WATCH OUT!

Cruising World - - Underway - Mark Patek Via email

We just re­turned from a char­ter in Maine that ex­posed a prob­lem for boats with­out au­to­matic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem ca­pa­bil­i­ties, or even for boats with AIS.

One day we were sail­ing the char­tered Baba 35 from Booth­bay Har­bor, headed to Ten­ants Har­bor, and were close to Mos­quito Is­land when a thick fog came in, lim­it­ing vis­i­bil­ity to about 100 to 200 feet. Since the pre­vi­ous two days had bad weather and fog, there was a lot of sail- and power­boat traf­fic in each di­rec­tion, in­clud­ing a num­ber of New York Yacht Club cruis­ing boats. We turned on our radar only to find out from the chat­ter on the VHF that a lot of boats seemed to be more fo­cused on their AIS and whether they were be­ing seen by each other than look­ing at their radar or post­ing a look­out on the fore­deck. It ap­peared that many no longer used radar re­flec­tors, judg­ing from their small pro­files on my radar. Their speed and near col­li­sions led me to be­lieve that they were overtrust­ing AIS. I sup­pose at some point every­one will have AIS, but un­til then, it is al­most more risky than ever in the coastal ar­eas in fog.

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