Sunday, and in the middle we were down to about 50m vis at some times.

    All the ships transmit on AIS, so if one looks as if it's coming for you, call him up on VHF, give him your distance and bearing from him, and ask if he can see you on radar. If he hasn't give him your lat/long, or ask him nicely if he would be so good as to alter course slightly for you. They are generally very helpful.

    I had one that was going nicely behind me, then he changed course to aim right at me. I called him up and asked if he had me on radar, which he did not. So I told him that I saw him change course, and would he mind changing back, to which he told me that he had altered course for another boat that had asked, but said that he would go half way back, which was fine.
    Last edited by Bobc; 27-08-19 at 17:19.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Plymouth
    Posts
    8,489

    Default Re: Channel visibility

    Windy is showing a murky area north of Cherbourg tomorrow morning but it is set to clear by 8/9h.

    https://www.windy.com/?2019-08-28-21,50.142,0.066,7

    The afternoon shipping forecast gives nothing worse than moderate. Wed looks clearer, it's a toss up.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: Channel visibility

    Thanks for all the replies. We'd got quite used to chatting with the shipping on the way over, which made the whole thing much more relaxed. Thankfully the met came through with a better forecast this evening, which now agrees with all other sources. And thanks too, I hadn't realised both windy and passage weather give fog forecasts for the channel

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Where life is good
    Posts
    13,898

    Default Re: Channel visibility

    Good lick ..

    My most terrifying cross channel crossing was from Calais to Dover.
    We could hear five fog horns in our immediate area as we crossed the TSS

    Three ahead and two behind. In the days before AIS, First Officer was on the VHF twlking to Dover CG getting targets, bearings and speeds ... I saw something in the fog and had a near heart attack then realised it was the funnel ahead... that meant the thing was passing ahead....

    Then I saw the bow to my starboard......
    Life is too short to drink bad wine.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Boat Orwell - Me Norwich
    Posts
    8,084

    Default Re: Channel visibility

    Quote Originally Posted by misterjenkins View Post
    I wouldn't say we're totally inexperienced but it is our first crossing and the thought of crossing the shipping in fog makes us cautious / nervous
    Quite rightly so. I've had a crossing experience similar to Tomahawk's that I certainly would not wish to repeat. If you can delay your return it is much more likely to be a pleasant (and safe) experience.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Southampton
    Posts
    35,518

    Default Re: Channel visibility

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobc View Post
    I came across on Sunday, and in the middle we were down to about 50m vis at some times.
    We crossed back Monday, I'd say it averaged 100m that day but was down to a boat length or two some of the time. It was grey but clear as we left Cherbourg, but clamped down shortly after and didn't lift until ten miles south of the Needles. The site I'd been looking at for wind forecasts didn't mention it, the Shipping Forecast only said "fog patches".

    Our AIS receiver seems to have been getting increasingly intermittent - must admit I hadn't got round to doing much about it since we've only been pottering around the Solent recently. But on the way across to France it was dropping in and out completely, and on the return trip it mostly showed nothing, with occasional flashes of activity. So we were almost entirely dependent on the radar. Very glad of our recent upgrade to a modern unit with actual working MARPA plotting believable CPAs. Not quite as solid as you get from AIS, but a damn sight easier than doing it manually.

    Pete

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    465

    Default Re: Channel visibility

    Most ships transmit AIS (except when they forget - see my post re "fast moving AIS")

    Not sure if we are allowed to make recommendations on here but last year I was sat in Cherbourg waiting to come home in very dense fog and I gave the helpful guys at SWIS/Weatherweb a call and chatted it through. They could tell me real time exactly where the fog was (in this case a bank enveloping Cherbourg itself, but clear a couple of miles E/W and N of the harbour!) Impressively precise and accurate and based on their input I delayed my crossing to night time and had probably my most memorable return, with Dolphins, shooting stars and all manner of fun!

    Couldn't recommend talking with a forecaster enough in your situation

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