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As we sail in the English Channel we are quite keen on making ourselves visible to commercial shipping!!!
Passive radar reflectors do not seem to be particularly effective and our systems will not provide enough power for radar (plus it is expensive) so we have been wondering what to get instead.
The options seem to be a active radar reflecter (e.g. Seame) or an AIS-B transponder, does anyone have any experience of the pros and cons of these.


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We have a Seame and it seems to be the answer. Little energy use, gets the attention of the other boats, and requires no maintainence. When we were surrounded by an unlit Spanich fishing fleet doing pair fishing without the required lights, we switched it on and suddenly they all must have thought we were a freighter because they all lit up instantly so we could see where the nets were being stretched between each pair. Have had many, many similar results showing that it works. Ann and Nev
Hi, that is an interesting subject. I have checked the manufacturer`s website and 150mA in standby mode and 350mA electricity consumption when transmitting is moderate even for a boat designed around a minimal use of electricity.
Do you use the X-Band or X and S-Band Dual version? I understand that X-Band radar is for coastal shipping, while S-Band is used in open ocean with higher waves, right? Any comments/eperience on how long they last, service or replacement intervals?
I have talked to several boats with Sea-Me in last few few years and all their stories are positive and support the notion that it makes one much more visible to other vessels using radar. It is high on my list of helpful electronic gizmos.

On the topic of vessel awareness:
AIS which uses a VHF radio frequency is starting to be integrated with VHF radios.
Combined VHF-AIS has been available in some form in the European marketplace for a while, at a high price with little more than a traditional serial wire NEMA AIS data stream added (e.g. ICOM - M603 & M505). This new Standard Horizon GX2100 unit will provide a mini AIS display and ability to call listed targets directly via DSC functions and at a rather low price.

Had forgotten about the different radar bands, that is a good reminder.
I was thinking about Ann's comments and reckon that other vessels may be more likely to have radar than AIS, though it may be different in the yachting community, which would argue for the Sea Me as AIS only transmits on VHF frequencies. Does this make sense to anyone else?
I have been officer of the deck in the United States Navy and have almost run over some sailboats that were poorly lit with no radar reflector or if they had one did not show up on our radar. Anything you can to do make yourself more visible to commercial shipping do it. We keep a good look out unlike most commercial vessels and still almost ran over some boats.

Don Hayes
I read somewhere that plain aluminium foil stuffed into the mast makes a good radar reflector. And very cheap.
John and Kat Wilkie said:
I read somewhere that plain aluminium foil stuffed into the mast makes a good radar reflector. And very cheap.

My Tangaroa had exactly that- foil inside the entire length of the mast. I never came into contact with commercial ships (Northern Malaysia/ Southern Thailand) to trial it, with the exception of local fishing boats who rarely carried VHF's, let alone radar, so whether it worked I have no idea. But I was never hit so maybe there is some truth in it.

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