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Old 28-06-2015, 09:56   #16
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Re: AIS- A Love Story

I'm constantly surprised by the people who consider radar critical for collision avoidance but an AIS transponder a "nice to have".

I hardly ever turn on my radar anymore -- even in Maine -- but the AIS is always on.
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Old 28-06-2015, 10:08   #17
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Re: AIS- A Love Story

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Originally Posted by TJ D View Post
My love story begins like so many others, on a stormy winter night in the Bering sea.

Back about 2006 or so, we were mandated to install class A systems on our trawler. It really just seemed like another case of government overreach, creating yet another requirement on top of an already endless list. However, we had no choice so we complied.

Now, for as long as there's been a fishing fleet working out of Dutch Harbor, we've had to cross one of the main shipping lanes between the west coast and Asian ports. These guys operating these ships more often than not would disregard the rules and simply continue on their course regardless of the crossing situation. All very annoying, but we learned to live with it. For you colregs enthusiasts, there are no TSS areas where we're talking, no special exemptions. Calls by position, course, speed, whatever would almost always go unanswered. It's just the way it was.

Until the night I was crossing the lanes with our shiny new AIS. Suddenly, I had identifying info for everyone! We could call these guys by name, and they knew we knew who they were. And just like that, the vast majority of them would take appropriate action in a crossing/meeting/overtaking situation without so much as a radio call. Amazing! I immediately bought a receiver for the sailboat, followed by a class b transponder when they were available.

For those still reading, here's the point. This is the single most important contribution to maritime safety since the advent of electronic positioning. We also embrace the KISS principal on board (the sailboat, not the trawler), but this system has a place on any boat venturing out in any area where shipping traffic is present, coastal or offshore. I read about and remember well the difficulties posed by commercial traffic in various ports, and these units just take so much of that away.

I don't know what compelled me to write this today. It probably has something to do with Shell's new arctic oil rig pulling into Dutch last night with 5 attending tugs and so many damn lights that I appreciated the technology anew.

Good sailing to all.

TJ
Hear hear!!!
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Old 28-06-2015, 10:09   #18
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Re: AIS- A Love Story

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Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
I'm constantly surprised by the people who consider radar critical for collision avoidance but an AIS transponder a "nice to have".

I hardly ever turn on my radar anymore -- even in Maine -- but the AIS is always on.
Yes, but radar can still be pretty handy in avoiding collisions with vessels not transmitting AIS...

Plenty of those still up in Maine, last time I checked...

;-)

Panbo: The Marine Electronics Hub: More AIS in the USA, the new USCG requirements
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Old 28-06-2015, 10:43   #19
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Re: AIS- A Love Story

Sure Jon, there are boats without AIS in Maine but fewer and fewer each year. That's also not an excuse to not install an AIS transponder (and I don't think that's what you're saying but someone else might)

There aren't many boats to collide with on a foggy day in Maine (not many boats on a sunny day either). There are a lot of lobster boats without AIS but the lobstermen are great seamen (not that they don't enjoy scaring the summer folk once in a while).

But for the 40 years I've sailed Maine the only thing that really scared me in the fog were the ferries (especially the defunct Nova Scotia Cat). Now that all the Penobscot Bay ferries have AIS, you're a fool to be out there in a fog without an AIS transponder.

And I always shake my head at guys who try to keep a radar watch and and steer at the same time. They're not doing either well.
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Old 28-06-2015, 11:23   #20
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Re: AIS- A Love Story

Yeah Barni we've come across a few ships not transmitting. Also quite a few fishing boats don't transmit to keep the rest of the fleet from knowing where the fish are at
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Old 28-06-2015, 11:47   #21
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Re: AIS- A Love Story

[QUOTE=GALAWA;1857507]AIS is indeed great. Three anecdotes illustrate this.

When I bought my catamaran and renamed her GALAWA , she was fitted with a LOWRANCE HDS TOUCH and AIS. Great equipment.

In November 2014, off Barcelona, an ingress of water (port keel was parting but this is another story) led me to head for shore and send a PAN message for good measure announcing my condition and direction. The coast guards were confused and looked for 2 different boats because, while I had announced my new name GALAWA on VHF, my AIS was still broadcasting the previous name ''Good Spirit" of my ship. ( I have yet to find the software tools needed to change this parameter).


While attempting to get an MMSI for my radio through BoatUS last week, they instruct you to be very careful programming the characters into your radio since most manufacturers give you only one shot to do this. After that it has to be shipped back to the manufacturer for re-programming.

Ron
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Old 28-06-2015, 11:58   #22
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Re: AIS- A Love Story

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Originally Posted by TJ D View Post
My love story begins like so many others, on a stormy winter night in the Bering sea.

Back about 2006 or so, we were mandated to install class A systems on our trawler. It really just seemed like another case of government overreach, creating yet another requirement on top of an already endless list. However, we had no choice so we complied.

Now, for as long as there's been a fishing fleet working out of Dutch Harbor, we've had to cross one of the main shipping lanes between the west coast and Asian ports. These guys operating these ships more often than not would disregard the rules and simply continue on their course regardless of the crossing situation. All very annoying, but we learned to live with it. For you colregs enthusiasts, there are no TSS areas where we're talking, no special exemptions. Calls by position, course, speed, whatever would almost always go unanswered. It's just the way it was.

Until the night I was crossing the lanes with our shiny new AIS. Suddenly, I had identifying info for everyone! We could call these guys by name, and they knew we knew who they were. And just like that, the vast majority of them would take appropriate action in a crossing/meeting/overtaking situation without so much as a radio call. Amazing! I immediately bought a receiver for the sailboat, followed by a class b transponder when they were available.

For those still reading, here's the point. This is the single most important contribution to maritime safety since the advent of electronic positioning. We also embrace the KISS principal on board (the sailboat, not the trawler), but this system has a place on any boat venturing out in any area where shipping traffic is present, coastal or offshore. I read about and remember well the difficulties posed by commercial traffic in various ports, and these units just take so much of that away.

I don't know what compelled me to write this today. It probably has something to do with Shell's new arctic oil rig pulling into Dutch last night with 5 attending tugs and so many damn lights that I appreciated the technology anew.

Good sailing to all.

TJ
We agree. AIS is the best aid to navigation released in many years. We love our Vesper Watchmate 850 integrated with our chart plotter and VHF radios [both of which also have AIS Rx only functions for back-up...]

The anchor watch [and anchor status; i.e., "I'm at anchor"] functions are unbeatable.

We went so far as to rely on AIS for MOB alert and retrieval function integrating an AIS transmitter with GPS into our inflatable PFD/harnesses. [Side note: When we replace these, we will go with the fairly new AIS/DSC versions to get even more alarm options...]

I also note with interest Ben Ellison's [Panbo] recent article about 5 Watt SOTDMA Class B AIS transceiver [up from the current 2 watt Class B limit we currently enjoy...]

AIS: don't leave home [port] without it!

Cheers!
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Old 28-06-2015, 12:12   #23
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Re: AIS- A Love Story

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Originally Posted by CarlF View Post
I'm constantly surprised by the people who consider radar critical for collision avoidance but an AIS transponder a "nice to have".

I hardly ever turn on my radar anymore -- even in Maine -- but the AIS is always on.
WOW! Since the vast majority of the boats on the coast of Maine don't have AIS, I can't imagine why you wouldn't turn on your radar as well as your AIS if you ever go out in the fog. AIS is a wonderful tool, and nearly a necessity offshore these days, but when coastal cruising in an area with lots of lobster boats and smallish recreational vessels, neither of which is likely to have/monitor AIS or proceed in a straight line for more than a minute or so at a time, I think radar being on and crosschecked every few seconds is a necessity. For coastal cruising, especially in an area known for its fog like Maine is, radar is critical for collision avoidance because it allows you to see ALL other traffic, where AIS only allows you to see traffic equipped with AIS transponders.
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Old 28-06-2015, 12:19   #24
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Re: AIS- A Love Story

Just for those wondering, we use the Vesper vision unit. This is the one with the touch screen. It transmits data via wifi, so the OpenCPN that we run on our laptop simply hooks into the AIS network, and targets are displayed on the plotter, with no cables to run.

We chose this one primarily for the wifi and the basic plotter function. It has coastal outlines, so while it's not for navigation, it does offer up a nice picture of where one is when further offshore, but still within 48 miles of the coast. We find that it's really the only thing that stays on all the time outside of the VHF once we get out away from land.

Fantastic piece of kit. Our only complaint is that the screen goes backwards from time to time and we need to tap it on the head to straighten it out. A very strange error indeed! It became a source of amusement over time.

Good saling, TJ
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Old 28-06-2015, 12:25   #25
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Re: AIS- A Love Story

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WOW! Since the vast majority of the boats on the coast of Maine don't have AIS, I can't imagine why you wouldn't turn on your radar as well as your AIS if you ever go out in the fog. AIS is a wonderful tool, and nearly a necessity offshore these days, but when coastal cruising in an area with lots of lobster boats and smallish recreational vessels, neither of which is likely to have/monitor AIS or proceed in a straight line for more than a minute or so at a time, I think radar being on and crosschecked every few seconds is a necessity. For coastal cruising, especially in an area known for its fog like Maine is, radar is critical for collision avoidance because it allows you to see ALL other traffic, where AIS only allows you to see traffic equipped with AIS transponders.
Agreed. Radar is typically a must for us in our current cruising waters.

We constantly remind ourselves that all of these electronics are simply AIDES to navigation... and the more the better for us [depth, charts, chart plotters, GPS, AIS, RADAR, binoculars, spot lights, etc...] And lets not forget the days of recreational SAT NAV, RDF and LORAN-C...

I have never found any single AID that accommodates every situation- including my own eyes and assessment.

Situational awareness conspires to keep me humble...

Cheers!
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Old 28-06-2015, 12:38   #26
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Re: AIS- A Love Story

While attempting to get an MMSI for my radio through BoatUS last week.

From my understanding the boatus mmsi is good for coastal USA only. If you plan for international adventures you should get a real MMSI. Sorry for the drift. But I felt it should be noted.
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Old 28-06-2015, 14:08   #27
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Re: AIS- A Love Story

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Yes, the difference really is amazing. Last year we were sailing up the Florida straits from Panama, with probably a dozen ships on the AIS. I had to round up briefly to shorten sail and a guy 6-8 miles away promptly altered course to maintain his desired CPA. This whole maneuver took all of 3 minutes and we were back on our original course and the ship back to his. I actually called him and apologized for the inconvenience that our sail change caused him.

I know that the big guys very much appreciate when the yachties are transmitting AIS. ARPA on small targets (regardless of what kind of radar reflector they have) isn't very good, even with the most powerful radars.

TJ
You have that right. I recall hearing the Capt. of a container ship giving someone down the road, twelve years ago, for not having an adequate radar reflector. AIS has to be great for all concerned.
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Old 28-06-2015, 14:13   #28
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Re: AIS- A Love Story

I agree using radar is important, too, just please remember you may be radar-blind in a heavy rainfall; and timber fishing boats may not show until you're VERY close, indeed.
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Old 28-06-2015, 14:37   #29
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Re: AIS- A Love Story

I've used AIS in the Thames Estuary, North Sea and English Channel and it's proved invaluable.
The Thames estuary and the Medway has large ships which are restricted in movement by depth so often cannot get out of the way. AIS is invaluable in working out a vessels course and where it's heading too. I've noticed that when in the vicinity of military vessels my AIS would atop working.
I understand that the military use a jamming signal to prevent GPS signals working. This is to prevent GPS guided ordanance from getting to close.
This in turn affects the performance of AIS.
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Old 28-06-2015, 15:22   #30
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Re: AIS- A Love Story

Quote:
Originally Posted by TJ D View Post
My love story begins like so many others, on a stormy winter night in the Bering sea.

Back about 2006 or so, we were mandated to install class A systems on our trawler. It really just seemed like another case of government overreach, creating yet another requirement on top of an already endless list. However, we had no choice so we complied.

Now, for as long as there's been a fishing fleet working out of Dutch Harbor, we've had to cross one of the main shipping lanes between the west coast and Asian ports. These guys operating these ships more often than not would disregard the rules and simply continue on their course regardless of the crossing situation. All very annoying, but we learned to live with it. For you colregs enthusiasts, there are no TSS areas where we're talking, no special exemptions. Calls by position, course, speed, whatever would almost always go unanswered. It's just the way it was.

Until the night I was crossing the lanes with our shiny new AIS. Suddenly, I had identifying info for everyone! We could call these guys by name, and they knew we knew who they were. And just like that, the vast majority of them would take appropriate action in a crossing/meeting/overtaking situation without so much as a radio call. Amazing! I immediately bought a receiver for the sailboat, followed by a class b transponder when they were available.

For those still reading, here's the point. This is the single most important contribution to maritime safety since the advent of electronic positioning. We also embrace the KISS principal on board (the sailboat, not the trawler), but this system has a place on any boat venturing out in any area where shipping traffic is present, coastal or offshore. I read about and remember well the difficulties posed by commercial traffic in various ports, and these units just take so much of that away.

I don't know what compelled me to write this today. It probably has something to do with Shell's new arctic oil rig pulling into Dutch last night with 5 attending tugs and so many damn lights that I appreciated the technology anew.

Good sailing to all.

TJ
A good account from a mariner, and I agree entirely. Not only is AIS a great complementary technology to RADAR, it is a great way to make oneself seen and particularly in those waters where commercial and leisure traffic mix, I see it as a critical asset. I await the advent of more AIS buoyage as well, which will kick the whole utility of AIS up another notch.
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