Raymarine ST50 Navdata
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cruising across the channel with AIS
Across the shipping lanes with AIS
PBOs Sarah Norbury tried out AIS on a summer cruise to Brittany. Did it make crossing the shipping lanes any easier?
ike many sailors, I love cruising but hate being among ships. After a number of well-publicised collisions in the English Channel in the last few years, my reluctance to cross the shipping lanes this summer was growing. I knew I wasnt alone; readers were telling us of their misgivings, and asking what we thought of AIS. Five years ago if anyone had said, Soon ships will transmit data on VHF. You will see a constantly updated aerial view of your boat and ships, and whether youre on collision course, and their names and MMSI numbers, who would have believed such a wonder could exist? I wanted to find out if AIS would make sailing to France on a typical cruise with an ordinary family crew any easier, and in a case of auspicious timing Raymarine
We navigated with Navionics electronic charts, and plotted our position on the paper chart every hour
launched an AIS kit in May last year for their colour display that would integrate with our existing Raymarine system, including 14-year-old Autohelm/ Raymarine ST50 instruments, ST6000 autopilot and Navdata repeater. Now we could combine AIS with electronic charts and Marpa radar on the Raymarine C120 display. Bring on the shipping lanes! At half-past-midnight on a late May
morning we motored out of the River Hamble in a drizzly, cloudy, flat calm. We were heading non-stop to Brest, 230NM away, expected passage time, around 40 hours. There were four of us onboard: my parents, myself and friend Jon. The AIS showed lots of ships moored in Southampton Docks. At 0300 we shot through the Hurst Narrows at
Right in the middle of the English Channel, I zoomed out the chart to show England (Portland Bill), France (top of Cherbourg peninsula) and our boat in the separation zone between the ships grey icons. The radar was left on larger scale showing the same ships as images on both radar and the AIS overlay
9.9 knots (6 knots boatspeed, 3.9 knots tide) and half-an-hour later we passed Needles Fairway buoy, and were out in the English Channel.
Ships in the Channel
Setting up the AIS
etting up the Raymarine AIS 250 on our Starlight 39 was straightforward. This is the first AIS kit-in-a-box complete with everything required for installation, including a built-in VHF/FM antenna splitter, which means you dont need an additional antenna and a single multiplexer to combine NMEA signals into one stream at 38,400 baud. It is a simple matter of connecting the VHF antenna to the AIS engine and using the VHF antenna splitter cable supplied to connect to the VHF radio. This utilises a single antenna for both AIS and VHF. The next step is to connect a 12/24V power supply and finally connect the NMEA output to the NMEA input on the C-Series display.
Chenal du Four Brest Camaret
It was 0400 when I targeted my first ship on AIS. I clicked on the little grey arrow icon and a data box appeared saying it was a ferry going into Poole. I settled down with a cup of tea to watch the screen when we suddenly swerved. In the pitch dark the helmsman had spotted long ropes streaming menacingly from lobster pots 6NM south of Anvil Point, a reminder that staring at a screen should not preclude keeping a lookout on deck at all times. Over the next few hours, I had the Navionics chart on a small scale (72NM from the bottom to top of the screen) and picked up ships in the west-going shipping lanes. I clicked on a few, checking our CPAs (Closest Points of Approach). None
looked worrying until at 0530 I clicked on a ship coming from the east and saw that our CPA was just a third of a mile. The data box also told me she was Arklow Rainbow, 298ft long, 13.35NM away, travelling at 12.5 knots. I clicked on another grey arrow. The data box said, Sailing vessel Astrid, destination Weymouth, 2.8 knots, using engine. Look for a tall ship, I called up towards the cockpit. At 0600 Arklow Rainbows CPA was still only 0.340NM, and wed cross in 01h 42m 38s. I decided to keep an eye on her.
Calling a ship
For the purposes of this article, I really wanted to call Arklow Rainbow, and as there were few other ships around, I thought it wouldnt hog the airwaves or cause any confusion. Knowing a ships name and MMSI number is one of the big advantages of AIS and although we were
in calm waters with good visibility, I could imagine that if we had been well heeled over, or the sea was rough, in which cases radar reflectors have shown in experiments to be less effective, I would be concerned about whether the ship could see us on his radar screen, and our skipper would be considering taking action to increase the CPA, even though we were the stand-on vessel. So I made a voice call, Arklow Rainbow, this is yacht Zest, and gave him our position and course. We have a CPA of around a third of a mile. Can you see us on your radar? Over. A charming officer replied that he had indeed seen us on his radar and had been tracking us for the last 15 minutes. He thought we would pass with plenty of room, but if it looked close he would alter course to the north to go behind our stern. I thanked him, and he said kindly, Steam gives way to sail.
Practical Boat Owner 493 January 2008 www.pbo.co.uk
I clicked on the grey arrow at 0705, to see that he had altered course to the north and our CPA was now a less intimidating 0.773NM in 23 minutes time. At 0705, Arklow Rainbow passed astern. Of course, there was no safety need to call the ship, and it would be potentially dangerous if yachts and ships were all calling each other to discuss situations rather than simply abiding by the collision regulations as we should. A fast cat ferry captain told me this is already a problem. His route takes him across the English Channel, and now that AIS tells ships his ferrys name, they call him on DSC and ask him to change course to avoid them, as hes much faster, even when under the Colregs its his right of way. They used to call us before AIS, he said. Theyd see us on radar and call on the VHF, fast ferry in xx position, but we could pretend we hadnt heard. Now we cant. However, in bad visibility, or rough weather, or any situation that feels uncomfortable, what a great aid to safety it is to be able to call a ship by name (see this months skippers check card, page 75).
over France. And the tide was rushing us along at a VMG of 8 knots! We tried to keep to three-hour watches, but it didnt work. If the passage had been longer we would have been more disciplined. Zest has two good sea-berths in the saloon, where we simply crash out in full oilskins, lifejacket and boots, ready to rush up on deck if needed. We just slept when we were tired, and always had two people on watch. However, we were very disciplined about being hooked on at night, making sure we had our lifejacket lights attached. It was cold, even in full thermal under-layers, balaclava, woolly hat, and gloves.
We called the ship Arklow Rainbow on VHF, and she said shed alter course to go behind us
Crossing the shipping lanes
Normally, when we reach the shipping lanes, out come the binoculars, handbearing compass and notebook. Eyes left, looking for the grey shapes of ships coming, sometimes hardly any, other times so many its like trying to cross the M25 at rush hour. Manys the time weve stopped and waited for a long time to let them go past. We note their bearings, then look for more ships coming in, then note the bearings of the first ones again so see if theyve changed. My dad tends to be down below monitoring the radar, and marking the ships on a plotting sheet (this is the first year weve had a Marpa automatic radar-plotting aid). If we were on collision course with a ship, the skipper would decide what action to take. Once wed crossed the first lane, wed relax a little till we reached the ships coming in the opposite direction. Then it was eyes right and the whole routine would start again. In calm weather
and good visibility its an interesting diversion, in rough weather or fog, its nerve-wracking and potentially dangerous. Its so much easier with AIS. The screen shows your boat, and the ships pointing in the direction theyre moving, like an aerial photo. We could see when we were about to cross the lanes, we clicked on any ship that looked as though it might pass close and read its CPA and TCPA. As we crossed, I superimposed the AIS and radar on the chart, intending to try the Marpa, but the AIS was so much easier to use that I just
focused on that. In bad visibility it would be important to keep an eye on the radar, though, for any yachts, powerboats, naval ships or other vessels not transmitting an AIS signal. By midday we were between the lanes, near the East Channel Racon. We didnt feel lonely as we could hear both Portland and Guernsey coastguards. Guernsey asked if anyone could assist a fishing boat taking on water south of Guernsey, the first of three incidents wed hear on the radio. We were feeling listless, wed been motoring in a flat calm for 12 hours and as usual hadnt run a proper watch system as no one ever feels like going to sleep when theyre supposed to. We dozed a bit, and snacked on bacon sandwiches and chocolate. The east-going lane was just as easy with the AIS as the west-going had been, then I saw a new ship coming from the south-west, and realised I recognised its shape from our news pages. Its the Pride of Bilbao, I said. This was one of the ships implicated in the loss of the yacht Ouzo and her three crew in the Channel in 2006 (see News, page 8). I rushed below, clicked on the AIS icon and it was confirmed. As she steamed past, we were all quiet for a while.
Meeting the Pride of Bilbao
At last daylight came and we were almost at our first waypoint north of the Chenal du Four, in gathering fog, when Jon called, Listen, someones in trouble. I turned up the radio and started taking notes. An English mans voice was saying, Cross The ability to show your position and waypoints on both chart and radar displays made the Chenal du Corsen, Cross Corsen, (the name of the Four easy. Note the AIS ship on the chart. You can also overlay chart, radar and AIS on one image nearest coastguard station). This is yacht (there were presumably ships in the Blue Eye. They had rigging failure meaning not to abandon radar for AIS. Channel, but none within VHF range), but they couldnt sail, and their engine had A glimpse of Guernsey disappeared plenty of radar targets. These were fishing broken down. Their position was behind us as we sailed west towards the boats. Occasionally wed get close enough 48.49.61N, 004.53.16W and they requested sunset. It was lonely, no land or ships in to see their lights. Just as the night seemed a tow. They only had hand-held VHF. sight, just the vast blue sky brushed with interminable, we saw land, and fishing The coastguard, in excellent English, wispy clouds, and a deepening chill in the boats, bathed in the light of a full moon replied to Blue Eye, but did not get a air. We huddled deeper into our oilies and response. Then we heard Blue pondered on how many miles the Eye calling the coastguard, surprisingly big swell was adding to our who couldnt hear them. journey. We Solent sailors are used to a Realising we were positioned short chop, and it felt strange to climb a between the coastguard and wave, and lollop along a plateau, before the yacht, and they could no being gently let down on the other side. longer hear each other, I With 1.5 knots of tide against us, our thought we must try and help. VMG was only 4.8 knots. ETA at our first Shall I call them? I asked the waypoint, at the top of the Chenal du skipper. Yes, he replied. Cross Four, was 11 hours away, at 0700. As Jon Corsen, Cross Corsen, this is and I sat up keeping watch in the cockpit, yacht Zest, I can hear you, and Mum and Dad asleep below, we knew we Blue Eye, over. The coastguard were in for a long, cold night. Only the then asked us our position, thought of French croissants, camembert and what kind of boat we and crpes to come kept us smiling. were. Then he asked, Can Through the night, sailing towards the Through the night, sailing towards the corner of France, there was nothing on AIS, but plenty of fishing boats on radar you tow a boat of 10 metres? corner of France, there was nothing on AIS
Yacht in distress
AIS target info for the ferry Pride of Bilbao
What is AIS?
Creating your own system
To create your own AIS receiver system, you need: n Either a dedicated VHF aerial or a splitter (available for around 100) that enables you to use your existing VHF aerial n An AIS engine (from around 130 for a single-channel model) n Possibly a software upgrade for your PC or chart plotter if its more than a couple of years old. First, you need to decide whether you want to just receive signals, or whether to buy a yacht transceiver (commonly called a transponder) that transmits on Class B as well as receiving Class A and B, allowing ships to see you on their screens. I decided to test receive only as (a) many ships currently only have a small, non-graphic display for their AIS, which according to the official report on the Ouzo disaster, on the Pride of Bilbao it was not connected to the radar. The official report says that even if Ouzo had been transmitting on AIS, the ship would not have seen her, and (b) were publishing a major review of AIS transponders in Aprils PBO. Other buying decisions include the following: n A standalone unit, which is both receiver and display. We know of only one on the market: the NASA AIS radar. n An AIS engine as the black box is called, to link to your PC plotter or chart plotter. n Single or dual channel. Some experts say dual channel is best; others disagree. We present the arguments in our April issue. n Separate VHF aerial or a splitter? See Aprils PBO.
ost ships over 300 tons are required by law to transmit AIS (automated identification system) signals on VHF to inform other vessels, and the authorities, of their presence. Ships transmit using Class A and Class B equipment; yachts are advised to transmit on the lower specification Class B. A ships dynamic information, including position, course and speed, is updated every two seconds to three minutes, dependent on speed and changing course. Static information including the ships name, type, size, destination and call sign is updated every six minutes. These broadcasts can be received by a standard marine VHF antenna and fed to a receiver/decoder either a standalone unit with display, or an AIS engine connected to a PC or chart plotter. The chart software in the PC or plotter constantly computes the ships positions in relation to your boat, giving you the incredibly useful data known as CPA, or closest point of approach (ie how much youll miss each other by), and TCPA (time to closest point of approach).
Ships that dont show up
At 1420 I saw our first radar target that did not have a matching AIS icon. I put a Marpa marker on it, and the line went in front of us, meaning it would go across our bow, but suddenly, it turned. I went up and looked, and saw it was a big fishing boat going round in a circle. Another reminder
Cruising across the channel with AIS
Southampton on the very handy Fly-be service, so we set off next morning across the estuary. I had expected the naval harbour of Brest to be covered in AIS targets, but somewhat disappointingly there were just a few ferries. I should have remembered that naval ships dont have to transmit on AIS.
Seeing round corners
To get to the huge Brest Moulin Blanc marina, you go past the main harbour, out of which come ferries travelling at high speed. I was able to say to the skipper, A fast ferrys going to come out from behind that wall any minute. AIS can see places radar cant. In fog or darkness, this would be very useful.
Problems with AIS
Landfall! However many gizmos you have, eyeball pilotage is part of what makes cruising interesting
Id plotted Blue Eyes position, and she was two hours north of us. We were now faced with motoring two hours away from our destination, finding a boat in fog, then towing it for several hours in a large Atlantic swell. But Blue Eye was drifting near the Ushant traffic separation scheme; not a nice place to be in those conditions. Yes, I replied. We can tow her. Please call her, said the coastguard. I called, Blue Eye, Blue Eye, Blue Eye, this is yacht Zest, the coastguard has asked us to tow you, we are 10 miles south of you, well be there in two hours, over. Blue Eye thanked us, but asked us to request a lifeboat, which we did, and I called Blue Eye back to say it was coming. We felt that was a good outcome. Blue Eye would be rescued much more quickly by the lifeboat. (A week or so later my parents found themselves in the same marina as Blue Eye, and the couple onboard told her it had been a great comfort to hear an English voice, and to know that someone could hear them. Their experience was alarming and the rescue was beset by problems. Well tell the whole story in a future issue). Relieved, we carried on down the Chenal
We all agreed that being among ships is less stressful with AIS
more AIS articles
Want to know more? Then see articles on AIS from previous issues of PBO by visiting www.pbo.co.uk by clicking on Find PBO articles. Or you can call our Copy Service on tel: 01202 440832
du Four, the wide channel between the corner of France and the island of Ushant. On the AIS I saw a couple of small Ushant ferries and one stationary fishing boat. Suddenly, in French then English, the radio blared, Mayday relay, mayday relay, this is Cross Corsen, there is a man overboard from a fishing boat off Ushant. All vessels please look out and report if you see anything. We saw a lifeboat leaving Le Conquet. It showed on the AIS as unidentified. The mist that had been with us all morning was turning into fog. At 1000 there was a Securit message from Cross Corsen, Visibility is less than one mile. All vessels in the separation scheme should keep a good lookout and navigate with caution. Twenty minutes later, we were sailing in a light breeze in the mouth of the Brest estuary in thick fog. We decided Camaret was much easier to sail in to than Brest, so we quickly clicked the chart plotters cursor onto our new destination to make a waypoint. We sailed pretty much blind, using the chart plotter and Marpa. The AIS was redundant because none of the yachts and fishing boats around Camaret transmitted an AIS signal. I sat glued to the Marpa, so wed know if any were on collision course with us. At last, 37 hours after leaving the Hamble, we landed in France. Exhausted but happy, we headed to the nearest restaurant for our favourite Breton delights: moules frites and local cider. Jon and I had to be back at work and wed booked our flights home from Brest to
AIS isnt perfect. As I found on our cruise, there are plenty of vessels out there that are not obliged to transmit, and there have been errors in transmissions reported. If you choose a transponder, your transmissions may not be seen by ships, either because many ships AIS displays are primitive compared to the yachtsmans, and its suspected that some ships may not monitor yachts transmissions. The answer is to make the most of AISs brilliant portrayal of ships movements in almostreal time, but to keep a good eyeball and radar look-out too.
Would we recommend it?
All the crew agreed that navigating among ships had been much less stressful with AIS and that once any sailor who cruises among ships had used it, theyd wonder how theyd ever done without it.
Suppliers of AIS include:
Raymarine www.raymarine.com Tel: 3611 NASA www.nasamarine.com Tel: Comar Systems www.comarsystems.com Tel: EchoPilot Easy AIS www.echopilot.com Tel: M.E.S. Digital Yacht www.mesltd.co.uk Tel: 1099 Evo Distribution www.memory-map.co.uk Tel: 9040 Euronav www.euronav.co.uk Tel: Furuno www.furuno.co.uk. Tel: 02392 441000
NAJAD 361 - 1996
The owner of NAJAD 361 with building number 61 has put his mint condition yacht on sale. The yacht is located in the southern area of Denmark. If you have any questions please contact us: email@example.com / phone: +960 995. Or contact the owner directly (Mr Krister Bruhn) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +451 7831.
PRICE 184.000. - (EU tax Paid)
LOA: Beam: Draft: Mast height: 11,20 m 3,50 m 1,59 m 16,00 m Displacement: Water capacity: Fuel capacity: ENGINE, Volvo Penta: ~ kg ~ 280 l ~ 200 l 48 hp
Regina af Vindn 417 Vind Yachts AB SE-47391 Henn
Tel: +46(0)304-39651 Fax: +46(0)304-39919
SEB Henn, Sweden
Bankgiro Innehar F-skatt 5501-6745 Vat.nr SE556348-334501
Technical equipment NAJAD 361, 1996
Najad 361 Number Mast, Rig and Sail Standard equipped Alternativ Draught 1,59 m Inner forestay Telescopic Spinnakerpool on Mast incl.topping lift Gennaker equipment Storm Jib Cutter Jib Gennaker Full Radial Squeezer for gennaker Furling Genoa DC Laminat New 2005 Main Sail DC Laminat New 2005 Selden RCB Maststeps Chechstays Cover for Genua New 2004 RR Combi-antenna for VHF,TV, GSM, Navtex and FM radio Raymarine ST 50 Speed, Depth,Wind,Navdata incl. One Multi function Raymarin Autopilot ST 7001 Raymarin Radar GPS antenna for Raychart VHF Shipmate RS 8300 Radar reflector on Mast passiv Shortwaveradio with Isolated Backstay and antennaregulator Navtex Teak on coachroof Shower at swimming plattform Electric Windlass Lewmar with 60 m Chain and 20 Kilo Bruce New 2008 Aluminum rigging screw protection incl. Rigging screw clips 2 Seats in Pushpit
Navigation and electronics
Safety and Service
High gloss varnished chart table & companionway Teak wings behind the windscreen, high gloss varnished Grab rails outside windscreen Sprayhood New 2006 Sprayhood extension New 2006 Extra leather covered handrail for sprayhood, stainless steel tubes New 2006 Teak glass holder in cockpit Cockpit Table with Cockpittableextension Genoawinches upgrade to Andersen 52 Polstery New 2008 Carpet New 2006 Fridge Isoterm ASU New 2008 Cocker 3 Burns with grill New 2005 Electric toilett New 2005 Skyscreen in the forward cabin large Skyscreen in the aft cabin Extra Portlight from Galley to Cockpit Extra Portlight from Head to Cockpit Radio/CD 2 Loudspeakers in Cockpit Flat screen TV in Aftcabin New Ah AGM Battery New Ah Starterbattery New 2007 Victron Batterycharger Heating Eberspcher New 2007 Electric Bilgepump Automatic 3 Gasbottles Shut off Valves for Gasbottles Jackstays on deck
Please note that the pictures on this page are describing a standard yacht. The yacht for sale is subject to minor customisations in the forward and aft cabin such as longer berths in forward cabin etc.
All-IN-ONE CO35awme PSR-A3 PL151 Xwnav1-K Carbon Arte NAS-M70HD Aficio2022-27 Kontrol JBL AVA7 Navigation 4406B Talker WD-1250ERD V1 0 CX5200 XVS650L L8400P DR-4912M 36ZP18 Ixus 300 Studio Plus TL-SG1005D RL-44NA14T FCV-585 Kodak Z730 Sagem D15V DE6543X DZ-HS300E PX-E850 ICN 700 TL-C11 Guess WHO APK-WB STR-DE245 XR-1950 Navigator Family 940BF Studioworks 78I LUX S Tusl2 249RP-PS Bizhub 360 42PB130S5 Thomson 1450 Portrait F75PE Photosmart 7900 Review 85740 MG-396WA Avicc-C-HD3-2 MU1002X NWZ-S639F Speed 10 LAV50265 Axim X30 341GSM EX2200 XL-MP100H Aekrqpn HD7500 II Roland RC-2 LE26B450c4W HT-K25 Cable Player Plantronics 665 268 EX System ST-1000 RED LE37A330j1 PET712 Tracktion 2 Salton LM8 GC1703 KX-TG7120FX DCR-TRV280 AGL05 GZ-MG77 IST DL KX-T2721BX Yamaha MR10 HTX-200 Peugeot 807 RD-98dtkf Eternity SR-303 PCV-230 Futura 1100 HS-36W SR2024C Blower VAC Dimension 2300 DES-1026G P4B266SE Beosound 3000 L32A01 ICD-37 Vivicam 2500
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