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Old 02-01-2012, 14:09   #1
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AIS Experience Offshore?

Just wondering...those of you who have AIS and have run it offshore, are you seeing commercial traffic actually RUNNING their AIS equipment offshore?

I was thinking that it is getting less unreasonable in price, and in theory, if it is being used...it would give more warning of crossing traffic, one more option when ships are running without radar watch or deck watch. (Which we all know happens, on both recreational sailboats AND commercial shipping, all too often.)

If their AIS is actually just ignored and left running...well, at least that's one more way to get a headsup. But are they running?
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Old 02-01-2012, 14:17   #2
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Re: AIS experience offshore?

Yes. Vessels required to have AIS will have them active.
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Old 02-01-2012, 14:24   #3
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Re: AIS experience offshore?

problem is crappy $150 dollar units are hard to read,superimposed on a $6000 dollar radar its great!lol
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Old 02-01-2012, 14:34   #4
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Re: AIS experience offshore?

YES, and that way you can call them by name.
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Old 02-01-2012, 14:50   #5
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Re: AIS experience offshore?

We crossed Biscay recently and did the Atlantic coast of Spain / Portugal, and could easily see the shipping / commercial vessels on our AIS, it was a godsend. A warning though - we found that not many fishing vessels use it, unless they are big or really want to be seen.

We have a transponder (which isn't really necessary, but we rather want the big guys to see us as well.....) and this helped whenever we called someone on the VHF, we could call them by name and they had in every case seen us.

The display on ours is not a lot different than one of the crappy $150 jobs - but frankly I don't need it overlaid on a chartplotter or anything else - the unit tells me if I'm on a collision course and that's what I really need to know. The downside is that we regularly appear to be about to crash into lighthouses...
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Old 02-01-2012, 14:57   #6
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Re: AIS experience offshore?

Yes, the big guys transmit AIS. Since 2006 I've been running an AIS receiver, and more lately a Class-B transponder, and so far:
  • Every large ship I've seen between California and Hawaii has been transmitting an AIS signal.
  • Some fishing boats transmit, but most don't.
  • Most tugs and commercial workboats transmit, but this is not required and I understand that in some areas the majority do *not* carry AIS.
  • Most military ships do *not* transmit, but some do at times. I'm quite sure that they are keeping a good watch though.
  • Most pleasure craft do not transmit, but I'm far from the only one with a transponder.
I won't speculate as to whether the non-military vessels are actually looking at their AIS screens. I do know that it's much easier to hail a ship using their name (as displayed on your AIS system). The few ships I've asked have confirmed that my Class-B signal was showing up on their bridge.
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Old 02-01-2012, 15:08   #7
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Re: AIS experience offshore?

Do you folks that have it, keep it mounted in plain sight from the cockpit, or is it just something you check every so often?
just curious
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Old 02-01-2012, 15:26   #8
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Re: AIS experience offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by callmecrazy View Post
Do you folks that have it, keep it mounted in plain sight from the cockpit, or is it just something you check every so often?
just curious
We have it in plain sight from the cockpit, but then we don't have a nav station in the usual sense down below (very old small boat) so the companionway was the only logical place to mount it - but it also has very audible alarms that tell you if you're on a collision course with anything, or actually if you're going to pass within about a mile, and it tells you CPA, time to CPA, COG and SOG of all vessels it can see (as well as your own COG and SOG - as we don't have a chartplotter or any other widget to tell us this we find this particularly useful). When it comes to lighthouses it is a pain in the neck, and we have apparently been going to die several times over when entering a harbour, but I wouldn't be without it now.

Being small and not prepared to carry radar I think AIS is a great alternative - it uses next to no power and all the big guys have to have it. It doesn't absolve you of watch duties of course, but it sure is a big help.
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Old 02-01-2012, 15:33   #9
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Re: AIS experience offshore?

I agree with the comments from Paul Elliott from use in Northern Europe, the Med, the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Pacific. We recently also added a Class B Transponder and now that the prices are lower more pleasure boats have them.
We have our display in plain sight in the cockpit and it is not uncommon to see an AIS target before we see the actual ship during the day. Clear nights we ususally see the lights before the AIS target appears.
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Old 02-01-2012, 15:42   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by callmecrazy
Do you folks that have it, keep it mounted in plain sight from the cockpit, or is it just something you check every so often?
just curious
I've got it integrated with my radio and it displays on the radio and the RAM in the cockpit. It's a small screen, but plenty good enough. Matrix 2000 + transponder.
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Old 02-01-2012, 15:57   #11
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Re: AIS experience offshore?

Firstly - it is an IMO requirement that merchant vessels carry AIS and have it operational. Unless it is not functioning (and the early generations of AIS were notoriously unreliable) it will be switched on at sea. Note that Naval vessels are NOT required to have theirs on so don't rely on AIS if you are anywhere near a fleet exercise.
Secondly - every ship I've been on we do use it and our displays are pretty good in general. We have as big an interest in not hitting someone else as any recreational sailor; after all we can lose our livelihood or even end up in jail if we do. Not a sanction that applies to WAFI's (and yes I'm one of those too.)
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Old 02-01-2012, 17:08   #12
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Re: AIS experience offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Just wondering...those of you who have AIS and have run it offshore, are you seeing commercial traffic actually RUNNING their AIS equipment offshore?
Always. So far.

#callmecrazy - mine is at the chart table, very little in the cockpit. Offshore solo it's been fantastic (loud alarm) when i had batt probs and couldn't run the radar when asleep. 0.1a power draw.
There must be some stuff out there not transmitting but ais has got to reduce the odds massively. Onshore i don't trust anyone, but still very useful. If a fishing boat does happen to be transmitting then if it's only doing a few knots you know the nets are down.
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Old 02-01-2012, 17:19   #13
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Re: AIS experience offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveT View Post
Firstly - it is an IMO requirement that merchant vessels carry AIS and have it operational. Unless it is not functioning (and the early generations of AIS were notoriously unreliable) it will be switched on at sea. Note that Naval vessels are NOT required to have theirs on so don't rely on AIS if you are anywhere near a fleet exercise.
Secondly - every ship I've been on we do use it and our displays are pretty good in general. We have as big an interest in not hitting someone else as any recreational sailor; after all we can lose our livelihood or even end up in jail if we do. Not a sanction that applies to WAFI's (and yes I'm one of those too.)
does the wafi logo show up as well........lol
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Old 02-01-2012, 17:26   #14
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Re: AIS experience offshore?

I am putting one on this winter. I got tired of going up and down the Chesapeake at night playing the game of "See those lights? What do you think they are up to?" Much better to actually know what most of them are up to.
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Old 02-01-2012, 17:33   #15
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Re: AIS experience offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Just wondering...those of you who have AIS and have run it offshore, are you seeing commercial traffic actually RUNNING their AIS equipment offshore? ...
I fitted a receiver in late 2008 and have found that the unit is really a wonderful help (sailing solo offshore and otherwise). My unit provides an overlay on the charting program on the laptop, and has been useful for both avoidance and for establishing contact. In several instances it seemed that commercial shipping actually took measures to avoid a close crossing, but in most cases I have not found it necessary to make VHF contact merely to "chat." A great and rather simple invention.
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