Channel Islands Harbor Fog Horn

If you live at or near the beach chances are you have heard a fog horn.  Up until recently, I never had any one complain about the sound of a fog horn.  

Until that call..... Lei, what is that noise and why wasn't it a disclosure?  My caller, a dear friend of mine who recently bought an ocean front house, was distraught after loosing a few hours of sleep listening to the fog horn.

So, I did some research and I have to say that I found out that all of what I thought I knew about fog horns was incorrect.

First, I thought that they automatically started making fog horn noises when it got very foggy.  I have heard it in the distance for years and often think of how magical the noise was.  It meant that the air was still and the fog was rolling in.  Second, I thought everyone loved the noise..... OOOPPS.  not these folks.  To them, it was horrific and made their windows rattle.  Why didn't someone tell them?!

Not knowing where to start I went to the Coast Guard Station and found out more about our fog horn:

Fog horns are designed to assist mariners into finding the harbor entrance when the fog is so thick that you can not see your hand in front of your face.  When a mariner is approaching the harbor entrance he can go to a specific channel on his VHS marine radio, key the mike 5 times and the fog horn will be triggered to aid his navigation and help him find the entrance.  The horn will sound for 30 minutes and automatically turn off.  If, for some reason, the mariner re-keys the mike it will start the 30 minute timer over again.  Every harbor entrance has a fog horn and all fog horns are on the same radio frequency that responds to the mariner's key on the appropriate VHS channel.

There are different noise levels for each fog horn.  The one at Channel Islands reached 1/2 mile. Some travel further.  Of course, wind will accelerate how far the sound travels.  Marina Del Ray has had complaints regarding their fog horn and the Coast Guard has put an effort into quieting the noise in the direction of the homes.

The Coast Guard officer in charge of the fog horns is in charge of  maintaining the fog horns.  After speaking with the officer, I was told that if he could "plug" the fog horn in the direction of the homes on the beach at Silver Strand Beach he would in attempt to quiet the noise.  The Coast Guard was terrific and assured me that if they could do anything to lessen the noise they would do it.


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