Proud "picnic sailor"
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Swarthmore, PA
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Re: Standard Horizon Matrix AIS+ GX2150
I think that if someone needs a new radio anyway (old radio is broken or lacks DSC capability), then spending an extra $50-100 for integrated AIS is worth it.
Don't be emboldened to go out in fog just because you have AIS. (I think the same should be said of radar.)
While it is true that AIS does not show most boats under 300 tons, it does show all boats above that size that are operating legally in US waters. If you are under sail, you are usually the stand-on vessel, except when other vessels are so large or unmaneuverable that you have to give way. (When in doubt, just give way and leave enough distance that there is no confusion over your intentions.)
My point in parphrasing this rudimentary navrule is that vessels that don't show up on AIS are more likely to be give-way vessels anyway. Nothing is 100% certain, and you always supplement AIS by standing watch, but the fact is that the AIS transmission requirements for >300 ton vessels gives you added warning of the vessels that you need to be most worried about.
In my own case, I sail on a busy river with lots of commercial traffic. There are always 4-5 large freighters or tankers on the horizon 2-3 miles away. From that distance, I cannot tell whether they are coming at me or not. But the AIS tells me whether they are. (The vast majority are anchored.) Knowing that they are anchored enables me to relax and sail. (But of course they could raise anchor and head down the river any time.)
Before anyone calls this an example of complacency, realize that "false alarms" can distract you from real hazards that exist. When I know that those 4 vessels on the horizon are anchored, I can focus my attention on other true hazards around me. So AIS increases my ability to concentrate on things that are actual hazards.
All of this is true only if you do not allow AIS to embolden you to take risks that you would otherwise avoid. But that's true of all safety equipment.
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Formerly posted as "RhythmDoctor"
1998 Catalina 250WK Take Five (at Anchorage Marina, Essington, on the Delaware River)
1991 15' Trophy (Lake Wallenpaupack)
1985 14' Phantom (Lake Wallenpaupack)
Last edited by TakeFive; 03-24-2013 at 09:42 AM.