Automatic Identification System. As of December 2004, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) requires all vessels over 299GT to carry an AIS transponder on board, which transmits their position, speed and course, among some other static information, such as vessel’s name, dimensions and voyage details.
Although we don’t fall into the category of vessels which are required to have AIS, for us it’s an added layer of safety. The shipping lanes in and out of Puget Sound are heavily traveled with freighters and gigantic cargo ships. Personally, I think it’s great if they can see us on their plotter, with speed, track, name, closest point of approach, etc. It’s cheaper to get a receiver, so you can see them (which is very useful around some of the blind corners up in the San Juan channels). But I prefer that they can see me too. It’s completely integrated with the chartplotter, so all info shows up on the flying bridge and the main helm.
But if you just want to see what we’re up to or where we’ve been (or just gawk at other gorgeous boats, which I’ve been known to do), just go to Marine Traffic and pull up “Katherine Jane” under vessel. Sometimes if we’re just at home, it will be turned off. But hopefully more often, we’ll be out playing somewhere!