I recently added a new Standard Horizon GX2100
VHF radio with built in AIS (Automatic Identification System) to the boat. According to Wikipedia, "AIS is an automatic tracking system used on ships and vessel tracking services (VTS) for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships and AIS Base stations." So what's this mean to us? It allows us, especially when I'm singlehanding, to see, avoid, and contact commercial vessels that I might not otherwise be aware of. Bottom line, avoid collisions.
Below are some screen shots taken from our boat computer showing a southbound barge.
MaxSea shows the barge as a green target. Bootlegger is red.
OpenCPN shows the barge as a yellow target.
The yellow box has the barge's name, mmsi number
, speed, heading, position, and more.