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Auzzee 02-12-2013 04:46 PM

As with most cruisers, I need to monitor expenditure because income usually dwindles whenever the anchor is weighed. I was convinced I needed an AIS, and still lean toward the purchase of one.

I think, if buying AIS, it is necessary to buy a transceiver. A receiver only without the ability to transmit, seems somewhat of a waste of capital.
I have both manual and electric bilge pumps. I recently read an article about the lack of total pumping capacity available on modern sailing yachts. It suggested that in case of a major leak, and possible loss of electric power, many boats would nowadays need to be abandoned where say 50 years ago, the boat's pumps would have been able to cope with a much larger inflow.

So given that an AIS transceiver and a Gusher 36 gpm (170 ltrpm) manual pump (that big bugger you see on all the commercial fishing boats) are both about $650; what would you buy if you had to choose between one or t'other.

Wildernesstech 02-12-2013 08:15 PM

I don't know what to tell you... I have an AIS receiver in my VHF which I used regularly and like. Were I singlehanding, I would want a Transceiver!!! My manual pump is a Guzzler 2600 (only 25 gpm), but I suspect I could do plenty of damage with a bucket if I had to!
Sounds like a tough choice...

Spike_dawg 02-13-2013 03:23 AM

Single handling.... If you need to operate the manual pump then you aren't looking for the leak and plugging the hole.

My choice would be the AIS. You get to use it all the time where the manual pump you (hopefully) never get to try out. JMO

svhoneybee 02-13-2013 06:02 AM

I know that the question asked was choose between a pump and an AIS transceiver, but I can't refrain from saying that our SR161 AIS receiver is a great, cheap bit of kit. Sailing through the shipping channels in Bass Strait, cruising passed Sydney and passed all the coal field ports on the Aussie coast it was just great - I doubt that the big ships cared where we were, but I certainly cared where they were and the SR 161 showed them perfectly.

Back to the question - both are important safety gear, but the AIS you will use every day you are on the move.

haiqu 02-13-2013 10:02 AM

I second going for a receiver. Last think I want is some freaking pirate being able to track my progress. I just bought two SR161's for $140 each, factory reconditioned and shipped from the USA. Excellent receiver. The NASA units are also excellent from all reports.

mico 02-13-2013 10:34 AM


Standard Horizon do a VHF DSC with AIS for under $300! We installed it on Mico and had the AIS readout patched through to our Raymarine chart plotter and radar via a mulitplexer - it worked a treat!


capta 04-30-2013 09:40 PM

I'd go with the pump. From my understanding, the AIS has two modes and the "B" mode is for small craft. As the congestion increases every time a yacht uses AIS, the ships have the ability to turn off the "B" reception and their screens only show the "A" signals, from larger commercial vessels.
Unless you are going to sail in extremely congested areas like the Red Sea, English Channel or the Straits of Gibraltar, exclusively, I'd pass on the AIS.
Just a thought; Y your salt water intake on the main engine (and generator if you have one) for added pumping capacity in an emergency.
All that said, everyone I know with AIS loves it, but I guess I'm just too old fashioned to go for that gizmo.

redbopeep 04-30-2013 09:59 PM

I'd go with the AIS receiver. On our trip down from San Francisco to San Diego last month, for the first time I actually used the ship-to-ship calling feature on our Standard Horizon VHF radio with built in AIS. I could see the ship, see the AIS target and was sailing by-the-lee wing-on-wing in big quartering seas and not wanting to have to gibe one of the booms over. Worried about our expected distance at CPA (closest point of approach was estimated to be way too close at 0.2 miles) I pushed the call button and magic happened. The skipper (or watch officer) of the big ship came up on the radio--he could see my exact position because that was a DSC call and now even though I only had an AIS receiver in the radio, the DSC gave him my exact location for tracking me! He very kindly said--no problem, we'd pass port-to-port with him making a course correction. Bless his heart and thank goodness for my VHF radio with AIS built in. Perfect. Without AIS I'd have been hailing "hey you on heading xyz" and I've done that before. They never answer. This ship-to-ship calling is much better than "hey you Mr. big ship"

At the time we bought the Standard Horizon Matrix radio w/AIS it was available for $229 in the USA but the nifty mic with the mini display costs maybe $100 all on it's own. Another benefit--we sail short handed so we often program waypoints into the radio (instead of using a chart plotter) and the person standing watch just takes a look at the radio (inside) or control mic at the helm outside and we can see bearing, distance, etc to waypoint (as well as COG and speed) without much bother. We sailed quite a while w/o an autopilot and having this capability helped us to be able to do so, short-handed.

AIS and bucket :) We've always assumed that a manual pump would do us no good in emergency and though we have two high-output ones aboard, we also carry a very high output 120VAC bilge pump that can be run by the boat's genset OR by our portable Honda EU2000. Assumption is that if things are bad, shorthanded both of us will be needed to do something besides operate the manual bilge pump. :)

capta 05-01-2013 10:14 PM

I have heard much the same story from many who have and use their AIS systems.
On the other side of the coin, as we were passing St. Croix approaching St. Thomas ddw wing and wing we had five cruise ships bearing down on us at about midnight. Not that they were hard to see or anything but I wanted to make sure all five vessels were aware of us and that we were a sailing vessel under sail. We flipped on our spreader lights (now LED, so NO battery drain to speak of) for about 5 minutes, lighting up the deck and our sails.
All five cruise ships gave us a wide berth! No hassles, miscommunication or expense.

redbopeep 05-01-2013 11:54 PM

Like you, we've used the spreader lights or a spotlight to light up the sails at night to assure we're seen. We're lucky to have many different tools at our disposal for communications and watch standing/knowing what's out there.

In our case, the AIS was a no-brainer. We needed a VHF radio, we wanted a DSC radio, and the one with AIS was an amazingly good deal. Plus (like the late night commercial which says "and there's more"! ) we got the ability to program in waypoints (though we seldom use it) and essentially to let us know we were on our path towards the next waypoint. We do use the radio for COG, SOG checks, very nice. No extra energy used on having any other systems (like chart plotters and whatnot) turned on. I can jot down the gps position from the radio itself in a jiffy. A very simple way to do things with no extra fuss.

We've used the AIS to navigate through the heavy shipping traffic coming into the scramble zone right outside the Golden Gate Bridge. We once passed through that crazy confluence of multiple shipping lanes during a sunny foggy day--we could see on the AIS that we had ships within .4 mile doing 18 knots but could not hear them nor see them visually. Occasionally, we'd see the bow wave and the waterline of a ship that we knew from AIS was "right there" within a quarter mile. That was a great day to have AIS--not only knowing where the traffic was (radar could tell you that if you had it) but also the ships heading vs COG and their speed, CPA and time of CPA. So very nice.

However, in terms of communicating, if we'd like to be very simple and traditional, use no extra electrical devices, and do it the way that our grandfathers would have understood, we could just get out the signal flags and start hoisting them when we see that ship that we'd like to have pass us port-to-port while we surf and sail on a lovely spring day. :)

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