A Return to Foghorns a Boon to Safety Even in Age of GPS

A Return to Foghorns a Boon to Safety Even in Age of GPS

photo - Chris Mills

A return to foghorns a boon to safety even in age of GPS

by Glen Farrough,  Vancouver Sun, September 08, 2011

It’s been roughly eight years since the Coast Guard silenced most of the foghorns on our coastal lighthouses, for a saving of $75,000 per year. The main reason used to justify this move was the increasingly widespread use of global positioning system (GPS) devices.

But this same Coast Guard still feels it’s necessary to have all their visual aids to navigation in place. They maintain their system of day markers, cardinal buoys, lighthouses, etc.

So, on the one hand, they seem to be saying that regardless of GPS usage, it is necessary to have these aids to navigation in place. On the other hand, they appear to believe these aids are only necessary when visibility is good.

When visibility drops and the fog rolls over you so fast you think someone stole the bow of your boat, well, then you’re supposed to rely on your GPS and only your GPS.

Wouldn’t it be beneficial to have aids to navigation available when you can’t see where you’re going?

A foghorn’s distinctive sound would help confirm your location and it would also accomplish what foghorns on boats and ships continue to do: avoid collisions in the fog – in this case, with the land.

Now that the government has indicated that staffed lighthouses are here to stay, I’d like to see, or hear, those lightkeepers turn on the foghorns again, whenever the fog drops in.

It’s an inexpensive way to keep this foggy coast safer.

Glen Farrough Tofino © Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun. Read more.

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Retired (2001) British Columbia lighthouse keeper after 32 years on the lights.

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