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Old 03-16-2015, 02:55 PM   #61
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My point to the OP is not that one doesn't need AIS or that it's not a useful tool, period. My point is that it's value depends on where one boats and how one boats. If we boated somewhere else or in a different type of boat (as we will soon be doing) AIS could become a very valuable if not essential tool.

For our boating in the PNW, there is no information that AIS provides that we view as being essential to safely operating the boat. If the boat had one already we'd most likely use it, just as we'd use a bow thruster if the boat had one already.

But AIS is not something we feel offers enough additional value to our boating here to warrant the cost and effort to buy and install.

I made the point only because so often with these kinds of things it can be easy for someone new to boating to be made to feel that if they don't have such-and-such a gizmo they shouldn't venture away from the dock. This is not the reality.
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Old 03-16-2015, 03:21 PM   #62
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Could've used it in Dodd Narrows once, but only if the towboat with a log raft coming the opposite direction had theirs on. I doubt they did as the beautiful Fleming transiting behind me hailed me on the VHF inquiring my intentions when I swung about. Surely the Fleming had AIS. Actually a proper Securite would've sufficed. Other than that I see Marin's point for boating in PNW and BC.

Although I could see wanting it for crossing Haro Strait.
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Old 03-16-2015, 03:40 PM   #63
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Another "pro" of the AIS system that is not necessarily related to the two given reasons for AIS (tracking and collision Avoidance) is that many USCG Aids to Navigation are now equipped. Often the sea buoy seems to hide behind that wave clutter on my Radar, now I have a new way of playing hide and seek with it. Depending on how often you update your charts, it is not always where the chart plotter thinks it is.
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Old 03-16-2015, 04:00 PM   #64
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I had fun with it this past weekend on the Columbia. Could I get along without it. yep, but it is a nice addition to the MFD and radar. Prices are coming down. I remember when a receiver/transmitter was $2K+. now you can get one for less than $600....

Just another tool in the toolbox.
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Old 03-16-2015, 04:41 PM   #65
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The more people that have AIS the more valuable it becomes. Sure you can generally navigate safely without it, but that's missing the point to some extent. IIRC very few tugs with logs in BC had AIS, which is unfortunate. I would like to see AIS as mandatory for all commercial craft.
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Old 03-16-2015, 07:02 PM   #66
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After the Queen of the North incident (not monitoring anything at all) the BCF are likely the most vigilant mariners on the planet.
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Old 03-16-2015, 08:48 PM   #67
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I've had an AIS receiver for 6 years and it has been a valuable tool for avoiding things. The first use was where were the commercial fishermen. You didn't see them but you saw their tenders and then you knew what course line to follow to keep from dodging gill nets. The next use was staying out of the way of the high speed ferries. At 40+ knots they show up out of nowhere even though you heard their "Securite" call. I always seem to encounter them in SE Alaska going into and out of Sitka in narrow channels. The other recent use is keeping track of the National Geographic cruise ships. There are certain anchorages to avoid if they are hanging around. The final use is keeping track of tour boats. If you've had a hard time finding whales, just look for clusters of tour boats.

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Old 03-16-2015, 10:20 PM   #68
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Yes. In Straits of JDF both US and Canada appear to monitor B, so am curious about Seattle VTS.



Class B has a less frequent transmit cycle than A. B does not give you a real time image like radar. Not uncommon for an 1/8 to 1/4 mile separation if target vessel is moving at 30 knots.



Sometimes sport fishing charter vessels turn off AIS in Alaska as they get paranoid about sharing fishing grounds.

Late October, 2013, we were entering Active Pass, "southbound" (not really south but west, but that's the "Traffic" direction). Victoria Traffic comes on Channel 16: "Power Vessel entering Active Pass southbound...This is Victoria Traffic". The Admiral and I look around and there's no one else "entering Active Pass southbound" but us. So I go I reply "Victoria Traffic...This Phoenix Hunter." Victoria Traffic just wanted to let us know that there was a ferry entering Active Pass, northbound, and a tug with tow was off Portlock Point, also about to enter Active Pass, northbound. WE WERE NOT BROADCASTING AIS. Obviously they monitor all this stuff remotely via radar.

So...if you want Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver or Prince Rupert traffic services to know what you are doing..tell them. That's what we do now when entering areas of constricted passage. Furthermore, in Canada, you are permitted to negotiate safe vessel passes on VTS channels. Not sure whether that is appropriate in US waters.

Once you report in to VTS, you will be amazed that other commercial traffic will contact you. They also respond to "Securities" on 16, which we now routinely do during situations of poor visibility.

Incidentally, I have a new Class B transceiver ready to install, and will be broadcasting this spring. Regardless, I still want to continue with proper verbal protocols when I consider it prudent.


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Old 03-16-2015, 10:26 PM   #69
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After the Queen of the North incident (not monitoring anything at all) the BCF are likely the most vigilant mariners on the planet.

...except they don't respond to calls on Channel 1-6!


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Old 03-17-2015, 12:53 AM   #70
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Last summer we where entering and narrow dead end channel with strong currents where we had never been before. Suddenly the the fog went down to the deck. Channel buoys all over the place, however we could only see 100 to 200 meters and here comes a small barge head on, I threw the wheel over hard not concerned that we might run aground, better to run aground then run over. So now I see on the chart plotter that we are going to run aground I throw the wheel over hard the other way and by that time it's all over. I think another 4 seconds and we would have hit.
I should have made my intentions known on 16 when coming in bound. The fog and things just happened so fast. I never heard a word on 16 so possible my radio was not working. This was Hawk Inlet to the Greens Creek mine in Alaska. In the main channel we wouldn't see a boat for several hours at a time.
Yes mistakes made on my part, however I think AIS might of come in real handy in that situation.
I tell you my wife wasn't real happy with the experience and you know what happens when the Admiral is pissed.
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Old 03-17-2015, 10:38 AM   #71
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Late October, 2013, we were entering Active Pass, "southbound" (not really south but west, but that's the "Traffic" direction). Victoria Traffic comes on Channel 16: "Power Vessel entering Active Pass southbound...This is Victoria Traffic". The Admiral and I look around and there's no one else "entering Active Pass southbound" but us. So I go I reply "Victoria Traffic...This Phoenix Hunter." Victoria Traffic just wanted to let us know that there was a ferry entering Active Pass, northbound, and a tug with tow was off Portlock Point, also about to enter Active Pass, northbound. WE WERE NOT BROADCASTING AIS. Obviously they monitor all this stuff remotely via radar.

So...if you want Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver or Prince Rupert traffic services to know what you are doing..tell them. That's what we do now when entering areas of constricted passage. Furthermore, in Canada, you are permitted to negotiate safe vessel passes on VTS channels. Not sure whether that is appropriate in US waters.

Once you report in to VTS, you will be amazed that other commercial traffic will contact you. They also respond to "Securities" on 16, which we now routinely do during situations of poor visibility.

Incidentally, I have a new Class B transceiver ready to install, and will be broadcasting this spring. Regardless, I still want to continue with proper verbal protocols when I consider it prudent.


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Jim,

I'm looking forward to hearing the Before and After, at summer's end.

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Old 03-17-2015, 10:46 AM   #72
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For our boating in the PNW, there is no information that AIS provides that we view as being essential to safely operating the boat.
Ironically, I found AIS to be particularly useful in the PNW where, at any time a ferry could come flying around a relatively narrow channel between islands. Radar couldn't see them coming (the island was in the way), but AIS could.
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Old 03-17-2015, 11:14 AM   #73
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Someone should have been sounding one prolonged if the turns are that tight.

While nice, no one has been able to change my mind from nice to have to really nice to have unless operating consistently in very low visability.

While I have receive only on my radio, I hardly ever use it except when in low vis...good route selection andsee and avoid at 6.3 knots is just TOO easy.
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Old 03-17-2015, 01:14 PM   #74
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Ironically, I found AIS to be particularly useful in the PNW where, at any time a ferry could come flying around a relatively narrow channel between islands. Radar couldn't see them coming (the island was in the way), but AIS could.
First, the ferries are fast but they certainly don't come "flying" around corners. Second, if one boats in these waters all the time one comes to know the ferry routes like the back of one's hand and it's easy to simply not be where they are going to be when they come along, and that includes in the narrow passes.

We have never been surprised by a ferry and that includes the times we have transited the tighter passages in dense fog and had one come through at the same time.

We (and the people we know personally who boat this area regularly) are always surprised when we hear "the ferry came out of nownere and we had to scramble to get out of its way" stories. The only conclusion we can come to is that the folks on the boat were asleep at the switch.

There is a tendency for people to blow things out of proportion when discussing things like radar and AIS and so forth Reality is generally not nearly so dramatic. Of course there are times and situations where something like AIS can be an extremely valuable aid. But we don't believe it is in this area for the kind of boating we do. We have an excellent radar and we both know how to get the maximum information out of it. There are three very good VTS systems covering the area, and we are both totally comfortable communicating on the radio thanks in large part to our decades of flying planes.

I suspect that if we decided to put VTS on the boat we wouldn't pay much attention to it. We simply never find ourselves in a conflict situation with other vessels, including the ferries or tugs and barges in the narrower passes. Now, we don't run at night because of the risk of hitting debris in the water. If we did run at night I'm sure we'd find AIS a useful tool. But we have never not gone anywhere because it happened to be foggy, but that's because we have full confidence in our ability to run on instruments because we've done it so much.

So for us, I think AIS would be something of a solution in search of a problem. That's not to say that everyone who boats up here should feel the same. Boaters who are nervous about the ferries transiting the islands or commercial shipping running through the area to Vancouver should get it because it will help allay their fears.

We are certainly not opposed to AIS nor do we advise people considering adding it to their boats not to do so. But so far in our cruising experience in this area for the last 17 years (we've been boating in the area a lot longer than that) we would much rather put the money into our fuel tanks than into another box on the instrument panel.
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Old 03-17-2015, 03:44 PM   #75
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Good post Marin, but let’s consider the other side of the equation. Why do we install radar balls on our boats? So others with radar can see us. Same is true with AIS. If you are transmitting, others can see you, your information and can take appropriate actions to avoid a collision. Most of this can be done by radar, but it’s a dot on the screen. AIS enables you to identify that dot on the screen. As I said, just another tool in the toolbox to keep the MFD, radar and fish finders company.
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Old 03-17-2015, 03:49 PM   #76
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Could've used it in Dodd Narrows once, but only if the towboat with a log raft coming the opposite direction had theirs on. I doubt they did as the beautiful Fleming transiting behind me hailed me on the VHF inquiring my intentions when I swung about. Surely the Fleming had AIS.

We have a relatively large Fleming fleet next door and at our own marina, maybe 30-35 at any given time, and near as I can tell only about ľ of 'em have AIS. Although maybe some can turn them on and off, unlike our own installation (always on when bridge electronics are on).


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After the Queen of the North incident (not monitoring anything at all) the BCF are likely the most vigilant mariners on the planet.
What's a BCF?

FWIW, we were on the American Queen on the lower Mississippi shortly after the Empress of the North (the other in their Majestic America fleet was Queen of the West, usually on the Columbia/Snake systems) thing happened. Many of their crew were transferred to AQ, probably to honor contracts and so forth... But we never really heard many details about the outcome of the investigation, which probably didn't finish for weeks or months afterwards...

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Old 03-17-2015, 04:13 PM   #77
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AIS a or b operates on the same receive protocol. It is the difference in transmission. A is almost instantaneous. B is up to 10 minutes delayed (more or less).

But, if the recipient of the information isn't paying attention...... You may as well have no electronics.

AIS is just like a Radar reflector. It only provides a data reflection to those who are paying attention.

Having it is great. Using it is great. Depending upon others to be competent in deciphering it.... not so dependable.
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Old 03-17-2015, 05:11 PM   #78
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If you are transmitting, others can see you, your information and can take appropriate actions to avoid a collision..
This is very true. IF..... the other boats have AIS, and IF.... they know how to use it, and IF.... they know how to avoid a collision in the first place.

We operate the other way round. We ALWAYS take whatever action is necessary to MAKE SURE we are never in a potential collision situation. We don't count at all on the other vessel to avoid us, be it the Coastal Inspiration or a 26' sailboat. So whether we do it using our eyes or our ears and our radar, we make sure that WE do whatever is necessary to ensure that we are not put in a position to avoid a collision in the first place.

And what we have found over the last 17 years that it takes very little effort to do this, nor do we have to go way out of our way to make it happen.

Mostly what it takes is common sense, good judgement, and the ability to "see" a potential situation and the way(s) to avoid it long before the situation becomes a reality. At least with a boat you only have to do this in two dimensions as opposed to the three dimesnions you have to work with in an airplane.

I am lucky enough to have on board a "system" that is far more useful for this sort of thing than AIS or any other piece of electronics, and that is my wife. Thanks in large part to the US Navy, her situational awareness, be it on the water or in the air, is considerably better than mine, and mine is pretty darn good. So between the two of us, I can't remember a single instance of ever being surprised by a traffic situation while operating not just our PNW cruiser but our other boats as well.

Based on our experience so far, about the only information of interest that we might get from an AIS system is the name of that ship over there. Its course and speed we can determine visually or with radar, but even that information is not critical because we won't be in a position where its course and speed are of any consequence to us.

BUT..... if we boated where a lot of multi-speed and unpredictable traffic was confined to narrow or restrictive bodies of water like the ICW, or in and out of a busy harbor like Vancouver where there is a huge mix of traffic from bulk carriers to fast foot ferries to slow pleasure craft to keep track of and avoid, AIS would be of great value.

Never say never, but in the San Juan and Gulf Islands, Georgia Strait, Desolation Sound and on up north we've simply never encountered that kind of complex situation. The bulk of the recreational and sport fishing traffic is not AIS-equipped anyway, and the larger vessels are relatively few and far apart and are following known and predictable routes. We have no reason to be in those routes except to cross them which only takes a few minutes.
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Old 03-17-2015, 05:39 PM   #79
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What's a BCF?
British Columbia Ferries

Anybody know if they're monitoring Class B AIS?
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Old 03-17-2015, 05:40 PM   #80
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Ironically, I found AIS to be particularly useful in the PNW where, at any time a ferry could come flying around a relatively narrow channel between islands. Radar couldn't see them coming (the island was in the way), but AIS could.
Same here - we find it very useful to know when the crossing ferries are leaving their docks - particularly at night. Sure I could watch them and try to guess their speed and direction, but with it plotted on Coastal Explorer (along with the closest point of approach and ETA to that) it's one less thing that I HAVE to worry about. And the admiral really, really likes to know what they're doing.

I also find it useful when planning North or South transits in Puget Sound - it's nice to know 15 minutes ahead of time that the Victoria Clipper is going to be passing through a relatively well identified area at 25 knots.

And I've had vessels use it to hail me - much easier than "white power boat Northbound off of Point Watchamacallit".

I have the West Marine $500 Class B transceiver - not sure if they sell it anymore, but it's fine for us.

One other minor comfort is waking up in the middle of the night and seeing via a mobile app that my boat is sitting in its slip and transmitted that position a couple of minutes ago. Also, I have a few friends who have it as well and we have each other in our "fleets" - so we get alerts when one of us is underway. If you don't have any friends, though, perhaps that wouldn't have much value.

Oh, and I don't know if it makes a difference but since we got it I've never been boarded in the US or Canada. They don't even buzz us. I think the governments appreciate me transmitting my identification, which they can easily match to my USCG registration. We also have Nexus passes, and haven't even visited a customs dock in Canada or the US in...5 years? Something like that.

Sure you can boat without AIS. But for 1/2 the cost of a boat unit, I can't see why anyone would want to.
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