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To Buy:AIS or Radar?

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MitchM

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Jan 20, 2005
909
Nauticat 321 pilothouse 32 Erie PA
well the spouse is not much interested in life on the water so i singlehand a lot. i am planning to do a singlehand race on the great lakes this year. (3 days' duration.) i have neither radar nor AIS . I am interested in purchasing a system which will operate to give me a proximity warning for approaching ships. I understand that most radar systems have an audible proximity alarm that can be set for --say -- 12 to 20 miles . the logistics of a singlehanded 3 day race require keeping a meaningful; watch, but one also needs to get some sleep.. i have heard of singlehanders setting a timer for 20 minute nap intervals but IMHO a lot of disaster can happen even if one isn't near a shipping lane..
any advice from the experts on which system you'd recommend

Mitch M
s/v eagleswing
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,353
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
How about a VHF that has an AIS receiver built into it? Standard Horizon has just released it new Matrix GX2100, and it can be had for around $400. The AIS will display on the radio, on the new Ram 3 Mic, or feed to a chartplotter that accepts a baud rate of 38,400. Might be an option to consider.

http://www.standardhorizon.com/inde...7701141A0167DE2A031&DivisionID=3&isArchived=0
I have a Matrix 2100 AIS sitting on my work bench waiting to be installed. I would still choose radar over AIS as a first investment though. AIS these days will only show commercial traffic and the perhaps 2% of pleasure boaters TXing AIS. Around here pleasure boats are far more prolific..
 
Oct 25, 2005
735
Catalina 30 Banderas Bay, Mexico
well the spouse is not much interested in life on the water so i singlehand a lot. i am planning to do a singlehand race on the great lakes this year. (3 days' duration.) i have neither radar nor AIS . I am interested in purchasing a system which will operate to give me a proximity warning for approaching ships. I understand that most radar systems have an audible proximity alarm that can be set for --say -- 12 to 20 miles . the logistics of a singlehanded 3 day race require keeping a meaningful; watch, but one also needs to get some sleep.. i have heard of singlehanders setting a timer for 20 minute nap intervals but IMHO a lot of disaster can happen even if one isn't near a shipping lane..
any advice from the experts on which system you'd recommend

Mitch M
s/v eagleswing
Not really an either or kind of question. AIS receivers are $200 +/- if you shop around. Radar is significantly more expensive.

An AIS unit is very little power drain ... Radar is significantly more.

3 Days 72 hours of 5A or more draw is something to thing about. 360ah ... that will run a house bank flat ... how are you going to manage the power requirement? Will the prop shaft be locked so you can charge batteries during the race?

Just a thought ...

Randy
 

DannyS

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May 27, 2004
921
Beneteau 393 Bayfield, Wi
Not sure how Lake Erie compares to Lake Superior with fog but I know out in the open lake, the fog persists for days. I like my chances with radar. AIS would be nice but I'd take radar first.
 

Rick D

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Jun 14, 2008
6,965
Hunter Legend 40.5 Shoreline Marina Long Beach CA
I have both and do not consider it to be an either / or decision. My AIS coupled to my laptop, SeaClear freeware, GPS bud, and antenna switch (dual VHS's and antennas) was $285. My Furuno replacement radar seven years ago was $1800 and change. I would never consider AIS a substitute for radar. I don't think it's necessary unless you are a full-time cruiser or, like me, someone who routinely cruises within shipping traffic, for which it is hugely comforting.
 
Oct 22, 2008
3,502
- Telstar 28 Buzzards Bay
If you have to pick one over the other, I would highly recommend going with something like Garmin's 18HD radome with a 320x series GPS/display. Radar is far more useful for the small craft sailor as many things, like buoys, beacons, other small craft, will not show up on AIS at all. IMHO, the other small craft are far greater a danger than the ocassional larger ship.
 
May 11, 2005
3,431
Seidelman S37 Slidell, La.
Radar/Ais

For me an AIS would run a very distant second to a working radar unit. AIS will only show others boats that have a radar, and have it in. The radar will not only show you the ships/boats that do not have radar, but also most other solid objects. Not to mention that a radar is a very good navigational tool when within range of a shoreline.
 
Oct 10, 2008
277
Catalina 445 Yorktown
I like to radar option over the AIS any day. However, I'm not too sure about going three days solo is a smart move regardless of what instruments you have. After the first 15 hrs or so, my mind and body say --- sleep. And that's what I do. Yea, you can make 24 hrs by yourself, but you're mentally beat. Why do it alone?
 
Oct 25, 2005
735
Catalina 30 Banderas Bay, Mexico
I like to radar option over the AIS any day. However, I'm not too sure about going three days solo is a smart move regardless of what instruments you have. After the first 15 hrs or so, my mind and body say --- sleep. And that's what I do. Yea, you can make 24 hrs by yourself, but you're mentally beat. Why do it alone?
Because it is a single-handed race? ;)

I usually wait until after the first 4 hours, then force myself to take a 15 minute timed break every 2 hours. It is not deep sleep by any means, but I can do it for 3-4 days no worries. No way if you wait until you are exhausted to get into the pattern.

Also pays to do it for a weekend or two not sailing just for practice. Your wife will think you are insane ... but like anything else, endurance sports require training. I've done sailing single-handed for 70 + hours, and use the same routine of a 15 minute break every 2 doing long distance motorcycling. For 5-6 days.

I'd also suggest you rig jacklines and practice sailing with a PDF & harness and clipped in all the time. Find out what works and what doesn't work before you are exhausted in the middle of the night and try to do what used to be easy when you were well rested in daylight.

I happen to like this stuff, it's not for everyone though. One of the things I miss about not being in SF is the SSS. Having established single-handed events throughout the year was great.

Randy
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,516
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
15 minute timed break

Randy,

What did you find was the "best" "instrument" for a timer?

I just hate asking those "what's best questions?" but I couldn't resist on this one. ;)
 

higgs

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Aug 24, 2005
3,472
Nassau 34 Olcott, NY
I gave up my single handed distance racing when a 15 minute rest nearly caused me to collide with another competitor in the race on the opposite tack.

I know one guy who does this on Lake Mich and he goes into "sleep training" before the race where he sleeps in short spans and gets his body ready for that routine.
 
Oct 22, 2008
3,502
- Telstar 28 Buzzards Bay
You might want to research AIS a bit more. AIS won't show any boats that do not have an AIS TRANSPONDER that is turned on.... This means that most small craft will NOT SHOW UP ON IT. It doesn't matter if they have radar or not. AIS works via a databurst sent on VHF frequencies...

For me an AIS would run a very distant second to a working radar unit. AIS will only show others boats that have a radar, and have it in. The radar will not only show you the ships/boats that do not have radar, but also most other solid objects. Not to mention that a radar is a very good navigational tool when within range of a shoreline.
 

Salty

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Dec 2, 2008
144
Catalina 390 14 Perth Amboy, NJ
I have to agree with Nice N Easy, AIS is only effective if the other vessel have AIS, whereas Radar will also show many vessels (including Non-AIS or Non-Radar). Its interesting that I just read an article in this months Sail magazine by a delivery captain delivering a boat from Bermuda to Newport in low visibility. Here is his qoute " Only a small percentage of our contacts were emitting an AIS signal and radar was a much better collision avoidance tool" I think the best is to use both systems, but if I have to choose one for the purpose you stated, I go with the radar.
 
Oct 25, 2005
735
Catalina 30 Banderas Bay, Mexico
Randy,

What did you find was the "best" "instrument" for a timer?

I just hate asking those "what's best questions?" but I couldn't resist on this one. ;)
LOL!

For "naps" a simple wind-up kitchen timer works great ... if the ticking does not keep you from nodding off ... the bell will wake you for sure. The digital ones are not obnoxious enough.

For the 2 hour reminder the countdown function of my trusty Timex does a pretty good job for sailing. The bike has a rally computer that separates ride time from stop time ... easy to see 2 hours have passed as the same display gives average speeds. If the target is 1000-1200 miles in 24 hours, you need to know real early if you are getting behind that innocent looking average you need to finish ...

My autopilot has a "watch" function ... it beeps every 4 minutes ... if it is not silenced within 30 seconds it trips the master alarm. If find yourself nodding and miss one, the main alarm should wake you and at that point you know that standing even 2 hours between breaks is stretching it.

I did all my single-handed stuff in low tech boats, no radar and no AIS. If I go back to it I think I'd have the AIS on all the time and only have the radar scanning during nap times with maybe a 6 mile warning alert. That's bout 50% of the distance to the horizon.

Oh ... and nap on starboard if you have the choice ... :)

Randy
 
Oct 25, 2005
735
Catalina 30 Banderas Bay, Mexico
I gave up my single handed distance racing when a 15 minute rest nearly caused me to collide with another competitor in the race on the opposite tack.

I know one guy who does this on Lake Mich and he goes into "sleep training" before the race where he sleeps in short spans and gets his body ready for that routine.
Yep. I was lucky and never had a close encounter. There is a very valid argument that it is not possible to keep a proper lookout while sleeping. :)

Once the choice is made to go racing single-handed you can only do as much as you can to do so as safely as possible.

I think the logical choice is "get both" the quality of sailboat radars is pretty good ... until you spend some time looking using a 72" or larger open array ... then you become concerned about all the detail you never knew you were missing with an 18" antenna. Once you have a plotter, and decide to add radar, AIS is very small percentage of the total cost.

Randy
 
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