If you can navigate when you can’t see where you’re going, you’re a genius, says columnist Dave Selby, in the July 2017 issue of Practical Boat Owner magazine.

I don’t want to get too technical, but in plain-speaking layman’s terms fog is caused by science which is caused by nature which can cause confusion.

They teach all three of these things on RYA courses.

It’s pretty straightforward, yet for some reason fog clouds thinking – but not mine. That’s because I adhere to the ancient seaman’s lore: ‘When there’s fog, walk the dog, if it’s mizzle go to Lidl’.

You won’t learn that on courses.

Neither do they tell you the other important thing about fog, and that’s the fact that it makes some people’s hair go frizzy – but not mine. Weirdly, this strange unexplained supernatural phenomenon, which only affects people of the female persuasion, is virtually unheard of on the South Coast where every hairdressing saloon has a marina and Range Rover sanctuary attached to it.

Cruel blight

Yet for some reason this cruel blight is endemic to some parts of my native Essex, particularly in the mystic marshlands of Basildon, Billericay and Brentwood, where it’s virtually epidemic, despite the fact that for centuries past women have burnished their hair blonde with locally gathered peroxide, then ironed and hammered it flat on anvils in an effort to stave off the Fearful Female Fog Frizz Fever.

Scientists, the medical profession and the greatest thinkers in the back bar of The Queen’s Head in Maldon have yet to come up with an explanation, let alone a cure.

In fact, when it’s foggy the Queen’s Head is generally empty, as most of our leading produce importers and free-market entrepreneurs are plying their honest trade out on the water in their traditional RIBs evading the King’s revenue cutters.

And that’s one thing we have in common with the South Coast, because come fog the Range Rover dealerships are also emptied, as everyone takes to the water to do a sailing course and hone their fog tactics.

And that’s what Alex had in mind. You remember tall, slender, willowy, wilful Alex: she’s the woman I met by total, total, accident when I hopped on to the wrong yacht when a mate of mine told me I could kip on his boat.

This is the fault of modern yacht builders for making them all look the same. You’ll recall that Alex owns a 10m steel yacht and 50ft motor barge, which are two things I find very attractive in a woman,and although relatively new to sailing she’s mad keen to learn and wasn’t having any of my ‘fog and dog’ nonsense.

She wasn’t even fearful of Fog Frizz cos she doesn’t iron her hair – she’s that feisty.

As we walked along the pontoon in the Lymington Range Rover sanctuary I tried hopping on the wrong boat, but Alex yanked me back by the safety line she’d attached to the crotch straps of my lifejacket… which smarted!

There was no escape.

My task for the day was to do what I was told, which I found rather novel.

Meanwhile, I hadn’t the foggiest what Alex was up to, as she was down below at the chart table, with me at the helm motoring at a steady three knots as instructor Charlie scampered up and down the companionway relaying her course instructions.

It was a rising tide, and the only feedback required from me was to let Charlie know if we were in less than two metres.

In the right place

Soon the fog lifted, and I found I rather enjoyed being told what to do; it was one of the few times I’ve been sailing when my brain didn’t hurt at all.

And that’s because Alex’s brain had been doing all the thinking, working our course to steer on just echo-sounder, compass heading and estimated boat speed, while reducing tidal heights to soundings, and plotting positions.

It’s enough to do your brain in, but there, right on time and in the right place, was the beacon off the Beaulieu River.

It was a real education for me as I later examined our deliberate zig-zag course along the contour, which kept us close inshore, away from shipping hazards.

As for Alex, I couldn’t help mentioning that her hair had gone frizzy; this was a mistake. But this was not Fog Frizz: it’s just what happened to Albert Einstein when he worked out his Theory of Relativity.