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I'm starting to think about over the winter purchases and gear for next year. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has installed an AIS transceiver recently. I'm hoping the prices are coming down.
 

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Just did a search using google for "ais transceiver" Prices are coming down, saw one for $319.
 
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I installed a Vesper Marine XB-6000 2 years ago. It's been rock solid, I am very happy with it.
 

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I installed a Vesper Marine XB-6000 2 years ago. It's been rock solid, I am very happy with it.
Same here, but it was a Vesper XB8000 and something like 5 or 6 years ago. Installed the thing, configured with the radio (hardwired) and computer/tablet/phone (built-in wifi) and never had to do anything more. Working without a hiccup
 

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I have been watching AIS transceiver prices for about five years and prices for FCC certified equipment have not moved significantly in that time (it is still about $450 for a basic Class B unit and $700 for a wi-fi equipped and/or SOTDMA Class B unit). The low-cost units you see online are usually from foreign sellers and are not FCC compliant. Some people buy them anyway, but I wouldn’t take the risk. I’ve decided that until they either come down more in price or I decide to sail outside the Chesapeake, that I’m fine with having a receive-only unit.

I find having receive-only capability is plenty helpful in avoiding shipping traffic and enhancing general situational awareness and that adding a transceiver probably wouldn’t be helpful in avoiding my bigger fear (and the more common collision type in the Chesapeake) which is being run down by a go-fast powerboat. If the power boat operator is drunk and/or reckless and driving erratically at high speed, there’s neither much value in having their AIS data nor in sending mine out.
 

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If you are just looking for a simple real time AIS without transmitting properties and have a good chartplotter with an NMEA capable backbone I’d suggest just adding a Standard Horizon and hooking it into it

https://www.thegpsstore.com/Standard-Horizon-GX2200-Matrix-AIS-with-GPS-White-P5754.aspx?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIoZ-Lw6K_5QIVA6SzCh21AwbdEAQYASABEgIoAfD_BwE

There would be two reasons for buying a class B which transmits your position. One you do a lot of offshore sailing or sailing where there is a huge amount of ship traffic ie NYC. Two , you want to have others see where you are and enjoy the AIS novelty. The Vesper is the best I have seen for this and runs about $800.
Understand you will need seperAte antennae also

If you just want to show your position on a general info basis and don’t care if it’s real time....then just get the
On Course or Boat Becacon Ap

I agree with 4arch that here on the Chessie AIS will only cover a small amount of boats .
 

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And if you want to see AIS targets on a smart device the app Marine Traffic will work.
 

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I also recommend vesper marine 8000. We have it wet up to feed our main Simard system and also as a core of a backup nav system with windows computer (coastal explorer) or IOS device. Also have their alarm system which is controlled off IOS or droid. It's worked flawlessly. So nice when your in a dicey situation to have a ship call us by name and work out a plan. Just sailed Hawaii and back and used the alarm system to let us know if a ship was close. But alarm never came on as they could see us on AIS and stayed miles away.

One other mention is their customer support. Any time I've had an issue or question I'd get it answered over email in hours.

Maybe more expensive but to the features, connectivity (NEMA, USB, wifi), and customer support you cant go wrong.
 

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I follow friends on marine traffic. Sometimes do this on the boat so have the transceiver running at the same time. This occurs on the occasions we have internet (so we’re coastal). Have found marine traffic is good but extraordinarily slow. Will often not update in a useful period of time when you’re concerned about a intercept or collision avoidance. Believe it is NOT meant to be used as a navigational aid.

In busy areas (New York harbor, chessie near military and such) have had military and commercial traffic call me on 16,9,13). The call is usually a curtesy call or to state intentions. But these calls are useful and clearly occur because I was identified by my transmitting AIS.

Similarly when offshore transmitting is very important. Ships tend to pick up on your AIS not radar and definitely not visual.

At this point of time think having a transceiver is more important to safety than a chart plotter (pad will serve) or radar. Think everyone in anything bigger than a dinghy should get one.
 

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I follow friends on marine traffic. Sometimes do this on the boat so have the transceiver running at the same time. This occurs on the occasions we have internet (so we’re coastal). Have found marine traffic is good but extraordinarily slow. Will often not update in a useful period of time when you’re concerned about a intercept or collision avoidance. Believe it is NOT meant to be used as a navigational aid.

In busy areas (New York harbor, chessie near military and such) have had military and commercial traffic call me on 16,9,13). The call is usually a curtesy call or to state intentions. But these calls are useful and clearly occur because I was identified by my transmitting AIS.

Similarly when offshore transmitting is very important. Ships tend to pick up on your AIS not radar and definitely not visual.

At this point of time think having a transceiver is more important to safety than a chart plotter (pad will serve) or radar. Think everyone in anything bigger than a dinghy should get one.
Can’t agree with this at all. Radar is more important. There never will be a mandate for recreational vessels requiring them to have AIS....therefore

Since the majority won’t have it they will be dark on your AIS screen. However radar will spot them.

We have traveled the NJ coast many times at night. I can’t count how many times we have encountered boats who are “dark” fishing with no AIS signature from our Vesper. They were “visible” on radar though and the “dangerous target” went off.

Jim for your purposes the Marine Traffic ap should suffice as you spend most of your time in the Bay. The large ships are confined to the channel north of the Bridge so I doubt you’ll have the need to raise and talk to them.

Honestly the only time we use it is around NY , C& D Canal entrance on the Delaware and the entrance to the Chesapeake where there is a large movement and anchoring of ships

We got the Vesper because we do some offshore work. It can be a great value there.
 

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There never will be a mandate for recreational vessels requiring them to have AIS....therefore
I wouldn't be so sure of that. Many countries do require AIS, and the US is presently considering requiring AIS for recreational vessels 65'+. It could be only a matter of time before the US requires all recreational vessels (or ones, say 30'+) to be so equipped.

If I had to bet, I'd bet on it happening.

I haven't used MarineTraffic in real-time much, but do know when I am testing our AIS it usually takes 1-6hrs for us to show up on it. We have had friends tell us they see us in one place, when we had left there hours ago. It doesn't seem safe to rely on it for real-time navigation - particularly when the whole purpose of AIS requires real-time updates.

AIS transponders used to be rare in our travels. Now it is rare to find a boat without one. Of course, the small runabouts and such will not have them, so AIS may be less important in more protected areas where these boats roam. But since they are generally running 20-30kts, even radar doesn't help a sailboat much with avoiding them.

I think the price of basic AIS transponders has fallen as low as they are ever going to be. This is the price-floor for basic models, and money will just add features from there.

It happened the same way with AIS receive-only, where the prices dropped to a certain level and then stayed there (or even rose a bit). For example, I paid $170 for a SR161 receiver 12yrs ago. I just looked and it is still a current product being sold for $220 now. Of course, I just sold it for $40, so good deals can be had used because many people are now upgrading to transceivers.

But the cost differential between receive-only and a transceiver is so small now that that money buys one a big step-up in functionality and usefulness.

Mark
 

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At best, MarineTraffic is okay to check to see if a buddy made it to port, has departed or some other basic info that is not real time. I find the data to be way to stale to be useful for navigation. Perhaps there are locales that have more shoreside receivers that update more frequently than around here.

Ultimately, our grossly antiquated lights and day shape rules need to be replaced by AIS systems. Prices will come down and make this more accessible, not unlike VHF radios.
 

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I wouldn't be so sure of that. Many countries do require AIS, and the US is presently considering requiring AIS for recreational vessels 65'+. It could be only a matter of time before the US requires all recreational vessels (or ones, say 30'+) to be so equipped.

If I had to bet, I'd bet on it happening.

I haven't used MarineTraffic in real-time much, but do know when I am testing our AIS it usually takes 1-6hrs for us to show up on it. We have had friends tell us they see us in one place, when we had left there hours ago. It doesn't seem safe to rely on it for real-time navigation - particularly when the whole purpose of AIS requires real-time updates.

AIS transponders used to be rare in our travels. Now it is rare to find a boat without one. Of course, the small runabouts and such will not have them, so AIS may be less important in more protected areas where these boats roam. But since they are generally running 20-30kts, even radar doesn't help a sailboat much with avoiding them.

I think the price of basic AIS transponders has fallen as low as they are ever going to be. This is the price-floor for basic models, and money will just add features from there.

It happened the same way with AIS receive-only, where the prices dropped to a certain level and then stayed there (or even rose a bit). For example, I paid $170 for a SR161 receiver 12yrs ago. I just looked and it is still a current product being sold for $220 now. Of course, I just sold it for $40, so good deals can be had used because many people are now upgrading to transceivers.

But the cost differential between receive-only and a transceiver is so small now that that money buys one a big step-up in functionality and usefulness.

Mark
I’m not advocating Marine Traffic as the refresh rates are very long.

I think asking a smaller sailboat or even medium size like us to purchase an AISB at around $700-$800 will be the killer.

While I agree I see a few more AIS on the Chesapeake now it’s just a drop in a bucket compared to the amount of boats yo see out on a given day. Getting the runabouts to comply...that’s another issue.

I’m no talking about it’s value in cruising , as I have one, I just am speaking to the OP on the Chesapeake’s specific post. Very very few of the boats you see out will be shown on AIS and in our future it will. Ot increase that much so I do think it’s worth it.

Like I said before radar will be more advantageous , especially at night.L
 

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I’m not advocating Marine Traffic as the refresh rates are very long.

I think asking a smaller sailboat or even medium size like us to purchase an AISB at around $700-$800 will be the killer.
I was attempting to address several post points in my post, and the marinetraffic point wasn't in response to anything you wrote.

Basic AIS transponders are now in the under $400 range, and definitely under $500 - particularly if one waits for a sale, which seems to be about twice a year.

The OP's situation falls in the middle. For sure AIS receive will be very handy - when we first put it on, I thought it was better than radar for large traffic. Certainly better than trying to figure out navigational light schemes at 2am in pitching seas with Disney's disco balls and giant screen TV's competing with their actual nav lights on their ships.

But for a bit extra money, a transceiver does give back that value. I'm surprised at both the high prices of AIS receive-only units, as well as the sheer number of them for sale. If the OP goes this way, then hit up eBay for used ones.

Mark
 

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I love my radar. Use it and depth contours in the old school way to navigate as well as for collision avoidance. Use it a lot to dance around squalls or at least get on the more favorable side. But AIS has it hands down for the vast majority of weekend warriors. Put a cursor on the target and click. Everything you want to know is right there.
Offshore the radar is on rarely. Even inshore occasionally. AIS is always on. Negligible draw and idiot proof. Auto tune on radar still leaves something to be desired. AIS requires no explanations. No bird, buoy, harbor, coastal, offshore. No tuning. No rain or clutter settings.
 

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I have a Vesper Marine XB-8000 and would not sail coastal without it. It has worked flawlessly for the past 3 years. I like that I can call the tug that may be towing by name to make sure. Also like that they can see me, my heading and my speed overground.

If you go this route, I strongly suggest getting a seperate antenna, which could be used as a backup VHF, over using a splitter.
 

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But AIS has it hands down for the vast majority of weekend warriors. Put a cursor on the target and click. Everything you want to know is right there.
A valid point was made that the vast majority of weekend warrior do not have AIS transponders. So having AIS of any type provides little utility outside larger commercial ships.

On the other hand, I bet few weekend warriors with radar can actually operate them to any useful extent.

Mark
 

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Oyster, a sisership, who departed South on Friday with a cheapie Chinese AIS B is having trouble with it. I told him to replace it with a CG certified one.
 

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I would highly value the wifi units that can beam to a tablet, etc.
My ais receive only vhf is cool but its display and info does nothing for me when in the cockpit...other that alarm.
 

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I bought an Amec AIS Transceiver from Mil-Tech with an external Vesper screen located at the helm. Had it for several years. No problems with it. Even though I pretty much operate coastal still find it useful when entering harbors with a ferry operation. Can easily check to make sure I am giving them enough space in tight channel and of course they can see that too.
 
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