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In our opinion, one of the best tools to help with passage making is AIS. A properly installed AIS receiver helps to take the guess work out of those mystery lights that sometimes show up on the horizon. Before you say that one should be able to discern a vessel’s heading, etc. from the lights that they are showing, recognize that sometimes even large commercial ships do not run the proper lights. We witnessed this first hand last evening as we watched a large tanker enter the harbor.

We loved the AIS receiver that we had integrated into ZTC’s chartplotter but on One Love, we decided to take it a step further and install a transceiver. This unit, in addition to allowing us to see all AIS equipped vessels, also broadcasts our position and details for other vessels to pick up.

In order for the above-described device to work as designed, a vessel needs to register for an MMSI number and because One Love is now flagged in the BVI, this number had to come from them. Acquiring the number did require jumping through a few hoops but it all worked out and we received it the other day. Now all we had to do was program the number into our AIS unit.

Programming the AIS unit was not difficult but did require some care. You only have one crack at putting the correct number in. An improperly programmed unit actually has to be sent back to the factory to be reset and in our case, that factory is in New Zealand! As a matter of fact, if you live in the US, you can’t even purchase an AIS unit without first having an MMSI number because the FCC or whoever controls that stuff requires them to all be programmed at the factory. We got around that rule by having our unit shipped to our friends office in St. Maarten.

As you can see from the image below, I must have input the number correctly. One Love now shows up on all of the AIS receivers in the area and just in time for our passage back north!

This image is from the Marine Traffic iPad app.

This is a screen capture from Watchmate, the iPad app
which is a companion to our Vesper Marine AIS unit.


  1. Dumb question of the day (but not necessarily limited to just one per day!), but what is the VG designation? Some kind of two letter designator for the Virgin Islands?

  2. Another dumb question, what is the ‘BRG’ column?

    I would guess the T is for tons, but that would mean Ocean Sula is a 254 ton sailboat?

    RNG is range, SOG is speed over ground (I’d guess), CPA is closest approach and TCPA is time until closest approach.

  3. Nice. Lots of features & a receiver sensitiviety of -113 dB, WOW! Whats your range? Do you plan on using any AIS Man Over Board devices with it, just in case? All you need now is a 4G Radar and you’d be all set.

    I’m on the fence about using a transceiver, especially since I’m an American. I know it would help others stay clear of the boat but at the same time it gives away your information. I would prefer to slip by unnoticed in a few area. Can you turn the transmitter off or does it always stay on, (maybe power off)?

    Got to watch out for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” to quote Captain Ron. ^_^

    • “since I’m an American” ?

      Why is that?

      • I’m not sure if people would take out there frustrations with America on a traveling American. I don’t look for trouble with others and try to get along with everyone but I wouldn’t want people to take out there frustations on me or my family because they don’t like what some politicians are doing. I’d rather be judged off of my actions than what flag I’m flying as I pull into port. Whats your take on that mike? I know everyone likes Canada. Being from Wisconsin I have a fondness myself for our northern neighbors. Do you guys ever get mean looks flying a Canadian Flag from One Love? Or are you flying a Virgin Islands Flag? Cheers. ^_^

  4. For the curious folks out there, you can go to and enter “One Love” in the “Go To Vessel” and box and stalk away!

  5. maybe it stands for country of registry? or quality of vessel?

  6. VG: British Virgin Islands
    VI: US Virgin Islands

  7. In our area commercial vessels are the only boats required to have AIS…..It is important for those on night watch not to get complacent and assume what you see on the plotter with AIS is all that is out there. There are other boats out there and radar, alertness and good watching is important…….

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