Thursday, 31 July 2008

Kuching to Singapore, With AIS Onboard

After two months with our friends on the Tulai River, Crystal Blues departed Santubong (Kuching) at 11.00am on Tuesday, bound for Phuket (Thailand) via Singapore, Penang and Langkawi. As I write we are just 125 miles from One Degree 15 Marina in Singapore - it has been a magic run across the South China Sea. We covered 180 nautical miles in the past 24 hours.

Good winds have kept the boat speed well over 7 knots for hours at a time, and the forecast is for these conditions to hold. Right now we have 11.5 knots of true windjust aft the beam, boat speed is 7.5 knots and a favourable current is giving us 7.8 knots over the ground. Magical sailing, although its pitch black outside and the new moon won't rise for another hour - just before dawn.

On this voyage we're testing and commissioning our new Comar AIS (Automatic Identification System) installation. The system uses small vessel mounted VFH transceivers to transmit and receive vessel data - position, speed, course, name etc. This data is automatically received by other AIS equipped vessels, and the data is displayed on dedicated screens or overlayed onto electronic chart displays.

In our case the AIS targets and data are available on our Transas Navigation software chart display - so we can see our own vessel, plus all AIS equipped vessels as real time targets on the electronic chart. Check the image at right - or click here to download a larger hi-resolution screen image. Radar targets can also be overlayed and compared, making this an ideal active safety system. Right now we're receiving data and safety messages from vessls over 100 nautical miles away, so I'm very impressed. Its a real step forward in collision avoidance, a major concern for all cruising vessels. More on this in a future story on the web, once its fully commissioned.

AIS is already compulsory on larger vessels, and is moving into the recreational boating area. It's now compulsory on all private vessels in Singapore, and we think it will become compulsory in many other countries quite soon.

We should arrive in Singapore late tonight, with a planned stopover of four or five days. Our telephone number in Singapore is +65-9122-8094 (see the right hand pane).

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