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Old 24-05-2015, 19:07   #46
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

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Originally Posted by FamilyVan View Post
I think this is a good point, fog is a nightmare on Lake Superior and to a lesser degree Lake Huron.

The part I wanted to expand on was the reference to 1000' ore carriers. Up close the AIS will show you where the ships AIS antenna is. RADAR will show you where the entire ship is. In the case of a 1000' ore carrier the bow could be nearly 2 cables from the antenna.

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True. Our AIS gives us extra data if its available (Vesper Marine). It may tell specifics such as length, beam, Antenna placement, vessel name, MMSI and lots more - - - or not much.
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Old 24-05-2015, 19:10   #47
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

That's interesting that that marker is out of position. A Laker just ran aground very close to there about 3 weeks ago and as part of the investigation the USCG verified the buoys in the area were in the correct positions. My understanding though is the grounding was on the East side of the channel, but it seems odd the west side of the channel wouldn't have been verified at the same time.

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Old 24-05-2015, 21:27   #48
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

Good thread...
You'll not regret keeping your Radar in the Caribbean ...good to keep tabs on the squalls...June is the beginning of Hurricane Season so expect changing conditions, hopefully this season lwill be like the last 2....😊
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Old 24-05-2015, 23:54   #49
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

hi, I was a boat's in the navy, on a converted 42' power boat that is designed for coastal mine sweeping here in th PNW. I was trained to use this radar and when ever the boat left the pier, it was up and running. during very bad weather we were glad to have one. that was in the late 90's. Now yes we have ais, at least some do, and buoy's are now having them, but they don't pick up weather, no other ais if not on, and those fishing vessels large n small. rock walls, dead heads, most MOB's. half sunken small boats, yes i seen this also, and the list goes on. I would definitely have a radar just for those night runs, bad weather, sea's and all.
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Old 25-05-2015, 01:57   #50
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

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Originally Posted by Gary H View Post
Most important questions: What kind of sailing in what kind of weather in what kind of boat traffic?

My humble experience: I have radar and seldom use it on the Gulf Coast of Florida. However, on passage I find it to be far more useful. I have AIS as well and use it as a matter of habit (especially given the low power consumption).

If I were to prioritize the electronics budget I would purchase:

VHF (with DSC)
GPS
Autopilot
Chartplotter
AIS
SSB
RADAR
Other comm gadgets

But I'm headed south away from fog...
Indeed.

For coastal cruising in simple waters with little bad weather or night sailing, in familiar waters with accurate charts, you don't really need radar.

For sailing in bad weather, and especially in unfamiliar waters with uncertain charts, radar can seem absolutely essential.

For me, the most important uses of radar are:

1. Enhanced watchkeeping offshore -- radar guard zones. By far the most useful thing for me, and I can't imagine being without it.
2. Navigation.
3. Collision avoidance for dealing with vessels without AIS.

Approximately in that order.

Radar is really useful for navigation if you know how to use it, and understand its limitations (very accurate for range, not so much for bearing).

I have the Navico 4G radar which has high resolution at close range targets -- the guard zones are even good for an anchor alarm. A fourth use.
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Old 25-05-2015, 05:39   #51
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

When I'm in fog I turn my radar on, but I'm really watching my chart plotter as I'm more worried about position info than some big unseen "thing".

Also in fog frequently a small fiberglass or wooden boat appears that never showed up on the radar. So really the radar I haven't found to be much of any aid.


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Old 25-05-2015, 09:10   #52
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

As one who has worked with and on RADAR for many years and just now starting to think about getting into AIS or RADAR on my boat. My feeling is the AIS is the best for the money, If you want to load down your boat with electronics that is your choice, but it will cost you more money in the long run in support components and repairs (qualified electronics Technicians DO NOT COME CHEAP). Think about it... Just stay safe...
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Old 25-05-2015, 10:42   #53
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

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...

What I'm looking for is someone using radar for something I haven't considered. E.G. detecting oil platforms (I had not thought of this)..
...
OK here are a few:

Verifying landmass positions versus charted positions. I do this at least a few times a year in unfamiliar spots to confirm accuracy of electronic charts.

Night time harbor/channel entrance. Ive used RADAR as one of the tools to pick my way down an uncharted bayou at night in the rain (no, that was not plan A) and other similar situations.

Outside of developed countries there are plenty of vessels large enough to matter, and show as a target, that dont run AIS.

Squall tracking. Very useful in close quarters weather strategies.

NAVAIDS. There are NAVAIDS which actively return RADAR signatures which can be used to verify you have the right mark. There are also many equipped with RADAR reflectors and some that just happen to make good targets. If your system supports overlay on the chartplotter then it sure is a handy way to confirm marks while working your way up a channel at night.

Redundancy for when the AIS receiver craps out.

...
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Old 25-05-2015, 12:30   #54
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

More I think about this subject the more I think an minimum list of electronic equipment would include the following:

Depth Sounder
GPS
VHF Radio with AIS

Backed up with a Good Set of Paper Charts


While RADAR is good it has good points, and it has limits, and the operator has to learn its weaknesses which are many. So I cannot recommend the purchase of a RADAR, even thought I used one ffor over 30 years... So I would say save your money...
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Old 25-05-2015, 19:07   #55
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
For experienced and wide-ranging sailors, AIS is a replacement for.....

N O T H I N G

That's right, NOTHING!

AIS doesn't replace the most important navigational tool of all: the Mark I eyeball

AIS most definitely doesn't replace radar -- for all the reasons given above

AIS doesn't replace paper or electronic charts

AIS doesn't replace a fathometer

AIS doesn't replace a knotmeter

AIS doesn't replace an autopilot

AIS doesn't replace a GPS

AIS doesn't replace a chartplotter

AIS doesn't replace a bilge pump

AIS doesn't replace a VHF or SSB radio

AIS doesn't replace an EPIRB or PLB or personal communicator

AIS doesn't replace a lifejacket

AIS doesn't replace a liferaft

(you get the picture)

It seems from all the hype that the only thing AIS replaces -- for some newbies -- is COMMON SENSE!

AIS is a wonderful and entertaining tool in some circumstances. It can be lots of fun. It can be useful in tracking friends on other AIS-equipped boats. It can -- maybe -- be helpful in making sure AIS-equipped vessels can see you.

But the bottom line is that it's an ADDITIONAL navigational tool to be added to other more traditional (and more widely useful and requisite) tools and skills.

Bill
Bill,
Totally correct. Depending on how & where you sail, AIS is a great tool.

AIS (active) does pretty well require the big guys to "see" you. You paste a target as large as any other boat on his screen. It also tells you how to contact him by name - also hard to ignore. If you hale & get no radio confirmation, you can pretty well assume there is no one on the bridge. If you play at night, its just one more tool to alert you long before radar that you will have a close approach with a ship. We see them as far out as 60 miles.

My AIS also performs an anchor watch at a cost of about 3 watts. (Vesper Marine Watchmate)

My AIS alerts us to AIS buddies within 60 miles.

Without AIS, we would not have known that the tall ships were in Ludington as we were making a long transit. We had plenty of time to decide to alter plans & join the show.

On the Great Lakes, I think it goes a long way toward keeping the MIB away. They know who you are long before they can see you. So far, we have never been boarded by any law enforcement on several transits in/out of Canadian water. Many other sailors cannot say this.
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Old 25-05-2015, 19:17   #56
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

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My AIS alerts us to AIS buddies within 60 miles.
How does this one work? Do all your buddies have Class A and very tall antennas? Your Vesper certainly won't be seen at 60 miles.

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Old 26-05-2015, 05:48   #57
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

Here's a pic I took of my AIS receiver last night on the Great Lakes on the 10 mile range. It would be tough to argue against the usefulness of AIS in busy commercial shipping areas with this picture in front of you.

I chose to go AIS receive only because of cost. Its super cheap and allows you to track commercial shipping to help you take active collision avoidance steps.

Definitely not a substitute for RADAR, but pretty useful.

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Old 26-05-2015, 06:38   #58
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

There's great ideas here and fortunately not as controversial as the OP feared.

Among the many interesting posts, three caught my interest.

First, Gary H's observation early in the thread where he mentioned that the cruising location is a big factor. We cruised for thirty years in Florida and Bahamian waters without radar. The rare fog that we encountered was typically a brief early morning event and we would adjust our timing to confront risk. I'm not discounting that radar can be helpful or even critical at an imagined scenario, but the risk related to location is a factor. During our recent dozen years of cruising the fog and rock in Maine we have considered radar essential.

Second, I am in very strong agreement with trifan's post advising that using radar effectively requires much practice. We often are attentive to our radar screen during clear weather so that we can stay in practice interpreting images and false targets.

Third, I liked hearing of adlib2's choice to move his radar display from the nav station below to the helm. Choices made in response to radar images are effected at the helm. At times when we are moving among rock "Down East" Nancie is at the helm and I'm focused on the radar screen communicating information, but at less critical moments the screen is available to the helm where it can be scanned occasionally along with other instruments and trim.
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Old 26-05-2015, 13:54   #59
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

Tomaz423 is right - one trick is to use radar to pick a suitable hole in a crowded anchorage that may not be apparent to the eye. And accurately knowing your distance from other boats, rocks, piers, etc. in an anchorage helps you sleep better.

Yes, radar can be expensive, but considering the uses it certainly isn't a bad investment.
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Old 26-05-2015, 14:18   #60
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

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Tomaz423 is right - one trick is to use radar to pick a suitable hole in a crowded anchorage that may not be apparent to the eye. And accurately knowing your distance from other boats, rocks, piers, etc. in an anchorage helps you sleep better.

Yes, radar can be expensive, but considering the uses it certainly isn't a bad investment.
Thanks for causing me to revisit Tomaz423's ideas. Sometimes I tend to focus on items in a thread that I strongly agree with and pay less attention to thoughts that are new to me. If I'm going to keep learning, then I need to accept new ways to use my tools. I've never considered viewing the space within a crowded anchorage field with the radar. I'll need to try this!
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