Must say guys - I am so pleased that many of us agree that AIS
is a great feature - personally feel it should be mandatory - but hey - thats just my opinion here !!!
We sailed with some friends out of Panama
and entered a terrific localised storm. As the cloud mass and fog
descended upon us we noticed a number of ships on the inside fortunately running in formation one behind the other.
We were one of the boats with AIS (Tranciever) and must say it made such a difference seeing and being seen. Ships were 'peeling out of the mass' and although a few yachts alongside us had AIS reception
they admitted afterwards they wished they had the ability to be seen too.
We found radar
to be great in most conditions if one sets it up well - however it is of little to no use in heavy rain and squalls - AIS has certainly aided us in these conditions.
I know I have shared this before, but here it is again - Ana and I were sitting in a marina in Fiji
- it was dark at night - we heard a distress
call from a boat calling the coast guard. There was no response so we responded as we could hear the anxiety in the skippers voice. He advised me he had struck a reef and was taking on water
. I asked for his position offering to call the coast guard on his behalf, but confused by the situation and absorbed in the emergency
of it all he could not find a way to relay his position to me - later told me he was fumbling for the words. I asked him if he had AIS and could repeat the boat name which he did! We were able to locate him quickly through the AIS LIST (on our Raymarine
at the bottom - Radar
and AIS, Target Tracking, AIS List) which displays the boats information and position along with his bearing and distance from us etc. etc.
We were able to call the coast guard using our cell phone
and give the co-ordinates of the stricken yacht along with the names of the closest vessels to him.
I really must say I could give an account of many instances where AIS has 'saved the day' in the years we have now been cruising across the globe. It surprises me to see cruisers not wanting to follow this technology saying it clutters the screen
with too many targets in harbours and so on, but really, one can get it wired to show no display in good visibility and also as with our unit we can go in 'Stealth mode' when we feel we should not be seen (e.g. in waters of piracy
AIS technology is basically 'electronic radar on steroids'! Cheers guys - safe sailing out there