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Old 06-02-2015, 13:03   #46
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Re: AIS for ocean sailing, essential or not

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Originally Posted by Julie Mor View Post
We were cruising from Florida to the Bahamas. It was about 2AM and I was at the wheel, alone. Everyone else was below sleeping. There was no wind and the ocean was like glass. The drone of the engine was the only thing breaking the silence.

Then I heard something unusual. I looked up at the main, which was fully hoisted, because that's where the sound seem to be coming from. It was the sound of splashing water and it was reflecting off the mainsail. I looked forward, then to port, and could see nothing that could be making the sound. Then I looked to starboard and I see this big ship steaming up on us! It was so close it startled me. I looked up at the radar reflector on our boat and wondered if the ship ever saw us. Had we been a hundred or so feet to starboard, we would have been run down.

For that reason alone, I wouldn't cross any open water without an AIS transponder. I want the big boys to see me. It's also nice for anyone wanting to follow you when you're cruising.
My question has to be why you did not see the ship sooner? I have to agree with Maine50 and other comments. Even with an AIS transceiver I'm not going to bet my life on the big boys seeing and avoiding me. Watch stander can be asleep at the wheel on big boats or small. In my opinion the responsibility for avoiding a collision ultimately lies with me.

So is AIS essential to sail? I spent 15 years cruising the NW Atlantic and Caribbean without AIS or radar or GPS and lived to tell about it. The only really close call was with a sailboat at night cruising without lights and without anyone on watch and in that case AIS would have done nothing if I wasn't watching myself.

The only things I consider essential for cruising: a seaworthy boat, a competent crew, a chart (won't get into paper vs electronic) and some way to fix your position, probably would add a VHF to that. Everything beyond that is extra. Extremely useful and helpful but not essential.
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Old 06-02-2015, 13:15   #47
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Re: AIS for ocean sailing, essential or not

Having run commercial vessels and used AIS since they have been approved, I have to say they are a very useful tool. In just about any situation, I have picked up targets via radar first, then check the AIS for information on the targets and if the CPA is deemed too close, initiate contact with the other vessel and make arrangements, or if a simple course change will bring the desired clearance then do so with no need for radio contact. I like an ARPA feature on my radar as well, nice tool, not essential. The paranoid cynic in me wants to stay away from the tech, on my own boat, but I recognize the usefulness and I do realize, I can always hit the off button for stealth mode.
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Old 06-02-2015, 13:33   #48
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Re: AIS for ocean sailing, essential or not

I am pretty much old school, but after following these threads it seems clear that, especially with prices coming down, AIS transponders will be expected as a standard item on a boat for sale very soon. And I am going to join the crowd. But... All the new electronics are so seductive and generally reliable that we start depending on them... I know that when GPS spits out my location every second, I get really lazy about keeping up with my own plotting.... I need to keep reminding myself of that one bucket of seawater over everyhting...
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Old 06-02-2015, 13:37   #49
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Re: AIS for ocean sailing, essential or not

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My question has to be why you did not see the ship sooner? I have to agree with Maine50 and other comments.
Because to err is human.

I make mistakes.

Perhaps you and Main50 never make mistakes. I have met people who are clearly better than me. If you guys are then so be it! You are better than me!

But I make mistakes.

To err is human.

AIS helps mitigate consequences of mistakes.





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Old 06-02-2015, 13:42   #50
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Re: AIS for ocean sailing, essential or not

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Originally Posted by captain58sailin View Post
In just about any situation, I have picked up targets via radar first, then check the AIS for information on the targets
………..
The paranoid cynic in me wants to stay away from the tech, on my own boat,
For class-B AIS, I can understand seeing a target on radar first, but for class-A, it would seem like they would show up on AIS before radar. At least that has been our experience (and actually is usually so for class-B too).

I know AIS seems like "tech", but it is really just a VHF radio. Those have been accepted as fairly rugged and trustworthy for many years.

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Old 06-02-2015, 13:45   #51
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Re: AIS for ocean sailing, essential or not

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Originally Posted by Don C L View Post
.... I need to keep reminding myself of that one bucket of seawater over everyhting...
Several of them are waterproof. Check out Simrad's AIS, for example: Simrad NAIS 400 ClassB AIS - Simrad Marine Electronics

Or all of the Vesper products: Compare Transponders

Now, one stroke of lightning is another story!

Mark
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Old 06-02-2015, 13:58   #52
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Re: AIS for ocean sailing, essential or not

Mark- I was not pointing out "the mistake"- yes we all make them. What I was trying to convey was an "attitude" so we take responsibility. Otherwise even with a transponder we might be caught up in the technology and " they" "the big boys" might still be a serious risk. ...Tim
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Old 06-02-2015, 15:30   #53
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Re: AIS for ocean sailing, essential or not

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Several of them are waterproof....Now, one stroke of lightning is another story!
We carry a backup hand-held GPS...and throw it into the oven if there's any sign of lightning. We understand the oven creates a protective environment for electronics in the event of a lightning stroke, altho we have never been struck by lightning (touching wood!) yet. We also regularly (every 3 hours) plot position on a paper chart...old school stuff.
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Old 06-02-2015, 15:31   #54
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Re: AIS for ocean sailing, essential or not

Hi Julie Mor,

Was looking at my post and wanted to add that I wasn't trying to criticize though it did sound a bit that way. I confess that the same thing has happened to me in the past. Was on midnight watch in the southern Bahamas headed to the Caribbean. Didn't consciously hear or see anything but something made me get up and look behind the genoa. There about half mile right off the beam was a freighter headed north. Never saw him until that moment.

Lesson, don't forget to do a full 360 scan ever 5-10 minutes. Boats can be hidden behind a sail or sneak up behind you.
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Old 06-02-2015, 16:10   #55
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Re: AIS for ocean sailing, essential or not

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Because to err is human.

I make mistakes.

Perhaps you and Main50 never make mistakes. I have met people who are clearly better than me. If you guys are then so be it! You are better than me!

But I make mistakes.

To err is human.

AIS helps mitigate consequences of mistakes.





Mark
You must have read my mind. And that happened over 20 years ago.

Always have a backup, in case the primary fails.
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Old 06-02-2015, 19:02   #56
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Re: AIS for ocean sailing, essential or not

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Originally Posted by maine50 View Post
Mark- I was not pointing out "the mistake"- yes we all make them. What I was trying to convey was an "attitude" so we take responsibility. Otherwise even with a transponder we might be caught up in the technology and " they" "the big boys" might still be a serious risk. ...Tim
Hi Tim

Still I don't agree with you. Colregs say to use "all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision." Colregs is saying use technology. All technology.
And AIS is available. If not on the boat now it is available in the chandlery so its available to us to buy and use it on our very next passage. We are behoven by Colregs to buy it and use it.
If being 'caught up' means we actually use the thing then thats good.

I feel the denigration of technology is wrong. The pandering to obsolete technology (paper charts that can not display technology like AIS) is unsafe, wrong and unseamanlike.

I don't think the 'big boys' are at serious risk of collision with sailing boats, its us that are at serious risk. When they hit us they do not even hear the bump... But we do.


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Old 06-02-2015, 19:25   #57
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Re: AIS for ocean sailing, essential or not

MarkJ- You missed my point completely. I'm not against AIS at all. I reacted to Julie's statement (rightly or not) that she wanted AIS so "the big boys" could see her. My point is she (any boater) should be the one being proactive to seeing them (the big boys) not relying on them to see her. I also think it's a mistake that AIS (technology in general) is a cure all & replaces good seamanship but rather augments it. I have AIS receiver that I'm selling so I can upgrade to transceiver. Tim
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Old 06-02-2015, 21:19   #58
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Re: AIS for ocean sailing, essential or not

Its good to see all the positive reports for AIS. My experience with it last year on a trip from the PNW to Hawaii was that most of the ships had their AIS off in the open ocean. It was great getting out of the straights but was useless at sea. The radar was more useful for us. Has anyone else experienced this?
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Old 06-02-2015, 21:32   #59
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Re: AIS for ocean sailing, essential or not

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Its good to see all the positive reports for AIS. My experience with it last year on a trip from the PNW to Hawaii was that most of the ships had their AIS off in the open ocean. It was great getting out of the straights but was useless at sea. The radar was more useful for us. Has anyone else experienced this?
Once, with a ship between Senegal and Cape Verde. otherwise every one has been transmitting around the atlantic, apart from a very occasional navy vessel, who are allowed to do what they want . Your experience does sound like some other reason was causing the lack of ais targets. This from ais satelitte tracking..
Satellite AIS for vessel tracking - AIS Marine Traffic

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Old 07-02-2015, 07:36   #60
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Re: AIS for ocean sailing, essential or not

AIS transceivers are mostly expensive but as indicated by many here very nice to have. Not only do you get to see other targets near (or heading towards you on a collision course) but they get to see you as well. This is especially true for large ships in busy channels. All you need to do is cross the florida straights in the middle of the night approaching key west to know that being visible by all those big boys is really nice....

So... back to cost.... Recently, for all the reasons mentioned above, we deviced to buy an AIS transmitter for our 40' custom trawler "Bliss". I wanted the following features.

1. small
2. inexpensive
3. Class B AIS trasmitter
4. Built in GPS (for redundancy)
5. Integration to my iPad and Mac navigation system.

5 was important because it mean that
a. that I could have my targets displayed on my navigation software
b. I did not have to have a display on my AIS unit
c. I could bury the AIS unit away which was important in my cluttered pilot house.

So i settled on a sitex class B transceiver and its mating VHF splitter.
Si-Tex Metadata Class B AIS Transceiver

The unit is small, inexpensive (compare to other AIS devices), a built in GPS that does not require an external antenna (important since I did not want to put another hole in my boat) and could use (with the assistance of the VHF splitter) my current VHF antenna (important since i did not want to put more holes in my boat).

The device outputs NMEA 183 via both serial and USB. For PC users the USB feed can be fed into a computer directly.

I however chose to use the serial NMEA feed to go into an SeaModul-Lite NMEA combiner (so that I could get my other instrumentations into the mix), which then feeds the USB NMEA out to a RedPort Optimizer and the NMEA out to my chart plotter.

Not sure if you are familiar with the RedPort Optimizer but this small inexpensive WiFi Router (Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspot - RedPort Optimizer) is really cool. Here is what it does

1. it controls your satellite equipment for optimizer email and browsing (works with most (all?) satellite devices out there.
2. Will repeat NMEA data via WiFi for use with navigation software on iPad/Android/Mac/Windows/Linux
3. Has a really inexpensive 4 Watt (that is effective watts) WiFi Extender option which will allow you to connect to WiFi hotspots a long way away.
http://www.redportglobal.com/wp-cont...i_extender.pdf (MSRP $149).
4. Is a full tracking device which will send your position report to a web site using your existing satellite phone.

All in all a very cool device.

So my boat now has an integrated WiFi hotspot that allows me to use my satellite systems, Marina WiFi, and most importantly access to my AIS/GPS data on my iPad.

BTW... full disclaimer... I invented the Optimizer one of the reasons I thing is so great! But... anyway... i though this might add to this interesting discussion which is why i am posting here.

Bliss to all!

--luis
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