GPS with AIS transponder for small boats and blue water sailor

Small boats and blue water sailor have one thing in common a small budget they operate on and a high desire to increase the safety while under way.
Both a hard to overcome as space is limited and the available resources need to provide the biggest return / safety.

With Dez. 2014 USCG AIS rules changed


The USCG has officially published its Final Rule for the extension of carriage requirements for AIS transceivers on commercial boats operating in US waters.
The USCG AIS Rule comes into effect on 2nd March 2015 and requires all those affected to have fitted the correct type of USCG certified AIS transceiver no later than 2nd February 2016. 
Within the Ruling the USCG also requires that all AIS transceivers are correctly programmed and installed in accordance with their guidelines or face the possibility of a $40,000 fine.
The conditions of the rule are summarised in the below USCG AIS Final Rule Summary Table.

AIS regulation

With the AIS B system aimed at lighter commercial and leisure markets new products reach the market like the GPA-33

But with the AIS B system aimed at lighter commercial and leisure markets new products reach the market like the GPA-33
The GPA-33 is a 4.3" color LCD display AIS B transponder combo with GPS navigator in a small form factor like the Furuno GP-33 GPS it can be top mounted or flush mounted.

With a price of approximately 500,- per unit it should allow small budget sailors  to equip their vessel.

GPS with AIS transponder

You might ask how we can benefit from it and for that we need to understand the AIS system

AIS (or Automatic Identification System A or B ) is a international transponder system for ships intending to increase the safety at sea world wide.
It operates in the VHF band. The two frequencies used worldwide are 161.975 and 162.025 MHz (channels 87B and 88B, or AIS1 and AIS2). The signal is transmitted via external VHF antenna and has the reach of normal VHF signal in line of sight.
An AIS transmitter regularly transmits the ship's position, heading, speed and MMSI (the unique maritime identification number). This data is received by ships in the vicinity or land stations.
Till recently AIS equipment was cost-prohibitive for smaller vessels and did not reach its recognition but was in service for the big commercial fleet.

With the recent addition of personal AIS  devices designed to be fitted to a life-jacket and assist in Man Overboard recovery it adds another safety level to the crew on a vessel under way.
Lets admit that in case you fall overboard the nearest rescue possibility is the vessel you fell of time passes the distance to this vessel increases and the chances of MOB recovery decreases in the same amount.

You most likely don’t fall overboard in calm conditions but your chances are higher in a bit rough conditions where the line of sight is limited ..
The small PFD with strobe only pops out of the swell from time to time. The AIS signal would give a precise location on the vessels display at time of signal and CoG to make a interception of the MOB easier.

Most sailors will desire to have one or the other kind of GPS on board for position fix and ground made good.
If the same unit offers a AIS without increasing the units expenses to much you will get the benefits of both without additional hardware ...the GPA33A does just that.

This covers your personal gain in a short!

Add that the AIS would allow a slower maneuvering vessel to find the space in the commercial shipping lane to sail through without getting in the situation to count the rivets on the bow of a commercial freighter who does not even realize you are there ...
If you have your AIS unit turned on to send signal ...he most likely is aware of you.

Entering and leaving some ports where recreational and commercial traffic meet in the same shipping lane due to spoil areas on both sides of them will be easier with AIS.
Especially under limited visibility as well as identifying vessels approaching in your path and contacting them with their unique MMSI....

If your vessle is used for recreation only, is not required by law to carry a radio and does not make international voyages or communications ..

Than you can request your MMSI through BoatUS for the United States of America

But if you exceed these limitations than you are legally required to obtain a Ship Station License from the FCC.They will issue an appropriate MMSI with the License.

Class A AIS :
Vessel-mounted AIS transceiver (transmit and receive) which operates using self-organised time-division multiple-access (SOTDMA). Targeted at large commercial vessels, SOTDMA requires a transceiver to maintain a constantly updated slot map in its memory such that it has prior knowledge of slots which are available for it to transmit. SOTDMA transceivers will then pre-announce their transmission, effectively reserving their transmit slot. SOTDMA transmissions are therefore prioritised within the AIS system. This is achieved through 2 receivers in continuous operation. Class A's must have an integrated display, transmit at 12 W, interface capability with multiple ship systems, and offer a sophisticated selection of features and functions. Default transmit rate is every few seconds. AIS Class A type compliant devices receive all types of AIS messages.
Class B AIS:
Vessel-mounted AIS transceiver (transmit and receive) which operates using either carrier-sense time-division multiple-access (CSTDMA)or SOTDMA; there are now 2 separate IMO specifications for Class B. Aimed at lighter commercial and leisure markets. CSTDMA transceivers listen to the slot map immediately prior to transmitting and seek a slot where the 'noise' in the slot is the same or similar to background noise, thereby indicating that the slot is not being used by another AIS device. Class Bs transmit at 2 W and are not required to have an integrated display: Class Bs can be connected to most display systems where the received messages will be displayed in lists or overlaid on charts. Default transmit rate is normally every 30 seconds, but this can be varied according to vessel speed or instructions from base stations. The Class B type standard requires integrated GPS and certain LED indicators. Class B equipment receives all types of AIS messages.
AIS (Automatic Identification System) short explained

AIS plot of Costa Concordia as example of course reconstruction via AIS signals recived

Specifications of GPA-33

For the  AIS

1. Detail Target list and Radar overview

2. Watching display to monitor important subject, example: Fishing net buoy, Friend ship, Commercial traffic etc

3. External Alarm (Buzzer)

4. Low cost, reduced size and easy installation make the HP-33A ideal to meet your budgets and demands of owners and vessel operators


For the  GPS

1. 4.3" Sunlight Viewable color LCD (Brightness: 500 cd)

2. GOTO track navigation

3. Stores up to 10,000 marks/ waypoints, 100 routes and 3,000 track points

4. Dedicated Man Over Board Button (MOB)

5. Support NMEA 0183 ver 2.0

6. 7 display modes available, including 2 user-customized modes

7. SBAS capable for better measurement