AIS transcievers are expensive and really only necessary for those who like to sleep when undersay in high commerial traffic areas. They will tell a ship where you are and let you see on the screen
where they are and what they are. Something that can easily be done with the Mark ! eye ball for day sailing
and coastal cruising. Yes, if you have a bunch of money left over from buying
the necessary things to go sailing with by all means get an AIS. If you sail in an area with perpetual fog/poor visibility and commercial
traffic, might put it higher up the list.
Chart plotters have gotten rediculously cheap
. They are built for the marine environment
so you can locate it where it will be useful from the helm
, can be seen in sunlight, without fear of an errant wave wiping out your navigation
or having it slide off its perch and shatter on the sole. Have had no luck with Open CPM for a plotter. It's not intuitive for me and find my fossiized brain can't make it work. The first time I used a plotter, turned it on and sailed 50 miles on the open ocean and through one of the busiest ports
in the world, easy peasy.
Depth sounders are necessary little devils. Tell you which way things get shallow, warn you of approaching hard things and tell you how much anchor rode
to layout for a secure nights sleep.
I like a knotmeter/log. Tells me how I'm doing harnessing the wind
and how far I've gone. Necesary for DR navigation
and estimating position in conjunction with a depth sounder if the electronics
or your source of electricity goes tits up. Not really a must have but I don't leave home without it.
Fixed position VHF radios are the last thing I'd spend money for on a boat. A radio that is down below can't be heard or at least understood from on deck
. You can't transmit without an expensive problematic remote
mike. Since it's down below and I'm mostly on deck
it's almost totally useless for me. A water
proof, floating handheld VHF can be clipped to your belt or put in a cubby in the cockpit. It is always ready for use their and can be easily heard but you do have to remember to keep it charged. Only negative to a handheld is it doesn't have as great a range as a built in with a masthead antenna
but its range has covered everything I've needed. If I want range for an emergency
will set off one of the epirbs.
clipped to my harness/inflatable vest. Will alert the powers that be almost instantly if there is trouble that can't be handled. Try to clip on when I'm sailing alone but will locate me if I should somehow go over the side. Cost on the personal units have come down and have everything needed with enough transmit time for the CG to find you.
The rest of the electronic gizmos are nice to have items. Radar
is useful in fog
if you like to scare yourself seeing all the crazy power boaters zipping around at flank speed with no visibility. Find the GPS more than accurate enough to navigate in poor visibility.
You are already into HF communications
so a Marine HF radio
is an unneeded additional expense unless you have to transmit on the designated marine frequencies.
Windspeed/windpoint instruments are expensive and don't do a lot more than a masthead Windex and a Beaufort
scale printout for estimating windspeed.
Switch all your lights over LED's, buy a small solar
panel and you will be energy self sufficient.
Have fun and sail the crap out of that boat.