Foghorn logic still puzzles

The issue of lighthouses and boat navigational aids is still foggy, one reader says.

To the Editor,

It’s been roughly eight years since the Canadian Coast Guard silenced most of the foghorns on our West coast lighthouses. I seem to recall that this was going to save them $75,000 per year in maintenance costs.

Of course, the main reason they used to justify this move was the increasingly widespread use of GPS devices.

But here’s the part of their logic that I just don’t understand: this same Coast Guard still feels it’s necessary to have all their visual aids to navigation in place to this day, and, presumably, well into the future. Even with more widespread use of GPS in 2011, the coast guard maintains its system of day markers, cardinal buoys, lighthouses, etcetera.

So, on the one hand they seem to be saying that regardless of the capabilities of a properly functioning GPS unit onboard the boat of a knowledgable user, it is necessary to have these aids to navigation in place. (A position I agree with.)

On the other hand, they appear to be saying that 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.

There’s something  backwards about this thinking. Wouldn’t it be beneficial to have aids to navigation available when you can’t see where you’re going?

Obviously, they’d have to be signals that are heard rather than seen—in a word, foghorns.

I spoke to a lightkeeper years ago and he said they fought the removal of the foghorns and they would welcome their return. 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

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