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Old 18-12-2015, 08:04   #1
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AIS transponder for Great Lakes

My wife and I plan on sailing the great lake aboard our 27ft boat this summer. We will have a baby so safety is very important. I was looking into the Vesper Watchmate Vision but is there something else that we should be looking at? I have currently setup a computer to run OpenCPN on the boat also.
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Old 19-12-2015, 01:58   #2
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Re: AIS transponder for Great Lakes

you do realize that most boats will not have AIS. your best safety is keeping a good watch.
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Old 19-12-2015, 02:13   #3
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Re: AIS transponder for Great Lakes

The big cargo ships on the Great Lakes will have AIS operating. All the Vesper models are good units. The XB-8000 and XB-6000 are both compatible with OpenCPN and are less expensive because they have no display. OpenCPN will display the targets on the chart along with the CPA and TCPA. But the Watchmate Vision is one of the best recreational units and has many good features. If that is the one you it will work well.
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Old 19-12-2015, 15:22   #4
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Re: AIS transponder for Great Lakes

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Originally Posted by chuckr View Post
you do realize that most boats will not have AIS. your best safety is keeping a good watch.
I do agree with this and will have no problem staying up on nightly watches....my wife on the other hand....I just want to have all the best equipment to keep us safe. Do you really think AIS is pretty worthless on Great Lakes?
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Old 20-12-2015, 02:46   #5
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Re: AIS transponder for Great Lakes

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Originally Posted by TurboTim View Post
I do agree with this and will have no problem staying up on nightly watches....my wife on the other hand....I just want to have all the best equipment to keep us safe. Do you really think AIS is pretty worthless on Great Lakes?
I have never sailed the Great Lakes but my cousin has, all the way around, and he did not run AIS, and he is a great sailor - but first I wonder how far off shore you will be, why you are sailing at night unless you are planning big leaps, if the fishermen are out they will not have AIS and as above only big guys will have AIS and they should be pretty easy to spot -

We do a lot of sailing during the season and yea we have done our share of overnights including a Caribbean and Atlantic crossing along with a few 100+ sails that we do overnight but we try to avoid them if we can -

again we have not sailed the Great Lakes but wonder why overnights and yes I would spend my money on other things - if you want to spend money by radar it would be a lot more useful and make things a lot safer but you are talking a lot of money
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Old 20-12-2015, 11:44   #6
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Re: AIS transponder for Great Lakes

I delivered a 47' powerboat from the upper Mississippi River to the Detroit River last year. I used standard horizon 10" mfd and a gx-2150 VHF to receive AIS and found it very useful in knowing the position and course of the freighter and ferry traffic. I've found it very useful that when hailing a tow or ship that I can hail them by name instead of approximate position. The gx-2150 has been updated to the gx-2200 that has a GPS and is probably the cheapest way to receive AIS. I wouldn't leave the slip without it when cruising unfamiliar waters, I think there is more value knowing where the big boats are and keeping a proper watch than in transmitting AIS. The ability to transmit AIS may be of much more value in crowded and very busy harbor areas where ships could hail you by name if they felt the need. I'am adding a transponder for this reason, 90% + of my boating is on areas on the river that I only have one or two tows on occasion to watch for and passing isn't a problem and doesn't require contact.


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Old 21-12-2015, 06:25   #7
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Re: AIS transponder for Great Lakes

The value in transmitting AIS should not be dismissed. Most cruisers don't realize that often big commercial ships take action to avoid a collision long before the cruiser has seen them. Transmitting AIS let's everyone see you earlier and know exactly your course and speed. Contrary to a lot of the huffing and puffing at the yacht club bar the big ships are manned by people that try really hard not to run over the insects with fluffy sails they see out their window. I know there are stories about nightmare encounters with cargo vessels but the vast majority of the time there is no story about anything because they avoided a collision without any thanks at all. It makes their job a lot easier if all of us transmit AIS.
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Old 21-12-2015, 06:46   #8
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Re: AIS transponder for Great Lakes

We sail on Lake Michigan. Each year we travel with a group of boats. One boat has AIS, our's does not. It is nice to know a freighter is coming before we see it (VHF informed by other boat). When crossing in power boats and coming upon a freighter it is nice to know the direction and how close you will pass. Given a choice I would pick radar (we have radar), but AIS is good to have. We have fog here, especially in the Northern half of the lake.


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Old 21-12-2015, 07:30   #9
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Re: AIS transponder for Great Lakes

The shipping lanes in the Great Lakes are well known and followed. There is big ship traffic that does not follow the lanes, such as those that run between Canada & USA.

Stay out of the shipping lanes- that simple really. Particularly where the ships are coming out of restrictive areas, such as inter-lake lock systems.

I don't know that AIS could save you. I've been near the west end of Lake Ontario at night and seen five freighters bearing roughly my location and I given their close proximity I don't know that they'd have the ability to avoid you and each other.

It's quite common that I sail just offshore at night, so no threat from freighters there. But the real threat is sport boats doing 45mph headed home from a bar after a good day & night of partying. I don't know anyone that's actually been hit by a freighter, but I do know people who have been hit by powerboats with drunk drivers.

I consider the greatest possible threat to be any one of the weird things I've seen happen to others- shaft backs out and boat fills, part of the hull suddenly departs sinking the boat in seconds, underwater obstructions, etc.

When crossing lakes, at night, and early/late season I keep a "to go" drybag ready at hand in case we have to bail without time to broadcast a Mayday.

With a baby, I'd suggest one of those self-righting baby baskets- a baby even in mid-Summer water won't last an hour. When my sailing buddy was a baby I played it safe and stayed near shore, sailed only during the day, and only short hops.
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Old 22-12-2015, 00:56   #10
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Re: AIS transponder for Great Lakes

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The shipping lanes in the Great Lakes are well known and followed. There is big ship traffic that does not follow the lanes, such as those that run between Canada & USA.

Stay out of the shipping lanes- that simple really. Particularly where the ships are coming out of restrictive areas, such as inter-lake lock systems.

I don't know that AIS could save you. I've been near the west end of Lake Ontario at night and seen five freighters bearing roughly my location and I given their close proximity I don't know that they'd have the ability to avoid you and each other.

It's quite common that I sail just offshore at night, so no threat from freighters there. But the real threat is sport boats doing 45mph headed home from a bar after a good day & night of partying. I don't know anyone that's actually been hit by a freighter, but I do know people who have been hit by powerboats with drunk drivers.

I consider the greatest possible threat to be any one of the weird things I've seen happen to others- shaft backs out and boat fills, part of the hull suddenly departs sinking the boat in seconds, underwater obstructions, etc.

When crossing lakes, at night, and early/late season I keep a "to go" drybag ready at hand in case we have to bail without time to broadcast a Mayday.

With a baby, I'd suggest one of those self-righting baby baskets- a baby even in mid-Summer water won't last an hour. When my sailing buddy was a baby I played it safe and stayed near shore, sailed only during the day, and only short hops.

A great sensible posting
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Old 22-12-2015, 05:02   #11
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Re: AIS transponder for Great Lakes

A lake, river, sea, ocean or any body of water with traffic you are going to be better off with AIS.
1) Boats big enough to kill you have it (maybe exclude yobbos in fast speedboats looking for bass)
2) Ships can't pretend they did not see you as all signals are digitally recorded.
3) a sail boat is quite a small blob at sea but the same size blob as a supertanker on AIS
4) You know their name and can call them, of DSC them, or DSC all ships.
5) When you see a ship heading right toward you and do a panic, AIS will be able to tell you if the panic was justified.
6) You can use shipping lanes just like the big boys. And last time I did the great Lakes we were often in shipping lanes.
7) USCG records AIS traffic thus knows where you are if you get in trouble.


Just going back to point 5: Before AIS my (ex) gf, for some weird reason, lost the ability to judge where ships were going. She would be on deck in the middle of the night shitting herself for an hour before waking me up saying we are about to die. I would look and see the ship was going in a completely different direction. If we had AIS she would have had many more blissfull night watches.
If just to give your wife comfort that she can see where big ships are going and know they can see her will make her feel much safer having your child aboard. And you get that for just a few hundred dollars!

Get a transponder
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Old 22-12-2015, 05:14   #12
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Re: AIS transponder for Great Lakes

This is one of my favorite screenshots from a trip up the Florida Straits which are narrower than/similar to the Great Lakes.

Its 2 AM and 3 ships are diverting around me at the same time. No VHF calls needed, no angst, and they do it so far away I can't see them divert visually.
Note my alarm is sounding
The red ring upper left is 10nms.

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Old 22-12-2015, 05:29   #13
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Re: AIS transponder for Great Lakes

I sail the east end of Lake Ontario, the biggest risk is drunk boaters. You pretty much have to go to where the ships are if you want to even see them, unless they are entering or leaving port they are about 20 miles offshore.
Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online AIS Passage Maps
Not much traffic now but shipping is usually close to the border line in Lk Ontario.
Really depends on where you are and how you feel.
Would I like to have it? - Yes
Do I feel I need it? -No.
Would I buy it? - No.
Would use it if my next boat came with it? - Yes
If I ever make good on the threats to go cruising I would buy a Transciever for sure AND radar.
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Old 22-12-2015, 06:21   #14
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Re: AIS transponder for Great Lakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
This is one of my favorite screenshots from a trip up the Florida Straits which are narrower than/similar to the Great Lakes.

Its 2 AM and 3 ships are diverting around me at the same time. No VHF calls needed, no angst, and they do it so far away I can't see them divert visually.
Note my alarm is sounding
The red ring upper left is 10nms.

Mark,

Please hang onto this image and post it in every thread when someone says, "Ya don need no steen kin AIS transmitter. All ya needs is a AIS receiver."
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Old 22-12-2015, 11:53   #15
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Re: AIS transponder for Great Lakes

MarkJ -- looks like you had lots of room -- no radar? we run radar as well at night to catch the fishing boats
try these for - 1 good and 1 not so good pic - in the not so good spent a couple of hours working with a lot of boats making safe passes -- the not good one was taken crossing the shipping lane between Sardinia and Tunisia and the one with all the boats coming at was between the boot of Italy and Malta

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