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Old 23-05-2015, 16:49   #1
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Question - I know this will blow up!

I know this question is almost going to be as bad "What Anchor" but I need to ask.

On a cruising boat, is radar essential.

I'm in the process of replacing my aging electronics and am considering ditching my radar. I have an old C80 with radar that I will be replacing. It just seems like radar has passed its prime with AIS.

Now I understand that radar can be useful in other respects (storms, fog, ect), but just doesn't seem crucial.

Anyway, what are your thoughts.. Is the money much better spent elsewhere (a new AP perhaps)?
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Old 23-05-2015, 17:15   #2
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

OK, I'll bite.

I have neither.

But it is VERY clear to me that they are two completely different but very complimentary TOOLS.

AIS won't show you vessels that aren't transmitting AIS signals. Radar will show them to you.

AIS gives you more detail of what the radar is showing you.

AIS will transmit around bends in the river, radar is line of sight.

What else do you need to know?

If I had even an old radar, I'd keep it.
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Old 23-05-2015, 17:25   #3
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
OK, I'll bite.

I have neither.

But it is VERY clear to me that they are two completely different but very complimentary TOOLS.

AIS won't show you vessels that aren't transmitting AIS signals. Radar will show them to you.

AIS gives you more detail of what the radar is showing you.

AIS will transmit around bends in the river, radar is line of sight.

What else do you need to know?

If I had even an old radar, I'd keep it.
Of course I know all that.. Fact is, I have never used my radar to show me a ship not on AIS. The odds of hitting a small boat when you are on deck watching are so low its not a consideration (not to mention radar might not pick them up anyway).

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)..

I may keep the C80 and install it below, but it has a couple of issues an may need Raymarine service. Not sure its worth the $400(ish) to have it serviced.
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Old 23-05-2015, 17:25   #4
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

I'm in the same general situation. Our old Furuno radar was fried by lightning strike. It was working before, and I intended to get proficient with it but after the strike it would repeatedly blow a circuit breaker if I apply power and there are no decent electronikers in this country that work on these. So I removed it from the boat. And I got an insurance settlement, so could buy another radar if we wanted one. But so far, I just haven't been convinced that it's justified for our kind of coastal cruising. With accurate and redundant GPS navigation, good electronic and paper backup charts, I'm not so sure it's that vital any more. Oh it's definitely nice to have. Going into strange harbours at night, for example. Which has been a grand total of twice now. As for boats not transmitting AIS, I think all commercial boats are required to have it, aren't they? We no longer need radar to find islands.
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Old 23-05-2015, 17:29   #5
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

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...
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Old 23-05-2015, 17:30   #6
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

My boat came with an old Furuno radar. I did add AIS and they compliment each other.
The big ships can see me and I can see the small ships and other things that don't have AIS
If the radar is still working then I'll keep it.
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Old 23-05-2015, 17:37   #7
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

I would not want to cruise without one. At night I like to know where a squall is headed or how far off shore we are. AIS is super but there is more than just a few big ships out there. It's stupid but I've used them to enter an anchorage at night also.
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Old 23-05-2015, 17:40   #8
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

OK, how'd I know you knew all that stuff?

Try this:

Where is your radar reflector? - SailboatOwners.com
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Old 23-05-2015, 17:45   #9
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

I have allways had radar and although it doesn't seem essential on many occaisions it has proven itself invaluable.
Anytime you are around a busy port in the fog or heavy rain/snow it really is a comfort to be able to see the traffic.
My normal proceedure is to tune the radar on a near range as mainly collision avoidance. I can see fishing bouys, crab floats and especially small fast craft running without radar (providing me the opportunity for taking evasive action).

Just my take though.
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Old 23-05-2015, 17:57   #10
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

Radar is important I n certain circumstances....
Fog
Entering ports at night or low vis.
Areas where the charts don't match the cart plotter well.

I sail around d Newfoundland and find it essential.
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Old 23-05-2015, 17:58   #11
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
OK, I'll bite.

I have neither.

But it is VERY clear to me that they are two completely different but very complimentary TOOLS.

AIS won't show you vessels that aren't transmitting AIS signals. Radar will show them to you.

AIS gives you more detail of what the radar is showing you.

AIS will transmit around bends in the river, radar is line of sight.

What else do you need to know?

If I had even an old radar, I'd keep it.


Stu gave some very good reasons to keep a RADAR.

And I will two more:

AIS does not transmit from a rock, or headland, or other natural objects whereas RADAR will show that same rock or headland.

Sometimes navigational aids, bouys, and similar man made things are moved by storms or currents. They then become a hazard that is uncharted and will not be broadcasting AIS signals.

In the last year, there was an account of a forum member losing his big boat due to hitting a FAD (Fish Aggregation Device) while coastal sailing. The FAD can be large and in this case was out of the place it was supposed to be. So it was a hazard, it (or its cable) was hit, and a nice big sailboat was lost. RADAR might have seen that FAD hazard.

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I have no idea what the sailing conditions are like where you (the OP) want to sail your boat.

But, based on my experience in heavy rain (poor visibility) and VERY THICK fog (NO visibility) and in Pitch Black coastal navigation conditions (without a GPS), I would want, desire, and wish for a RADAR.

I was on a boat where the fog was so thick it was almost true to say "you could not see the bow from the cockpit." The boat was a 40 footer, and the visibility was about 50- 70 feet Maximum! The boat had NO radar. We were not far off the California coast at night.

This is tricky, scary stuff, when you are near a rugged, rocky coast (lee shore) that you cannot see AT ALL in big ocean swells. This is where RADAR would make it knowable how far away those cliffs and seamounts or rocks (if high enough) were.

So, I agree with Stu. I would KEEP the old RADAR on the boat. If you learn how to use it, it may just save your boat and you some night…or even during a foggy or rainy day.

Of course there is now GPS on almost every boat. So why have Radar if you have a GPS chart plotter? If I were in that fog off the coast and had a GPS, I would have known how far off the coast I was or how far away the "charted" rocks were from me. Because a GPS chart plotter will show you a position relative to a known FIXED object. But, as Stu pointed out earlier, it will not show you the moving targets (boats) that may or may NOT have AIS transponders. A GPS chart plotter alone will not help you avoid a collision with another boat that is moving (or possibly stationary) in the fog, mist, or darkness.

I would have, in my order of preference and utility (or WHY):

1. GPS Chart Plotter
This shows my position relative to stationary objects. Very high utility, day or night. Knowing my position relative to stationary objects is essential for safe navigation.

2. RADAR
This shows my position relative to RADAR reflective objects, both moving or stationary, and will show most boats, including those without AIS, and will show natural objects such as rocks, cliffs, headlands, and even distant squalls too. Knowing my position relative to all detectable moving objects is essential for safe navigation.

3. AIS
This shows the position of AIS equipped boats (not all boats have it) and only those that have it turned "on." Note, some boats (e.g. some coastal fishermen) do not want an AIS to transmit or to reveal their location.
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Old 23-05-2015, 18:24   #12
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

This has already pretty much been said, but a good digital radar confirms a chartplotter/GPS accuracy. Lots of commerical fishing vessels here in the PNW turn their AIS off when fishing, radar will pick up them and their nets.
Mine will even pick up crab pots on a good day.
Now that I know how to use the tools...
Paper Charts and compass
Radar
Chart plotter
AIS
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Old 23-05-2015, 18:56   #13
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

Let me quantify my plans.

We will be sailing in the carribean for 1-2 years. After that, we may go through the canal and head off over the pond. All our sailing will be tropical..

From what I'm hearing.. I'm thinking I will attempt to fix the C80 myself (I have an EE background). It has a loose connection that caused the screen to glitch every once in a while. After its fixed, I will install it below and use it on those rare occasions..
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Old 23-05-2015, 18:58   #14
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

I got radar on my boat when I bought it because it did not seem a lot more when buying a new boat. I seldom use it. Once in a while I'll use it to see the extent of squalls and what's coming next but I'd say I use it once or twice a season. I could easily do without it.
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Old 23-05-2015, 19:38   #15
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Re: Question - I know this will blow up!

Quote:
Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
I know this question is almost going to be as bad "What Anchor" but I need to ask.

On a cruising boat, is radar essential.

I'm in the process of replacing my aging electronics and am considering ditching my radar. I have an old C80 with radar that I will be replacing. It just seems like radar has passed its prime with AIS.

Now I understand that radar can be useful in other respects (storms, fog, ect), but just doesn't seem crucial.

Anyway, what are your thoughts.. Is the money much better spent elsewhere (a new AP perhaps)?
Well of course it is not essential and the proof is the number of cruising boats around without it.

And yes it is nice to have and perhaps essential in certain areas.

The real question I think is - "is it essential to me?" and as you already have had a radar, you should be in a good position to know the answer.

Everything is a trade off between money, one's own risk assessment and one's own love of toys.
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