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Old 30-03-2011, 01:59   #1
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Radar vs AIS

Would you recommend AIS and or Radar in the Mediterranean? If you could only have one which do you think would be of more use?
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Old 30-03-2011, 02:30   #2
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Re: Radar vs AIS

Think it is a tough call, as both systems supplement each other nicely. Anything big and commercial will have AIS transmitter, so will show on your AIS display, but smaller crafts are not required to have a transmitter, not to mention rocks... ;-)

Probably, if you stay out of foggy weather, AIS could be first on the list. We have both on our boat, but AIS is on almost all of the time, while radar gets used maybe 10% of the time.

Just my view.
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Old 30-03-2011, 02:39   #3
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Re: Radar vs AIS

That would depend on what electroncis you have at the moment and the size of the piggy bank.

In an ideal world, you would have both, but if the budget is under pressure not to upgrade all the electronics, then perhaps just AIS. AIS has proven very useful for sailing around the English Channel. We pick up ships between 5 and 7 miles which is sufficient.

We have a Raymarine C80 under the sprayhood for navigation which could have Radar added but the budget is going on a new Genoa first. However, we did sell an older small Garmin chart plotter and replaced it with a new model with AIS. This is installed at the wheel so you can see the display as you are going along without having to constantly go below.

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Old 30-03-2011, 02:52   #4
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Re: Radar vs AIS

IMO, I want to see everything out there, not just the vessels with AIS. I like my radar and arpa.

I often wonder what percentage of vessels out there are transmitting AIS? 2%? I want to see the remaining 98% also, I don't like to hit things.
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Old 30-03-2011, 03:07   #5
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Re: Radar vs AIS

Dotdun nailed it. Radar and AIS will be fitted on all commercial ships (if they are following the rules) and some of the others on the water. Of those that have it fitted, how many have it switched on to transmit info to you ? And what kind of lookout is being kept.

So you need to see others - even if they do not see you.

The only way of detecting (with very high probability under most circumstances) a large steel or other hard target (not many bergs in the med, but plenty of rocks) that will hurt you if you hit it is with your eyes, or by radar. So IMHO, if you are concerned about being able to see targets in poor vis then you need a radar. If you want another vessel to see you then fit the very best radar reflector you can afford. And when you have done that, by all means fit an AIS.
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Old 30-03-2011, 04:51   #6
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Re: Radar vs AIS

+1 for DotDun and for SteveA. Radar, hands down, is the more useful tool for real world navigation.

AIS is fashionable, neat, appeals to those who are "data driven", and seductive because it's all to easy to forget that it's not synoptic, i.e., it only reports a tiny fraction of the things that can run into you or you can run into!

It also can be distracting in the extreme from using the best navigational tool of all, the Mark I eyeball.

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Old 30-03-2011, 04:59   #7
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Re: Radar vs AIS

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Would you recommend AIS and or Radar in the Mediterranean? If you could only have one which do you think would be of more use?
Traffic densities in the Med tend to be confined to a set of particular spots, I would always have Radar before AIS, Radar is a multi purpose navigational tools, ( fixes, verifying charts, fog, collision, squalls,etc).

AIS ( and really only get a transponder). is a secondary device. ALso they are now fairly cheap, around $500, whereas good radar is still in the 2k+. Really its an apples and oranges. If youre really tight on bugdet get a AIS, but its non subsitute

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Old 30-03-2011, 05:10   #8
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Re: Radar vs AIS

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Originally Posted by Silvana White View Post
Would you recommend AIS and or Radar in the Mediterranean? If you could only have one which do you think would be of more use?
Very much budget and power dependant. AIS i find wonderful, see what the big stuff is doing in an instant, fishing boats do completely what they want at a moments notice anyway so radar or ais is limited value. Radar draws too much power on my boat to be used continually, ais draws next to nothing.

If it's bang for your buck then ais wins hands down.

Not much fog in the med either.
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Old 30-03-2011, 05:29   #9
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Re: Radar vs AIS

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fishing boats do completely what they want at a moments notice anyway so radar or ais is limited value.
Radar is NOT limited value in this situation, you are citing a reason to have radar. When the fishing boat changes course, radar will show it within seconds.

AIS cannot/does not point out markers, rocks, towers, nor 98%+ of all vessels.

I was in a 50knot squall for 2 hours in the middle of the night. The only thing I had to show me the tower 1 mile abeam was radar, AIS won't do that. It was raining so hard we couldn't see the front deck and it was all I could do to keep the boat into the wind with engines running and hand steering, I told the first mate to watch the radar and keep me away from the tower. The seas were 10-12 feet close period and breaking and the tower showed up about every 4th sweep. I will never do a night crossing without radar.
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Old 30-03-2011, 05:51   #10
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Re: Radar vs AIS

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Not much fog in the med either.
Fog is not the main reason nor the only reason to justify radar

Dave
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Old 30-03-2011, 06:11   #11
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Re: Radar vs AIS

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Fog is not the main reason nor the only reason to justify radar

Dave
Didn't say it was. And anyway that's each skippers decision, not a given.

In 15,00 miles of atlantic circuit the only time i used mine in anger was down the foggy fishing boat infested portuguese coast.

though very handy offshore for picking up squalls at night so you can get the shampoo ready.

But it's silly setting them up against each other, 2 different animals. In general cruising i found that ais got used much more than radar but would much prefer to have both onboard before setting off long distance.
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Old 30-03-2011, 06:20   #12
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Re: Radar vs AIS

Radar hands down.
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Old 30-03-2011, 07:20   #13
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Re: Radar vs AIS

I don't see what the controversy is. AIS only shows vessels that are transmitting an AIS signal. You can get data about them, like name, size, course and speed, etc. You can't get more information about the surrounding area. Not one tiny bit of information. If you primary navigation dies or you are in fog at night, AIS won't be much good helping you navigate.

Radar will show every vessel that has AIS, and every vessel that doesn't. It shows land, buoys and markers. You can quickly calculate distance and bearing to any single target. You can use Radar to navigate through a series of buoys or narrow channel. You can navigate quite easily with radar only when close to shore. You can see an approaching squall at night on a radar.

There just doesn't seem to be a comparison to me. Radar wins hands down.
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Old 30-03-2011, 09:06   #14
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Re: Radar vs AIS

AIS is a great supplement to radar, but is in no way a substitute for it.
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Old 30-03-2011, 09:30   #15
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Re: Radar vs AIS

I would also vote for radar.

For me the best feature of AIS is the ability of other vessels to recognize me as a sailing vessel. The number of times I am mistaken for a fishing vessel at night astounds me, especially since the masthead light is not illuminated.

Of course, this requires a transceiver.
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