We have a 30 year old Irwin IC 34. We sail the Bay of Fundy and the coast of Maine. We have VHF, radar, Chartplotter, lap top with FUGAWI and an AIS receiver. I would not leave home without it. Because I already had a laptop and chart plotter, for under $200, the receive was a no brainer!
We have contacted a fair number of ships - it is so easy when you know their name and call sign. Especially when you know the Closest Point of Approach and the Closest Time of Approach. If I see that we will be clear and gone when they come by - we watch them. If we see we are not going to be in a good position 5.3 minutes from now - we call them and inform them that we see them, are monitoring them and that we will pass astern of them.
Eyes, ears, diligence and good electronics, all are "arrows in my quiver" of safe boating tools (wow, did I ever mix metaphors).
Now - I wonder if I should look into that new broad band 3G radar people are talking about?
Irwin Citation 34