It’s a very useful electronic navigation aid in some, but not all waters. If your boating activities take place mainly in areas where there are few or no large vessels, AIS may be of minimal value. AIS transmitters send details about the vessels and navigation aids that are equipped with transmitters. AIS receivers display the information on a dedicated screen or as an overlay to interfaced electronic instruments, such as a chart plotter or radar. A recreational boat owner may choose either a receive-only AIS or an AIS that also transmits his/her vessel information. Various maritime authorities are considering making AIS mandatory on more types of small commercial vessels and possibly recreational boats. Take a look at the AIS entries on pp.13-14 in the Mariner’s Guide, read the articles in the boating press, and keep an eye out for future requirements for pleasure craft. For an interesting website that displays worldwide, real-time data from vessels equipped with AIS, see www.marinetraffic.com/ais
Priscilla Travis spends more than 110 days each year on the water, takes photos, and writes about nautical topics.