Going full blast from Korsfjorden outside Bergen towards Stavanger last week, spinnaker drawing, some ocean swell unsettling us, but with a nice breeze from behind, the fog set in. Woolen as cotton, cold and wet as rain. I could not see more than two or three boat lengths forward into the heavy ferry and ship infested North Sea. As nightfall set inn, I could even see less.
Boy, was I glad I installed the AIS I won last year in the Shetland Race. I didn’t have any positive expectations. In fact I was rather annoyed for having to install two new antennas and another peace of equipment drawing ever more electricity.
The Simrad AIS 150 sender and transponder really made me feel safe. You can spot ships 32 miles away. That is nice. But even better, you are telling them where Salt is, who she is and her call sign, plus our speed and course.
Even ferryboats reacted to our signal. I have never experienced this before. But with the AIS going I am convinced the ferry-skippers really made an effort not to run us down.
I guess the real secret to this is that the AIS will show up on their screens, alarms go off, and a possible collision will enter the professional electronic logs. Running us down will simply look bad on the officers CV and it will be possible to find out what happened. Using their powerful radar’s they knew we where out there in earlier days too. But as a cynic I must say the AIS makes the trick of being seen and avoided so much more easy and convincing as it makes tangible and lasting electronic records of our existence.
It doesn’t draw much electricity either. Even if it did – it sure is nice to know that commercial freighter skippers know where you are and are heading as their tall sharp bows are towering over you.