Sailing in a gale in Puget Sound in the dark

Sailing in a gale in Puget Sound in the dark

I love sailing at night. I love sailing in high winds.

Sailing in Puget Sound at night in a gale? The thing about Puget Sound is there are logs floating in it, sometimes even shipping containers, just about at the water level. They’ll really ruin your day.

So we have the AIS (Automatic Identification System, a radio signal being sent by most commercial and quite a few private vessels) receiver going, the Doppler radar for those vessels without AIS, and a thermal camera in pan-and-scan mode.

Radar and AIS overlay on the chart plotter’s map, and the thermal camera displays every object in the water with a yellow box around it and, within 300 feet, the distance. If it is in your pad it draws a red box. It also overlays radar and ais objects and navigation waypoints (it has separate ClearCruise sensor for that AR overlay functionality).

We keep lights off, the chart plotter display low, and instruments set to red to preserve our night vision as much as possible.

Sometimes I lock the thermal camera onto a target from the chart plotter, e.g. the buoy in the middle of a turning area of commercial channels, and pop out the thermal camera’s display, so I can make certain to miss it.

Still, exciting and a bit wearying.

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