Think of AIS as yet one more aid to navigation
..along with all the other things you must do to maintain a good watch. No one aid covers everything but when combined with radar
, getting on the VHF
to confirm what side you want to pass, a watchful eye, a second set of eyes, an electronic chart, plotting to a paper chart, etc, etc, they all add up to something better than one aid alone. Think of AIS as one more tool for the safety/navigation toolbox.
Personally, I would rather see AIS transceivers used by commercial
vessels which tend to be larger, faster and therefore more dangerous than yachts. I would rather not see my screen
cluttered up with smaller vessels. I know I will catch grief for this but I can just imagine what will happen if dozens of typical weekend yachties start using an AIS transceiver in a relatively small area such as San Francisco
Bay. The really important traffic such as catamaran
ferries going 40 knots will get buried by 20 foot sailboats going 5 knots. I though see no problem with them buying
a receive only unit. Offshore
, no problem, get the transceiver. You will not be cluttering up a screen offshore
For now, it's a relatively rare occurrence to see a yacht with AIS on the SF Bay. For offshore, having an AIS transceiver may just save you from getting run down...especially considering how dim so many of the yacht nav lights are. It's legal
to have lights that are brighter than the minimum standard for your vessel. Also, strobes are supposed to be used for emergencies according to the COLREGS. Eventually someone is going to get passed up in a liferaft
because the person on watch thought it was another sailboat...if it has not happened already.