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  #21  
Old 10-22-2011
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You illustrate my point very well. It's just a different perspective.

I assume "my river" means the Delaware River. This is indeed a VERY busy river, with huge ships plying north and south day and night.

I've done the Delaware River and Delaware bay from the C&D Canal to Cape May many times, including at night and in very thick fog conditions. Radar was extremely helpful in the fog, for positioning and for avoiding obstructions.

AIS? Not so much. The ships all follow the ships channel. The channel is very narrow and is very well marked. There's plenty of room outside the ship's channel for a small vessel to navigate without fear of being hit by a ship. Using this strategy allows you to basically ignore the large ships -- the only ones transmitting an AIS signal -- and concentrate on smaller vessels, buoys, flotsam and jetsam, and sailing your boat. No need to know the names and particulars of the ships passing by. No need to call them on the radio. Just stay the heck out of their way, sail your boat, and pay attention to your own navigation. :-)

Now, as entertainment for the off-watch crew AIS offers some real possibilities -- even competes with the DVD movie player!

Bill

Last edited by btrayfors; 10-22-2011 at 11:42 PM.
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  #22  
Old 10-23-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
...There's plenty of room outside the ship's channel for a small vessel to navigate without fear of being hit by a ship...
No, not always:

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
...AIS? Not so much. The ships all follow the ships channel. The channel is very narrow and is very well marked. There's plenty of room outside the ship's channel for a small vessel to navigate without fear of being hit by a ship. Using this strategy allows you to basically ignore the large ships -- the only ones transmitting an AIS signal -- and concentrate on smaller vessels, buoys, flotsam and jetsam, and sailing your boat. No need to know the names and particulars of the ships passing by. No need to call them on the radio. Just stay the heck out of their way, sail your boat, and pay attention to your own navigation. :-)
Suggesting that someone sailing on a river never enter or cross the channel is like suggesting that someone walking in a city never cross the street. It just isn't reasonable.

It's a funny thing about channels - they tend to go down the middle of the river! So what's left is 1/3-1/2 the width of the river or less. That sliver of water may be OK on a reach or run, but can be dangerously narrow for tacking. And the fact is, most of the time there is no large traffic around, so you can safely cross the channel and use the whole river for tacking.

And even if you stay out of the channel, there are bulkheads and anchorages along much of the river, so the large vessels leave the channel more often than you may realize.

I typically sail about 2 mi downriver from one of those anchorages. With AIS I can tell at a glance whether those vessels are stationary (safe to enter the channel) or starting to move (stay out of the way). I don't need to call them, or look up their name, or pull up any menu for detailed information. I just look to see if there's a 5-minute vector in front of them, and I immediately know how fast they're moving. And since it's all overlaid on a chartplotter screen, it doesn't take any more attention than I'm already paying to the chartplotter (which I need to do if I'm staying out of the channel near shore).

Let's make a deal. I won't make you use that AIS that you like "not so much," and you won't tell me that I should ignore those big ships that come along every couple of hours.

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Last edited by TakeFive; 10-23-2011 at 01:27 AM.
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Old 10-23-2011
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Deal!

You watch 'em on AIS, I'll watch 'em on radar and with my Mark I eyeballs :-)

Bill
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Old 10-23-2011
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My experience has been that getting a ship to answer a radio call has long been an issue, particularly with crews for whom English is a second or third language. As AIS has been more prevalent getting an answer from "Northbound tanker near bouy 74" is more and more difficult.

The most significant benefit of AIS to me is being able to call a ship by name. The response rate to calls by name is very high.

Certainly looking beyond the toe rail and using radar are key parts of maintaining situational awareness. AIS helps take the stress out of making contact and agreeing a course of action. I like communication.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pointy_End View Post
I know the value of AIS, since we use it where I work, but marinetraffic.com is news to me. Very cool site, thanks for that!
There is another web AIS site that is a bit more versatile. I have an AIS monitoring station in Annapolis and upload to both Marinetraffic and the SiiTech sites.

Eric
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Old 10-23-2011
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Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
I like communication.
Yes, communication is good. Actually - when it comes to boating safely, I think communications are very good.

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Old 10-23-2011
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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.
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