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Old 24-06-2018, 05:26   #1
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AIS and Radar

I am looking for comments from those that have both AIS and Radar. I live in the Caribbean so sail around the islands and on long trips with overnights out at sea, 50 to 100 miles. There is no fog. When island hopping, we are generally in close and it is generally daytime. I have a very nice AIS system, VisionMate, completely satisfied with it.

I am looking at the new Raymarine Quantum 2 radar system. Not looking for comments on it, but rather for those that have both radar and AIS, do you need both? Are they both worth having? Given I have the AIS, is it worth getting radar?

Thank you for your comments.
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Old 24-06-2018, 05:36   #2
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Re: AIS and Radar

AIS tells me who's out there IF they have an AIS transponder. Radar tells me who's out there, period. Radar is also handy spotting squalls. In a heavy fog it's invaluable.
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Old 24-06-2018, 05:38   #3
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Re: AIS and Radar

They're very different animals really, a better question might be - "Do I want radar where i sail?"

Other than single handing my radar might get used in anger a day or 2 a year, IMHO it's worth fitting just for that
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Old 24-06-2018, 05:53   #4
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AIS and Radar

Thank you, when out far, I have not seen a ship, boat, that does not have send and receive AIS. In around the island many do not. When in close we are always looking. When out far I am single handling the boat and I take 15 minute naps then get up and look around.
Any other comments from those that have both?
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Old 24-06-2018, 06:14   #5
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Re: AIS and Radar

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Originally Posted by landonshaw View Post
Thank you, when out far, I have not seen a ship, boat, that does not have send and receive AIS. In around the island many do not. When in close we are always looking. When out far I am single handling the boat and I take 15 minute naps then get up and look around.
Any other comments from those that have both?
I'd never ever through choice sail solo for any length of time without a radar with alarm. Have both radar & AIS and sail usually solo often long distance.

You're pushing the odds very much the wrong way when you don't have to.
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Old 24-06-2018, 06:24   #6
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Re: AIS and Radar

While you can do without radar— once you have radar it is incredibly handy.

First, there is never a hesitancy about the direction of a storm cell.

Second, coming into a port at night with the radar overlaid onto the chart you can see the markers and other vessels. If you have the radar set-up right, and the markers are on station- it is easy to fixate on just the display (but don’t).

Third, when you are about to get nailed by a storm cell, without radar you look around and see what traffic is around and hope they keep the same course (while you slow, etc). With radar, you do a visual sweep, correlate eyeball to radar and then you can see where they are during low-visibility and reduce your stress level (but still slow down, etc).

Now the bad news, the default settings on most radars are not optimal. Do some studying on how to adjust a radar. Also I have NEVER been on a vessel where dead-ahead on the radar was over the bow. Even on long deliveries I have seen it move.

Finally, the only way I know to stay proficient is to use the radar every so often. Fiddling with the radar when you need radar will just add to your stress.
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Old 24-06-2018, 06:50   #7
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AIS and Radar

I have both and had radar much longer than AIS. Mine is old 2003 Raymarine Pathfinder still going. Radar and AIS are complimentary and I want both. They give similar information, but once you use radar and learn what it can do, you’ll look for buoys while out at night, use it for squalls, in Rivers, you can navigate between the banks with it. Mine has MARPHA which tracks up to 10 real time targets. That in conjunction with knowing who it is is very valuable. My one piece of advice would be to get a transmit and receive AIS. I only have receive, but am going to upgrade to both. I like being seen and seeing others, but at times when I want to be stealthy, I can turn off the transmit side.
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Old 24-06-2018, 07:03   #8
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Re: AIS and Radar

I "had" both Radar and AIS. Lost both to a lightening strike and only chose to replace the AIS.

While having radar was handy for squall watching, I rarely used it to spot ships or yachts. Every large ship has AIS that I could see at about 18 miles. For yachts I always rely on a proper watch and eyeballs.

Its been almost 2 years now and I have to say I have only missed the radar on a couple of occasions when I wanted to look at a squall at night.
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Old 24-06-2018, 07:07   #9
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Re: AIS and Radar

We have both radar and AIS, and use both but for different tasks.

In this area, maybe 1 out of every 100 boats might have an AIS transmitter, so mostly it's useful when we want to communicate with a commercial vessel, usually about how best to meet. With all the other boats, whistle signals are usually the default... especially given that many of the boaters around here don't seem to know how to turn on their VHF radio...

Radar, on the other hand, helps with both traffic info, collision avoidance (sometimes including "stuff" in the water), and especially night-time navigation or navigation in fog... which we do have, from time to time.

I can get "weather radar" on a smartphone app, so don't usually set the boat radar out far enough to warn against squalls... but then we're in range of cell towers, too, so the apps usually work. When they don't... I can still reset our own radar for weather warning if necessary.

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Old 24-06-2018, 07:21   #10
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Re: AIS and Radar

I have both. In theory, radar is much better than AIS because it allows you to track anything, coastline, ships, boats and squalls. In practice, radar requires work to use it effectively, especially in big seas where you have to adjust sea clutter and gain frequently to make sure you do not miss something. Newer radars such as the Quantum are reportedly better and slightly more energy efficient (one of the bigger drawbacks of radar is that it adds 3-4A to your power budget). AIS is easy and instantaneous but it does not give you the same comfort feeling.

I would definitely get radar to compliment your AIS setup.

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Old 24-06-2018, 07:41   #11
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Re: AIS and Radar

Thank you, very informative. Like someone said. I have also never had a ship while out a distance not have the AIS. They seem to follow the international laws at least on that. Between the island it is a different story with the commercial traffic. Private boats in close more without than with. Out far we all have AIS. THANKS
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Old 24-06-2018, 08:02   #12
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Re: AIS and Radar

We live aboard and cruise full time, currently in the Med. I would not want to be without either. AIS is great, and invaluable for calculating CPA and TCPA, and providing the name of a ship that you need to call etc., but only Radar will do for trying to find a marker, or seeing a small fishing boat, etc in a pitch black night, or in the rain... If I had to choose one, it would be radar.

We have digital radar, which is incredibly energy efficient (so energy is no longer a concern), and they are much more self-adjusting, making them much easier to use. I even use it at night as a proximity alarm when someone is anchored in front of me or closer than I would like, etc., and I use it on night passages the same way - it makes a great general warning system to tell me if someone/something gets into my space.

The more you use the radar, the more you will not want to be without it!
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Old 24-06-2018, 08:03   #13
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Re: AIS and Radar

FWIW I’ve seen shipsnwithout AIS. Coming into sand bore Channel in the T&C the radar was picking up a large target where none should exist with no AIS. A friend a couple of miles behind me made it out as a largeish ship running dark.

Saw a thread somewhere a sailboat got hit by the PR to DR ferry one night. Just wham. No lights, did not stop. They did not sink but were beat up badly.

Had a close call crossing to DR, 35ish sailboat, turned on his AIS only when we were within spitting distance and then turned it off again a mile later. He also had tiny nav lights so I miss interpret his distance.

I’ve seen Canadian Navy and CG vessels run without AIS, and then read up on the USN ships. They are now supposed to turn it on but who knows.

I was crossed by a fleet of French transAtlantic racers a few miles after their start so they were clumped together. All had AIS, but none operated over 2 mikes, more like 1. I’ve been told they are required to have AIS but keep it in the bilge so their buddies won’t know where they are.

I’m using radar more in the Carribean when entering harbors and coastal at night.
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Old 24-06-2018, 09:11   #14
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Re: AIS and Radar

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FWIW I’ve seen shipsnwithout AIS. ...
I have never seen a military ship with AIS here in the Med! And, many people/ships run without AIS, or only receive. AIS tells the bad guys exactly where you are and where you are going!! There is no way I would broadcast while sailing through the Caribbean at night!! I would guess at least 20% of all traffic does not transmit AIS!
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Old 24-06-2018, 10:35   #15
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Re: AIS and Radar

We have both. AIS is on all the time, we like other boats know where we are even if they only have an AIS reciever. With the radar we use it for night travel everywhere, Bahamas Caribbean US east coast. Many coastal fishing boats do not have AIS and many also have inadequate or even no navigation lights. Some island freighters do not have AIS. We passed a big tug and barge operation the other day on US east coast - its AIS was malfunctioning, we know because we called them up. We use the radar to track squall direction in day and night operations. We can then make better decisions about reefing or dropping sails.
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