Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Swarthmore, PA
Thanked 102 Times in 91 Posts
Rep Power: 8
I think AIS is a fantastic capabililty to have. Sure, it's not radar. But it's a lot less expensive and much easier to install. In fact, anyone thinking of upgrading their old non-DSC VHF radio should seriously consider spending a little extra to get a radio that also has integrated AIS receiver. (Or, even go for a full-fledged transceiver.) Be sure to register your MMSI, and while you're installing it also be sure to feed your chartplotter to the VHF so you can issue automated distress calls that have your GPS coordinates.
If you don't have a chartplotter, you should spend the extra $30-60 to get a puck style GPS antenna with NMEA output and feed that to the radio to fully enable your DSC. (I recommend this for ANY DSC radio, even those without AIS.) I found the Garmin 18x LVC for about $60 on Amazon - there are cheaper no-name brands available.
Despite what the naysayers say, AIS is very cool, and when used properly within its limitations, can be a very beneficial safety enhancement.
Rick S., Swarthmore, PA
USCG Certified Captain, 50 Ton Master and OUPV
ASA Certified 101/103/104/105/106
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2001 Catalina 34MkII Tall Rig Breakin' Away, Universal Diesel M35B, Mantus 35 lb. anchor, sailing out of Rock Hall Landing Marina