The night is black like an eight ball. Looking down the 1500 foot mega dock at The Charleston City Marina every light has a fuzzy gray halo, the air thick and damp.
Over head the night sky is covered in stars. You can see up for billions of miles, but the James Island connector less than a quarter mile is only an eerie glow.
Welcome to the world of "Sea Fog".
In Charleston and along the southeastern coast during the winter months, sea fog is a frequent visitor, as warm moist air from the gulf and Caribbean flows over the cooler Atlantic coastal waters.
You may have noticed that Sea Fog can happen at anytime. The past few days the fog has come and gone, with off shore breeze pushing the fog out to sea, only to return with the on shore breeze later in the day.
Today's fog is expected to lift somewhat before 5AM, but may continue to present a problem while winds remain light and temps remain in the mid fifties.
Mariners traveling along the Intracoastal Waterway, may encounter sea fog far inland in many areas. It is a good idea to monitor both channels 16 and 13, paying close attention to sécurité calls and position reports, as well as reports concerning low visibility.
Two 65' pleasure boats departed the City Marina yesterday after the fog cleared, only to find themselves back in the soup two hours later, in route to Beaufort, SC.
Should you find yourself suddenly in sea fog, promptly reduce speed. Unless you are very familiar with the operation of your radar and GPS, it's time to find anchorage out of the channel.
If you must continue make sure you are using all your resources, up to date charts, radar, VHF, GPS, fog signal, and most importantly keep your speed down.