By Capt. Ralph Allen
As soups go, pea soup is pretty thick stuff. You can pour it, ladle it, drink it — heck, if you had enough of it you could probably swim in it. But one thing you can’t do is see through the green-colored and viscous broth. That’s why an old mariner’s adage refers to conditions of heavy fog as “thick as pea soup.” Early on Sunday morning, the conditions on Charlotte Harbor near Punta Gorda certainly fit that description when a heavy blanket of fog shrouded the inshore waters and the adjacent uplands in the pre-dawn hours, drastically reducing the visibility for boaters.
How thick was Sunday’s fog? Not as thick as the “I couldn’t see two feet in front of my face” fog about which we hear so much (and seldom actually experience) but around the time of sunrise I’d venture a guess that visibility was something like 100 yards. That means that two boats heading directly at each other, each running at 25 mph, would have roughly four seconds of reaction time before colliding head on. Maybe less than four seconds, if visibility was further restricted by eyeglasses or windshields which were damp with fog-induced condensation, or if the boats were running faster than
25 mph, or if one or both operators didn’t happen to be looking exactly straight ahead at the precise moment when the vessels first entered visual range because they were preoccupied by checking compass headings or GPS tracks. Scary stuff.
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