Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: South Florida
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Do you need Radar to cruise safely? No.
Do you need AIS B to cruise safely? No.
Are they nice additions? Yes.
Radar can tell you things that AIS can't. Radar (equipped with ARPA or without) has the virtue of showing you what's going on, abet at a shorter range. You can navigate ranges, enter unknown harbors, check on boat traffic, find low lying atolls, double check distance off and bearings as well as GPS lat/long, and set guard bands for a bit better sleep at night.
Radar costs more than AIS B, may use more power than AIS B, and potentially, has a higher failure rate than AIS B.
The nice thing about AIS is that it can be left on 24/7 and will draw little power. If you want AIS B then the power requirements go up.
If I'm on a boat with radar, I tend to have it on in sea lanes or close to land. If I'm offshore and out of the sea lanes then I tend to have to wake every 6 minutes, do a couple sweeps, analyze the signals and beep if any target shows up in the guard zone, then go back to sleep. Power requirements are considerably less, I get a lot of info from the 6-minute timer, and I don't have to recharge the batteries so often.
One thing to consider is one of those all-in-one systems that seem so popular now. You get radar, GPS, chartplotter, depth, fishing, and some come with AIS. The displays aren't huge and there's a single point failure I find a bit disconcerting, but the cost of one of those is generally less than buying the individual items.
Capt. Douglas Abbott
USCG/MCA IV/C.I./M.I. 500-ton Oceans
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