Saturday, March 9, 2019

Where's the Boat?

Our boat came equipped with an Automatic Identification System ("AIS") receiver, a device I have never had on a previous boat. The  electronic chart display includes a symbol for every commercial vessel and many other boats within radio range, each with a velocity vector (indicating speed and heading). Each ship symbol on the chart can reflect the actual size of the ship, and its GPS position. By "clicking" on a ship symbol, I can learn the ship name, course and speed, classification, call sign, registration number, Maritime Mobile Service Identity ("MMSI") number, and other information. Maneuvering information, closest point of approach (CPA), time to closest point of approach (TCPA) and other navigation information, more accurate and more timely than information available from radar plotting, can also be available. If I wish to make radio contact with the vessel, I can call it on the radio by name. This information is available to every AIS receiver user, and is also available to the public at www.marinetraffic.com. A zoomed out picture from that website of ships all over the world generally looks like this: 

AIS transmitters are only required on commercial ships, but any boat can have a simple receiver or a transceiver. The ability to see other ships, plot them, and stay out of their way is an invaluable safety device. Equally important is the ability to not only see but be seen. Thankfully, the costs of what are called "Class B" AIS transceivers (for non-commercial vessels voluntarily equipped) has become very affordable for non-commercial boat owners. And so it is that as of yesterday, Division Belle is equipped with an AIS transceiver. The link above on the blog called "Where's the boat?" will now take readers to the marinetraffic.com website for real-time information on the location of Division Belle. 

I won't be able to get away with anything anymore, but I can always just turn it off if I wish to hide. See the boat's current location here.

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