Freighters aren't going to steer around a 25 foot sailboat anyway. .
Of course they do!
ALL AIS targets are logged and the "black box" is used in court. There is NO WAY a ship will run you down when he knows its being recorded!
You just can't think that ships don't care about it. Look at the Costa sinking the AIS record was all over the Internet within hours. The ships company emailed the ship as soon as they saw it go off course, BEFORE it hit the rocks.
Also look at the words in my post: vessels going offshore for more than a day sail.
Boats in a river will need to get out of the way of large ships anyway as the ship will be constrained and/or in a shipping channel.
Most Class B transponders also have the ability to log all AIS traffic, and every ship would realize it. So really, who is going to play chicken with a sailboat when it means their job?
Especially when sailboats are undermanned, or some cockpit crew are less experienced the transponder is vital. It gives both vessels the chance to comply with Colregs, not just one vessel. And remember if the sailboat is the stand on vessel it should stand on. It makes it vastly easier for a ship to maneuver around a sail boat when he knows its course and speed, very much so when the boat is pointing one way but leeway or current is taking him the other way.
One final point is that AIS is so powerful that It can be picked up a long way away... Just because a captain can't see a third target on the screen it doesn't mean that his every move isn't being watched, and recorded
, by some other ship.
The pic shows you the range of these things... The red circles are 10 nms and 20 nms. Marsh Harbor to Nassau is 90 nms. Sure, I dont always get anywhere near 90 nms, but normally always have 40nms. (Purple line is my track from Nassau)
Toomany witnesses to run down a boat. All are recording all AIS information.