If traveling shipping channels then an AIS receiver is nice to have. Knowing where those big boys are can put your mind at ease. The transponders are another issue. As a VTC friend of mine says "they are intended for commercial shipping. If every little boat with the bucks to burn goes out and buys one VTC will not be able to read their screens." My feeling is as long as I know where they are I will take the steps to avoid them - they are generally not able to maneuver around me anyways.
JN having another Senior Moment -
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College Point, NY