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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Liverpool - boat Ardfern
    Posts
    2,085

    Default AIS advice please

    When we got Storyline about 7 or 8 years ago I wanted to install a wind generator as I realised all the creature comforts we were going to have would require more power. When I installed it and its control unit I wired in a dedicated GPS and VHF antenna for AIS that Comar supplied as they were one of only a couple of people offering affordable Class B AIS at that time.

    As it turned out it never proved affordable as there were always other things we wanted to do on Storyline that kept AIS near the bottom of the wish list. We have just come back from the second cruise of the season in God's own country and while we were up there we had cause and the ability to look at AIS. The ability came from an amazing new 4G WLAN I have just installed and its powerful antenna coupled with 4 different sim cards mean we have WiFi Internet in many more places. The need for AIS was because we wanted to avoid a fleet of boats from Gordenstoun that were in our area and we wanted to make sure they did not fill the anchorage we had chosen each night.

    When Chris loaded up a Ships AIS map online I could not beleive what i was seeing. The last time I looked at traffic on the west coast there would be the odd ship transporting timber, maybe a few ships in the Minch and the very rare pleasure craft. Last week (school hols now) and the screen was packed with Class B signals from yachts everywhere. The very first anchorage we looked at, Craggaig Bay on the west of Mull, showed we would not be on our own some 2 or 3 hours before we arrived. This has now effectively removed the excitement of waiting to see if anyone would be in the more remote type places we like. A few days later a forecast sw gale showed a number of boats fleeing for shelter in Canna. I have learned that there is no point in just feeling sad that all the feelings of remoteness and mystery have nearly all gone now on the West Coast but rather just feel thankful we had quite a few years without GPS, phone signals and weather every 4 hours on the vhf and embrace the new tech and so we are finally going to get that AIS.

    We navigate using a fixed Garmin plotter/radar and have a couple of tablets that have Memory Map raster charts we use close to the shore and a Navionics app with digital charts we use on passage. For AIS we have a choice of;

    a) a box we would hide away and link to our plotter/radar and show the AIS targets on that only

    b) a cheap and cheerful Matsutec imported plotter installed in the cockpit that would run some charting software to augment out fixed plotter. It also has a screen we could display wind info on as we have had no wind data since ourTacksit expired some years ago. All would be needed is a wire down the mast and a budget wind speed and direction sensor - who knows, there might actually be a wireless one that worked (I think the previous owners got into the technology too early as ours has never been reliable).

    c) another box we could hide away only this time with WiFi so that we could easily configure and talk to tbe AIS and update our destination etc (can't see this being done once the novelty wears off). What wifi would give us though is all the AIS traffic around us on the nav software on our tablets when on passage when we rarely have on line data.

    d) as b & c but with the new Class B+ transmissions that are more frequent and 2.5x more powerful.

    I really don't know which way to go. In an ideal world it would be a new plotter display & wifi but that is serious money. It would nice to have wind but we have been sailing so long we both know immediately if we are pinching and knowing what the wind speed is when it is blowing hard does nothing to lessen it. I think more engagement would come by having the AIS data on our phones/tablets. Previously we have only used them in tiny anchorages with the wonderful Antares charts but this year I discovered how cheap charts have got and now we use them all the time for passage planning and nav on passage. As to the new B+ transmissions maybe someone could say how much better they are.

    Many thanks for any advice .....
    Last edited by Storyline; 25-07-19 at 22:45.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    On the Celtic Fringe
    Posts
    14,258

    Default Re: AIS advice please

    I have an AIS unit beside the Nav station early looked at unless I want to see what that big ship is over there.

    My Garmin chartplotter will accept NMEA 0183 input and one day I might link the two.

    Other than that it allows friends and family to know where I am.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    7,215

    Default Re: AIS advice please

    I have ais at the nav station which I rarely look at also but the Best Buy for me was an ais vhf radio.
    I look on the remote if I think Iím on a collision course and call them up on channel 16. I find they rarely respond to dsc individual calls so I donít bother now.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    location location ...
    Posts
    1,002

    Default Re: AIS advice please

    I have a GARMIN AIS and have recently bought one of these:

    NMEA2WIFI-NMEA-0183-TO-WIFI-MULTIPLEXER-

    The AIS unit gives both GPS and AIS on NMEA which I feed into the box. I then use OpenCPN on the lap. You can also use the wifi signal on tablets - useful for pilotage.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    River Orwell,East Coast
    Posts
    1,616

    Default Re: AIS advice please

    Whatever you choose the Vesper kit is first class and their back up.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Essex
    Posts
    22,652

    Default Re: AIS advice please

    The thought of having to divide my attention between two or more screens doesn't appeal at all, though this might depend on the boat's layout. Things have moved on since I installed my class B with the plotter, but to my mind integration and simplicity is the way to go.
    Far away is near at hand in images of elsewhere

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Fareham
    Posts
    6,629

    Default Re: AIS advice please

    I've had an Em-Trak B100 transponder for several years now and it has been fine. It talks to the chart table computer via a NMEA to USB cable from Digital Yacht. (The chart table computer runs Opencpn under Windows 10). But Em-Trak now do a transponder with built in WiFi.

    https://www.em-trak-uk.com/products-1
    ۞

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    On the Celtic Fringe
    Posts
    14,258

    Default Re: AIS advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by ditchcrawler View Post
    Whatever you choose the Vesper kit is first class and their back up.
    +1

    Had targets, perhaps not the best word for other boats, visible at three miles with no antenna plugged in. Exhalent service when I discovered that a previous owner had transposed some figures in the MMSI number and we were showing up as Swedish! A couple of emails later and we were sorted.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    7,199

    Default Re: AIS advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy View Post
    +1

    Had targets, perhaps not the best word for other boats, visible at three miles with no antenna plugged in. Exhalent service when I discovered that a previous owner had transposed some figures in the MMSI number and we were showing up as Swedish! A couple of emails later and we were sorted.
    Yep I had absolutely fantastic warranty service from Vesper. I installed the Watchmate in a place that (I later realised) was where I put my knee to get leverage on the winch. I broke the screen. Entirely my fault and they replaced it even after I told them what had happened.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Liverpool - boat Ardfern
    Posts
    2,085

    Default Re: AIS advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by Joker View Post
    I have a GARMIN AIS and have recently bought one of these:

    NMEA2WIFI-NMEA-0183-TO-WIFI-MULTIPLEXER-

    The AIS unit gives both GPS and AIS on NMEA which I feed into the box. I then use OpenCPN on the lap. You can also use the wifi signal on tablets - useful for pilotage.
    Thanks Joker - that would do exactly what I want It is showing as o/s at the moment but I will email the guy and find out when they will be in again.

    Thanks also to everyone else who replied. There were some useful replies and I agree that Vesper seems to be the optimal solution and for just over £1k I could get a great system with WiFi. However I don't know why but I have become what in Liverpool we call a 'minge bag' and always want to try to get the most cost effective solution to an almost obsessive extent.
    So I think a unit hidden away somewhere with this WiFi converter would be great.

    BTW my first action over a week ago was to email Matsutec as I remembered years ago reading about them. Then a day or two later I discovered Avesmarine who import Onwa stuff which is badge engineered Matsutec stuff or vice versa. The guy there, Alan gives excellent advice and when I got the prices from China there was hardly any saving if you take into account VAT & duty. Imo it is no brainer to use Avesmarine. I have no connection and admit have not bought anything from him but you just get the feeling he would be a good guy to deal with.

    PS it has been a while since I have posted and this current forum software has given me kittens a couple of times in the last hour. It is a busy Saturday morning and twice now I have put my tablet down and then find my post has disappeared when I picked up again. I retraced my steps and then found the auto-saved content so I have not lost much but there is much more user friendly forum software around than this one !
    My permanently unfinished web site www.8thday.co.uk

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