Opinion wanted: Is RADAR mandatory for Cruising, or just get AIS? - Page 3 - SailNet Community
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post #21 of 59 Old 02-10-2009
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RADAR all the way. AIS is to RADAR like snow tires are to a Honda Civic in Tennessee...not strictly necessary, but a very nice thing to have in crowded conditions.

AIS tells you where ships are, so it's like having just one eye that can see one colour. RADAR is like having a lookout with X-ray vision atop a 500 foot mast...it's active, it can see through fog, rain and the dark, and it sees stuff you might have to be almost on top of to see by other means. RADAR also confirms location and chart accuracy by means of ranging and bearing to known features, and all but the crappiest radars in the worst conditions can be tweaked to show fairly obvious features on the shore. Finally, a RADAR can have a pretty nice "guard" setting that will alert you via alarm to the presence of big, fast metal ships or large rocky things within 8, 12 or 16 miles or so. AIS can do this, except that a lot of shipping, most fishing boats and all rocks do not have AIS.

AIS is like putting a beautiful dress on a naked goddess...an enhancement and enrichment of something inherently desirable. But if you want to go sailing with a nice dress instead of a goddess, feel free!

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post #22 of 59 Old 02-10-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
In fact, experienced navigators would likely rate it as the 3rd or 4th most important navigational tool aboard, after the compass and fathometer!
Exactly as Bill says. I'll go one step further and rank them in the history of navigation: 1)Compass, 2)Chronometer, 3)Fathometer, 4)Radar
Everything else is in contention for a distant Fifth.

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post #23 of 59 Old 02-10-2009
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In the summer of 1997, I got fogged in on the approach to Inverness, and I could see nothing horizontally. It gave me the jitters. I bought a wee radar, a JRC 1000, that Autumn, and mounted it on a stern pole.

In the flat calm that ordinarily is found with fog, I can see a lobster buoy at 4 miles... I kid you not. Normally, in a choppy sea, the fog is not so thick. Flat calm is when fog really is worst, here in Scotland, at least.

It is not the world's finest radar, but it works well enough. It is also good at helping you know how far off a shore you are at night.

GPS and radar will serve you well.

Last edited by Rockter; 02-10-2009 at 11:25 AM.
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post #24 of 59 Old 02-10-2009
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I would say that you could lose GPS and navigate by RADAR and a current chart alone, but the GPS won't tell you where the old steel herring trawler is at night in the fog.

The downside of RADAR is that it takes practice (which I encourage) to learn to fully exploit all the interesting things it can do. Approaching line squalls at night in the tropics would rank high on that list, I would say.

Most well-founded blue-water vessels can support the battery-charging and battery-capacity functions required to run RADAR, but the very newest RADARs are much less power-greedy, and even the old ones can be run quite conservatively. A light coastal sailboat can simply use the engine to create amps for the RADAR for the rare instances where constant use is required, like getting back into port in pea soup over that last mile of approach.

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post #25 of 59 Old 02-10-2009
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Wow! I'm proud of you guys. Often, threads like this fall apart in a flurry of informed and uninformed opinions on the virtues of this or that technology.

This one hasn't. Twenty-three posts and agreement that radar beats AIS hands down as a navigational tool. And, as SailingDog said, after the compass, chronometer, and fathometer in the history of navigation RADAR is a clear winner over everything else.

I've sailed for many years without radar. From my first sailboat in Indonesia in 1956 to my present boat up to 2004. Never had radar. Sometimes wished we had it, like the time we navigated up the Adriatic from Corfu to Dubrovnik in a thick fog, using only RDF back bearings on Bari and Brindisi beacons on the Italian coast. Radar would have been very nice.

Or approaching the Canary Islands when I wasn't too sure of my celestial "fixes". Radar would have been nice.

Or, closer to home, one dark evening singlehanding and trying to find the entrance to Peachblossom Creek, just north of Oxford, MD. Pitch black. The Loran (all I had for electronic navs) said I was there. Stopped dead on a very calm night. Couldn't see the entrance with top-notch 7x50 binoculars. Radar would have been nice. (As it turned out, the Loran was right...we were right outside the entrance).

Or, the many times sailing in the fog on San Francisco Bay. Or one dark night approaching the north coast of Grenada after a long and very rough passage from the BVI. The chart and the newly fitted GPS didn't agree. Radar would have been nice.

Preparing for my first trip to Maine in 2004, I fitted a radar to Born Free. Furuno 1832 with a green-screen CRT and a 24" radome for maximum target definition. Found I could spot lobster buoys with ease. And approaching fronts. And harbour entrances. And ships nearby, as well as fishing boats, rowboats, sailboats, buoys, etc. During the 2007 trip to Maine from Washington DC we had thick fog all the way from the C&D Canal, down the Delaware River and Bay, and halfway up the New Jersey coast. Radar was a godsend.

Now, I wouldn't be without it. I'd throw my 5 GPS units and my radios and RDFs and lorans and sextants and all the rest overboard...except the compass and fathometer...before I'd give up the radar.

And, please understand, I'm still a real newbie in its use. I can do certain elementary things, but I still haven't plumbed the depths of its capabilities.

Buy a radar. Forget AIS, until you have absolutely everything else aboard and are bored stiff :-)

Bill

Last edited by btrayfors; 02-10-2009 at 04:16 PM.
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post #26 of 59 Old 02-10-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Wow! I'm proud of you guys. Often, threads like this fall apart in a flurry of informed and uninformed opinions on the virtues of this or that technology.

This one hasn't. Twenty-three posts and agreement that radar beats AIS hands down as a navigational tool. And, as SailingDog said, after the compass, chronometer, and fathometer in the history of navigation RADAR is a clear winner over everything else.

I've sailed for many years without radar. From my first sailboat in Indonesia in 1956 to my present boat up to 2004. Never had radar. Sometimes wished we had it, like the time we navigated up the Adriatic from Corfu to Dubrovnik in a thick fog, using only RDF back bearings on Bari and Brindisi beacons on the Italian coast. Radar would have been very nice.

Or approaching the Canary Islands when I wasn't too sure of my celestial "fixes". Radar would have been nice.

Or, closer to home, one dark evening singlehanding and trying to find the entrance to Peachblossom Creek, just north of Oxford, MD. Pitch black. The Loran (all I had for electronic navs) said I was there. Stopped dead on a very calm night. Couldn't see the entrance with top-notch 7x50 binoculars. Radar would have been nice. (As it turned out, the Loran was right...we were right outside the entrance).

Or, the many times sailing in the fog on San Francisco Bay. Or one dark night approaching the north coast of Grenada after a long and very rough passage from the BVI. The chart and the newly fitted GPS didn't agree. Radar would have been nice.

Preparing for my first trip to Maine in 2004, I fitted a radar to Born Free. Furuno 1832 with a green-screen CRT and a 24" radome for maximum target definition. Found I could spot lobster buoys with ease. And approaching fronts. And harbour entrances. And ships nearby, as well as fishing boats, rowboats, sailboats, buoys, etc. During the 2007 trip to Maine from Washington DC we had thick fog all the way from the C&D Canal, down the Delaware River and Bay, and halfway up the New Jersey coast. Radar was a godsend.

Now, I wouldn't be without it. I'd throw my 5 GPS units and my radios and RDFs and lorans and sextants and all the rest overboard...except the compass and fathometer...before I'd give up the radar.

And, please understand, I'm still a real newbie in its use. I can do certain elementary things, but I still haven't plumbed the depths of its capabilities.

Buy a radar. Forget AIS, until you have absolutely everything else aboard and are bored stiff :-)

Bill

Hey Bill,

That was not Sailingdog... it was Sailaway. THough they have the same brain (Sway with one half, SD with the other), and stink the same, they are in fact two different dogs.

- CD

PS I never heard you mention where the ole SSB ranked in that. I might conclude that all that stuff would go before the SSB!!!

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post #27 of 59 Old 02-10-2009
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dad,

Right you are! Sorry dog. Sorry Sailaway21.

Bill
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post #28 of 59 Old 02-10-2009 Thread Starter
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Thanks all, the answer is clear! :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Valiente View Post
AIS is like putting a beautiful dress on a naked goddess..
...a horrible crime?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Valiente View Post
...an enhancement and enrichment of something inherently desirable.
...oh, yea -- that.

Anyway, thanks to all. The message is clear, and a mast mounted radar is on the to-do list.

Regards,

--
Joe
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post #29 of 59 Old 02-10-2009
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Got caught in a storm trying to get a delivery up the Chessy one night. Can't imagine how it would have turned out if the boat wasn't radar equipped. I'd say if you are going to sail to unfamiliar places it is more than a nice to have.
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post #30 of 59 Old 02-10-2009
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First, truth in disclosure; I own a Miltech AIS receiver, 2 KW Raymarine radar and an E systems chart plotter. I’ve also been sailing SF Bay and NorCal for the past thirty years (I started when I was two )

There is no easy answer to your question. SFBoatingdotcom has a link to Miltech’s real-time AIS plot of the Bay where you can see that there is a tremendous amount of large ship traffic on the Bay at any one time. I like the data feature of AIS which displays ships name, destination, ETA and speed & heading. The E system also predicts the closest point of approach in both time and distance. This is handy for me as Freya is berthed in the Oakland Estuary and I want to know if I will have a crossing situation inside the narrow confines of the Estuary (think the turning basin!) This is much more valuable than listening to VTS on the VHF. Also, we tend to spend a lot of time in the ship channel as we sail homeward. The other place where it pays off is in the SF approach channel. Again, knowing what is soon to be coming your way is a godsend.

I like RADAR too. Used it last when coming home from the 3BF in the dark. Very helpful in tracking the 50-60 sailboats returning to their various marinas. The only downside was nobody had their reflectors up and I had to us the quarter or eighth mile scale to pick up reasonable returns which unfortunately, meant I couldn’t see long range to detect a fast moving container ship. My little 2KW transmitter isn’t big enough to do reliable navigation on its own. There simply isn’t enough resolution to accurately paint a coastline or other land features. Here in Cali, I’d stick with the chart plotter. In Mexico, use your copy of Charlie’s Chart’s to augment your paper ones. Better yet, get a set of accurate waypoints from your cruiser friends. The E System’s overlay feature is great as I could readily tell the difference between a channel buoy and a boat. The last two times I’ve been to Half Moon Bay, I used a Radar approach along with the chart plotter. The added benefit was I could “see” beyond the breakwater and into the anchorage. Will everybody displaying their RADAR reflectors, it was easy to figure out the open spaces in the crowded (Labor Day) holiday anchorage.

Fishing boats might be a problem in other areas, but with the declining fisheries (fewer boats) and our normal sea states allowing them only to motor between 10 and 15kts, these are not so much a problem here. Besides they tend to fish pretty far offshore so you only encounter them coming and going. I have had many more near misses with whales than with fishing boats. Our local crab fishermen use old, small fenders as floats and my RADAR will never pick them up. I just try to avoid following the 96 foot (16 fathom) contour as this seems to be a favorite trap line.

After Clinton declared the Central California Coast a marine sanctuary, all the large ships must transit outside of it so all that you will encounter going down to Catalina is other small craft working north and south. RADAR here is helpful, AIS is not. When we went to Hawaii last year we used AIS exclusively as it only consumed about 1 AH where the radar was much more than that plus you had to run the display. At sea AIS rocks! It reliably identified targets of concern and when we called them up on the VHF, we were able to hail them by name.

Last edited by GeorgeB; 02-10-2009 at 06:41 PM.
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