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Old 13-08-2015, 06:56   #16
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Re: AIS DO I NEED IT.?

The answer is "depends upon your cruising ground." We recently upgraded electronics with a B&G Zeus2 plotter, Vesper XB8000 AIS, and a new Icom VHF with DSC - getting Jumanji ready for some real cruising post-retirement. (And buying equipment while I am still getting a paycheck!) The Vesper unit is a transponder - which both sends out our position, as well as receives the position of other AIS-equipped ships.


A couple of months ago we got a chance to really use some of the new stuff bringing the boat from Port Aransas to Kemah. We left Port A early Friday morning with the plan to sail the entire distance offshore, but the sea conditions were not cooperative, so we turned around and headed east via the ICW. It was motor-sailing mostly on the ICW, plus a great sail across Nueces Bay and Matagorda Bay. For those of you that have done this trip, this stretch of ICW - especially east of Freeport - is a very busy barge area. We have made the trip several times, and you are constantly watching the chart statute mile marks, and lookout for oncoming tows. When you see one, call them "Westbound tow at mile marker x, this is eastbound sailing catamaran Jumanji." Then a short conversation to establish crossing on the one, the two, or request to hold up at a corner, etc.

What was different about this trip with AIS, is that you can identify the oncoming tow by name well in advance, and call them. Or sometimes they call you. You can see the speed they are traveling - which matters to us because under motors only we are around 5.5 knots, and some travel about that, and some traveled as fast as 8.2 knots (which means if they are behind you, they might catch you and want to pass). We've also had others call us specifically by name to ask about locks we just passed thru, and we hailed some oncoming regarding conditions further up. We also had one really nice Captain call saying he noticed we were gaining on him and would eventually catch up, so he was going to shut down for a while to lets us pass. "Pick your side!"


Anyway, it is great seeing the AIS boats on the plotter, and being able to identify and call by name. We've not gotten to the point of DSC calling, as hailing on VHF has been very easy. Wish I would have installed this years ago! So for me, the resounding answer is "yes."

And we have B&G 4G radar being installed now, but I don't think it is going to make the AIS redundant.
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Old 13-08-2015, 07:01   #17
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Re: AIS DO I NEED IT.?

AIS is a useful tool to add to your navigators toolbox. Of course it does not replace radar, it's just a nice and very useful tool at times.

I appreciate it when a pleasure boat is using AIS, especially at night and in restricted visibility.

One of the nicest things about AIS is that you know the name of the vessel long before you can read the vessels name on the hull. This helps significantly in making passing arrangements on the VHF well in advance.
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Old 13-08-2015, 07:15   #18
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Re: AIS DO I NEED IT.?

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Originally Posted by jwcolby54 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac
Many people place way too much faith in AIS, not all ships use it and very few rocks seem to have it.
Yes but AIS (receive) is built in to modern VHF radios. Radar not so much.

It's just another tool after all.
But a pretty damn valuable one, in my view ;-) And, for the minimal additional cost for which receive only can be had in some VHF radios today, there seems little excuse not to have at least that capability...

If you happen to do any singlehanded sailing, AIS is far and away the greatest safety enhancement that's become available in recent years...

And perhaps not only for solo sailors... I'd bet there would have been a good chance AIS might have made the difference in averting this famous tragedy, and given the Sleavins plenty of advance warning of the presence of the merchant ship that ran them down...

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Old 13-08-2015, 07:26   #19
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Re: AIS DO I NEED IT.?

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LOL, even charts didn't exist before... don't really "need" them either.
In Canada (where I primarily sail) the "need" to carry charts is governed by TP 14070E:

"require you to carry the most recent editions of charts, publications and documents published for your area of operation unless a person in charge of navigation had enough knowledge of shipping routes, lights, buoys and marks, navigational hazards as well as normal navigational conditions and weather patterns to ensure safe navigation."

Clearly, by the above definition, if I am intimately familiar with an area (local knowledge) I don't even "need" charts, until I visit an area I don't know inside out.

Various other regulatory documents also require me to carry a magnetic compass, running lights a vhf radio and a sound signaling device, each with its own exemptions listed.



There is however, no requirement, for a vessel my size to carry an AIS or a RADAR. Edit, however, if I have RADAR I need to use it.

This kind of covers the need/want equation for me.



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Old 13-08-2015, 07:34   #20
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AIS DO I NEED IT.?

I started my cruise to Florida in 2013 from Kentucky Lake to Punta Gorda with a new AIS unit. We installed radar and a color Pathfinder chartplotter when Persistence was new in 2003. I wanted the AIS for watching tows in the rivers on the way to Mobile. It was invaluable as you can see around the bends - numerous on the Tenn-Tom, and can gauge where you want to pass based on your position and that of the tow. Radar is just as valuable, and is useful for both in open water, but not so good for river cruising or the ICW because you can't see around the bends with it like AIS. I didn't get a transmit unit and now wish I had. It would have helped me as well as the tows we had to pass and both of us would have had better situational awareness of each other. Another valuable feature is that the locks on the Tenn-Tom had it when we returned. We could see them, but had they been able to see us, we could have saved some time as they might have had the lock open for us to lock through sooner as they could see the traffic coming both ways.

Offshore on our southbound crossing from Panama City to Clearwater, I was being overtaken by a large tow going to Cape Canaveral just off Cape San Blas and at sunset. My radar and AIS both confirmed that we would cross about 400 feet from each other in about 30 minutes. Just as I was reaching for the VHF to hail him, he changed course and we had a CPA of about a mile. Either radar or AIS would have helped, but both was very comforting on a dark, no moon, cloudy crossing. Later that night we got in a group of 8 shrimp boats who didn't have AIS and if you have cruised around them you know their course is vey erratic and they take a lot of room due to the nets and outriggers. Our radar was invaluable in staying away from them. With lights only, it would have been extremely confusing.

On the return trip up the Tenn-Tom in the spring, we had terrible currents and at times were making 3 knots or less. We had to anchor in non-traditional places that were safe, but I thought then I should have bought a transmit unit as it would have notified the tows of my position in addition to the lights we had out. One night we anchored behind a bridge abutment at the Nanafalia Bridge and my wife heard three tows go by. She would have been more comfortable if she knew they knew we were there ahead of time. I'll have the transmit capability if I make the trip again. My recommendation is have both. Each are valuable together and in some cases one is much more valuable than the other and always they are complimentary.

On my last leg, my radar and chartplotter was not available due to what turned out to be a short in the ground wire to my chartplotter. I was on the Tennessee River and mostly familiar with the river, so it wasn't a big deal, but we decided to run late that night due to driving rain and get back to our home port at Lighthouse Landing, We went from Clifton, TN to Lighthouse Landing, a distance of 134.8 SM and didn't arrive until 2:30 AM the next morning. That wasn't the plan when we left that morning, but our first option stop at Pebble Isle Marina we passed at 3:30 so decided to press on. The current was strong and we were going downstream and making great time. Our second option was an anchorage at Leatherwood and we arrived well before dark. We decided to go for an anchorage we had been in numerous times at Cypress Bay with an ETA of 8:00 PM, Just as we arrived there, the bottom fell out of the sky and it was raining hard with very limited visibility and it was very dark. We have a full enclosure, so the cockpit is dry and warm. We run a generator full time so we have heat and air in the salon and it filters out heat through the companionway to the cockpit. I didn't want my wife to have to get out in the rain and let the anchor down in the hard rain, so we elected to go on to Ledbetter Creek, a couple of hours north. When we got there, at 11:00 PM, still driving rain, we decided to go on to our homeport and sleep in the next morning.

We were in driving rain from 8:00 PM until we arrived at Lighthouse Landing. I navigated with Navionics on my IPhone and my IPAd InavX which displays AIS data from my DigitalYacht IAIS unit. I passed a southbound tow on the Tennessee just south of Eggner Ferry Bridge with with no concern in heavy rain, very limited visibility, and no radar, since I had the back-up AIS. I was able to communicate with him and knew his name because of the AIS.

We also used the radar a lot during foggy mornings and at night since it worked except for that last 138 miles. I would recommend both and do get a unit that will transmit as well as receive. You can turn the transmit portion off if you want to, but at times you may want it on. With the variety of Nav aids and devices, you create flexibility that is not as safely there if you don't have it.


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Old 13-08-2015, 07:34   #21
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Re: AIS DO I NEED IT.?

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But a pretty damn valuable one, in my view ;-) And, for the minimal additional cost for which receive only can be had in some VHF radios today, there seems little excuse not to have at least that capability...
LOL, my point exactly. "Is it needed" questions invite the "Real men don't need winches, we pull the lines with our teeth" crowd.

Being a single hander with a mangled left arm (gives new meaning to "single handing"), I am of the mindset that I will take whatever advantage I can get.
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Old 13-08-2015, 07:53   #22
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Re: AIS DO I NEED IT.?

One thing we haven't talked about is AIS MOB beacons, after reading a couple of different times about somebody waking up and finding their life long partner missing from the boat, I decided I didn't want that happening to me, so I bought two of these things
Smartfind S20
They have a test mode, and trust me, the alarm that is set off in my Watchmate, will wake the dead. The CPA alarm is a horn noise and will get your attention, but the AIS MOB alert is that annoying two tone European siren sound, and is very much louder than the CPA alarm, if she fell off while I was down below, even asleep, I'd wake up, plus of course I get a GPS aided steer directly to her, so finding her at night isn't nearly the issue it would be without it.
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Old 13-08-2015, 07:57   #23
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Re: AIS DO I NEED IT.?

Cool product A64, I'd never heard of it!

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Old 13-08-2015, 08:03   #24
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Re: AIS DO I NEED IT.?

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Originally Posted by jwcolby54 View Post
LOL, even charts didn't exist before... don't really "need" them either.
OK, LOL. The humor is appreciated but the point I was trying to make (and I see some others as well) is that AIS is not absolutely necessary to get on a boat and go cruising.

Not saying don't get AIS, not saying it is a waste of time and money, not saying there is no benefit. Just saying one can leave the dock without AIS and not face immediate death and destruction.

With proper skills, planning, lookout, etc one can safely cruise anywhere in the world without AIS. AIS will absolutely add to one's safety and peace of mind. However, I managed to cruise for ten years and thousands of miles without AIS in some pretty high traffic areas and lived to tell the tale, but maybe I just got lucky.
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Old 13-08-2015, 08:24   #25
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Re: AIS DO I NEED IT.?

I have an AIS transponder made by Digital Yacht.

Well worth it, especially if you are going to be crossing shipping lanes.

It compliments radar very nicely, and in nice conditions it's fun to play with and pick up boat names/destinations.
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Old 13-08-2015, 09:03   #26
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Re: AIS DO I NEED IT.?

When AIS was first introduced, I believed it to be more of a novelty than a necessary tool. After all, I had been running boats professionally for years and been doing just fine. Now that I have AIS installed on all of our boats, I cannot imaging running without it. My view is that it is a valuable tool. When running the ICW, especially at night (which we do often) this tool allow us to call other vessels/tows by name rather that call for the vessel at mile marker so and so. We know the speed, heading, and other important info miles before meeting them close quarters.

Comparing AIS to radar is like comparing apples and oranges. Both provide useful information. Can you operate a boat safely without either, depending on the conditions, absolutely. Should you, depending on the conditions, maybe.

As technology moves forward, we will continue to get advantages that allow us to operate our vessels more safely. It doesn't replace basic basic seamanship or training.

I like the idea of utilizing any advantage. I like AIS.
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Old 13-08-2015, 09:17   #27
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Re: AIS DO I NEED IT.?

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Do cruiser need AIS and if so what should I get?
Ridiculous, imho, that there is so much advice given to such a half baked question.

Where, pray tell, does 'cruiser' intend to cruise?

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Old 13-08-2015, 09:28   #28
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Re: AIS DO I NEED IT.?

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OK, LOL. The humor is appreciated but the point I was trying to make (and I see some others as well) is that AIS is not absolutely necessary to get on a boat and go cruising.
Yep and I absolutely agree.

As it happens I was replacing my VHF on my new (to me) boat. I got the Standard Horizon GX2200 which has it all. The price difference for a low end VHF without the bells and one with the bells made it worth while (to me) to get it. So my VHF has GPS and AIS receive, as well as the matching DSC. It even has collision avoidance alarms for ships transmitting AIS. It can even shovel the AIS receive data off to my laptop.

As I said, it is simply another tool. But when buying a new VHF, it is something to seriously consider. Heck, my handheld VHF has all that stuff. It's just cheap now.
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Old 13-08-2015, 09:46   #29
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Re: AIS DO I NEED IT.?

I find AIS an invaluable tool. It works alongside our radar in the heavy traffic zones frequented by very large vessels in the area we sail in... the coast of florida, the gulf stream, and the Bahamas.

Having a transceiver is not only nice for you but for the larger boats. They can see you, easily communicate with you, and are grateful for it. If you see a radar blip and it does not match up with an AIS target you have an anomaly you need to watch carefully.

I believe that an AIS transceiver should be mandatory on all new boats going into production.

Do you need it? No but at less than $800 for a garmin transceiver its well worth the money.
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Old 13-08-2015, 11:30   #30
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Re: AIS DO I NEED IT.?

To clarify my much earlier post.

We are able to receive AIS, we also have a 24 mile Furuno radar. We use the radar all the time and would not consider making passages without turning it on... Especially at night. AIS is nice to have, but it doesn't give us the same information as radar.... It doesn't even come close to replacing radar.

Radar first priority

AIS is nice if you have some extra cash.
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