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Old 31-01-2015, 13:56   #1
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Advice needed on AIS

Hello all,
My old VHF is in the process of giving up the ghost and I am considering a Standard Horizon that has GPS and AIS included, Class D DSC. (I don't have a chartplotter or other GPS other than cellphone) It is not a transponder/transceiver. I have never used an AIS. For me it is a chunk of change ($350) so I wondered if there were any heads-ups for this kind of unit out there. I don't THINK I need an AIS B transceiver. Where I cruise I cross a busy shipping lane that does get foggy. Usually I just wait to cross after the fog lifts, but I thought this unit might be useful for crossing in poor visibility and I would be avoiding the shipping traffic, not necessarily vice-versa. If I could afford over $1000 for separate VHF and AIS transceiver, I would but that seems a bit extreme for me. I am 29 feet going 6 knots. I don't think a container ship will make much effort to avoid ME.
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Old 31-01-2015, 14:31   #2
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Re: Advice needed on AIS

I am considering buying that same transceiver. I think it's a good value and a safety enhancement for anyone navigating in the same area with commercial ships. You can not only see where they are, you know if and when there will be a collision if someone doesn't change course and you know the ship's name so you can call it on the radio if necessary.
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Old 31-01-2015, 14:33   #3
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Re: Advice needed on AIS

Well, after reviewing other posts and looking at the Watchmate 850 info I am naturally inclined to save my pennies and buy a regular VHF and wait to get the Watchmate and rely on that for both my AIS and GPS needs. Lot of $ though...
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Old 31-01-2015, 14:46   #4
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Re: Advice needed on AIS

I use the Standard Horizon gx2200, the ais is awesome even with a foot long antenna. The gps has to be reset after 30 miles but i didnt buy it for that. Sometimes the ship's headings are not easy to read by eyes alone when they are coming down on your stern. The downside is when on a vessel with no ais you really miss it!
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Old 31-01-2015, 14:57   #5
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Re: Advice needed on AIS

Why would you need to reset the GPS after 30 miles, and how does it even know what distance you have travelled?

Why a foot long antenna? Is this a 50 ohm match? If not, you can damage the radio transmitting into a large VSWR.

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Old 31-01-2015, 20:03   #6
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Re: Advice needed on AIS

Was gonna say the same about the 'reset'. I put my 2200 on my boat this year, put about 700 miles up and down Cayuga Lake over the summer, and never once had to worry about a reset. I have it paired with my plotter, but the whole time, I can't say that I had any issues where I lost any GPS lock on the radio or had to reset anything. If anything, I noticed that the speed shown on the radio was a little more accurate at slow speeds (under say, a knot and a half?) than the readout on the plotter. I've had no issues at all with mine, and even since it's not a transceiver, I still like having the extra features it offers.
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Old 01-02-2015, 08:24   #7
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Re: Advice needed on AIS

I use the Vesper Watchmate and highly recommend it. I also use iNAVX on my iPad, and can superimpose AIS on my Chart. The folks at Vesper also provide great tech support if you need it.
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Old 01-02-2015, 08:31   #8
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Re: Advice needed on AIS

All commercial traffic has to have AIS fitted and in use at all times as part of international maritime law.

If you are sailing around or through areas with a lot of commercial traffic then it is well worth considering upgrading to an AIS system for the many benefits it will bring, such as Closest Point of Approach and probably most important actually having the call sign of a vessel instead of trying to contact by the vague "large container ship of my port bow".

If you are planning on replacing an old VHF then it would be well worth getting one with built in AIS.

However like all electronic aids to navigation it should not replace the Mk1 eyeball and proper navigation practices.

Just my 2p worth

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Old 01-02-2015, 08:50   #9
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Re: Advice needed on AIS

Few countries are very strict on AIS. Singapore is one of them - having 6 busiest ports in the world! You will get a fine for not having a AIS coming into Singapore. A friend from Australia had to stay(stucked) in the marina for 6 months to get his papers work on MMSI before he can install his ais.

Phuket / Thailand is making AIS compulsory for "foreign" visiting yachts.

You need AIS in this region but don't bet on it. Once out of Singapore waters, tug boats and fishing boats mostly likely do not have ais.

I use Raymarine C90W and watchmate because they were installed by PO.
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Old 01-02-2015, 08:53   #10
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Re: Advice needed on AIS

Two things are getting confused here - compulsory AIS means transponders, while the AIS built into VHF radios are receive-only. If you are somewhere where AIS is required equipment, you cannot use a VHF/AIS radio combo for this.

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Old 01-02-2015, 09:08   #11
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Re: Advice needed on AIS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don C L View Post
I am 29 feet going 6 knots. I don't think a container ship will make much effort to avoid ME.
With a decent screen showing ais data tracks you might be pleasantly surprised by how many do, usually with a course change many miles away. Assuming they know you're there.
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Old 01-02-2015, 09:23   #12
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Re: Advice needed on AIS

Don, you do night passages often? IMO, this would push me over the edge to get a transponder if in a busy area.

However, if we are talking only day sailing, I believe the GX2200 is sufficient. Invest a little more to get the cockpit remote or else you won't be able to view the AIS info easily from the helm. I just purchased this setup for sailing in NYC.

Even if you got the Vesper AIS and Watchmate, the GX2200 is still a great tool to have. The built in GPS is killer with DSC. The GX1700 appears to be the GX2200 without the AIS at $100 savings. Small potatoes in the grand scheme of boat ownership.


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Old 01-02-2015, 10:06   #13
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Re: Advice needed on AIS

The 850 is really a great bit of kit and multi-functional. Read the Practical Sailor review of it.
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Old 01-02-2015, 12:07   #14
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Re: Advice needed on AIS

Hi Don, Having delivered vessels with and without AIS, I have found the following. Receive only AIS units tell me the track of the vessel that may run me down. If there is a DSC VHF on board, I may or may not get a response from the ship even though I will have their name on a receive only AIS and if they understand English (supposedly compulsory for international radio operators) and if the ship has an operator watching, my position broadcast from a DSC VHF (if connected to a GPS) should come up on his/her screen. I can take avoiding action however if their rate of turn is changing, I have at times opted to head for shallower water where I know they can't go when navigating approaches to ports and shipping is busy. I believe that a transponder is a very good insurance with a 'once only' premium which lets not only all AIS equipped vessels know your course and speed but also all those that wish to look up 'AIS' sites on the internet and of course watch stations on shore within VHF range. It is not a 'good look' for a ship to run down a small vessel and if that small vessel has a transponder on board, (which incidentally can go to receive only if desired) 'the world is watching' and the tracks of all AIS transponders history can be brought up on the AIS sites. Off shore, commercial ships have satellite tracking by their owners as well so it is just the VHF band AIS that is the 'norm' for most pleasure craft. For my own vessel, Radar was a keener set of eyes that human ones but does pick up waves and rain etc unless the sensitivity is turned down to a point that vessels may not come up unless they have strong reflections. IMO, the AIS transponder is worth every cent that I paid for mine. It is a Simrad A 150 bought as it had features that at the time, other units did not have. If not already allowed for, I suggest that a chat with one's boat insurance company as to lowered annual premiums for vessels with AIS. All the best with what ever you decide to do regarding AIS. John
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Old 01-02-2015, 12:19   #15
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Re: Advice needed on AIS

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don C L View Post
I don't think a container ship will make much effort to avoid ME.
Don't count on large vessels taking avoiding action, but even in busy waters big ships frequently change course (a few degrees) to avoid sailing yachts with AIS transponders in line with the Colregs. If your speed varies because of wind conditions it is more difficult for them to take action because you are a moving target. So during crossing shipping lanes you better keep your speed constant.

The big advantage of an AIS transponder is that you are visible for big ships and traffic control in busy areas, which enhances safety and clear communications. We have experienced situations in the English Channel where big commercial traffic was happy with our visibility on AIS.

Of course you as a skipper are ultimately responsible for the safety of ship and passengers, and an AIS transponder is no replacement for a proper lookout and good seamanship. But a transponder is definitely a great help for all parties involved.

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