get species that gather around commercial
fishing boats, like scallopers or trawlers,
for example, can identify and locate those
boats before leaving the dock. Cruisers
traveling in tandem or in a group can keep
each other in sight, even when blocked
from view by a mountain, fog, or squall.
And AIS can help you keep tabs on commercial services, like fuel-delivery barges.
But the question remains: Do you
need AIS? The answer for most recre-
ational boaters is maybe. No, you don’t
have to have AIS, just like most boat-
ers aren’t required to have radar or an
EPIRB. Heck, many recreational boaters
ply inland lakes, bays, and rivers in areas
where commercial traffic isn’t too much
of an issue in the first place. But will
harnessing AIS still prove useful? In all
likelihood, yes. Taking advantage of it in
its most basic form can be as simple as
downloading an app or visiting a website.
Boaters who range a bit farther afield
could reach a different conclusion. For
long-distance cruisers, the safety advantages of AIS make it a strong consideration. Getting AIS is also a no-brainer
for people who regularly boat or sail
through heavily congested areas or busy
harbors. The same goes for those of us
who do any boating at night or in the fog,
when moving lights and distant sounds
can be quite deceiving. One thing is for
sure: With AIS aboard, your boat will
become a safer boat. And as any mariner
Left: Tapping into
limited AIS data
can be as simple
an app onto your
Basic AIS functionality is built into
some modern VHF
radios, like this
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