AIS Gets You Respect

A new feature on the Nordic Quest this year is AIS. We have added an Automatic Identification System transmitter and receiver to the Furuno navigation suite. This means that other vessels that are equipped with AIS show up on our electronic charts, along with information about their range, course and speed. The Nordic Quest likewise shows up on the navigation charts of other vessels.

It is this feature that seems to garner the NQ more respect when cruising. We show up on their electronic charts, an icon and the vessel name. All large vessels and some smaller boats show up on the AIS, this includes the cruise ships and Alaska State Ferries. It is our guess/observation that because we have AIS, other vessels seem to assume we are larger than we actually are.

Following the Sea Lion

Following the Sea Lion out of the ice in John Hopkins Inlet with the Coral Princess ahead

This was evident in an incident that occurred in Glacier Bay this summer… On our way out of John Hopkins Inlet we pulled a trick we have found useful in the past. Instead of threading our way out through the ice, we pulled up behind a larger boat also departing the glacier face. In this case it was the Sea Lion, a National Geographic eco-tour ship. Following a 150ft ship out means that we need not weave our way through the ice, just follow the path she plows through the bergie-bits. Much easier!

Ahead was the Coral Princess, one of the monster cruise ships that also come into glacier bay. She had stopped miles away from the glacier face, unlike the smaller vessels she was unable or unwilling to get any closer.

“Nordic Quest this is Coral Princess” on the marine radio, “Go ahead this is Nordic Quest”. The bridge crew of the Coral Princess continues to inform us of their upcoming maneuvers, spinning in place and departing the fiord, swinging by Lamplugh Glacier on the way. It quickly became apparent that she was confusing us with the much larger Sea Lion, having seen our AIS icon on their chart.

“I think you have us confused with the Sea Lion, we are the little boat in the back.”

There was an awkward pause in the conversation… “Uh… Roger”

“This is the Sea Lion, we copied all of that” you could hear the chuckle in the Sea Lion radio transmission.

AIS gets you respect from the big boys.

About Andrew Cooper

An electrical engineer living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i. Webmaster for the website. Sometimes the first mate/deckhand/launch driver/anchor detail/cook/dishwasher and mechanic aboard the Nordic Quest.
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