A Travellerspoint blog

Sea Smoke

-25.83768 S / 14.50896 E en route to Walvis Bay, Namibia

View Around the World! - Part 3 on Where2FromHere's travel map.

Early this morning, the captain announced that due to poor visibility, we would be unable to take tenders into the port of Lüderitz, Namibia. As a result, we will unfortunately miss the opportunity to explore this small port. While it's always disappointing to miss a chance to disembark and discover new places, the port's size suggests that it may not be a significant loss. Fortunately, we have another stop in Namibia scheduled for tomorrow.

Despite the missed visit, two interesting facts about Lüderitz caught my attention:

  • In October 2011, Erden Eruç, a Turkish-born American adventurer, embarked on the final ocean crossing of his solo human-powered circumnavigation of the Earth from Lüderitz Bay. Eruç rowed an oceangoing rowboat to South America, taking an incredible five months to reach the town of Güiria, Venezuela. The thought of crossing an ocean in a rowboat is either incredibly crazy or perhaps a testament to human endurance and determination. I vote for the former.
  • Just south of Lüderitz, a former seal processing plant is being transformed into a massive green hydrogen project. The project will measure wind speed, solar radiation, and barometric pressure to support the operation of one of the world's five largest hydrogen plants. The ambitious undertaking includes the installation of 500 wind turbines and 40 square kilometers of solar panels. Hydrogen can be used in a wide range of applications, including fuel cells for vehicles, energy storage, and as a feedstock for industrial processes like ammonia production and petroleum refining. Remarkably, the investment in this project is equal to Namibia's entire gross domestic product.


Our planned visit to the port of Lüderitz was thwarted by limited visibility, which made it unsafe to operate the tenders. While some may have mistakenly attributed this to fog, the culprit was actually a different phenomenon. This experience piqued my curiosity, and I decided to delve deeper into the fascinating facts about fog, mist, and the unique conditions that prevented our visit.

To understand fog, we must first define visibility. During the day, visibility is the greatest distance at which a black object of suitable dimensions near the ground can be seen and recognized against a bright background. At night, visibility is determined by the greatest distance through which a light of around 1000 candelas (a unit of luminous intensity) can be seen and identified against an unlit black background.
Fog and mist are created by microscopic water droplets suspended in the air, scattering light and reducing visibility. The distinction between fog and mist lies in the degree of visibility reduction:
Fog: a suspension of very small water droplets in air, reducing visibility to 1000 meters or less.
Mist: similar to fog, but visibility is reduced to no less than 1000 meters.
Haze, on the other hand, is a reduction in visibility caused by microscopic particles in the air rather than water droplets.
While it might seem that fog was the cause of our predicament, the fact that we were sailing over salt water rather than fresh water tells a different story. When the air above a body of water is sufficiently cold, the water may steam. This phenomenon is called steam fog over fresh water but it is sea smoke over saline water.

In conclusion, our missed opportunity to visit Lüderitz led me on a journey of discovery about the intriguing world of fog, mist, and sea smoke. While the limited visibility prevented us from exploring the port, it opened the door to a better understanding of the conditions that shape our experiences at sea. And, as always, we will make the most of the day - I'm hoping you do as well. Until tomorrow in Namibia ....

Posted by Where2FromHere 10:59

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