For a couple of decades now I have developed relationships with some wonderful electronics manufacturers and sold them ads in National Fisherman. They provide our commercial fishermen with the needed electronics to keep them safe. I now have a new appreciation for what that means.

On Puget Sound, Sunday, Sept. 13, you couldn’t see a thing. The smoke from Oregon and western Washington fires made the air into a thick orange fog. We are small in our San Juan 28. And we were trying to get back home to Vashon after a vacation in Friday Harbor.

All we usually need on that trip is our compass, our depth finder and our old handheld Garmin. But not this time. That Sunday, we found ourselves in the fog scene from “Master and Commander” without the necessary electronics.

After giving a wide berth to Wing Point and watching out for that big rock that sits outside of Eagle Harbor, we knew we were coming to the Bainbridge — Seattle ferry run.

On Vashon, our biggest boat is the Issaquah. On Bainbridge, they have the Wenatchee! 460 feet long, 90-foot beam with room for 202 cars.

Did I say our boat is 28 feet? And we couldn’t see? And we don’t have radar or AIS? We had to scramble. I consulted the Washington State DOT Ferry VesselWatch (totally awesome, if you haven’t used it before because it refreshes every 15 seconds), so we could see where the ferry boats were. And my husband, James, had our NOAA chart in one hand, Garmin in the other and binoculars hanging on the capstan at the ready.

Watching the Wenatchee emerge from the fog was truly amazing. It is beyond huge. We did have a good idea where it was, but really, seeing it with our own eyes was what we needed. It allowed us to move on to Restoration Point where we could stop and worry about the Chimacum on the Bremerton run.

We made it back to Quartermaster Harbor just fine on Monday afternoon. And nothing bad happened. But it was a real eye opener.

Susan Chesney is the national sales manager for National Fisherman.

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