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Opinion wanted: Is RADAR mandatory for Cruising, or just get AIS?
I am looking to do a bit more extended cruising, and am concerned about collision avoidance. I am considering two solutions:
1. Radar unit installed on the mast
- Very expensive, have to unstep mast, etc
- I don't want to put a stern mounted pole on my boat
- May not be able to fix it myself if it breaks
2. Adding an AIS class B send/receive to a chartplotter
- Much cheaper, can install myself, can buy those new sails sooner, etc
I realize radar is the 'gold standard' for collision avoidance, but is it still necessary? It is my understanding that cargo ships must transmit AIS info, and so it should be as good or better at finding the big boys, while smaller ships without AIS may not show up on radar either.
My feeling is that AIS along with the standard 15 minute visual check should be a comfortable level of safety while cruising -- and that even with RADAR it wouldn't be safe to skip the visual check.
...so is option 2 enough? Or should I bite the bullet and shell out for option 1?
Your opinions are appreciated.