The photo accompanying Tom’s Tip Don’t Get Caught (November) is of a North Cardinal mark. The tip “when in doubt traversing a cross current, go to leeward of an obstruction” needs to be tempered with the caveat, “know what’s to leeward of that obstruction.” If the cross-current in the picture is southerly then, if going to leeward of that mark, you would be sailing into danger. In this case prudence would suggest changing course to stay well north of that mark.
— Colin Minchom, Boston, MA
In principle and in the absence of a chart, you could well be right. In the waters many of us sail, however, large North Cardinal buoys such as this are often put there for the guidance of big ships only. The shoal this one guards has 4 meters over it at lowest astronomical tide, which means that at mean level the depth is about 7 meters. The shoal is situated 0.8 nautical miles south of the buoy, so the side one opts to pass it is immaterial in terms of depth—Tom Cunliffe
I took this photo in the early morning as fog enveloped the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge.